“I AM not going to lie that my seventh wife will be the last; neither am I saying I am searching. But you never know . . . I might decide to add another one!”
These are the audacious words of Robert Gumbura of Harare, who has set his sights on siring 60 children.
A pastor, businessman and former teacher, Gumbura already has 25 children with seven wives, seven of whom are boys. The eldest child, Shiphra, is 27 years old while the youngest, Taonanyasha, is just two months old.
Still the 54-year-old reckons topping 60 is a possibility since his wives “are still productive”.
While most polygamous marriages are characterized by jealous-inspired feuds Gumbura insists all his wives are in good books.
Gumbura who married his first wife, Tafadzwa (49), in 1982 believes polygamy is no challenge as long as “the man can adequately provide for his wives and children”.
“This (polygamy) is not something I sat down and planned. I was greatly influenced by our church founder, Reverend William Branham, who wrote teachings on polygamy.
“I then studied extensively on the subject and started preaching about it. Befittingly, it was at church that I met and wooed some of my wives,” he said
When The Sunday Mail visited his home in Harare’s Greencroft low-density suburb last, all seven spouses were present although they all own separate houses outside Harare. On arrival at the home, one is greeted by several top-of-the-range vehicles parked in the yard, a sure sign of the giant family’s comfortable lifestyle.
“I live with all my children here in Harare. Their mothers have their own houses outside town.
“They are, however, free to come and go as they please. If I want to be with either of them, I simply call them on their phone,” Gumbura said.
Thirteen of his children are enrolled at a private primary school in the capital. Two others attend the same high school. Tuition fees at both schools are pegged above US$500 per term and, because of their large number, the children are normally driven to school in two separate cars.
The Gumburas have seven maids as well as several gardeners, drivers and security guards. Gumbura said his family plus the employees consume a tonne of maize, two cows, seven turkeys, seven goats and 130 chickens, all in a month.
Maids cook for the children while the mothers take turns to make their own food (depending on who is around) and, again, they take turns to cook for their husband.
The first wife, Tafadzwa, has six children. She was stunned when her husband revealed plans of taking a second wife. However, she had a change of heart after reading Reverend Branham’s literature.
Like the rest of the six, she admits polygamy brings with it many challenges. The wives usually rely on the Bible to guide and counsel them.
The second wife, Queen (42), and the third, Tecla (34), are sisters. Tecla said she did not have problems “joining” her elder sister because she “admired the way Gumbura looked after his family”.
Queen said at first, she was worried at the thought of being widowed together with her sister. Funny enough, Gumbura was Queen’s high school teacher.
“We come from a polygamous family. So yes, it was tough but now we have become used to the set-up and have grown close over the years,” said Queen.
Gumbura met Chipo (31), Choice (29) and Concilia (30) (fourth, fifth and sixth respectively) at church. Interestingly, each of them thought she would be “the last woman standing” when they got married.
Amanda (24), the seventh wife, hopes she is the last one. Queen was married in 1994 and has three children. Tecla joined the family in 1997 and has four children. Chipo was married the following year and has four children while Choice who became fifth wife in 2000 has five. Concilia stole Gumbura’s heart in 2001 and has two children while Amanda, who was married in 2005, is a mother of one.
But how does Gumbura manage to look after his huge family?
“I am a very serious farmer and all the land that I own is fully utilised,” he said.
Although he trusts his spouses, Gumbura says he has taken measures to ensure they do not go astray. The wives always have two or more people staying with them at their respective residences at any given time.
All my wives are unemployed and they always have someone around when they are not with me,” he said.
“They hardly travel alone and so far we have not had any problems of infidelity. We are a God-fearing family. We strive to lead a straight life.”