A Wife among Wives


This is the third film in the Turkana Conversations trilogy: it investigates the views of the Turkana, and especially Turkana women, on marriage and polygyny. As the plans for a marriage in a nearby homestead unfold, the film explores why a Turkana woman would want her husband to take a second (or third) wife, and how the system of polygyny can be a source of solidarity among women while at the same time it may brutally disregard individual feelings. The Turkana women are well aware of the contradictory problems associated with individual liberty and communal survival. The film admirably demonstrates how Turkana culture — and, by extension, human culture — is a living thing, shaped by the people who carry it.

Year of Release



72 minutes


16mm, Color


David MacDougall

David MacDougall is an ethnographic filmmaker, scholar, and writer on cinema, the social sciences, and education. His first feature-length document, To Live With Herds, filmed in Uganda, won the Grand Prix Venezia Genti at the Venice Film Festival in 1972. Soon after, he and Judith produced the famous “Turkana Conversations” trilogy on semi-nomadic camel herders of northwestern Kenya. They then made a dozen films on indigenous communities in Australia.

Judith MacDougall

Judith has made more than a dozen documentary films in Africa and Australia with her husband David MacDougall, and more recently, has worked alone with digital video in India and China. She has also taught film and video production courses in the USA, Europe, and China.