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No more wives for Shehu after No. 201

No more wives  for Shehu after No. 201

Sheltering from the scorching tropical heat in the cool shade of a mango tree, 68-year-old honeymooner Shehu Malami sat and pondered life with his four wives, after tying the knot 201 times.
"No more marriages for me, this is the end. I will retain my four wives to the end as long as another misfortune doesn't befall me," Malami, who recently solemnized his 201st marriage, said outside his old bungalow in the ancient city of Sokoto in northern Nigeria.
In June 2004, Malami married for the 200th time, vowing it would be his last wedding. But he found he just could not keep his pledge and last week married again to replace a 40-year-old spouse he divorced recently.
Short, bald and eloquent, Malami who is popularly called "Maisaje" (the whiskered one) for his gray whiskers, could be the world's most married person.
Now living in retirement in this predominantly Muslim city, Malami's life has been a series of "marital adventures," he chuckled.
"I'm now a groom. I took my 201st wife a week ago, I'm on honeymoon," Malami said as he adjusted his faded green robe.
Alternating between flawless English and his native Hausa dialect, Malami recounted what he called his "escapades" since he married for the first time at the age of 20, two years after dropping out of secondary school.
The marriage, which did not receive the blessing of the couple's parents, did not make it beyond the first anniversary. His next two marriages, also to divorcees, also failed to last despite general acceptance this time.
The requirements
"I have an exceptionally high taste for women and my sexual urge is quite strong. I would always go for voluptuous women, because women with sagging bosoms do not excite me," said Malami, as he vainly fanned his nose with the back of his hand to ward off choking fumes from a passing truck.
Despite his strong libido, he blames his incessant cycle of marriages and divorce on misfortune and his older wives who he complained would urge any woman he married to leave him for a younger man.
"All my marriages were done with good intent, but I encountered misfortunes. For instance, four of the women I married were already pregnant by other men when I married them and I had no option but to divorce them when I realized it, because I could not live with dubious wives," he said with no hint of shame.
"I later came to understand that my older wives were also responsible for my divorces as they would, out of jealousy, tell any beautiful young woman I married that she did not deserve to marry an old man like me, as young and beautiful as she was, while young and handsome men would do everything to have her as a wife.
"Gullible and inexperienced, the young woman would either demand a divorce or would become too nasty for me to keep as a wife," Malami said.
As Islam allows for a man to marry up to four wives at a time, Malami made good use of this privilege by having four wives at once, finding a replacement as soon as he divorced one.
He takes great pride in his 29 surviving children out of the 47 born to him from 25 of his marriages, as well as his 39 grandchildren.
Although Islam discourages divorce and residents say his frequent marriages are reprehensible, Malami defended his actions.
"In fact the Sultan (the highest traditional and spiritual figure among Nigerian Muslims) solemnized my 200th marriage, the only wife I married twice among all the 201.
"When I had married say five times from a particular area, I would shift to a further community which my reputation had not yet reached," he said mischievously.
"Even my children are not happy and sometimes they come to talk to me about it, begging me to stop.
"But they have to bear with me because it is my nature and Allah does not prohibit me from marrying."
Malami cautions his children not to emulate him, saying times have changed.
"I always advise them not to do like me and I caution young men not to engage in these useless marriages especially with the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and poverty," Malami said.
He has tried to put down his experiences in an autobiography, but the project stopped at the 160th wedding when the friend who was financing its publication died.
"My experiences with women are huge. I see myself as a professor as far as women and their psychology are concerned. There is no type of woman I have not handled," he added.

Updated : 2021-07-29 22:49 GMT+08:00