Dana Hughes, ABC News, Oct. 4, 2010
Kenya’s most prominent polygamist has died having married more than 100 women in his lifetime and fathered nearly 200 children. Nicknamed “Danger” because women were so attracted by his handsome looks, Ancentus Akuku was in his late 90’s when he passed away of natural causes.
Akuku Danger was legendary in Kenya. He married his first wife in 1939 and became polygamist some 70 years ago at the age of 22. He’s outlived 12 of his wives, marrying the last one in 1992. There were so many children in his family that Akuku established two elementary schools solely to educate his children, as well as a church for his growing family to attend.
His death was the number one topic of Kenyan media today. Radio stations featured call-in shows of people, especially men, paying their respects. In many tribes having several wives was a sign of wealth and status for a man. Danger Akuku represented the ultimate symbol of traditional manhood–and of a time when gender relations seemed more simple than today.
While young Kenyans paid their respects to the man with over 100 wives, most said that lifestyle is not possible in today’s environment.
“I had heard of Akuku Danger back in the day when I was a teen, and up to now I still wonder how he did this,” said Jeff Kilumi, a businessman in Nairobi. “Right now, even if I had a lot of money, ‘Bill Gates’ rich, I wouldn’t even go for a second wife. The more the women, the more the headache and stress.”
While many Kenyan women had mothers and grandmothers who were part of polygamous households, most urban young women say a life like Akuku’s with all his wives living together peacefully would be impossible to achieve today.
“We all understand that polygamy was allowed back then in some Kenyan communities, but Akuku is something else,” said Linet Wambui, a Nairobi saleswoman. “Personally, I would never be married to a man who has another wife let alone a hundred more. Those women were clearly different. Try having an Akuku at this day and age, the women would kill one another.”
The closest modern-day equivalent may be Swaziland’s King Mswati III, who currently has 14 wives and 23 children. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has been criticized for having married five women and siring over 20 children, which he defends as part of his Zulu culture.