Bello Masaba demands absolute obedience from his wives—all 86 of them. The 87-year-old Nigerian faith healer has been marrying a woman every few weeks for decades, assembling an extended family of around 5,000 people, many of whom live in the sprawling compound around his house. That huge harem has gotten him in trouble with the law—Nigeria is run by Sharia law, and the Koran says a man should have at most four wives. But he got off after his wives protested on his behalf.
Robyn Dixon of the LA Times talked to Masaba at his compound, where he typically sits in front of a microphone, his voice broadcast on loudspeakers. “I get a revelation from God telling me any woman I’m going to marry,” he says. Otherwise “I wouldn’t have gone beyond two.” He refuses to use medicine, and won’t let his wives or children use it, either. Coincidentally, around 50 of his 185 children are dead. “I didn’t feel annoyed or upset” when they died, he said, “because it’s God who gave them to me, and it’s God who takes them away.”