Friday, October 30, 2009

X Factor leads to international incident

LONDON - ITV talent show The X Factor has caused an international row after the Chinese Embassy lodged an official complaint about noise at the contestants' home.

The Chinese Ambassador, who lives next door to the finalists, complained about the noise and disturbance caused by fans outside the house, reports The Sun. A spokesperson for the embassy told the paper: "I can confirm there was a complaint. The reason is several times late at night and early in the mornings the teenage fans were noisy and disturbing."

Ambassador Madam Fu Ying was also said to be irritated by the litter and graffiti left by the teenagers who are hanging around in the upmarket area. Fans are believed to be travelling from as far as Ireland in the hope of catching a glimpse of the show's contestants and earlier in the week, one neighbour complained to the police after a girl was seen flashing at John and Edward.

The complaints have put ITV under increasing pressure to move the finalists to a new home.

A case for the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission

I don’t have any faith in the proposed Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).

It’s not because of its mandate. It’s because I believe it will be just another empty forum for political point-scoring that will solve nothing. Let’s start with a definition of "historical injustices". The responses you will hear should tell you we have embarked on a round-robin trip to nowhere.

For one, I might complain that because my CEO drives a better car than I and lives in a better neighbourhood gives me reason to shout at him about some "injustice". On a more serious note, I want to know whether this TJRC is some kind of first-aid kit or is really meant for the fundamental thing everybody says they want—genuine reconciliation.

To begin with, I want somebody to make me understand why the date of take-off of the injustices the TJRC is supposed to look into has to be 1963. That’s an arbitrary cut-off date, just because it was the year of our independence. Are we saying history began with Jomo Kenyatta and then to Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki?

I believe, with good reason, the land problem will be a hot issue on the TJRC agenda. Are we supposed to ignore that the root lies in colonial times? For starters, is the squatter problem the Mijikenda of the Coast Province suffer a creation of 1963? What about the so-called Coastal strip the British ceded to the Zanzibari Sultanate before Kenya even became a geographical entity?

Let’s turn to Rift Valley. Was the expulsion of the Maasai from the “White Highlands” in 1914 to pave the way for British settler occupation an inconsequential part of our history? Was it an injustice or not? Didn’t it alter the land-owning character of Kenya radically? I ask all of us to listen to William ole Ntimama when he speaks out on this…

How about the reality of the forced or scripted “native” labour that was drafted to work on those settler farms that time ago, and continued to live there? Is the peasant who bought an acre there more offensive than the settler descendant who still lords it over all those other acreages such as in Naivasha and Laikipia?

And what about those who were confined in concentration camps in Central Province during the 1950s State of Emergency, or were locked up and tortured in the Hola detention camp and came out to find the colonial authorities had confiscated their land and property and basically left them paupers? Didn’t they suffer injustice? Will they or their heirs have their say before the TJRC?

I am not saying the TJRC should go all the way back to probe the atrocities Vasco da Gama may have committed against Mvita and Malindi people when he landed there about 500 years ago.

What I am simply saying is that the TJRC should sensibly figure out the timelines that directly bear on the contemporary issues it claims to want to focus on, and then start from there. These injustices did not begin in 1963.

Essentially, my point is that the TJRC should approach its mandate with a deep sense of history. Yet what I see in its line-up are a pushy bunch of activists and wannabe "peace-makers" who don’t qualify for the task of unifying a dangerously divided state like Kenya.

The frequent comparisons with the Truth Commission of South Africa which Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired in 1995 are flippant and misleading. The case against apartheid—a race-based political ideology—was long-standing and clear-cut. Much as we want to pretend our issues are similar, they are not. The complexities of our past could frighten many of those who are grandstanding about “historical injustices”.

I don’t believe the TJRC as presently constituted has the competence to deal with our historical issues from the perspective I see them. I view it as a political organ designed to sidestep the inevitable reckoning with criminal impunity. Anybody who has a sense of how this government works knows this.

If we want to resolve the assassinations of Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki and Robert Ouko, we don’t need a TJRC for that. We will need a properly focused judicial mechanism that gives results.

It is the same thing that must be done to deal with the ghosts of the 2007 post-election mayhem.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Study: Fellatio may significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer in women

(AP) -- Women who perform the act of fellatio and swallow semen on a regular basis, one to two times a week, may reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 40 percent, a North Carolina State University study found.

Doctors had never suspected a link between the act of fellatio and breast cancer, but new research being performed at North Carolina State University is starting to suggest that there could be an important link between the two. In a study of over 15,000 women suspected of having performed regular fellatio and swallowed the ejaculatory fluid, over the past ten years, the researchers found that those actually having performed the act regularly, one to two times a week, had a lower occurance of breast cancer than those who had not.

There was no increased risk, however, for those who did not regularly perform. "I think it removes the last shade of doubt that fellatio is actually a healthy act," said Dr. A.J. Kramer of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research. "I am surprised by these findings, but am also excited that the researchers may have discovered a relatively easy way to lower the occurance of breast cancer in women." The University researchers stressed that, though breast cancer is relatively uncommon, any steps taken to reduce the risk would be a wise decision. "Only with regular occurance will your chances be reduced, so I encourage all women out there to make fellatio an important part of their daily routine," said Dr. Helena Shifteer, one of the researchers at the University. "Since the emergence of the research, I try to fellate at least once every other night to reduce my chances." The study is reported in Friday's Journal of Medical Research.

In 1991, 43,582 women died of breast cancer, as reported by the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Len Lictepeen, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said women should not overlook or "play down" these findings."This will hopefully change women's practice and patterns, resulting in a severe drop in the future number of cases," Lictepeen said.

Sooner said the research shows no increase in the risk of breast cancer in those who are, for whatever reason, not able to fellate regularly. "There's definitely fertile ground for more research. Many have stepped forward to volunteer for related research now in the planning stages," he said. Almost every woman is, at some point, going to perform the act of fellatio, but it is the frequency at which this event occurs that makes the difference, say researchers. Also key seems to be the protein and enzyme count in the semen, but researchers are again waiting for more test data.

The reasearch consisted of two groups, 6,246 women ages 25 to 45 who had performed fellatio and swallowed on a regular basis over the past five to ten years, and 9,728 women who had not or did not swallow. The group of women who had Try MONEY Magazine performed and swallowed had a breast cancer rate of 1.9 percent and the group who had not had a breast cancer rate of 10.4 percent. "The findings do suggest that there are other causes for breast cancer besides the absence of regular fellatio," Shafteer said. "It's a cause, not THE cause."

Why is everyone staring at me?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

USA blasts Uganda on child trafficking

Uganda is not doing enough to rein in child and human trafficking, having failed to comply fully with the minimum standards aimed largely at eliminating the practice, the United States government has noted in a highly critical report.

The report published by the US State Department in June this year notes that Uganda remains a major source and destination for children and adults trafficked for purposes of child labour and sexual exploitation.

The report titled Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Uganda states: “Children from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania are trafficked to Uganda for agricultural labour and commercial sexual exploitation.”

According to the report, children trafficked within Uganda are usually forced to become domestic servants while those taken outside the country are sexually exploited. The report also resurrects the highly contentious issue that Karimojong women and children are still being sold as slaves in cattle markets before they are forced into domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, cattle herding, and ultimately end up as beggars on the streets of urban centres.

This matter was first raised in 2006 after a survey by Save the Children, an international NGO, revealed that Karimojong children were being sold in weekly cattle markets in Kotido, Moroto and Nakapiripirit districts. The survey, at the time, indicated that the practice was being perpetuated by ‘brokers’ who would then ferry these children to towns like Kampala, Mbale, Iganga and Busia.

Other nationalities are also trafficked into the county for agricultural labour and sexual exploitation, the report notes, singling out Pakistanis, Indians and Chinese workers, who are now a common phenomenon in most parts of the country.

Government’s efforts to tackle the problem are weak, says the report, noting that at times victims are instead arrested when they try to seek justice. "The government’s punishment of trafficking offenders did not improve in 2008; however, extensive training of law enforcement officials and the establishment of an anti-trafficking Police unit occurred late in the reporting period. The government reported no prosecutions or convictions compared to several trafficking convictions obtained the previous year," notes the report.

Jessica Alupo, the Minister of State for Children and Youth Affairs, said the criticism is unfair because government has done a lot to curb the vice. "We have a unit in every Police station that handles child trafficking and we are working closely with the Ministry of Internal Affairs to stop the practice," she said.

Alupo also pointed out a number of laws such as the Anti-Trafficking Law passed in April this year as evidence of government’s commitment towards fighting the vice. Among other issues, the law stipulates that it is criminal to employ anybody below the age of 18 years for domestic and other purposes.

Indeed, the report takes note of these achievements only that it urges government to do more. "Uganda must also enact and implement the newly passed anti-trafficking legislation, investigate and punish labour recruiters responsible for knowingly sending Ugandans into forced labour abroad, and develop further mechanisms for providing, in partnership with NGOs, protective services to all types of trafficking victims," the report urges.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Did Russian scientists really drill into hell?

Since the collapse of the old Soviet Union in 1989, many bizarre secret files of the KGB have been inspected by the intelligence services of both America and Britain. In 1990, one of these old files was faxed to the D11 Department of the Secret Service in Whitehall London, but what the dossier contained was so extraordinary and unbelievable, the data it contained soon leaked out.

The information contained in that file, including other information gathered from an article in a Finnish newspaper called Ammennusatia, is stated below. In August 1989, geologists from Moscow were sent to Siberia, where a Soviet oil drill had descended to bore a hole in the earth’s crust to a record depth of over 12 miles. This borehole is still the world’s deepest, but something was obstructing the revolving tip of the drill, and no one knew what it was.

Dr Dimitri Azzakov, a world authority on the earth’s crust, had therefore been sent for. He arrived with a team of experts and continued the drilling. Dr Azzakov said, “The drill suddenly began to rotate wildly, indicating that we had reached a large empty pocket or cavern. Temperature sensors showed a dramatic increase in heat to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is far more then we expected. It seemed almost like an inferno of fire was brutally going on in the centre of the earth.”

Azzakov ordered further drilling attempts to be stopped and requested over 12 miles of heat-resistant electrical cable. He attached a sensitive microphone to the end of the cable and lowered it through the hollow shaft of the drill. The microphone was water-cooled and coated with thermo-insulation tiles similar to those used on the heat-shield of spacecraft.

One hour later, in his trailer, which was cluttered with electrical hardware, Azzakov switched on a sensitive amplifier that was connected to the underground microphone, and expected to hear the stresses and strains of molten rock under pressure, but what he and the other five people present did hear was to haunt them for the rest of their lives. The microphone picked up what sounded like hundreds of human voices, screaming in pain.

Azzakov stated that, “We lowered a microphone, designed to detect the sounds of plate movements down the shaft. But instead of plate movements we heard a human voice screaming in pain! At first we thought the sound was coming from our own equipment. But when we made adjustments our worst suspicions were confirmed.

The screams weren’t those of a single human, they were the screams of millions of humans! The last discovery was nevertheless the most shocking to our ears, so much so that the scientists are afraid to continue the project. We tried to listen to the earth’s movements at certain intervals with supersensitive microphones, which were let down through the hole. What we heard turned those logically thinking scientists into trembling ruins. We could hardly believe our own ears. Even though one voice was discernible, we could hear thousands, perhaps millions, in the background, of suffering souls screaming.

After this ghastly discovery, about half of the scientists quit because of fear. Hopefully, that which is down there will stay there,” Dr Azzakov added. “As a communist, I don’t believe in heaven or the Bible, but as a scientist, I now believe in hell,” said Dr Azzakov. “Needless to say, we were shocked to make such a discovery. But we know what we heard. And we are absolutely convinced that we drilled through the gates of hell!”

Azzakov taped the sounds, and was obviously baffled by the disturbing noises of the subterranean wails. “It sounds like people down there, but it obviously cannot be,” Azzakov said to an ex-military officer who was now supervising the drilling operation. At last, one of the men present said what was on everyone’s mind, “You know, if I were not an atheist, I would say we were listening to the sounds of hell.”

Azzakov laughed very nervously at the man’s comments. He was afraid of the distressing sounds, but being a scientist, it was his job to explain them. He therefore ordered a heat-resistant camera from the Baikonur space centre. Azzakov was a widely respected scientist, and within three days, a military helicopter arrived at the remote drilling outpost with the special camera, which was identical to a space-probe camera that had been designed to withstand the phenomenal heat of Venus.

The camera was lowered down the shaft for over an hour and switched on. According to the incredible account signed both by Azzakov and an aeronautics engineer from the space centre, shimmering pictures of people silhouetted against glowing rocks could be seen. The figures were motionless, and laying about on the incandescent rocks. Every few minutes a bright light was seen to move among them, but the light was always out of focus, and seemed to be under intelligent control. The harrowing scenes were allegedly videotaped, but three minutes into the tape, the camera malfunctioned and the microphone melted.

A blast of steam rushed up through the hollow shaft and sent clouds of foul-smelling sulphur and choking fumes to the surface. The drill had to be disconnected because of insurmountable mechanical problems with the shaft, and the drilling operation was subsequently moved to another site in Siberia hundreds of miles away.

“What really unnerved the Soviets, apart from the voice recordings, was the appearance that same night of a fountainhead of luminous gas shooting up from the drill site, and amidst this incandescent cloud pillar, a brilliant being with bat wings revealed itself with the words (in Russian): “I have conquered” emblazoned against the dark Siberian sky.

The incident was absolutely unreal; the Soviets cried out in terror,” says Mr Nummedal, a resident in the area. Later that night, he saw ambulance crews circulating in the community. A driver he knew told him that they had been told to sedate everybody with a medication known to erase short term memory. The Soviets use this drug in the treatment of shock victims.

Azzakov and the expert from the space centre were interrogated by the KGB and warned to say nothing to anyone in Russia about the weird incident.

The country was then under crumbling communist control, and atheism was the official line of the ruling party. Any rumour of the strange inferno under Siberia would have been construed by many as proof that hell is a reality.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gay pride in Ghana?

LOL. This is not gay pride. Actually, it's Commonwealth Hall of University of Ghana students just fooling around. This is a satirical prank they have been playing for the longest time. Commonwealth students will do this just for fun. Commonwealth is an all males' hall at the university, so you can understand why they think this is fun...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Naked girls plough fields for rain!

I read a news report from India recently that left me thinking I had been flung back in time. Apparently farmers in Bihar—one of India’s most backward states—are forcing their unmarried daughters to plough their fields naked after sunset in an attempt to "embarrass" the gods into sending rain to the drought-stricken land. According to the wise elders of Bihar, this is the final resort when it comes to causing rain.

Now, I ask myself: Is Bihar backward because these ignorant people live there? Or are they ignorant because they live in a poor society? Or do they reinforce each other? Either way, the level of ignorance is breathtaking. India hopes to become one of the world's richest nations in the next two or three decades, but it has a great deal left to do in its more remote reaches.

Trust in this rain-making ploy requires belief in a number of bizarre things. First, that there are 'gods' sitting around somewhere in charge of rain. Second, that these gods do not send rain just to prevent people from starving—misery is not enough to move them. Third, that embarrassment works in prompting them, and that the sight of naked young women taking to the plough is sufficiently embarrassing.

In addition, note that for such a ploy to be recommended, a society needs to be both backward and patriarchal. It needs to be the sort of place where male elders sit around doing sweet nothing, smoking intoxicating substances and indulging in brainless superstitions and taboos. The embarrassments and punishments, please note, are almost always meted out on women. In neighbouring Pakistan, elders often see fit to order the gang-rape of women as forms of 'justice'.

That so many societies in the 21st century have been unable to educate their people to rise above this kind of nonsense is indeed worrying. It makes me fear for the future when so many people across the globe remain dependent on the elements, and still imagine that they can be influenced by drum beats, dances and rituals. What have all these educational advances been for if so many are left behind in this way?

In Kenya we are reportedly close to a state of national emergency. Our wells and rivers and reservoirs have dried up, leaving millions exposed to thirst and hunger and the rest of us subjected to power and water rationing. We are ripe for superstition-mongering and paranoid delusions. In our rural heartlands, there is no shortage of superstitions relating to ancestors, animals, mountains, rivers and forests.

But what is interesting is how superstition-prone even educated people in urban areas are. Some still believe that touching wood somehow wards off misfortune; that you should not leave the house after sneezing; that you shouldn’t step on the cracks in the pavement when walking.

Now, I admit that I was brought up to believe those very things, but at some point in my early teens, rationality kicked in. Most of these things were told to us by our grandmothers because they were told to them by their grandmothers. Generations ago, these things held some merit because people knew no better.

But for us to go around believing them now suggests that most of us remain children who are afraid of the dark and the unknown, and are all too willing to ascribe supernatural causes to phenomena we don’t understand.

The problem is that many, many hucksters and con men step forward to take advantage of this ignorance. The world is filled with witch doctors, medicine-men, astrologers, gurus, elders, pastors, clerics and healers who prey on the fearful and impoverish them. All you have to do is observe the antics of these charlatans on any given Sunday to see the loud fakery that passes for 'healing' and 'salvation'.

Way back in 1948, psychologist B. F. Skinner experimented on the origins of superstition. He placed a series of hungry pigeons in a cage attached to an automatic mechanism that delivered food randomly, with no reference to the birds' behaviour. He discovered that the pigeons associated the delivery of the food with whatever chance actions they had been performing as it was delivered. They subsequently continued to perform these same actions in the hope that they would deliver food.

And so one would observe birds doing strange dances, tossing their heads or conducting complicated pendulum motions—all convinced that these rituals would make the food come. Which of course came randomly. There is little difference between those pigeons, the farmers of Bihar and those who believe that the entrails of chickens ward off evil.

As a footnote, let me tell you that some rain actually did arrive after the naked daughters of Bihar did their thing. That is indeed tragic. It means that today's children will pass it on to their progeny, and this custom will probably survive another century or more.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why is Egypt killing so many Africans?


I have been reading the history of Egypt and the Nile Valley, stretching some 6,000 years back, in preparation for my teaching lectures, and I must say I am thoroughly impressed.

Diehard racists can say what they like, but there is no doubt, from solid evidence, that the Nile Valley was the cradle of human civilisations.

While Western Europe was still steeped in slumber and darkness, the communities of the Nile — Egypt, Nubia, Kush, Aksum and Meroe — were teaching their children reading and writing, mathematics, philosophy, algebra, trigonometry and fine art.

For a long time, the truth about African history was hidden, because those in Europe who explained it had not put their prejudices behind them.

But the truth is that while the European civilisation was later built on the achievements of ancient Greeks, the Greeks, in their turn, owed much of what they know to the ancient Egyptians, whether in the field of ideas or practical skills.

Having said that, we must also lament that the slave trade and slavery were the darkest blot of this wonderful civilisation. Throughout the Pharaonic, Greek, Roman and Islamic eras, black folk were hunted throughout the plains of Lower and Upper Nile for sale and servitude in the Mediterranean crescent.

Some were sent to southern Europe and to the Near East, while many were used in Egypt itself for agricultural and military purposes.

In the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries AD, the Arabs from Egypt had began to infiltrate the Shilluk empire of Funj in the north and central Sudan, destroying property, capturing slaves and robbing the inhabitants of land and livestock.

It was very similar to what has been happening in Darfur in recent decades. It was because of these Jihadist depredations that a large number of Luos left the Sudan to settle in Uganda and Western Kenya.

Slavery, by itself, might not be reprehensible, except when it was accompanied by vicious cruelty, torture and random death. Is it not sad that certain north-west Saharan African states still practise slavery to this day?

But my ire in this article is with the present day Egypt — supposedly the most advanced and enlightened of African states with preponderant Arab population.
Forgetting, or simply ignorant, of shared historic glory, Egypt has been cruel and extremely unfair to Africans who visit or attempt to pass through it.

Unlike during the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser when Egypt was a safe passageway for Africans being persecuted by the imperialists, today Egypt is incorrigibly lethal. Stray into Egypt and you are a dead man.

These are economically and politically hard times for many Africans, particularly the Somalis, Zimbabweans and Ethiopians. Some want to cross over either to Europe or to Israel, for all sorts of reasons.

Indeed, illegal border crossings in Africa are commonplace and everywhere. It could be Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa, Somalis crossing into Kenya, Sudanese crossing into Uganda, Ethiopians crossing into Eritrea, Burundians crossing into Tanzania, name it.

Illegal though most of these crossings are, they must be handled with human dignity and within appropriate international law.

The Egyptian regime, under President Hosni Mubarak, has been murdering any Africans who strayed into Egypt, or who are seen at their border.

Indeed, since May this year alone, Egyptian troops have shot and killed 12 African migrants at its strategic Sinai border, who were claimed to be heading for Israel. I have read so many such shootings in the past.

The question is: Why this savagery? Who is President Mubarak attempting to please? Is he the only African leader besieged by opportunity-seeking migrants?

Africa is facing gigantic problems like poverty, droughts, famines, pestilence, unemployment and civil strife. We must desist from cheapening our lives by killing our people like one might kill pigs.

It is disturbing that both the United Nations and the African Union are tight-lipped as Egypt kills innocent African fortune-seekers.

Prof Ochieng’ teaches History at Maseno University.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thugs decked by transvestites

Two drunken thugs have learnt a lesson after the pair of cross-dressing men they attacked turned out to be cage fighters in fancy dress.

Haplesss Dean Gardner, 19, and Jason Fender, 22, were floored by their intended victims after picking on them in a random attack.

The amazing scene was captured on CCTV in the centre of Swansea, Wales.

The footage shows a bare-chested Gardner brazenly marching up to one of the 'victims' who was wearing hot pants and a pink wig.

Puffed-up Gardner, followed by Fender, runs up to the innocent reveller, who was dressed up for a stag party, and punches him in the face.

But the victim's friend, - wearing a short black dress, stockings and suspenders - suddenly appears behind them felling them both with two devastating punches.

The men in drag leave the dazed yobs on the ground - scooping up their handbags as they head off down the high street.

Gardner and Fender then attempt to get up but are so concussed they weave along the street nearly bumping into a phone box.

To make matters worse the pair are eventually confronted by police while nursing their injuries and are arrested.

The sorry saga was revealed at Swansea Magistrates Court where the pair both pleaded guilty to using abusive words and behaviour.

The court heard that prior to the dust-up with the cage fighters the yobs had got into a fight with a man dressed in a spideman costume.

Magistrates handed them a community order each and they were given an electronic tag.

Mark Davies, defending the pair, said they had been drinking cocktails and that Fender had downed at least 10 pints of cider.

"Unfortunately they were extremely drunk, and you know it cannot have been a good night when you get into a fight with Spiderman and two cross-dressing men," Mr Davies said.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"I married four women to save money"

DURBAN - South African businessman Milton Mbele broke all the traditional rules of a polygamous wedding when he recently married four women on the same day.

The four brides dressed in flowing white gowns walked down the aisle together, before saying "We do" to the 44-year-old groom.

Mr Mbele says he didn't marry them purely for the spectacle but also because it made financial sense. "I don't know how much four different weddings would have cost me but I know doing it all at once saved money," he explains. "For example I only needed one tent, I needed to hire one caterer and one photographer for the entire ceremony. I began putting money aside for the event towards the end of 2007 and started collecting quotes for things like the tent and catering costs early last year."

He says he loves all his wives - Thobile Vilakazi, Zanele Langa, Baqinisile Mdlolo and Smangele Cele - equally and also treats them that way. Mr Mbele himself wears four rings on his finger - he says this is a sign of his commitment to all his wives. The wives say they were shocked by the news that Mr Mbele wanted to marry them at once but add that they agreed because they love him.

Some two weeks after their much publicised two-day ceremony, Mr Mbele says he is overwhelmed by all the attention his wedding has attracted.

Mr Mbele, a Zulu businessman and municipal manager, says polygamy is still very much part of Zulu tradition. "This is a proud part of our culture. It has been practiced for generations before us. My grandfather himself had three wives," he says, quickly adding that he isn't blindly following in his grandfather's footsteps.

"I prefer polygamy to having many girlfriends which is what some married men do," he says. "If I love more than one woman, I would rather make it known to the other women in my life and make it official. If I feel like taking another wife this is something that will be in the open and my wives would know," he says.

President Jacob Zuma, also a Zulu, has three wives.

But the practice has been met with criticism. Some point out that it does not afford equal rights to men and women. Women are not allowed to wed more than one husband, while a man can have as many wives as he wishes. In a polygamous marriage only the first wife is legally recognised, which could pose some difficulties in dividing the husband's estate when he dies.

South Africa has the highest number of HIV-positive people in the world - some five million.

There are seven days in a week and I have four wives. I will take turns visiting them and use the remaining three days to rest. - Milton Mbele

Since having more than one sexual partner increases the chances of contracting the virus, it is understandable that Smangele's family had reservations about her entering into a polygamous marriage. "My family was not pleased at first but they came around eventually," she says.

They are taking the necessary precautions, which include regular HIV tests.

"I had my last test a few months ago when I was pregnant... We are all disciplined about staying healthy," she says.

The arrangements seem to have been carefully thought out down to the last detail, including how Mr Mbele will alternate between his four wives, who all live in different parts of northern KwaZulu-Natal province. "There are seven days in a week and I have four wives. I will take turns visiting them and use the remaining three days to rest," he says.

When asked how she feels about Mr Mbele's visitation plan Simangele quickly responds: "I believe it will work. I am used to living on my own and having him visit me on certain days so this won't be anything new to us," she says, reaching for her husband's hand.

In fact, Mr Mbele has already been in relationships with his new wives for several years. He has three children with "first wife" Thobile, two with "wife-number-two" Zanele, one child with Baqinisile, referred to as "wife-number-three" and two children with "youngest wife" Smangele.

He also has three children from a previous relationship.

Mr Mbele is the breadwinner in all his homes - none of his wives are employed. They say they are happy to be provided for by their husband. He owns 100 cows and 250 goats and has a good job, so he is relatively wealthy, at least by traditional standards.