About three years ago, made a friend because the guy responded when I said “Why should the man be the head of the house when I wouldn’t mind being the head?” or something to that effect. This man strongly defended the role of the man as the head of the family so I tried to get him to tell me why he felt men should be the heads. Beside some biblical reference-which I did not buy- he referred to their roles as the breadwinners. Fantastic!
I am one of those people who think that a two-person team does not need a leader unless both people agree that they need one. Even then, I see no reason why the man must necessarily be the head. In the past, I’ve been frustrated with people who just say, well, the bible says the man is the head. What would they say if the bible had said something else? So I was thrilled when the guy argued that the one who wins bread should be the head.
I found two definitions of breadwinner on the web. The first definition states the breadwinner as the primary income-earner in the household while the second defines breadwinner as the one whose income is the household’s primary source of support. I would not pay any attention to the first definition. Afterall of what use is it to the household that you earn the most money if no one benefits from it? It makes the most sense to me to define the breadwinner is the one whose income is the primary source of support. If we are to accept this definition, then I can confidently report that I am yet to encounter a Ghanaian home in which the man is the bread winner. Sure, I have heard of men who provide everything in the home or at least most of it, and I see them on tv, but I don’t know even one.
But ask me about women bread winners and I have many examples. Let’s begin with my grandmother. Both of my grandparents made clothing for a living. My grandfather had a tailor’s shop and my grandmother sewed in the home. She also sold rice, gari, and other foodstuff to supplement her income. Neither of their clothing making businesses were thriving by the time I was mature enough to observe goings-on in their household. And so for as long as I know, my grandmother has provided everything. Food, the light bill, the toothpaste, everything! In addition to cooking and cleaning! Like your typical Ghanaian grandparents who have no pension to rely on, their children send them money regularly. When the money is disbursed, my grandfather uses his to buy beer for himself and his friends and stakes the lottery with whatever is left of it. My grandmother uses hers to feed the household, and pay bills. When he returns from his shop, he asks for the food for which he has provided no money, and he is served. While I think this is unfair to my grandmother, she accepts her role so I’ll leave it at that. However knowing all that I know of them, I will not shut up if anyone stands infront of me to say that men are the heads when they do not play “headlike” roles or that they are the breadwinners when I have such a counter-example. I cannot accept something to be true when my experience tells me otherwise.
I also know people whose educations depended primarily on their mothers. In certain cases, it is not that their fathers did not have money. One of our neighbours refused to pay for his son to enter the polytechnic saying that he did not have the money but that even if he did, he would build a house with it and charge rent instead of taking his son to school. Can you imagine! And this same Ghanaian man shamelessly calls himself the head of his household when it is the woman who sold her cloth and went crying for help. It worked. Her son has graduated from the Polytechnic.
My aunt and uncle told me of a day when they dropped off my little sister at school. My dad was in the car. When they got there, they leant that it was open day. Open day is a day when school kids bring all their workbooks out for their parents/guardians to look at their work and interact with their teachers. Neither my uncle and aunt knew of it, but when they found out, even though they were also on their way to work, they decided to inspect my sister’s books since they were already there. When my dad realised my uncle and aunt were going to look at my sister’s work, he told them that he was going ahead to work. Can you imagine! This was his daughter’s school work! And my dad co-owns the company he works for. There is no justification for such an action and anyone who really cared would have offered such profuse apologies that my aunt and uncle would never have mentioned what happened to the rest of us.
Another of our neighbours who was not poor refused to pay his sons’ school fees or adequately care for them. If it had not been for their mother, who used her teacher’s salary to feed them, clothe them, pay school fees and also cook and clean in the house, the kids would have turned out like the rest of the Ashale-Botweians who are impeded by their lack of tertiary education.
Please don’t misunderstand me. As I have earlier mentioned, I have heard of homes in which men are the breadwinners and so in those homes, If you tell me they’re the heads, I can accept it, even if reluctantly. All I’m saying is in all the Ghanaian homes I know, the woman is the one whose income supports the household and this does not even take into account the work some of the women do as cook, cleaner and child-minder. For playing these roles, the Ghanaian women I know should be given credit for being the heads of their families.
Oh, and it might interest you to know that the guy I mentioned in the first paragraph later confessed this had it not been for his mother who sold her cloth to put her through secondary school, he would not be getting a PhD in economics!
Note also, that I have intentionally used examples where fathers did not pay school fees because in