Sarudzai Mupangi Features Writer
THEY are all seen in court during their husband’s routine remand hearings. The group sits, cries, prays, hopes and visits him at remand prison, supporting him in time of need. Indeed, these women are all bound by love for their husband, RMG End Times Message founder, Pastor Martin Robert Gumbura (57).
And now, they have revealed that their biggest wish is to marry him in a mass wedding.
Meet Zimbabwe’s sister wives who claim to live peacefully in their one of a kind polygamous union.
Their way of living can easily be likened to that of television reality show — US polygamist Cody Brown who has five wives and over 20 kids staying under one roof. Brown’s wives call themselves Sister Wives and live in harmony, at least in front of the cameras.
Even though the number of Gumbura’s wives has surpassed Brown’s by six, their tales have one thing in common — the wives all love each other.
Gumbura’s wives from the first to the last, for now, are Tafadzwa Makoni (52); Queen Bunga (45); Tecla Muzungwani (37); Chipo Mhlanga (34); Choice Neganje (32); Concilia Mukandawire (33); Amanda Mbanga (27); Amadias Mutakwa (32); Pretty Rushwaya (27); Pamela Mukandawire (27) and Bester Runyowa (24).
A visit to their Marlborough house last Friday told a story of a polygamous union that is bound by love for one man, religion and above all sisterhood.
The house is Pastor Gumbura’s “nest” where four separate buildings namely Cheese, Rose, Kaze and Borrowdale cottages cover most of the land at the premises.
The buildings were named for easy identification.
A giant incomplete double storey building towers at the back.
The building which is under construction has 23 en-suite bedrooms and four lounges.
Gumbura occasionally lives with his 11 wives who have houses of their own in Gweru, Chinhoyi, Redcliff and Kadoma.
Only newcomers Pamela and Bester are still to have their own houses.
The wives all call their husband by his pet name, Shewe.
“When at Shewe’s house, we share bedrooms in pairs or in threes while waiting for our chance to be invited to the master bedroom.
“If it’s not your turn, but feel that you want some intimacy with him, you just tell Shewe,” said Pamela
She added: “I wondered if it is normal to live happily in a polygamous marriage but I have adapted.
“He can be intimate with up to seven women in one day. We all eat healthy and that has given him the stamina.
“Our wish is to get married to him in a mass wedding, our children will be bridesmaids,” said Pamela.
Teclar, the third wife, said marrying pastor Gumbura is the best thing to ever happen to her.
“I resigned from Founders Bank now Intermarket in 1997 when I had my first child. My husband promised greener pastures by doubling my salary each month in addition to taking care of me and the child,” said Teclar.
Indeed, the pastures were greener for her.
She boasted: “I consider my marriage with him as greener pastures. The more children I bear the more money I get. I have five children and want more.”
Teclar added that the lavish lifestyle her sister Queen (the second wife) lead, attracted her.
She remained mum on how the relationship started but expressed her happiness.
After all, her father was also born in a polygamous union.
They employ maids, but the wives take turns to cook food and also wash their husband’s clothes.
“If you want things done properly then you do it yourself. We take turns to cook for our husband daily. Three wives cook for everyone.
“We need 20 loaves of bread and three crates of eggs for breakfast daily. We spend about US$200 each day.
“There are about 50 cattle and thousands of chickens and other domestic animals at our Chinhoyi farm. Queen stays at the farm.
“The Pastor also owns a gold mine in that same area and this is what sponsors our lifestyle. About 18 to 20 chickens are slaughtered for one meal.”
Concilia (third wife) who is Pamela’s (wife 10) aunt said she invited her niece into the polygamous set up.
“I could not enjoy all this by myself,” said Concilia.
The women concurred that all men behave the same.
“They are polygamous in nature and cannot live with one wife.
“Women force their husbands into monogamy. This is why men end up having small houses or have many children showing up at their funerals because society looks at polygamy in bad light,” she revealed.
Pretty (ninth wife) said polygamy involves stiff competition to please the husband, but everything has to be done peacefully to avoid squabbles.
They have managed to stay in harmony because they share ideas on how to please their man.
“You have to be confident enough to ask for tips from fellow wives on how to please your husband. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and it takes your willingness to tap into the next sister’s strength.
“We make sure that we are clean and dressed attractively at all times in order to keep our husband interested at all times.
“We dress exquisitely when he is here. We also do each other’s hair and sew. We know which hairstyle Shewe prefers on this woman, what he does not like on that one. We emphasise on working on our weaknesses rather than attacking each other’s strengths,” she said.
Amadias, who by our brief encounter with the sister wives, is the most talkative said while they sometimes quarrel they have all adjusted to the set up.
The women treat first wife Tafadzwa with great respect and call her mother.
“The first wife is like a mother to us. She guides and counsels us whenever there are quarrels among us, but whatever happens “mother havabatwe” .
“The younger ones know they have to respect the older sisters,” said Amadias Bester (11th wife) said the secret to their successful union is their deep-rooted belief in the bible and the doctrine of their church.
Tafadzwa said the first time her husband took another wife she was heartbroken.
She accepted the other women when she realised that polygamy was supported by the Bible.
“We understand and respect each other. I tolerate the younger wives even when they behave in an improper way,” said Tafadzwa.
She added: “It is a blessing to have a husband like Pastor Gumbura. He is a loving man who provides for his family. He is truly gifted. We know we have a shoulder to cry on and we are content with him.”
Concillia interjected and explained the role of the church in their union: “We understand Pastor’s teachings and that helps us stay together. We humble ourselves at all times.”
She said while some of the women were younger than the pastor’s children there were no tensions between them.
Pastor Gumbura’s oldest child is 30-year-old Shifra and the youngest is three months old, while Pretty is pregnant.
“The older children are respectful and we are also humble,” said Pamela.
Queen said people only accept polygamy when it is done by those in the apostolic sect but there was need to form an association that represents women in polygamy despite their religious beliefs.
“A woman should not be comfortable with being kept away from the man’s family all because she is not the first one. Many small houses are kept secret and their children never get the opportunity to meet those from the first wife which should not be the case,” said Queen.
The women said their relatives who were once sceptical about the set up are now relieved that they married Pastor Gumbura.
“My father was happy when I married Pastor Gumbura. He is a member of our church and has seen our union as a huge blessing,” said Bester.
Revealed Choice (fifth wife): “When my relatives visit all I have to do is sit and keep them company while my sister wives run around to serve us food and make sure that the visitors are comfortable,”
She said their husband informs them when he wants a new wife.
While the church has been stopped from operating and their husband in remand prison, the women have kept their spirits intact and are praying for the best. They take turns to visit remand prison with a pregnant Pretty going every day.
All their children learn in private schools and they all seek medical attention from private health institutions.