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South Africa: New reality TV show Uthando Nes’thembu on polygamy stirs debate

Polygamy is regarded by some as an old fashioned and outdated idea, and a new reality TV show in South Africa, Uthando Nes’Thembu on Mzansi Magic is challenging such perceptions. Musa Mseleku a South African businessman has four wives, and the show is premised on their experiences. The show has a huge following in South Africa, and it has stirred debate on the highly contentious cultural practice.



four wives

A new television reality show has hit the continent and South Africans have been glued to their television sets since its debut. The show called Uthando Nes’Thembu is shown on Mzansi Magic on DStv, and it’s about a businessman, Musa Mseleku and his four wives.

According to Mzansi Magic the show explores how the four navigate a polygamous relationship, their family dynamics, staying true to tradition in a modern world and the sisterhood of the wives.

The new TV show has become a sensation in South Africa and it has been trending on social media. Mseleku, in addition to his four wives has 10 children. The 43-year-old KwaZulu Natal indigene continued to trend on Twitter when it was revealed that he has a 5pm curfew for his wives, and that his wives had to get permission from him before they attended a party. But that’s not the only incident that made Twitter react. When the Mselekus went shopping for groceries, they spent more than $1,500 (R20,000) which made many South Africans have different opinions on polygamy. Some said that polygamy is for the rich, while others compared their gross income to the single outing by the Mselekus.



The show which airs on Mzansi Magic on Channel 161 sheds a new light on polygamy. Msekelu said, “unconditional love is what I give all my wives,” despite the fact that his first wife is his favourite.

The programme brings a fusion of a traditional systems and modern technology (television). The show has taken reality TV to a whole new level and ignited debate on the cultural practice.

Read: South Africa: President Jacob Zuma endorses ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC leadership

The show raises questions on African cultures, not just in terms of patriarchy in polygamy, but also on the existence of polygamy, a contentious practice. In South Africa, polygamy is legal. The question many viewers have been asking is why would a woman subject herself to such a situation?


The show will be airing its 4th episode on June 8. Mseleku’s first wife is MaCele, followed by Mayeni, the third is MaKhumalo and lastly MaNgwabe. He did not marry his wives in the order that he met them. He met his second wife first, but her family had objections to a polygamous marriage.

Described as a good loving man by his wives, humble and respectful, Mseleku who has 10 children wants 10 more. His desire for a big family came from his days as a boy growing up in KwaZulu Natal.

He described his first wife MaCele as a woman of not many words who when she gets upset doesn’t hesitate to strike back. He also described her as being very open with her feelings.

His second wife Mayeni is calm but will push back when angry. A good listener, she asks for clarification to whatever she doesn’t understand.


Thobile Khumalo, his third wife, he describes her as an open book. She wasn’t open as she is now, he says. With her, what you see is what you get.

His fourth wife, MaNgwabe, he says is quiet but can’t hold a grudge for a long time. “She doesn’t let go or forget easily,” he adds.

Read: Do Wives Have to Submit to their Husbands?

Social media reactions


South African twitter has been filled with all sorts of memes in response to the program and different episodes shown.