At 71, Pedro still spreads the idyll with 13 wives and 44 children

He married his first wife late, in 1978, at the age of 27. The following year, he shared a roof and a bed with a second wife, before leaving with them both for Zimbabwe, fleeing the civil war which had lasted for 16 years in his country.

He returned in 1987 with five women and the other three he says he “hooked” them in a camp for displaced people in Zimbabwe, Mozambican refugees to whom he promised “much love” upon their return to their homeland.

“I had 17 wives. Two died, I divorced two others and right now I have 13 wives here,” he says proudly and serenely, surrounded by nine of them, while four others work in the fields.

In Mozambique, polygamy is not legalized, but it is not a crime. Depending on the context, it is even a tradition with a certain acceptance, a tradition that insists on relegating women to poverty, especially in rural areas, warn organizations that study the subject.

A feminist movement, led by WLSA Mozambique, the Mozambican branch of the NGO Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust, has been fighting hard against polygamy since some MPs admitted to including it in a family bill in 2003.

The idea did not advance, but the debates continue, several organizations issuing other warnings: with the high prevalence of the HIV virus in southern Africa, polygamy in Mozambique is classified as a “fertile weapon” for the spread of AIDS.

Debates follow one another, but in Mozambican society there is no consensus. Follower of the John Marange sect, a group known for banning conventional medicine and promoting polygamy, Pedro Faricai tells Lusa that he continues to “destroy” places of worship, where he has won most of his wives, almost all faithful to worship.

“Now I want to marry others, but I don’t want to anymore, that’s enough,” he said, indecisively, with an embarrassed smile in the middle of a long beard, a shaved and shiny head, typical image and obligatory for the men of the sect.

The closest competitor to Pedro Faricai in the village of Mpandeia has three wives and eight children. In the region, most men stopped at the second wife.

At the moment, with 44 children, some pregnant women and 53 grandchildren, according to the count made in June, Pedro Faricai explains that he entered into polygamy – a hereditary practice in the family – because he did not want growing old “unhappy and lonely”.

“I sat down with my wife and said, ‘I want to add women’, she asked why, I said ‘we are growing up, so when we get to old age, how will that be- he? Children will grow up and leave for marriage, so how do we live? And she agreed.”

The first woman even helped him to conquer others, the man with the robust body and the determined look tells Lusa, without appearing to be 71 years old.

“It makes me very happy because when I want, they are always there,” he concludes.

The polygamist also takes advantage of the reputation of being one of the best tomato producers in Manica, supplier of the central provinces of the country, to be a source of income, family support and, thus, to win more women.

The peasant’s family is structured: the orders of the house always come from him and it is rare for a decision to be delegated to another woman – except for questions of family governance, where the organization takes on a certain complexity: these questions must involve the first wife, plus two others chosen on a case-by-case basis and two children, his heirs.

“When night comes, I gather all the women together and say prayers, as usual” and it is on these occasions, he continued, that the plans for the house are drawn up, the problems are presented and news is announced.

At this meeting, women are forbidden to present their personal needs, which must be muted whenever the man visits each of them on the scheduled evening.

“I helped him to have more wives. In all, I won three wives for my husband”, proudly recounts Lusa Mivisse Jeque, the first of the polygamists.

Pedro Faricai has his own house, the only one with a television, which is like a center of power.

This is where he lives and where he receives the women he chooses to spend the night, the days when he decides not to go to their huts, scattered in the large backyard, in the middle of nowhere.

The provinces of Manica and Tete, in central Mozambique, as well as the province of Gaza, in the south, continue to be those with the most cases of polygamy, a tradition that prevails rooted in the most remote areas, to the shelter from debate.

Polygamy is one of the recurring themes in the work of Paulina Chiziane, a Mozambican writer who in 2021, at the age of 66, won the Camões Prize, choosing the struggle for the emancipation of women as the one of the common threads of his work.

A reality that passes alongside Pedro Faricai. He assures that if he had succeeded in all the occasions where he “spread love”, the current number of wives would be higher.

“Many parents refused to give me their daughters in marriage,” he recalls, followed by a characteristic laugh, but this time he tries to hide the wounded pride of the situations that failed to hook another woman.

Read also : Rhinos return to Mozambican Zinave Park after 40 years

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