When I visited Mr Patrick Oburu’s home in Buswikira village, Mpungwe Sub-county, Mayuge District, I discovered that even children as young as seven years knew him.
As I tried to trace his home, I learnt that the 60-year-old traditional healer is well-known at the village for having 12 wives.
“Do you want Oburu who has many wives?” A young girl asked me, as I inquired to know where his home was.
“Continue up to the junction and turn on the left, you will see a big home with many grass-thatched houses,” she directed me.
At his home, I was welcomed by a sight of one big main house surrounded by several grass-thatched houses.
It was during the interview with him that I learnt that all his 12 wives stay in that house. The adjacent 15 grass-thatched huts were built by his sons, some of them married.
Getting 12 wives
Mr Oburu, who admitted to having married his first wife in 1968, and the 12th wife in 2000, has 61 children all alive. “I started with two wives from one family followed by another two also from one family. Then I got three also from one family followed by two others from one family and one who is the youngest,” he says.
He adds that he was a popular musician and whenever his group performed at events, women admired him.
“Whenever I married a woman, my in-laws gave me another one. I think this was God’s plan and the power of my spirits,” Mr Oburu says.
How he manages them
He says he decided to keep them in one house so that they do not elope.
“When I got money after selling my produce, I built this house with twelve rooms. Each woman sleeps in one room and I keep moving from one room to another,” he says. He has six kitchens and these are shared among all his wives.
Mr Oburu adds that he is an only child and one of the reasons he decided to marry many women was to expand the clan. He belongs to Baise Ngobi clan.
The son’s take
Mr Badiru Ngobi, the elder son, hails his father for fostering unity in the family.
He notes that even if some people might see his father as a womaniser, his act to marry many women helped the clan expand.
Source of income
Working as a farmer and a traditional healer, Mr Oburu feels he can no longer support what he termed as a big family.
He says the available small land has been divided by the family for farming and appeals to well-wishers for assistance to support the education of his children.
The womens’ take
When we visited his home, there were six women at home and the others had gone to the garden. But they all looked happy and united.
“I am Nakanda Oburu, the first wife. Our husband is good and I am the one who asked him to marry my sister. We are twelve women in this house and we live as a family,” she said
“I am Jessica Oburu, the sixth wife. He saw me when he came at our home to pick my sister. My daddy told me to accompany them and on reaching here, I became a wife.”
Ms Faith Oburu the seventh wife says they live in harmony and when there is a conflict amongst them, they all sit and resolve it.
According to Mr Oburu, 20 girls got married. He said six children are at university, four in O-level and others in primary school.