If you’re an avid watcher of soapies you would have noticed that one of the country’s foremost soapie has developed quite an interesting storyline.

The character of Karabo Mogale nee Moroka played by Connie Ferguson has asked her husband Tau Mogale played by Rapulana Seiphemo, if she can take a second husband.
This could be the most talked about South African television event, if it happens, since the days of Ntsiki Lukhele!
Now as much as this is about the soapie story line, polyandry is a real thing.
Polyandry in definition is ‘a form of polygamy where a woman takes two or more husbands at the same time’.
Now we as a nation are very familiar with polygamy our president is in a polygamous marriage but we commonly know it as when a man has two or more wives.

Polyandry worldwide

Most documented cases of polyandry state that the practice was common in the Himalayans and parts of Tibet.  There are no reported modern cases, although there was an article in the New York Times in 2010 about an elderly woman ,Buddhi Devi , from the village of Malang, India, of  a woman who married two brothers. 
The Tibetan form of polyandry is commonly known as fraternal polyandry as the woman’s husbands are most commonly brothers.
Studies have been written to explain this type of polygamy and most concur that it is linked to land.
If a woman marries into the same family, brothers would not have to split land and it would make the family more prosperous. It also helps with the division of labour as most farm land is in mountainous regions and ‘men are better equipped to handle the strenuous work.’

Polyandry in Africa

The only reference to polyandry as a practice in African history we came across referred to the Lele people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the website africanweddingtraditions.com.
It is a different kind as the woman in a polyandrous marriage is known as the ‘wife of the village’. 
She would be a daughter or a granddaughter of an elder ‘wife of the village’ this woman would be the common wife of the 'young men of a given age group' in the village who are waiting for their betrothed to reach their teens. (Young women were commonly married to older men, which left young men without partners)
The ‘husbands’ of the ‘wife of the village’ would be responsible for helping their wife’s parents, pay her parents for  her  and should provide her with a place to live.  The wife can live with 5 or six of her house husbands who will leave her when their betrothed comes of age. They would be responsible for any children their wife has and the village would pay the bride price for any future wives of the sons of the wife.

Source: Sowetan LIVE