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African king weds and says: one wife is enough for me

By MICHAEL DYNES TENS of thousands of blanket-clad subjects took to the streets in the picturesque mountain kingdom of Lesotho yesterday to...

TENS of thousands of blanket-clad subjects took to the streets in the picturesque mountain kingdom of Lesotho yesterday to celebrate the belated wedding of King Letsie III, the bumbling if amiable constitutional monarch of all he surveys.

The 35-year-old African royal, long regarded as the impoverished kingdom's most eligible bachelor, broke with tradition to marry a commoner, Karabo Motsoeneng, (23), a medical student pictured right, bringing to an end years of national anxiety over the marital status of one of Africa's last remaining monarchs.

Turning his back on the family tradition of polygamy, King Letsie, a Roman Catholic, has pledged that the union will be ``strictly monogamous'' even if it fails to produce any male issue as required by custom.

``I would never contemplate marrying a second wife just to father a son,'' King Letsie told Lesotho radio this week. ``It is morally wrong.''

Polygamous marriages are still permitted under customary law in African countries, although the cost of accumulating wives, and the inevitable bickering and sexual jealousy that follows, has seen a growing trend towards monogamy.

Six thousand spectators packed Lesotho's Setsoto Stadium in Maseru to watch the royals tie the knot.

In the time-honoured tradition of lobola or bride price, the king's family paid 40 head of cattle for his new wife, severely depleting the royal resources of grazing stock.

(The Times, London)

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