After 102 children, a Ugandan villager said: That’s enough
Musa Hesahia Kasra has so many children that he can’t remember most of their names.
Struggling to provide for his large family which he says includes 12 wives, 102 children and 578 grandchildren, the Ugandan villager now feels that enough is enough.
“At first it was a joke … but now this has its problems,” said the 68-year-old. France Press agency At his home in Bugisa village in Butaliga district, a remote rural area in eastern Uganda.
“With my health failing and just two acres of land for such a huge family, two of my wives left because I couldn’t afford the basics like food, education, and clothes.”
Hasahiya, who is currently unemployed but has become a tourist attraction in his village, said his wives are now taking contraceptives to prevent the family from expanding further.
“My wife is using contraceptives but I’m not. I don’t expect to have any more children because I learned from my irresponsible job of having too many children that I can’t take care of.”
The pebble brood live largely in a rapidly dilapidated house, its corrugated iron roof rusting away, or in some twenty thatched mud huts nearby.
Married at the age of 17
He married his first wife in 1972 in a traditional ceremony when they were both 17 years old and his first child, Sandra Napwire, was born a year later.
“Because only two of us were born, my brother, relatives and friends advised me to marry many wives to have many children to expand our family heritage,” Hasahiya said.
Attracted by his status at the time as a cattle trader and butcher, Hasahiya said the villagers would offer their daughters’ hands in marriage, some of them even as young as 18.
Child marriage was only banned in Uganda in 1995, while polygamy is allowed in the East African country according to certain religious traditions.
The ages of her 102 children range from 10 to 50, while the youngest wife is about 35.
I can’t remember the names
“The challenge is that I only remember my first and last names, but some of the children I can’t remember their names,” he said, rummaging through stacks of old notebooks, searching for details about their births.
“Mothers are the ones who help me get to know them.”
But Hasahiya can’t even remember the names of some of his wives, and has to consult one of his sons, Shaban Magino, a 30-year-old primary school teacher who helps run the family and is one of the few who has been educated.
Monthly family meetings
To resolve disagreements in such a huge setting, Hesaiah says they have monthly family meetings.
A local official who oversees Bugisa village, which has a population of about 4,000 people, said that despite the challenges, he had “raised his children well” and there were no instances of theft or fighting, for example.
The people of Bugisa are largely peasants engaged in small-scale cultivation of crops such as rice, cassava, or coffee, or raising livestock.
Many members of the Hasahiya family try to earn money or food by doing housework for their neighbours, or spend their days fetching firewood and water, often traveling long distances on foot.
Those in the house sit around the grounds, some women weaving mats or plaiting hair, while men play cards under the shelter of a tree.
Line up to eat
When the midday meal of boiled cassava is ready, the Hasahiya fishermen emerge from the hut where he spends most of his day, shouting in a commanding voice to the family to line up to eat.
“But the food is barely enough. We are forced to feed the children once or on a good day twice,” says Hasahiya’s third wife, Zubaina.
She said if she had known he had other wives, she would not have agreed to marry him.
“Even when I came and resigned myself to my fate… he brought the fourth and fifth until he was 12,” she added despondently.
Two of his Hasahiyah wives have left, and three more are now living in another town about two kilometers away due to overcrowding in the house.
When asked why he thought more of his wives had not abandoned him, Hasahiya said, “They all love me, and you see they are happy!”