(Bamako’s males, on the other hand, can wait until their 30s or even 40s, and indeed the average age at first marriage is about 9 years older for males than females here.) The fact that essentially all men and women in Mali marry — demographic surveys show no significant numbers of “old maids” or “confirmed bachelors” in the Malian population — does nothing to diminish many young women’s fears of being unable to marry.
The myth of female overpopulation makes young women all the more anxious to find a husband, and all the more willing to settle for a polygamous one, while it also provides husbands a useful, even humanitarian justification for marrying multiple wives.
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: Countries in the left cluster, all of them West African, have polygamy rates of 35% or more; those in the middle cluster, in West and Central Africa, have rates of 10-30%; those in the right cluster, in North Africa and Asia, are between 5 and 10%.] One might therefore conclude that polygamy is popular in Mali, and indeed it is.
Yet our focus group data also reveal that people here see polygamy as a problematic institution, the cause of considerable domestic strife and intra-family conflicts.
For every discussion with unmarried, less-educated young women, for instance, we’ll have another with unmarried, less-educated young men, another with unmarried, more-educated young women, another with married, less-educated women, etc.
We meet each group on their “turf” so to speak, ask each group the same questions, and the discussions last from 90 minutes to two hours.
Young Bamakoises want to get married by age 25, after which point they’re seen as having passed their “sell-by” date.
They worry that if they don’t find a husband by their mid-20s, they never will.They are most likely to say that without polygamy, many women would never find a husband — since “everyone knows” that women far outnumber men in this part of the world.Polygamy, in this view, is an institutional adaptation to Mali’s supposed female overpopulation problem.Due to the large number of males who become rural-to-urban migrants, urban sex ratios in Africa tend to favor men, if only by a little, and Bamako is no exception.The fact that females have a slight edge in national census figures must have something to do with the widespread perception of an excess of females in Bamako.There’s good and bad aspects to any person out there but here to make light of the topic and just offer up some of the good stuff about dating an African man.