Thursday, December 04, 2008

Your Poppy Talk You Say You For No Marry Ayigbe (Wo) Man. I Lie?

The other day one of the readers of Wo Se Ekyir encouraged me, after he read “Letter to my Imaginary Friend" to use more mfantse words in my posts, adding that though others who don’t speak the language may not like it, he loved it. I think it’s great that he received the mfantsi-english so well. But I think too of all the Ga, Ewe, Akuapem, Grusi, Wassa, Ashanti people who read Wo Se Ekyir. Wo Se Ekyir is about the Ghanaian life, not the Fanti life. If I talk a lot in mfantse it is because it is my first language, my mother tongue. At one point, I was posting mfantse riddles on facebook which I’d translate in english and I thought everyone was loving it until a friend of mine, a Ga person complained that we were excluding the Gas. Hmm. I explained that the only reason I wasn’t writing the riddles in more Ghanaian languages is because I don’t know how to write in Ga or the other languages. Ona bɔni inkyɔɔ:) So I encouraged her to take a leaf from my book and post Ga riddles or even translate my riddles into Ga. She did not do that, and I ran out of mfantse riddles so the riddle time on facebook has paused for a minute but this little experience made me wonder how we can be inclusive when we speak so many different languages. Readers, tell me, when I write in mfantse, do you who do not speak it feel excluded?

I can’t think of how to perfectly segue into talking about tribalism in Ghana so I’ll just jump in. I’m not going to define tribalism or point fingers at other people or give solutions and suggestions about what the government, schools and churches can do. We've been doing that and we're still where we are:) Let’s cut to the chase. What can we do? What can I do? I need this to be an open space where I can talk honestly and specifically about how as a fanti girl, I have been socialised to reject some particular ethnic groups, but those interested can find another honest article here about tribalism in Ghana,

When I was in my mid teens, I dated an Ewe man who sang me traditional Ashanti lullabies which I loved! My favorite was one which told of the powers of Kɔmfo Anɔkye, praising him as one who could even fetch water with a basket. Sɔɔɔɔsket!:

Anɔkye e

W’ayɛ bi o

Anɔkye e

W’aye bi o

ɔde kɛntɛn na ɛko nsuo

ɔde kɛntɛn na ɛko nsuo

Anɔkye e

W’ayɛ bi o

Despite how cool the guy was, I found it necessary to tell all that he was the kind of Ewe boy who spoke no Ewe but spoke twi better than any of the other guys I knew at the time. (The way to my heart is ability to speak any ghanaian language perfectly. Akuapem is my weakness. The language dey bi me pass!). Why I needed to justify my choice of an Ewe man in this manner, I do not know. Why did I need to say that my Ewe boy was more Ashanti than the Ashanti boys? Perhaps I did it because even that early, I had internalised that I should not date an Ewe man though no one had told me not to. Later, someone did. Let’s call him Mr. Nkonyaa. He was my father’s friend who sometimes gave me a ride to that village school in cape-coast because his daughter attended the same school. On this day, he picked me up first, and on the way to pick up his daughter from his house, the following conversation ensued:

Mr. Nkonyaa: Do you have a boyfriend

Me: I have many boyfriends

Mr. Nkonyaa: You know what I’m talking about

Me: Yes, I have a boyfriend

Mr. Nkonyaa: What is his name?

Me: William Kofi

Mr. Nkonyaa: Did he go to University Primary?

Me: No

Mr. Nkonyaa: Does he attend one of the Cape-Coast Schools?

Me: No, he goes to Achimota School

Mr. Nkonyaa: So how did you meet?

Me: At Presec. Vacation classes (haha)

Mr. Nkonyaa: Where is he from?

Me: He’s an Ewe

Mr. Nkonyaa: Break up with him

Me: Why?

Mr. Nkonyaa: They’re not good people

Me: This one was born and raised in Accra, he doesn’t even speak the language.

Mr. Nkonyaa: It doesn’t matter. Break up with him

Me: I don’t think it’s fair for me to break up with him just because he’s an Ewe

Mr. Nkonyaa: God knows why he put us on different soil. We must stick to our own kind and let them stick to their own. Will you break up with him?

Me: Yes

While we were having this conversation, I was feeling quite rebellious, and I had every intention of continuing with William Kofi but ask me what happened?

Readers, I broke up with the boy. I wrote him a letter saying that I no longer wanted to be in a relationship, that is, until I saw him again the next vacation and all thoughts of breaking up flew out of my head and we got right back together. Teenage love:) By the way, I later learned that this man was the extreme type who would not even employ Ewe people in the company that he partly owned. Wow!

A year or so later, I got the same warning from my father. Now that was surprising to me because unlike Mr. Nkonyaa, my dad fraternized with more Ewe people than with Akans. Heck, I’d eaten some cat meat which he and his Ewe friends had prepared against some bɛɛma nkwan and mfantse dɔkon a few times when I was growing up. And he now turns around to caution me against marrying an Ewe man? Hmm. I didn’t get satisfactory answers from him so I asked my mother who explained that they knew of several examples in his family where women had married Ewe men and been mistreated by the man’s family either while the man was alive or after he was dead. She added that the Ewe families they’d experienced always ended up bring an Ewe bride from the village even after the man had married someone from our family. Now I could see their concern and it started to make sense to me that my dad was giving me that advice, he this cat-eating, one-man-thousand-buying, ayigbe-kente-wearing man.

About a month ago, I asked a young man who is about my age and a fanti whether he too had been warned not to marry an Ewe girl. He said that he had and that he thinks his parents would not really be too receptive toward any other tribe but fanti. This is 2008, people. It is easy to say that our generation does necessarily think like our parents but we seek their approval our choice of life partners certainly is one of those things that we ideally would want our parents to approve of. I’ve asked other young people, people with parents far more educated than mine. PhDs, well travelled, big men, and sadly, many of them are telling their children the same. Speaking of which, Mr. Nkonyaa is a Chartered Accountant. The man go school but stiiiilll, ibi tribalistic to the core! To borrow the words of my good friend M.anifest, ibi colonialistic mental. This plenty school matter, ino shɛdaa dey boa us that much o.

Let me side-track a little. I’m starting to get into African architecture. I visited and spoke with one architect who seems incredibly knowledgeable about the topic. While I was soaking up all that he was telling me, it became clear to me that you cannot fully appreciate African architecture without knowing African history. So it should come as no surprise to you that I’ve been trying to learn more about Ghanaian history and especially about the way we were before the coming of the Europeans. There’s no way to learn that without learning about all of Africa, ancient empires, trade routes, even some anthropology. The architect showed me his books with great design ideas from all over Africa. It is really exciting stuff! There is so much out there that staying in Ghana alone is too limiting. I should learn more about the Niger crosses for example. So here was I thinking that we should intermarry more, cross some boundaries, date and marry people from Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Kenya etc, and make some beautiful mixed babies. But then I return from my dream only to realise that even within Ghana, our parents are telling us not to marry across tribes. Wey kind life dat?

How can we move forward when these are the conversations we’re having in our homes yet we provide academic suggestions for what Ghana can do to mitigate tribalism? Charle, we are the Ghana. Change yourself!

If you have any stories to add, please share. Also, if the story in your home is different, Anyɛmi (tr: friend), fire away and let's keep talking.


Ps: Interestingly fanti women are also known dɛ wɔhyɛ hɔn kunnom gya (give their husbands hell) especially in their old age. One guy I met recently was telling me how one fanti woman he knows is giving his friend (her husband) so tough a time that he's miserable in the marriage. Even my mother (who is wassa) says this about fanti women. Yet no one is stopping their sons from marrying fanti women. If you ask me, I'll say there are good people and bad people. All these are stereotypes that we need to let go of in order to move forward.

41 comments:

  1. Before I jump into my two-cents, Esi, please, please (pretty please) I will greatly appreciate it if you can link me up with the Architect you mentioned? I am looking to get into African Architecture for post-graduate school but its almost impossible to find reading material on this side of the world and I need direction. Thank you in advance 

    RFLMAO Girl, your mid-teens reference takes me back to my SSS (senior Secondary School) days when my boyfriend at the time had a Ga/Larteh surname but he was actually Akuapem ( he found it necessary to always include his Akan middle name so that people don’t mistake him for a Ga). Although if left to me , it wouldn’t make a difference about how I felt about him (or so I thought), my friends constantly made fun of his name, so I found myself constantly explaining to them that he was an Akuapem and not a Ga (silly teenagers!). The funny thing is when my mother found out about him, her first question was certainly not “Oh, is he a nice guy?” “Does he write to you often?” or “What school did he attend?” ( He was a ‘Kwabotwe’ boy and I of course went to ‘Gey-Hey’~ perfect match) or even “Is he a science student or a Liberal Arts student?” But instead she wanted to know if he was a Ga….Yes, she was relieved when I told her he was an Akuapem and not a Ga and went on to give me a strong warning, a warning reinforced by some aunties too, not get involved with any Ga men, Ewe men, men from the Northern parts of Ghana and Fante men ( the reason was that Fante men are ‘sheisty’ and very picky) . The Asante man is very preferred but Akuapem, Akyem and other Akan men excluding Fante man are also acceptable. Hmmmm…I thought that was just absurd and couldn’t believe my ears because until that point I had been brought up to treat all people equally and because we are all God’s children and this and that….etc…etc. Several years later, her and my father added white men, African American men, Nigerian men, Caribbean men to the list. I tossed that out of the window and continue to date who made me happy. For some odd reason though, they were all Ghanaians and I thought it was because I was constantly surrounded by Ghanaian men.

    Recently, I was exposed to the Black cultures of the Carribean/West Indian black culture and I must say it is too similar to our African culture for us to feel that they are different from us. My favorite valediction has been and will forvever be “One blood, One Love, One God” Because I truly believe in it and I thought I was living it until I realised that I was as guilty as Esi’s Mr. Nkonyaa and my parents, my aunties,and in fact the whole Ghana because I met a very interesting carribean guy and we had so much in common (we both rate the movie “40-year-old-virgin” in our top ten all time favorite movies) it just made sense for us to date but I held back and pushed him away even further because I had an ‘issue’ with him being a non-African, non-Ghanaian man.” Ei!! Eno, as for dis one no amount of school will take this away o!"...The only way for me to get over this one is to acknowledge my problem and work on it…So let me examine this again; I like a man, and he likes me, he is a great person but I will decide not to date him because just he is from the West Indies?? But those were my honest feelings about the situation I can't even lie.

    We all know that we are all ONE people and we should embrace and celebrate the differences not discriminate!How do we get to that point though if we are taught to discriminate against each other because of minor differences such as tribes, culture, language etc ( the food and the dances and the cultures for example Ga and Ewe and Asante are very similar if you look at the bigger picture across the board of all black cultures) we will never grow as a people. I don’t know about other African countries but I know in Ghana, we make it too much of a big deal than it really is.

    Esi Thanks for posting!! XOXO

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  2. Esi, I will take the discussion one step further. I find that beyond parents (in my case, my aunts and uncles are more adamant than my parents) wanting their kids to marry people from the same ethnic group (I refer this to tribes, if you please), they would like it even more if the person was from their hometown.

    I keep having to explain to my relatives that I currently live in the middle of nowhere Illinois. Africans are novelties, Ghanaians are miracles, forget abut finding a good mfantse banyin from Apaa paado.

    About the anti ewe sentiment: My dad had expressed the same to me in various discussions. I was surprised (and also a little disappointed) since he is very educated and in most cases very open minded (eg. He doesn't believe in the idea of exorbitant bride prices and stuff. As he puts it, banyin nso ni awofo abr3 ahw3n.)

    When I asked about the Ewe issue, he told me that long ago, when the Ewe fishermen had to make a stop at Apam beach (thank you for giving me the opportunity to put Apam on the map.) on their fishing trip, na w0 kyikyi nkrofo h0n mba dzi ko (they stole/kidnaps kids).

    I don't know how true this is, or even how long ago this happened but it was certainly the only time I heard a reason for that universal dislike. The good news is that he doesn't hold that dislike anymore, especially since three of my cousins married ewes, really good specimen too.

    I find this issue of tribalism/xenophobia particularly interesting because no one seems to think that there is anything wrong with openly expressing this sentiment. Maybe this is my overly PC americanized half speaking. I remember at my high school graduation, this woman (my mum's friend) upon hearing that I was leaving to study in the US made this request, "Please promise me you won't bring back a white husband." Of course like that proper Ghanaian girl I was, I simply smiled and looked pretty, whilst thinking, "Woman, where the hell do you get of telling me that," while acknowledging that most people I know do agree with her.

    OK, I will stop hijacking your blog now. Back to work.

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  3. Esi & MaaFobi, it is the same in other cultures, African, West Indies/Carribean etc. I heard conversations from Ghanaian women/ment that African American men are no good and to stay away, African American women will take a man to the cleaners. Carribeans often tell their women/girls not to date/marry a men from Jamaica, Trinidad etc. Africans, Indians etc we all do the same thing, so it's a global issue.

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  4. I agree with the last commentator saying that this is a global issue. And for this reason it doesn't bother me too much when I find myself expressing such xenophobic sentiments towards any group of people, I'm only doing what 300 million people have done before me have done and what 300 million people after me will do. Although this doesn't justify my act it proves my humanity.

    Let me explain:

    I grew up in a compound house in Labadi, and the people in my compound were from everywhere in Ghana, practicing every religion, so I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to Ghanaian ethnicity and I never received the ‘no-non akan marriage’ from my parents. However I got it once from my aunt and this was her reason:

    “A marriage is not between two people but two families. And marriage on its own is hard enough without the problem of in-laws who visit and gossip about you in a language you cannot understand. The man himself may not be the problem, he may be as progressive-minded they come, but his family could be another question.”

    So can you blame me if I am so selfish as to want a hassle-free marriage at least in this regard?

    And like I said, this issue is global. From many sources, I’ve heard how Asians (on and off their continent) are told to marry anyone but a black person, we are their ayigbe people. And black people and white people and Indians and black people etc etc, this sentiment is universal! So if we express it as Ghanaians towards each other, it’s not a good thing but it’s a human thing. And though this is not reason enough to justify an sort of discrimination, it explains an aspect of humanity: fearing the other, and I don’t know if we can ever fully overcome this.

    Ok sorry for this being long :)

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  5. Let me start off by putting my pebble in the affirmative bucket for Ghanaian parents: my poppie den my mommie never talk me say I for no marry ayigbe woman. Whatever prejudices they might harbor in their hearts, they continue to do a good job of giving us us free in the love domain; I know they'll accept and be very curteous to whomever I eventually bring home, bless thier hearts.

    I completely agree with the sentiment that this is more a human problem than it is a Ghanaian one per se. Even on the individual level, when you think about it, who you are often has plenty to do with who you are not. If it's not race, it's class, educational level, intelligence, attractiveness by whatever scale, religion, political party and on and on. Human beings just looove not being like them: those other "human beings". Maybe it's a legacy of the brutish competition inherent in natural selection (for all you secular humanists out there), or perhaps the "desperate wickedness" of the human heart (for all you biblically inclined brethren); who really knows?

    I must respectfully take issue with Miss. Ahenkorah, though, on giving credence to auntie's flawed logic. In this day and age, even in the most traditional corners of Ghana, I think folks are liberated enough from their extended families (financially, oftentimes geographically,etc.) to, at least, dilute the whole "marriage between families" dynamic. Sure, they'll show up in their numbers for births, weddings, and funerals, but I think a person has only themselves to blame if they allow their extended family to ruin their marriage. Your first allegience is to the family you are creating when you make the decision to hog one of God's beautiful ones for yourself till death. But maybe I'm just out of touch with Ghanaian society...ain't no relatives ever getting the space to stir up shyte in my household though, that's for sure...not even if I marry a lime green Martian!

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  6. I'm dying to add on to this joint!!! but I gotta study for a serious final so expect a make you wanna-smack-your-butt-and-clap-thrice response from I-carry-controversy-on-my-eyelids-Gee

    by the way Esi, drop your number inbox, gyawson@gmail.com, it's about time we chatted!

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  7. Esi this thing about Ayigbe fuo dier ebi true paaah... I knw this girl call Eno Yaa... she went to Gey Hey.... ashantiano + Kwahu type shordie..wey her old peeps are Krachi papapaaah. Old this gurl in boyfriendz dey come from the 9side(Volta) u fi believe sey Eno yaa's krachi oldman says if she goes out with any Nyebro dem go disown(spelling not sure) from the family... chale (ayigbe + eno yaa = No inheritance )..... apart from Ayigbe who da Ashantiano's or the Akanfuo say dey dont lyk and they lyk Juju... then comes the second group that follows directly after nyebro... IE Ganyobi Tetteh... Asantifuo si Dey dont look after their children and blah blah blah...third Northerners.... But moving away a little bit from the old folks.... We say we are educated and we do not believe in Tribalism..the young and new generation ghanaian with all the level of Edu. still....being honest to God would lyk to marry some1 from his own ethinic group even if he finds some1 from another tribe he would/will not be serious abt marrying the person... Ghana we dey tire oooh

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  8. @ earthkwake

    Now tis i that must respectfully pick at your opinion that:
    "In this day and age, even in the most traditional corners of Ghana, I think folks are liberated enough from their extended families … to, at least, dilute the whole "marriage between families" dynamic."

    My brother, you could not be more wrong about this. Especially when you say 'even in the most traditional corners of GH.' These most traditional places that you talk about are the places where they still drink river water and have no electricity (yes they still exist), in these places folks are not liberated from their extended family AT ALL.

    But then even in Accra, even in Abrokyir, the extended family phenomenon lives on. Look at the figures they cite for annual remittances sent to Ghana.

    Still supporting auntie: the family member may not come in to intentionally cause drama. Sometimes when there is already a problem in the marriage, the fact that you are talking to a family member in a language that your partner does not understand can become a huge issue. My brother’s wife is ewe and it grates his nerves to no end when his wife’s mom is around and they only speak ewe. When he once complained, my mom told him to shut up and learn the language afterall: 'obia ansoma no ho,' hehe.

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  9. Hehe, you and your parents are right--both of the three of you all.

    The real testing point is what your family decides to do if you decide to marry an Ewe against their advice because you have good reasons that override their concerns. Most reasonable people are won over by the merits in the long run. And they have to be very strong merits at that. With someone who 'is not like you', there are few assumptions you can make about them and petty things can quickly spiral out of control--you need the very strong merits to counter the natural dissonance of being from different backgrounds, etc, etc.

    PS: On language--the problem with trying to speak to everyone is that no one listens. Your Ga friend is taking unreasonable offence--they could learn Fanti the same way they've learned English if they were really interested (ask those who sell stuff in Accra how many languages they speak). I knew people who spoke 5 Ghanaian languages and when I was younger my motivation for learning languages came from wanting to be able to insult playmates back when they switched languages to make fun of me--the most agonizing :) pain of childhood was to be insulted in Hausa and not understanding the full import to be unable to respond in kind.

    The important thing is 'to create space for a 1000 flowers to bloom'. So your recommendation to her is just the right sort. Enjoy!

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  10. Hi Esi i am very sure u are one of the secret writters ghana has senn
    I have really enjoyed ur writtings as u combine them wuth the fante
    Esi wonna say great work u`ve done keep it up

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  11. I am ayigbe and my mom said no to my fanti-ashanti boyfriend.WHY?
    Ashanti's dont respect ayigbe's and his hometown was too far, she cant come and visit me if the need arises.
    This issues run deep in various families......I wonder why?

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  12. Hmmmm i dont even know where to start, it gets so sickening sometimes when i hear some of those ill informed comments people make about where someone comes from being the determinant of how good the person is to marry another person or not. The most agonising bit is that the people who make these statements are the people who are most educated and sit in the front pews in church on sunday. Lets face one fact, we did not choose our tribes and neither did we choose where we were born. So who are we to choose among God's creation who is good and who is not? I am a proud ewe young man and i am happy my parents who have never stepped in a classroom before are not tribalistic. To them, the key determinant of their approval of your choice is whether the person is a christian and if you believe you will be happy with her. I guess at the end of the day, it all boils down to a desire to be open minded and living christ rather than how educated you are.

    Sometimes i wonder where all the being choosy and picky will get us. I admit there are certain traits associated with some people from a particular tribe but for Godsake, can we begin to look at people for who they are instead of catergorizing and putting them in boxes and judging them on that basis? I have heard all sorts of nonsense about ewe men marrying someone from their tribe even after they have married a non-ewe. My answer to that question is, was the person a christian? Was the wife sure of his values before she married him? I think these stories are all myths that have been circulated and handed down over the generations and its sad to see many of us young and educated people thinking in the same backward ways some of our old folks think.

    On the issue of language, i speak five different Ghanaian languages, if i dont tell you i am ewe you will not believe it cus my akuapem twi and akyem dialect is so flawless and so is my Ga, Dagomba and Hausa. sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone and learn something new. if you love someone and are prepared to settle down with the person, what will it hurt if you try to pick up a few words from the person's language so you can understand the language when it is spoken? i have done very well with my fante since i started courting my fante girlfriend.....

    Come on people, lets get to know each other for who we are and stop this stereotyping.

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  13. True, true, Esi. Very true. My daddy called me and told me never ever to marry to marry an Ewe woman, because of past experience he had with her. She's dead anyway. I thought he was joking, till I realized he was dead serious! Can they plz understand that there are different ppl and they are all not the same? And oh, if not all tribesmen are the same, then the statement "all men are the same" does not hold water. period! Let's talk at Rehearsals later.

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  14. Don't mind the haters. With all their education, they are so tribalistic. If you claim someone is tribalistic and your first action against him is tribalistic, do you expect him to be nice to you? Personally, I do not mind about all the things that happened in the past. Well, I am ewe and even if some bad things did happen in the past, I think it is all a question of superiority. The problem with Akans is the feeling of superiority, pompousness (no offense to anyone). They don't like the Ewes, the Gans, the Northerners. Why? Because they cannot afford having people who are better than them. Fortunately, things are changing. Ex-presidnet Kuffour's wife speaks excellent ewe. She could not have if she had no association with ewes. Most of my best friends are Akans, my girlfriend is Fante, my grandma is Haussa. So, if I want to hate people, I will end up disliking the world.
    People talk about ewes and juju and trokosi system. YEs it is true. Ewes back in the olden days and some who are still clinging to their tradition have juju. But, what about "Antoa"? What about the claimed burial of the Asantehenes with human heads and people? What about Akans who refuse to go to their hometown because they fear they will be killed by their relatives. Should we believe all these?
    Ewes are the best friends you can have. They only dislike being subdued.

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  15. Very interesting topic.....well my story is simple...my dad as educated as he is strongy anti ayigbe....he prefers northerners to Ayigbe....Funny enough, i had the privelege of dating an ayigbe man during my undergraduate years against all my dad'swishes...I heard all sort of reasons for not dating an ayigbe guy.....from a strange language being spoken at my traditional marriage ceremony to his hometown being too far to attend funerals..........I took the bold step of introducing me to my parents....chilly atmosphere but what could they do...He promised to introduce me to his parents...He never did or should i say the relationship never lived to see that sadly...i guess there was opposition from his side,me being an Ashanti with a name that spelt my tribe as soon as it was mentioned...even though i am half and half
    Recently, i met another guy....He is great and he is a northerner...i get sick and tired of parents asking the question "Where is he from ?" instead of asking does he make you happy? when you tell them you met someone...isn't it high time we bridged that gap...shouldn't it be someone who makes you happy and fulfilled you should be looking for?
    Funny enough my nothern prince as i refer to him bears an Ashanti surname....well oneday during the marriage ceremony i guess there is gonna be a lot of explanation to do when every one in my family hears the strange language he speaks with his folks....ha ha ha!!! At that point it would be too late anyway....I believe we are all human ayigbe,Jamaican,West indies,Norhterners,indians,Ga,Ashanti,Fanti...we are all people with the same colour of blood flowing through our veins.....so well it is hightime we left our tribalism behind and forged strong unions.....

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  16. Very interesting article. I must however mention that the term "Ayigbe" is the wrong term to use . It's Ewe. There is a story behind it, but I have forgotten the details- will ask my Dad.

    For most people its the only thing they know but if we're saying Northeners, Ashantis, Fantis then surely we can say Ewes

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  17. Hmm, Nyams, is ayigbe a derogatory term? I always assumed it was the twi name for Ewe. Kindly ask your dad where the term comes from. It would be interesting to know.

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  18. I just found your blog - and i loves it - emphasis on love. I stand on the other end of the spectrum , my dad told me as with the others not to marry a non ashanti .... I fell in love and met a hansome krobo man. I thought time wuld allow my dad to accept us - no it even made thinsg worse. I'm a firm believer of non tribalism and just as Martin Luther died for his cause ... well so did I make a decision. THis yr will be 5 yrs since we married in our house with 2 cars and our beuatiful children .. my father has never seen his granchildren.... there were no gifts exchnaged on my behalf. I asked a million questions but most importantly answered them all with the fact ... that i met and married my soul mate, his love is one that I can not decribe. his family fully knowing that they haven't paid a bride price .. treat me like gold and love me even more. for they know I choose love over tribalism. it may of taken me 5 years but i'm soo proud of myself for not being bullied to love out dated ideals and just because they're your parents doesn't mean they are right!

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  19. Ah, welcome to the blog:) It's a cozy little community here. i love the conversations and hope you'll enjoy hanging with us. Thanks for jumping in. Wow, your story is inspiring. Congratulations for choosing love over tribalism, and i know it must be difficult to have to end up choosing ur husband over ur family. I look forward to the day when we won't have to choose, and when we'd have progressed so far that conversations about tribalism will no longer be necessary. But it is people like you who move us closer to that day. Welcome again! Come back again and again and spread the word.

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  20. I have really loved reading your article Esi and all the interesting comments from other people. I always thought my parents were the most unreasonable. Now, after reading all of these, I realise I am far from alone. I can relate with Esi's story and most of the stories on this page. Just like a lot of you, my parents are very well educated. That aside, they lived in America for almost 30 years. One would think with all this exposure and education they would be more open-minded as far as this 'nyabro-ism' issue is concerned. Well, that was what I always thought until my rude awakening about 4 years ago.
    I had this Ewe guy friend who I was absolutely crazy about. We were on the verge of going out. He would occasionally come over my house to visit. He was a very responsible, open-minded and well educated handsome young man. Each time he came over, my parents would exchange a few pleasantries with him and go on their way. One such day after he left, my dad asked 'w'adamfo no, yefre no sen?' (What is your friend's name). Uunfortunately, my friend had one of those typical English-Ewe names (eg. Patience, Blessing...) as soon as I mentioned his name my dad was like 'Woye anwona ni?' (He is an Ewe?) I said yes and he said, in his typical 'no-nonsense-end-of-discussion-no-questions-asked' voice 'If he is just your friend, fine, but if you are thinking of anything else, forget it. I also don't like the rate at which he comes to visit you, it must reduce. You must not encourage him'. 'Anwona fo nye' (they are bad people). I was so shocked and couldn't believe what I was hearing. Never before had I dreamt that my parents would ever have an issue with ethinicity!! I tried to justify our 'friendship' by stating the fact that my friend had been brought up in Accra all his life, never been to his hometown and spoke very good twi (Esi, could we be talking about the same guy...lol!) Well, I was shattered and rebelliously ignored their warning. I continued hanging out with this guy, but this time around in private. I would go over his place all the time. Or we would meet on campus. Luckily, or unluckily for me; the relationship ended up dying a natural death. Over time, I have come to realise that my parents prejudice doesn't end just with the Ewes. They are prejudiced against Ga's (too proud and don't look after their kids), Northerners (backward people) and even Fante's (lazy men). (in order of least preference)
    I for one do not have a problem with inter-tribal marriage at all. Infact, I have even come to realise over the years that I tend to get along better with Fante men than my own fellow Ashanti men. Infact, I think the Fante language is to die for! (most romantic Ghanaian language i know!). I hate the prejudice, but being the good, obedient daughter I've always been, I can't bear to not have my parents blessings on my marriage. So, now I look at the tribe of every prospective boyfriend before I accept their proposals. Just to please my folks.
    At times, I wish I had the strength to stand up to the prejudice like my dear sister who got married to the Krobo man did. God save us!

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  21. i share same senbtiments with Esi....
    I've been thru similar situation when i was abt to get married to my bf(now husband)

    My father-inlaw to be vehemently dissagreed to bless the marriage simply because my father is from the upper west region, precisely Nandom....

    This northern town my this man was talking abt i've never been there cos of the fact that my dad barely travels there, hence we normally travel to mums hometown thus Kwahu.
    I don't bare a northern name neither do i speak any of the northern languages (Dagaare)

    He's reason behind his sentiments was " my hometown just too far.. thereby if there's any issues/funerals he cannot travel all the way up (Northern Region/Upper West Region)meanwhile my family leaves in accra, and we more or less family friends can u imagine....

    I felt like an outcast when i was faced with this tribal sentiments/challenge....

    Esi, was it my making that my dad hailed from the northern part of the country....?

    Truth be told, this man preaches so much abt togetherness....yet he's not practicing what he preaches..lol

    It's high time we look beyond tribal sentiments and create a common platform for inter-marriages to trascend.

    But honestly it takes a whole lots of guts.. u know to dissrespect your parents when they advise aginst ayigbe/teni awar33... and in this case my bf(husband) did so well, i must say he showed real bravity....

    To all those who find themselves in this similar situation keep fighting...follow where your heart is....

    One ghana, one blood, one heritage indeed!!

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  22. Well not that I'm an expert on the subject but it beats me when our parents give us double standards like that. I mean so i can treat all men equally but not when it comes to marriage?? no really!!!

    Fortunately or infortunately i'm Ghanaian, no wait before you get me wrong read.
    My father was fathered by an Ashanti (maternal inheritance) and mothered by a Krobo (paternal inheritance) so he basically has no "people" if u get what i mean. My mum is pure Ewe (paternal inheritance), so i also have no people. i was born and raised in La so i call more Ga men uncle than i call Krobo, Ashanti, Or Ewe men. This means my Krobo surname n Ga society make me unqualified for the anti Ga parents, my Ewe mother disqualified me for the anti Ewe parents and my paternal who i never met and my dad barely knew has taken my name of the list of the anti Ashanti parents, so what do i do.
    I think black n for that matter all black n not Ghanaians are the most racist group of people on earth. Even within tribe there are that would never marry from certain families, think about it u can only marry from our tribe, but only from these villages or towns and even then only from these families. I may be wrong but doesn't that narrow my options a bit too much, but if you think we got it bad in Ghana try Nigeria, lol.
    My dad was there for a few years so i happened to spend quite some time there, and my is it bad. All i can say is if change is gonna come it will start with us , this generation. Our fathers' generation has failed us on a lot of levels, we can't do same to our kids.

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  23. This topic is very close to my heart, since I am a “mama’s boy” and she has been in every aspect of my life. I happen to be a rebel just like my mother and love going against anything that’s being preached to me. This problem is not just tribal, but a misplaced sense of priority. Now, my mother is also against African American women, some whites and even one of her best friend’s daughter because the father is too confrontational. Something I have taking upon myself is let my mother meet my girlfriends and convince her to respect my choice and get to know the person. I know it’s hard to convince a strong fanti woman to respect your choice but my words to her was, my happiness should be the most important thing to her. In other words, my relationship has nothing to do with her happiness but only mine. She might have her assumptions due to experience, knowledge and myths but it’s my job to get her to know a different side of the same people she can’t stand.

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  24. My 2 cents:

    1. Joseph is the sh*t..i hear ders some Joseph joint on the Nungua road to Tema, I will def be going there this xmas, if anyone cares to join feel free.

    2. I'm half Ewe, half Guan..very weird combo...my fathers ppl din like my mother...but my parents din care...funny thn after my father died..all of a sudden they have become her homies cos she's taking care of them.smh! (my mum's d ewe, bdw)

    3. When I was small, i thought Ewes, Fantes and Northerners were the finest people in Ghana...hehe..dat was not nice at all...but it seemed all d really cute ppl, both men n women, i'de seen were from these 3 areas...still dats so wrong.

    Ghanaians jus need to get it together (yes, pun intended)

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  25. thoughts of a simpletonNovember 18, 2009 1:16 PM

    ViVa La Revolution!!!!!

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  26. Read all the responses to Esi's original blog and I agree with everyone of them. I'm a Fante married to a Fante person. My cousins always used to make fun of marrying non-Akans. The reason was you will end up with a funny sounding last name. They will say things like, you will change your name from Johnson (nice name) to some strange name. But I believe love conquers all. The same cousin who used to complain about losing her nice surname is madly in love with a Northerner whose last name I can't even pronounce. So when it comes down to it, love wins at the end of the day :-)

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  27. I learned that the term Ayigbe is used to refer to the Ewe's who joined Ghana when that plebiscite was passed to make the Volta region part of Ghana, hence all Ewe's of Togolese descent who joined that region when it was added to Ghana and their descendants are the Ayigbe's while the original Ewe's are the Awona fo.

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  28. Esi, I just added you to my favourites bar. I've been laughing for close to 2 hours and I'm sure my roomate is ready to kill me....LMAO.

    On a more serious note, this is all very true......I have been living in the Caribbean for close to 5 years now and the first "advice" my parents and family gave me before I got here and still give me to this day is: "Hwee na wankofa rasta man biaa onom wee oh!", meaning, Don't bring home anyone with locks who smokes weed. I keep explainig that not everyone in the Caribbean has locks, and most importantly not everyone with locks smokes weed but their response is "Se oni bi seisei koraa ah, obe nya bi daakye" meaning if he doesn't have some now, he will surely get some later. I promised my self not to listen to them, but I have realised that even after all this time being here, I have never dated any one from the islands. I've actually had long distance relationships with Ghanaians on the mainland when finding a guy here will save me more money, time and drama!!! We need to move past all this unecessary issues and think about building relationships on love, respect and shared interests.

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  29. INTERESTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Firstly, the word "AYIGBE" came about when two boys, an ewe and an ashanti got into a fight. The ewe guy "AYI", who despite all efforts from friends and family refused to stop fighting. "GBE" is the ewe word for "resfuse, hence AYIGBE.

    Secondly, "awona" is just one of the divisions in the ewe kingdom. There are other divisions such as "peki", "wedomé" .....

    This tribal issue is just a mess..... One of my ghanaian sisters discouraged my current boyfriend who is froma a neighbouring francophone country from seeing me because i am EWE. This is how far it is taking us...!!!

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  30. Dont get it twisted Ayigbe man be ayigbe man whether he go school or not or whether he stay there or not - 4get it I went Motown Legon and Cardiff but with all this i still say the same

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  31. Heart breaking!!!

    I am in a lot of pain cos my soulmate is half ewe and half ashanti... ma parents dont even want to get to know him cos he is ewe... if tribalism is a requirement for going to heaven, then Africans are doomed...

    Try to get to know people as individuals and not based on where they coming from...

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  32. this is why our country is not moving forward... people are busily finding faults with others and linking them to their tribes instead of thinking of moving Ghana forward...

    I think i'll agree with the whiteman who is a racist than a Ghanian who is a tribalist. the racist has a different skin colour, different hair colour and texture, and lives in a different continent; so if he doesn't want to associate himself with the black man , its understandable...

    but here we are, in the same continent and country, same skin and hair colour eating the same food and yet discriminating amongst ourselves...

    Its a pity!!!!! God save us

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  33. ignorami!
    ghananians are just too much of yeye people ..hanging to any straw to disown their own black folk and then turn around to scream racism when in amrika or loondon. the very akans behind this riotous thinking are the ones who get hit hard abroad and holla racism .
    funny how the ugliest folks think they have an edge on civilisation and holla racism when they get rejected by those that consider themselves way civilized and superior to their sorry black asses.
    enjoy the stupiodity!

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  34. Growing up in the heart of Ashanti, I somehow albeit unconsciously had an instinctive understanding of whom to associate with, date, etc... I never really really thought about it deeply until recently. In my school, I had friends from all corners of Ghana. Attending Prempeh College was no different. Voltarians, GAs, Northerners, Fantes, etc never sounded strange to me at that age. At the moment, I am 26 yrs old and having flashes of a future with a woman. About a month ago, I had an interesting discussion with my parents who by the way live on the other side of the Northern hemisphere. For the first time, I was having a frank conversation with my mum about my ideal woman and the qualities were Christian, Educated with at least a Bachelors, Beautiful (i.e. non-plump for me) and above all maturity. My mum was silent for a minute and broke her silence with a rhetorical question. Are you thinking of a non-Ashanti? She quipped. I was dumbfounded and I asked, I live in the middle of no where in Illinois and you asking me of an Ashanti? The last time I saw a Ghanaian close to my abode was during a Ghanafest in Chicago (2 yrs ago). I told her I have dated all sorts and she was like, what is all sorts? I explained that I have dated 2 white girls (1 American and 1 Australian), 1 African American and 1 Haitian American. She requested to end the conversation and get back to me with a worthy criteria and I am still waiting 4 weeks after the discussion.
    The whole mores about the ensuing notes is that we all have expectations and they are created by our environment. Besides we are scared about what we are unfamiliar with. BTW, I am no social scientist but the least I know about Social Psychology is that we all grow up subconsciously picking up elements of our society that make us who we are today. I agree with Bill Maher when he says that most of us who call ourselves Christians are only so because we were born to Christian parents and grew up in that environment. I probably will have grown up as a muslim if i had been born in Pakistan.

    Human beings are made of different shades and strikes of qualities we all wish for ourselves especially when making decisions about marriage. It all depends on how we are brought up and how we allow such training to shape our being. For me, it has nothing to do with tribe or race but it has everything to do with religion, education and beauty. This might sound offensive and crass to someone the same manner as those who make those decisions based on race or tribe.

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  35. This is such an interesting topic. As a Jamaican living in America, engaged to a Ghanaian I have to say that Black people really are something else. The few times I've been to Ghana I was frowned on as being Jamaican and for being an American. A few of my Jamaican friends want to know why I chose an African instead of a Jamaican. Although my experiences growing up in Jamaica was probably not much different from growing up in Ghana, AND the fact that sometimes I can't tell just by looking who is African and who is Jamaican we seem to want to make the distinction of where we were born - as if we had any choice in the matter. When I met my boyfriend I asked him where in Jamaica he was from, and he thought I was Ghanaian. In fact many African men talk to me, assuming wrongly that I am Ghanaian. So I learn to speak Twi so that when I meet the in-laws this Christmas there may be less opposition. My fiance's first wife was Ga, as he is, so being with "your own kind" does not always meet the criteria for a long and happy marriage. I just think it's a real tragedy when we look the same and still find a way to keep ourselves separate.

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  36. i appreciate the way we are talking about our differences in a light-hearted manner. it is really cracking me up.

    but on a more serious note, we are different. Yes, and to the core though we have no say in the matter. Our genes and our environments are the primary culprits. it does us a lot of good in discussing these racial/ethnic/individual differences than sweeping them under the carpet. by so doing then we are able to make sound decisions. enough has been said already and all i hope is that these discussions will unravel the myths that have become stereotypes over many generations. when we are successful, then we can make informed choices and move forward as a people.

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  37. well as someone who has lived through such an experience, i guess i can share a few things on this matter. i dated a pretty young woman for six years and when we were ready to take the relationship to the next level, her parents said NO cus i was ewe. initially i thought it was a joke because for the life of me i dont even know the road to my hometown and really i didnt ask to be born to Ewe parents (not that i am ashamed anyway). I have lived my entire life in Kumasi and until you hear my name, you wont even know i am Ewe. I understand her parents said Ewe's are inward looking, like Juju and that when you marry an Ewe man his people will eventually marry an Ewe woman for him. The real question is how do you judge someone simply on the basis of his tribe? Something he has absolutely no control over. If the issue had been that i am an aimless character they cant trust their daugther with, i would understand. However this was not the case.

    I stood by helplessly and watched the woman i have loved and adored the most part of my adult life being led down the aisle to another man. He was from the same tribe as her. Personally, i felt insulted and hurt. I dont know about other people but it really does hurt your sense of worth if the only reason you cant be with a woman you love is because you were "unlucky" to be born into a certain tribe. Unfortunately, i have heard so many other horror stories and i fear it is beginning to affect me. When i meet a woman i like, i tend to bring up the issue of tribe very early in the relationship so that i have a clear sense of what i am getting myself into. It is sad but i guess one has to start looking out for himself. Sometimes i just ask myself, why does it have to be this way?

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    Replies
    1. Deeply disturbed by your story. All I can say is she didn't love you. She would have stood by you even if her parents disowned her. I didn't realise this stereotyping runs this deep.

      I'm sure you'll have a great story to share soon.

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  38. @anonymous
    Thats a sad story and I really feel for you. On the other hand, its a blessing in disguise for you to get out of that relationship. You deserve the best and she just wasnt good enough. The best for you would be a someone strong enough to put love over family and prove themselves that they made the right choice. Don't let this incident come in the day way of your future relationships.

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  39. @Esi, I am not really sure what to say about your write ups, however, I can only say none of the people you tried to portray are saint! It just annoying anytime I hear this an Ashanti/Ewe does not want his or her daughter marryin the other or a fanti or Ga. the question I asked is who is an EWE person or an Ashanti person? are they better of than others? in other words is an Ashanti man better off than an Ewe man or lady or is an Ewe man or lady better off than an Ashanti or Ga man or Fanti. They are the same people, so what is the point. if am an Ewe and Ashanti man tells the daughter do not marry an Ewe, why not I would gladly leave the daughter for them.. there are so many beautiful girls out there one could find in Togo, Benin Nigeria or any part of the world so why worry yourself over a bunch of semi illiterate parent who act as if they are saint.. same goes to Ga or Fanti. sometimes I wonder why we all have to be put together as a country called Ghana. there is no superior tribe in Ghana that only exist in a figment of imagination of others atleast not to me. To the folk who said Gas are dirty or lazy; to you the fanti's or the Ashanti/EWEs are not dirty right. Perhaps you want us to open a Pandora box here.To the one who says your parents want you to marry white I presumed they must be Fante and white too because so long as am concerned aside Ashanti Fanti's have one of the dirtiest black skin one would come across. Do I make this assumption because of the few I came across? No! and should it be so? the answer should be "NO'' because in every tribe there are people born with dirty black thus my assumption is wrong.
    Lastly, there are loads of ewes who do not want to see their kids marrying an ashanti lady or man not even a Ga or Fanti.. but most people hardly talk about this aspect is all about the Ashanti parent not allowing her son or daughter to marry an Ewe. instead they will rather prefer a Nigerian lady or man who they believe they share much more in common with than any other Ghanaian tribe and you do not blame them. My only worry is theirs does not get the attention is all about an Ashanti or Fanti parent not wanting their kids to marrying an Ewe.

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  40. I just ran into this. I love this. I'm South African and I'm a muvenda. Trust me this does not only happen in Ghana. You're not that special lol. I have dated different ethnic groups in South Africa but not all. When I left for University my mom sat me down and said don't bring home a Tsonga, Zulu, Xhosa and even Venda man home.

    With the stories I heard about Zulus, Tsongas and my experience with dating two Venda men I stayed away. Little did my Mom knew that I'll heed her advice and bring home an Ashanti man (soon to be married) lol.

    What my parents said to me when I brought home a white Afrikaans (if you're not familiar with South African history, they were the people that oppressed blacks and kill them like dogs) guy home was that; "if he loves you, respects you and treats you right we will accept him. He needs to be your choice because you're the one who has to live with him."

    When I mentioned to them about my Kwaku nah all was well. But he's such a great guy you can't help but love him.

    Follow your heart and stand firm in your decision and your parents will accept your choice because they love you. Also pray for their stereo type minds to change. Only God can correct that.

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