By Caasi Sagalai – He towered high, he had quite a sense of humour and he was surrounded by many women who called him husband. Ancentus Akuku, or ‘Danger’ as he was commonly known, had dozens of wives and hundreds of children. He also came to own four villages, a church and two primary schools, exclusively meant for his family and offspring. Akuku passed away last Saturday.
Newspapers refer to the man from Ndhiwa, in Kenya’s Nyanza district as ‘the country’s most prominent polygamist’. At the age of 22 he is said to have already had 5 wives. In the decades thereafter between 1939 and 1992 – Akuku married more than 130 times, fathered over 200 children and divorced over 80 women.
So large is Akuku’s family that when his wives and children were asked to stand up at his burial, more than half of the mourners rose on their feet. Polygamy occupied his heart so much that it was no longer a family affair but an industry.
Akuku had a good instinct and business sense. His children describe him as a harsh disciplinarian who valued education. Among his children are doctors, teachers and engineers. He was called ‘Danger’ because many women found him highly irresistible.
“I overshadowed many men when it came to women”, he once told a newspaper journalist. “I was very handsome. I dressed well and I knew how to charm women with sweet talk. No woman could decline my advances. I was a magnet.”
Many people were surprised as to how one man could manage and accommodate such a large number of women. In one interview with Kenyan newspaper ‘Daily Nation’ Akuku said: “I am careful about what I eat. I avoid fat and eat at a particular time.”
Akuku’s philosophy on polygamy: “I divorced women who misbehaved”, he is quoted as having once said.
Akuku was later to say, “I lived a lavish lifestyle. I was always ready to spend money on women. To keep a woman one has to respond to her immediate needs.”
Akuku was 92 at the time of his death. His influence and popularity made politicians ask him to talk to the electorate on their behalf, as his oratory skills were legendary.
In most African societies, children were and still are a symbol of prosperity, in some places it is even a taboo to count them. If a man’s worth was to be measured by the number of children, then ‘Danger’ was in a league of his own.