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Monday, October 4, 2010

RIP Akuku Danger

The sun has finally set on Kenya's most prominent polygamist. The man who claims to have married more than 100 wives and divorced 30 — perhaps Kenya’s most prominent polygamist — has died.

Ancentus Akuku “Danger”, the towering nonagerian, made the final bow from a life in which he casted one of the most hilarious characters whose appetite for marriage only rivalled the biblical King Solomon.

At his home, are graves of 12 wives and 46 surviving ones. He once said he had hundreds of children, and that 35 sons and 20 daughters had died. So many were his children and wives that the family built a church and two primary schools to accommodate them. According to his eldest son, Dr Tom Akuku, Danger — as he was popularly known — collapsed in the compound of his home. “My father collapsed and was rushed to St Camilus Hospital in Karungu, Nyatike District, where his condition deteriorated. He was then transferred to Kisumu. We first took him to Agan Khan Hospital to be admitted in the intensive care unit but unfortunately, the ICU was full, prompting us to take him to New Nyanza. After he was certified dead, we took his body back to St Camilus mortuary” said Dr Akuku who runs a clinic in Mbita Town. That was on Saturday night.

Dr Akuku, the chairman of the family welfare association, said that his father brought up a family of diverse professionals including doctors, engineers, teachers and policemen. He cherished education. In the 1970s, he founded and established two primary schools — Aora Chuodho and Kogore primary schools — to cater for his many children. Due to his influence in the community, politicians interested in the Ndhiwa parliamentary seat coalesced around him, seeking advice. Independence politicians like Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Tom Mboya were some of his closest friends.

Danger married his first wife, Dinah Akuku, in 1939, while the youngest wife, Josephine Akuku, 35, was married in 1992. He said he was called Danger because of his good looks which women found hard to resist. His most conservative estimate is that he had 160 children. He has four villages — Manyuanda, Aora Chuodho, Kogore and Okayo in Karungu in Nyatike District, as well as other sub-homes, as he referred to them. In a past interview, he said he drew his strength in old age as he was careful about what he ate. He avoided fat and had a particular time to eat. He said he was responsible for the name choice of his children as a strategy to help him bond with them.

His was an empire built around small-scale business, hard working children and from the dowry paid for his many daughters. Akuku’s family works on large parcels of land where they plant food crops. He was also a cattle dealer and most of his wives are small-scale traders. Although not formally educated, his business acumen and oratory prowess allowed him to mingle with the high and mighty.

His fame went beyond borders, and his home hosted the international journalists seeking the story of a man who became polygamous at 22.

In addition, within the Homa Bay County, he was one of the most revered leaders who did not shy away from speaking his mind. As the family grew, the older ones took the responsibility of education and feeding the younger ones, maintaining one of the biggest family trees in the region.

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