'Danger' Akuku Dies and Leaves Behind 100 Widows

"Danger" Akuku had more than 100 wives and 200 children.

ByABC News
October 4, 2010, 12:40 PM

NAIROBI, Kenya Oct. 4, 2010 -- Kenya's most prominent polygamist has died having married more than 100 women in his lifetime and fathered nearly 200 children. Nicknamed "Danger" because women were so attracted by his handsome looks, Ancentus Akuku was in his late 90's when he passed away of natural causes.

Akuku Danger was legendary in Kenya. He married his first wife in 1939 and became polygamist some 70 years ago at the age of 22. He's outlived 12 of his wives, marrying the last one in 1992. There were so many children in his family that Akuku established two elementary schools solely to educate his children, as well as a church for his growing family to attend.

In past interviews Akuku told local journalists he was responsible for naming all of his children, as way to bond with them.

His death was the number one topic of Kenyan media today. Radio stations featured call-in shows of people, especially men, paying their respects. In many tribes having several wives was a sign of wealth and status for a man. Danger Akuku represented the ultimate symbol of traditional manhood -- and of a time when gender relations seemed more simple than today.

In Akuku's lifetime, the traditional roles of women in Kenya have changed. There are now as many women in universities as men, women hold top level positions in companies and even in rural areas have less children than in years past.

While young Kenyans paid their respects to the man with over 100 wives, most said that lifestyle is not possible in today's environment.

"I had heard of Akuku Danger back in the day when I was a teen, and up to now I still wonder how he did this," said Jeff Kilumi, a businessman in Nairobi. "Right now, even if I had a lot of money, 'Bill Gates' rich, I wouldn't even go for a second wife. The more the women, the more the headache and stress."

While many Kenyan women had mothers and grandmothers who were part of polygamous households, most urban young women say a life like Akuku's with all his wives living together peacefully would be impossible to achieve today.