BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 July 2005, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Polygamy no fun, admits Ethiopian
By Mohammed Adow
BBC, Ethiopia

Ayattu Nure
Ayattu Nure: Do as I say, not as I do
An Ethiopian man with 11 wives and 77 children is urging people not to follow his example and is giving advice on family planning and contraception.

After seeing his fortune disappear under the competing demands of his enormous family, Ayattu Nure, 56, even urges people not to get married.

"I want my children to be farmers but I have no land, I want them to go to school but I have no money," he says.

But his eldest son has not heeded Mr Ayattu's advice and he has three wives.

Share wealth

Seven of Mr Ayattu's wives live in huts around his compound, which are in urgent need of renovation.

Another four live in huts on the other side of the valley in Giwe Abossa village, 300km from the capital, Addis Ababa in Arsi region.

He says he cannot remember all his children's names but tries to work out who they are from their mothers and which huts they live in.

Mr Ayattu says he used to be rich and wanted to share his wealth around, which is why he took so many wives.

But now he struggles to feed them all.

"I feel like killing myself when I see my hungry children whom I cannot help," Mr Ayattu says.

His wives have given birth to more than 100 children but 23 have died.

School photos

However, he blames Ethiopia's government for not doing more to help him look after all his children.

People see me as a funny man, but there is no fun in my condition
Ayattu Nure
"I know I have done wrong by marrying many wives and begetting many children but I think I deserve help from the government."

But his biggest complaint at the moment is with the authorities of the local school which 40 of his children now attend.

They want photographs for each of his children's files, which will further deplete his meagre resources.

He says that he tries to share his time evenly between his wives and children, adding that although quarrels and squabbles are common, they try to solve their problems amicably.

"People see me as a funny man, but there is no fun in my condition. I am a desperate man struggling to survive," he says.

Although Mr Ayattu's eldest son, Dagne Ayattu, does not have a job, at the age of 33, he has seven children and is about to marry his fourth wife.

But he says he will not have as many children or wives as his father.

Country profile: Ethiopia
09 Jul 05 |  Country profiles


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific