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And you thought you had it rough

All right, you married guys out there, the next time you have troubles with the little lady and start feeling sorry for yourselves, I want you to remember the story of Mohammed Bello Abubakar. If ever there was a man who had a legitimate reason to gripe, this is the guy.

Mr. Abubakar, an 84-year-old former teacher and Muslim preacher from Nigeria, has — brace yourselves — 86 wives, making him either the world’s biggest masochist, or the world’s biggest mac daddy.

“I am now the happiest woman on Earth. When you marry a man with 86 wives, you know he knows how to look after them,” said Ganiat Mohammed Bello, who has been married to the man they call “Baba” for 20 years and came running back to him after marrying and divorcing another man.

Oh, don’t worry. It’s not all peaches and cream, and it’s not like Baba is all that psyched about it. He doesn’t advise anyone else to marry so many women. It’s just that Allah tells him to do it.

“A man with 10 wives would collapse and die,” said Mr. Abubakar, stating what any man outside of Utah could have told you, “but my own power is given by Allah. That is why I have been able to control 86 of them.”

Mr. Abubakar is said to be a healer, and when girls come to him to get healed, God apparently tells them to get married, so they do.

“I don’t go looking for them,” he claimed. “They come to me. I will consider the fact that God has asked me to do it, and I will just marry them.” Most of his wives are less than a quarter of his age, and many of them are younger than some of his 170 children.

Mr. Abubakar and his family consider him to be a holy man, and in some twisted sense, you almost have to wonder if he’s not. His wives attest to his healing ability, none of them work, and they appear to have no visible means of support. It takes $915 worth of rice just to feed everybody for one meal

“It’s all from God,” said Baba.

The other people in Bida, the village where Mr. Abubakar and most of his wives live, say they have no idea how he supports everyone. It’s said that he sometimes asks his children to go out and each beg 200 naira ($1.69), but even if they all did, that would only fetch about $290.

Sure, they all live a little below the poverty line, but not all of them are in squalid, unfinished housing at the compound in Bida. Some of them are in Mr. Abubakar’s squalid, unfinished second home in the capital city of Lagos, and they couldn’t be happier about it.

“Praise be to God I am his wife now,” said Sharifat Bello Abubakar, who was 25 when she married the then 74-year-old Mr. Abubakar.

He says he has flown to heaven and spoken directly with the prophet Muhammad, a claim that doesn’t sit too well with Muslim leaders in his home state of Niger.

Calling him a heretic, local religious authorities issued a fatwa on Mr. Abubakar, and he was told he had three days to divorce all but four of his wives or face the death penalty.

At first Mr. Abubakar was going to comply, but then he rightly reasoned that it would be a little cold to leave someone he’d been with for 30 years in a mere two days. So he refused, saying that there is no law in the Koran or in Nigeria that prohibits him from having so many wives.

The local imams agreed but nonetheless arrested him on trumped-up adultery and fornication laws. Mr. Abubakar spent 59 days in jail before finally making bail. He was released earlier this week, but he still could face execution if he refuses to divorce most of his wives.

It will be interesting to see what Mr. Abubakar does, but I hope he gives those imams the finger. If 86 wives is legal, and he can somehow make it work, let him. It’s his coffin. Besides, the local authorities have apparently issued lots of death penalties for adultery, and not one person has been executed so far.

Hell, it’s been decades now, and they still haven’t gotten Salman Rushdie. Tell ’em to go shove it, Baba.

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Todd Hartley

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11 2008

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