“BE fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground,” reads Genesis 1 verse 28.
If there ever was a devout Christian who devotedly heeds to this Bible verse is Chief Marange from Marange in Mutare District.
The man has fathered more than 80 children with countless women.
His official wives whom he customarily married are 11. He lost two to death and the other two to divorces.
He remained with seven wives, but the number bounced back to 11 again after he inherited four more wives from his late brothers (kugara nhaka).
With the inherited wives, Chief Marange has fathered eight children, while he has 64 offspring with his married wives.
Eight more children were fathered out of wedlock and are yet to be formally brought into the family.
Contrary to popular belief, Chief Marange, born Makungauta Mutisi Murwira Marange, does not belong to an apostolic church, popular for encouraging polygamy within their members.
The 89-year-old chief belongs to Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). The church is among the mainstream Christian churches that criticise polygamy.
“I am a firm believer and I understand the Bible more than anyone in the SDA Church or any other denomination. I read to understand and interpret it. Genesis 1 v 28 guides me. How else do you think the Lord expected us to ‘fill the earth and reign over the fish in the sea’ with only one wife and a few children?
“That verse was put in there for a reason. Besides that, what else can make a man happy than a full house and a lot of children,” laughed Chief Marange in an interview recently.
The traditional leader also attributes his polygamy to his late father.
Chief Marange was born to a second wife of a polygamist on June 6, 1933.
Growing up, he had 22 siblings, two mothers and one father and all he wished for was to have a bigger family later in life, a dream that he made come true.
“Polygamy in Zimbabwe was traditionally practised by tribal chiefs as a means of elevating their social standing, though they would typically only take two or three wives, but I was a polygamist even before I was made substantive chief in 2016. This was because it is my family’s belief that we should be fruitful and multiply as taught by our late fathers,” he said.
Chief Marange claims he knows all his children by name and face and that he shares his love fairly among all of them.
He, however, does not know the number of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren as they are many.
“To tell you the truth, my family tree, with me as the head has hundreds of people. Imagine if all my children had five children each, but that is not the case, because they actually have more.
“Most of my children are polygamists, with some having as many as five wives each and have five children with each wife. I have actually lost count because I have a lot of grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as great-great-grandchildren,” he said.
Asked on his secret to managing such a large family, Chief Marange said it is all about keeping his various wives happy.
“If the wives are happy, then the children will also be happy. No child wants to see their mother upset. To keep them happy, I am at their disposal at all times. When it comes to their conjugal rights, they get them whenever they want.
“I have five wives staying at my homestead, but in their different houses, while two stay at the farm. Those that I inherited still stay at my late brothers’ homesteads nearby. I visit all their bedrooms regularly.
“I do not have a schedule when it comes to conjugal rights and visiting my wives. I just decide at a spur of the moment and whoever gets lucky will have me that night. My biggest secret is that I am a very strong man in bed. I would not have achieved all this if it was not for that.
“I also get boosters from the different traditional herbs and medicines that I source myself in the forest. I do all this so that I leave everyone satisfied and happy,” he said with a chuckle.
He was acting chief for seven years following the death of his older brother, Gilbert Marange in 2002.
He was installed as the substantive chief for the Marange people in 2016.
In an interview, Chief Marange’s senior wife, Ms Clara Chikata (84) who he sired 11 children with, said like any other polygamous relationship, as wives, they have their own fall-outs, but they settle them amicably.
“Polygamy is not really a bad thing if the man shares his plans and vision with his wives. This is what baba does as we make decisions together. I could not stop him from marrying other women as he is the head of the family and he has the money to do so. It is his wealth after all.
“Problems start when the polygamist starts loving one woman more than the others. However, ours is a peaceful marriage. We are loved equally and when we argue, he is a great peacemaker,” she said.
She also said she loves having a full house and that had it not been for her advanced age, she would still be procreating.
In 1992, Chief Marange married Ms Chikata’s niece, Ms Phinisia Chikata as his fifth wife.
She was staying with her aunt.
While this created a little tension between the two relatives, peace prevailed a few months later after they opted to be a team rather than rivals, said Phinisia.
“I was staying with my aunt when the chief married me. Yes, she was livid, but this was short-lived. Instead, we were united by being sister-wives. I have six children and still going. Ever since, we have been living peacefully and enjoying our marriage.
“Yes, arguments will be there, but our marriage is better than most polygamous marriages. We are being looked after very well and we are not being abused in any way. To also top it, we were all of marriageable age when he married us,” said the woman.
Chief Marange’s wives are also SDA Church devotees.
Chief Marange’s daughter, Ms Edith Marange, well-known as Ashe Marange as she is one of the few female traditional leaders in the area, said the pros of being born in a polygamous family outweigh the cons.
“Being born in a polygamous family is not all smiles and roses. There is pain that will follow you even into your adulthood if your mother was unappreciated and you as children were neglected by your father. Besides, I honestly do not believe that the wives will all get equal access for their conjugal rights.
“However, when it comes to numbers and having a big family, that is one big advantage that I had growing up. I had many brothers and sisters on my side who always defended me. Besides, had it not been for polygamy, I would not have been born,” she said.
Chief Marange said he is not yet done with marrying as he is still searching for more women to marry and that he still wants more children.
His first born child is 69 years old, while his youngest is only two.
Thrity-five of them are females, while the rest are males.
“Do not call him my last born child. He is not my last because I know that more will be coming. I want more children because procreating makes me happy. I still want more children just as I still want to marry more wives. In other words, I am still searching,” he said.