The Polygamist - A man, three wives and a story that circles itself

Feb 11, 2024

The Polygamist is a play that delves into the complexities of polygamy and cultural diversity. Written and directed by Nwando Alayande, it is the story of Oladipupo, known as "Chief", and how he navigates marriage to three wives from different tribes—Rahila (Hausa), Nne (Igbo), and Iyabo (Yoruba).

Unafraid to explore the complex, this portrayal of cultural differences, coupled with critiques of polygamy, creates a nuanced tapestry of emotion and conflict. A fitting portrayal of Nigeria’s woes. Each of the chief's wives love him and thus want him to embrace their cultural identity. They showcase the best of their tradition through attire and cuisine. Rahila's aromatic Hausa delicacies, Nne's flavourful Igbo dishes, and Iyabo's delectable Yoruba meals become a culinary battleground aimed at swaying Chief.

As a central theme, The Polygamist critiques cultures that promote polygamy while praising those that reject it. From the playfulness of wives trying to win a husband, it shows the consequences of polygamy on family dynamics - unrest and the potential breakdown of a home.

However, there were a few twists. The play offers a contrasting view of the consequences of polygamy in the northern part of Nigeria, where it is portrayed as a means of promoting peace. This contrasting ideology is left for the audience to untangle. There is also a scene where Iyabo insults Rahila that seems to foster a negative perception of the Yoruba tribe and is slightly difficult to tie to the play’s progression.

The performance of the actor portraying Chief Oladipupo is outstanding. His vacillating added necessary depth to the character dynamics and I, I leave The Polygamist with a memory of colourful attire, rich food and slight confusion.