Posted on April 30, 2008

‘Polygamy Doesn’t Work’ Says Father of 77

Aislinn Simpson, Telegraph (London), April 28, 2008

An Ethiopian man who has 77 children by 11 wives has urged others not to get married and has taken to dispensing advice on family planning to his neighbours.

Ayattu Nure, 56, says he used to be a wealthy man and married out of a desire to share his money around but claims he is now peniless because of the competing demands of his brood.

“I want my children to be farmers but I have no land, I want them to go to school but I have no money,” he says.

Seven of Mr Ayattu’s wives live in run-down huts around the compound while the other four live on the other side of the valley in Giwe Abossa village, 300 kilometres from the capital Addis Ababa.

In total, they have given birth to more than 100 children but 23 have died.

Mr Ayattu says he tries to share his time equally between his wives and children but is at a loss to keep them happy and often cannot feed them all.

“I feel like killing myself when I see my hungry children whom I cannot help,” he says.

“People see me as a funny man, but there is no fun in my condition. I am a desperate man struggling to survive,” he says.

He blames Ethiopia’s government for failing to support him and his children.

The local authority of the school which 40 of his children attend is requesting photographs of each one for their files but Mr Attayu says he has not got the money.

“I know I have done wrong by marrying many wives and begetting many children but I think I deserve help from the government.”

Unfortunately, even his own son has ignored his warnings about the pitfalls of polygamy.

Unemployed Dagne Ayattu, who at 33 is the oldest of his sons, has seven children and is about to marry his fourth wife.