He was the grand master of seduction. He dressed, laughed and even danced with a motive to attract women.
So tough was Asentus Ogwella Akuku that by the time he was 22 years old, he had married five women. At 35, he married his 45th wife and his peers named him ‘Danger’ because of his magic with women and love for polygamy.
Arguably one of the world’s best known polygamists, Akuku, is said to have married 130 times, had divorced more than 80 of his wives and sired more than 200 children.
His death at dawn on Sunday brought down the curtain on one of the most industrious men of Africa and a global case study in the troubles institution of marriage. He was 92.
So large is Akuku’s family that when his wives and children would finally be asked to stand up during his burial, more than half of the mourners would probably rise on their feet.
Those who knew him agree that if ever there would be an award for a successful polygamist, he would get the gold.
Polygamy occupied his heart so much so that it was no longer a family affair but an industry. Towards his sunset years, Mzee Akuku started charging fees for media interviews.
Journalists and tourists who trooped to his main home in Ndhiwa District had to pay ‘fees.’
The grand master of polygamy married his first wife in 1939 and his last in 1997 when he was 79. The woman was then only 18. Today, she has three children.
The family spokesman, Mr Tom Akuku, however, said only 40 of his father’s many marriages were recognised by the Luo customary laws. He said that out of the 40 wives, only 22 were still alive. “Mzee sired 210 children–104 daughters and 106 sons, some of whom have since died,” said Tom.
Akuku’s family that include more than 200 grand children live in Kanyamwa and Aora Chuodho areas in Ndhiwa district and Karungu in the neighbouring Nyatike district.
“He has been our advisor and guardian,” said Dorcas Matunga, the Homa Bay County Council Chairperson and one of the late Akuku’s daughters-in-law.
Mzee Akuku collapsed at one of his homes in Ndhiwa and died on arrival at the Nyanza Provincial Hospital at 2 am yesterday. He was suffering from diabetes. So what magic did Akuku Danger have on women?
He once told our sister paper, The Standard On Sunday: “I’m called Danger because I overshadowed many men when it came to women. I was very handsome. I dressed well and I knew how to charm women with sweet talk. No woman could decline my advances. I was a magnet.”
He says he managed to keep physical fitness through a strict diet. “I avoid too much fat and salt and it helped me to escape diseases,” he said.
He added: “I eat at the right time and I just don’t eat anything. I am served traditional food that is well prepared. I always eat a fruit after meals.
Akuku was a disciplinarian and ruled his large family with an iron fist. He knew all the children by name and made a roster on when to spend on which house.
“I divorced women who misbehaved,” he once said.
Akuku was later quoted as saying: “I lived a lavish lifestyle. I was always ready to spend money on women.” He said that to keep a woman one had to respond to her immediate needs.
One of his grand children, Maureen Ochido said: “My grandfather was a very social and loving man who was often misunderstood. She said a burial date has not been set.”
As Kenyans often say of a departed fellow, ‘Danger’ has left a gap that will be difficult to fill because many men have failed the test of seduction, leave alone polygamy.