Day 21: The Disgrace Of Infertility In Africa

Infertility is a very hushed subject in our society.  From my observations in our society most times when the woman stays in marriage that is childless it’s usually the man who is probably facing infertility.  Us women are programmed to take it all in, the good, the bad the ugly so it’s highly likely that even when we are in very unfulfilling relationships we will stay on for the sake of love and to save face.  If the tables are turned and it’s the woman who is unable to conceive it’s a completely different ball game!


Image from Pinterest

Today I’m going to share details of a highly controversial practice that used to be a part of our Zimbabwean culture a very long time ago.  It might still be happening now but I unfortunately don’t have those details so for now let me take you back in time…

Infertile Man 

After a couple had been married for close to a year and didn’t manage to conceive eyebrows started to be raised by family members.  Aunts would have been all up in the wife’s business by then and tried to find out what was going on.  Please note that this was a private matter and the husband was not aware of what was going on behind his back.  The aunt behind the crafty plan would ask the women to her to wipe off some sperm from their bed linen after they had sex so that elders could “examine” the strength it held.  It was after this examination that plans to find someone who could help with conceiving were made.  The aunt would approach the man in question’s younger brother and tell him about the pressing matter.  If there was no younger brother they would sit down with a trusted neighbour or relative and state their case.  The older brother was not to be a part of this as he is viewed as baba(father) and could not enter his siblings home to carry this out. If the parties agreed the woman would only meet up with the man during her ovulation days and try to conceive.  Most times it worked and a few months down the line the wife was pregnant and expecting a little bundle of joy.  Problem solved, happy woman, happy man!  There was never any mention of what transpired to finally get pregnant, it was a very private matter.  (Well now it isn’t!)

Think about it…The little brother steps in and people hi 5 the man!


Image from Google

Infertile Woman

Her “condition” was an open discussion. (I have so much to say about this!)   The aunts and uncles would sit down with the couple and address the infertility subject.  They would approach the little sister to the wife in question.  If she agreed to stand in for her sister and try and give her uncle an heir a token of appreciation would be paid to the family and she would move in with the couple.  However, not all sisters agreed to this and in such cases the husband would get some of his lobola (stage 8- danga) back.  When this happened the husband was asked to marry a new wife so that he would be able to conceive and have his family name grow.  Back then most women stayed and took the role of first wife while a second wife was brought into the family and everyone lived happily ever after.

Think about this: The little sister steps in and people still look at the woman!!!

5 Facts About Infertility – extracted from

  1. Infertility is generally defined as not being able to conceive after one year (or more) of unprotected sex.
  2. Around one in eight couples struggle to become pregnant.
  3. Both men and women can contribute to infertility.
  4. There are various ways the infertility can be treated, including medicinesurgeryintrauterine insemination (IUI) or assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). These methods aren’t always successful, and can be quite painful.
  5. Secondary infertility is real; you can still experience infertility in subsequent pregnancies even after previously successful, easy-to-conceive pregnancies.

Back to my rant on Female Infertility!  Why are men’s issues kept under lock and key, why must women’s flaws be laid out to bare for all and sundry to see?  This is NOT RIGHT AT AT ALL!  What makes men so special?  Why must we be the ones to be shamed???  Imagine how a woman felt.  She was already dealing with emotional issues, feeling like a failure and now she had to face a whole group of people blaming her for being infertile?  Do you have any idea what people especially relatives say about infertile women? From accusing them of having gone through several abortions to being called a witch!  Next thing she’s depressed and no one acknowledges depression; it’s too much for me to take in.  No man, this is not how things were supposed to be handled, women have feelings too!

That said, children are a gift and unfortunately not everyone gets to receive that gift.  That should not in any way bring tension into your marriage, when the time is right it will happen and if it doesn’t happen I believe there will always be something positive to bring fulfillment in both your lives.

What are your thoughts on the subject of infertility?  How is this topic handled in your society?  If I took you back in time would you agree to the practice that I just shared with you?

Today is day 21 of the #30DayAfriBlogger Challenge and our topic is My Thoughts On Infertility.  Feel free to join the conversation.

MaKupsy 2017