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100 wives and counting, meet Abumbi the great

100 wives and counting, meet Abumbi the great
Bengaluru, First Published Jun 16, 2016, 4:22 PM IST

A king in Cameroon has 100 wives and 500 children. But hang on, not all of them are his per se. According to CNN, it is a local tradition in Cameroon when a 'fon' or a king dies, his successor inherits all his predecessor's wives...and then marries his own queens.


And that’s how Abumbi II, the current and the 11th fon of Bafut, Cameroon ended up having 100 wives and 500 children. When his father, Achirimbi II, died, Abumbi was just 16-years-old and was crowned the king. According to the tradition, all the wives of his father became his wives.
The Bafut tradition does not legitimise the use of the word ‘dead’ for the kings or fons as they are called. They prefer to call it ‘disappearance’. The final rites are conducted by the secret society and people are not aware if the king is buried or cremated. 


For the record, the current fon inherited 72 of his father's wives and some 500 of his children, before starting his own household. 


"Behind every successful man must be a very successful, staunch woman," says Abumbi's third wife, Queen Constance. The Queen further explained the tradition, "Our tradition has it that when you are king, the elderly wives remain to hand down the tradition to the younger wives, and also to teach the king the tradition because the king had been a prince, not a king."


Surprisingly, data shows that in spite of polygamy being legal in Cameroon, very few locals follow polygamy across the African continent. Abumbi II who has ruled Bafut for 47 years says "During colonialism other values came in of governance, different from the traditional values we had and therefore there is this constant conflict between the traditional values and modern western values. My role is to blend them, to find the way forward so my subjects can enjoy the fruits of development and modernity without destroying their culture.”


The king further clarifies that though this tradition makes it easy for people in the West to judge them, but inheritance of wives for the kings in this region is nothing but a moral obligation.


Another interesting fact about this king and wives are that all of them are well-read and fluent in English. "To run a kingdom nowadays in this era, you must be educated because things are moving very fast. Like they used to say, education is light, ignorance is darkness," the king said. 

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