Building Relationships We Can All Be Proud Of

Thursday, 20 April 2017


Since forever, for one reason or another, I have stayed “woke” in regards to all forms of oppression and social injustices; in my personal life, my professional life, and society generally; as if I have been primed for them. I am unsure whether it was enrolling in a Gender and Development course for a year during my undergrad studies that deepened this social-consciousness or whether I had already started becoming more sensitive to them by mere observation, but it seems that every day something new, different, and often worrisome arises and I just can’t look away.
It may seem the steam that erupted during the Otiko Djaba brouhaha might have settled, but that is only because “those of us who really care,” do not have as much power and influence like she does. While the controversies centered around Otiko and her current role as protector of the feminine realm in the country, it also exposed our society in very unsettling ways.

This past week, in particular, I have heard and read many cases of child sexual abuse, which has triggered, on my part, a very critical reflection into our cultural setting to identify other ways to steer the discussion on sexual harassment and child sexual abuse. I have noticed and mentally cataloged, over the years, the various disturbing ways in which grown men address not only adult women but teenage girls and children with terms of paternalistic endearment.
"My wife..... “
“Ei miyere kitiwa,(my small wife) how are you? When will you come and cook for me?”
“Ei my wife, I'll marry you ok."
Here, methinks, is a prime example of unassuming, subtle everyday-sexism mining its heels deeper and deeper into our collective subconscious. With every saying of “my wife,” there’s not only a reinforced gender stereotype in our cultural lexicon but also, a  perpetuation of a culture of polygamy, patriarchy and ‘chattelisation’ of women as items and objects, that a man can just have at his beck and call. This goes to influence a woman's sub-consciousness that it is OK to be a little wife, a second wife or the side Chic when the big madam is indisposed.
A very mundane picture in our society is being painted here. The sexualization of girls from a very early stage is one cancer we cannot afford to miss. This statement is also one we’ve heard come from our uncles, family friends, neighbours, etc. It is for this simple fact that statistics show that majority of rape victims actually know their rapists on a personal level.
It starts as simple “flattery,” or “compliments,” as I suppose these patronizing monikers would seek to achieve but really what it does is give a false sense of intimacy to relationships that are in truth built on nothing more than mere cordiality. And because it is mostly overlooked by even parents, the perpetrators are able to get away with it because obviously, they are people “we trust.”
We might have all heard this statement in some variation before. Adults who should know better, shamelessly say it to freshly born babies. They say it to toddlers. They say it to teens. They say it to adult girls.
Now here are a few things to note:
Please, men, listen up. Erect a thick wall of boundary that reaches to the highest heavens when it comes to girls. Don't admire, don't flatter, don't propose marriage. Let teenagers remain, teenagers and children, children. Keep your favours and endearments to yourself.
If the only thing you have to say to a little girl is 'my wife'; then you should give yourself a befitting hard knock on the head and STOP, because it is no endearment. It is totally INAPPROPRIATE.
Also, young girls are not your playmates. Desist from sending little girls and boys on errands; you were blessed with legs too. The truth is, people notice these things and more often will not complain openly or call you out until something terrible happens to that child.
If the child goes missing, they will mention you. If the child gets raped, they will point fingers at you.
Why? Because you chose to treat the child as an adult and made marriage proposals to little girls in jest while sending them on errands as if they were born to serve you.
Many dangerous people are clad as family and friends. The perverts are not strangers. Even our sons and baby boys are not spared. Some of these pedophiles are also females. There’s no gainsaying that evil in itself has no gender!
Parents, please pay attention to your daughters (and sons); listen to them. Don't beat them into silence. DON’T BLAME THEM. Listen. Believe the child. He/She may only reach out once.
Also, pay attention to the people they get close to. Rape and child abuse did not die yesterday - it will be here with us till the conversion of the Jews.
Don't make a sexually abused child lie in the name of “protecting the family" or your marriage. Cowardice at this time is not an option! Get justice for that child. Let the child trust you; let them know you are here to protect them and not blame them. Name and shame the abuser. Let the laws deal with him/her.
If you see or notice something odd, don’t look away. SPEAK UP! You have chosen the side of the oppressor (abuser) when you say nothing. Sweeping sexual abuse under the carpet won't make it stop. Neither will it make our kids safe nor us. Break the culture of silence.
Talking to your kids about child sexual abuse isn't scary. NOT TALKING IS!
Empower your child to identify/recognize what an inappropriate "touch" or compliment is and to boldly say NO! Teach them to SPEAK UP!!!
It is an easier task to build a strong child than to fix a broken adult.
Stay “Woke.”

Efua Sintim 2017 
All Rights Reserved
 Ms Sintim is our Guest Blogger for today. She is a student of law, at the University of London, and a Compliance Professional, Content Writer/Developer for African Youth Excellence (AYE), Massachusetts


Contrary to the popular belief that, ‘All men are cheats’ I wish to state that not every man goes around cheating and chasing girls. Not every man is incapable of knowing and respecting boundaries. Not every man is a sick base creature with no sense of self-restraint. We may need to look at the micro issues that may lead a good man out of his home into the arms of another woman. Whereas no marital indiscretion is justifiable, we need to accept the existential fact that all though not every human action is justifiable, we still do them.

This article is not about the ‘what should be' and the 'what must be'. It looks at the ‘what is’ and the consequences of these whats. Humans, religious and non-religious, pragmatic and idealist are motivated by self-interest. If a human being is not restrained, therefore, there is no end to what they can do in order to self-sustain. This, to me, should influence the actions of everyone in the bedroom, especially the new breed of women, who use the religious and the moral predispositions of their husbands to manipulate them. The women who know that their husbands would not seek solace anywhere, and if they do, they have the society and the church to, as usual, accuse them of not being any different from the rest of the dogs. This article is not about the average Joe; the regular husband who takes decisions on fidelity based on what is convenient to him. This article is about the good men you and I know, the ones when given a chance would catch a bullet for their wives.

Sometimes a man stands at a place, looking at a woman who just wants him to be hers, and she would give her all, and looks back at how he struggles to be wanted, needed, accepted in a home he is supposed to find rest, peace, and love. Most often than not, it is in this position that many lose their breath and fall into the hands of the woman close enough and sensitive to see their frustration and desperation.

Yes, I know you will say cheating is no excuse no matter what goes on in your home. True. I agree. And I will agree with you when you conclude that God and this life will deal with him somehow. But do you think a thirsty man calculates the number bacteria he is gulping down when offered water from anything that looks like a cup? Think about it. He may drink and find a remedy later, but he may have drunk it. The mistake we do is that we assume everyone is somehow, morally or spiritually restrained in their actions. That is the ideal... but in reality? Nope! Not even you always put the care of someone ahead of your own personal discomfort….especially when the source of the discomfort is the one you are expected to show care. Don't for once assume everyone is controlled by the Spirit of God or some moral code. So watch your own actions.

Oh, and God (and society, if it comes out) will not hold you guiltless as long as it was your action that led him astray. Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. Luke 17:1. It is there. Always remember that you cannot kill him silently in the bedroom and cover it up because in our society men don't complain, and a woman can cover it up with tears. Sorry ladies, but while I loathe with every fibre in me the horrors many of you are facing in your bedrooms at the hands of monsters parading as humans…and men at that, I need you to appreciate that some of your kind are really sending their men to their graves, silently, quietly, innocently…and sometimes…almost professionally.

He could be your brother, your best friend, your father. Tell me how you would feel if you heard another woman treat him how you treat him. Tell me if it would be OK for your brother to recount to you, as his experience, the horror stories of your own bedroom.

We know you do not respect his views because he is not as rich and successful as your boss your brother, your father... Your ex... Maybe. We know. We are aware you starve him in bed because he has not earned his place in between your thighs. Oh yes, we know. We know you loathe him and it shows in how you relate to him, his gifts for you, affection towards you and his presence. Oh please don't deny it. It is obvious.

So you see, as smelly as the house help is, without education, class or anything, you still will not understand why he went after her. You will not figure out what is with the acne covered secretary...why no one but sister Grace of long skirt and big blouse fame. You will not know why your husband will even dream about a little girl who is probably young enough to be his daughter... What you don’t realise, and if you do, would find it difficult to accept is, at least there, and with these unworthy women (as you may see them), a measure of his manhood is respected. It is only when he is with them that he feels like a man again.

So why not, he would sacrifice his marital vows just to hear someone say ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘I appreciate it’ and  ‘I am sorry.’ Someone who gives him affection in bed with no conditions… with no loathing; with no spite. He will risk the consequences of his actions to sell his birthright for a bowl of pottage. Oh, sure he will pay dearly in the end; no one is justifying a wrong. But you, my dear sister, will also pay dearly.

You will never understand… the same way he will never figure out why you loathe him the way you do. In your thinking, that is lust; that is a weak man who has no self-control and is trying to find an avenue to justify his indiscretion. Probably you may even call the author a male Chauvinistic pig, who only thinks of how to perpetuate the social patriarchy and the worshipping of the male ego. I will not fault you...Why would I? You would have succeeded in lying to yourself that you are an angel, your man is a demon; you cannot be blamed for any marital is all and always his fault. How can I help you see the folly in this position? I can't. You will keep your views until divorce becomes so common that we may have to throw Divorce Parties for the newly divorced. And In all of this, the man will be guilty with no one willing to listen to a society where it is abnormal for men to complain about marital struggles.

Before you come saying some men are dogs, they will still cheat regardless of what you do, take a pause and think hard about this. Is it ALWAYS the case? Can you, before God, say you don't know any woman who is literally driving her man mad and out? You know such a woman? Good, it is such we are talking about today.

If another woman can do it, my sister, my mother, my daughter, my friend, you can. Be interested in your marriage, be interested in your man. Love him, want him, desire him. Men do not thrive on sex; they thrive on respect. It is where a man finds respect that he plants his sexual seeds. One of the greatest regrets a man can carry is to know he messed up a woman who respects him. Many are held back when they remember the respect their wives have for them. Respect is tightly knitted into their ego. Respect him, and his ego is inflated. Women, who snatch men, know this trick and use it. Guess what, it works all the time. As a wife, you need to employ this took too.

On a normal day, I ask men to up their games. If they claim this world is a man's world, and they are large and in charge, they need to prove it and take responsibility for their actions. But I also know for a fact, women are not inanimate objects in relationships or marriages, and every conflict has multiple sides. Enough of always blaming men for their mess; but of course it is their mess, and they are responsible. However, we need to be honest about the parts each one of us play...especially the women so we can all, hand in hand, work it.

Sometimes, with a little help, a good man will stay good. And if it is beyond you, give it to God.

PG Sebastian 2017
All Rights Reserved


This is based on a work by Sari Harrar and Rita DeMaria. It looks at the Seven identifiable stages most marriages go through from the moment vows are exchanged till death literally do the couples part…or other factors come in to derail the marriage. The Seven stages start from the stage of Passion – which is the early days of marriage, to the Completion Stage where you find stability and peace. 

Let's look at the various stages and which action to take in each of the stages. 

This is the early stages of the marriage. It is generally between the Honeymoon up to twelve (12) months into the wedding (Some earlier) or up until a baby arrives. In the passion stage, there is more of the two of you and less of others. You focus on the positives of each other while you play down, overlook or completely get oblivious of their negatives. You bond through unabashed intimacy, traveling and touring (for those who can afford), you are seen in public together (and those of you who are social media lovers, post tonnes of pictures online) and you agree on most issues. It is the most exciting period for most marriages.

Action To Be Taken: During this period, strengthen your sense of “us”, change the narrative from ‘Me’ and ‘I’ to ‘Us and We’. Wear your wedding ring, quickly introduce your spouse to friends when you bump into them, refer to yourself by your New acquired name (for the women), get lasting and exciting pet names for each other, make time for each other, leave work at work. Build a solid network of mutual friends as opposed to individual friends. Reduce, if not completely cut off, the degree of information you pass on to friends and relatives about your marriage. Be fixated on how to make your marriage work, build trust, respect, and unshakable friendship in each other.

This is the stage of the marriage (right after the Passion Stage)  where couples are getting to know the real strengths and weaknesses of each other. It is at this stage that the dust of love is settled, all pretenses are over, what we can truly do and what we cannot do are all beginning to show. The neat freaks are coming home and those who hoard are piling up filth all over. Some strengths come to unsettle some of the spouses, like the true strength of a wife who might have played weak and sweet all along. It is the period where the foundation settles and its true nature is revealed. It is a stage a lot of couples get to and can feel disillusioned seeing some of the weaknesses in their spouses – weaknesses they did not know were there. That explains why most modern marriages struggle to cross their 5th Anniversary. I called the realisation stage a stage of Marital Shock.
Action To Be Taken: Develop the two important communication habits in marriage – listening and confiding – which are essential to expanding understanding and trust. During this period, you need not assume anything and you need not imply anything. Talk about things as you see them, and be interested in understanding why things are the way they are. Be eager to explain why certain things are the way they are with you. Try to understand each other as that understanding builds up trust. Build your in-house communication capacity before things spill over. Consider enrolling in a couples communication class or post marital counselling to help you sail through that stage. PGPEDIA offers these services.

You may be in the Rebellion Stage when each of you is seeking to assert your self-interests and you end up having volatile – or hidden - power struggles. This is the stage where both couples have come to their wits ends trying to play along. The guy who was all caring is reverting to his old self of not caring what you do with your hair or how what you wear looks like on you. He is now becoming who he is; his boys, his games, his outing, his passwords and flirting around, his ‘workaholism’, his 'short-temperedness', his quest to 'club' or go out and stay out, everything that is self-seeking and of self-interest. The woman is tired of suppressing her opinion, choking under the pretense of being a loving and sweet wife. Now she wants to seek her own interest. and everything selfish and similar to what the man is doing or more. So You don’t speak 'at' me again, you don’t order me again. You don’t patronise me again. You don’t become all sagacious with the dumbest ideas again. Financial and social standings are silently used to justify one’s actions. So a woman who feels ‘oppressed' looks at her finances and ability to sustain herself in the event of a divorce, rather than finding creative ways of resolving the issue. Spouses Rebel against each other.

Action To Be Taken: Learn how to negotiate and keep agreements – keeping promises builds trust. Identify areas of difference and start talking about them – one at a time. Don’t change the subject when the issues are being discussed. Do not be closed minded to ideas because you have a preconceived notion about what you want. Be willing to Compromise and be willing to get each other along rather than dragging each other along. Avoid dragging the horse to the well-side. Negotiation and compromise become the way forward.

You maybe in the Cooperation Stage if both you and your spouse seem more preoccupied with the kids, money, home and work and you start to feel like business partners more than lovers. During this stage, there is a lot of emphasis on payment of bills, mortgage, career progression, academic pursuits, social agenda like getting into politics or becoming more relevant to the community in a grand way. Spouses, during this period, are willing to cooperate with each other for the greater good; you put your differences aside and help raise the children, pay the mortgage, grow their political career or any other career ambition they may have. They take a lot of political and business decisions as opposed to decisions based on love and emotions.

Action To Be Taken: Make your marriage a priority, de-stress and keep the passion alive. Set up a regular date night. Find a babysitter! In the heat of its all, make time for each other, build bridges and adopt reconciliatory and engaging approach towards each other, especially after the Rebellious Stage - stage define how most marriages will eventually go.

You may be in the Reunion Stage if you have an ‘empty nest’ and begin to have more time for yourself and each other to renew your friendship and passion. This period is a very tricky period; the children are all grown and away from the house. Some are at the university; others are working. You may be anywhere in your forties to early fifties. Most Couples would have peaked in their career or can see how it would undoubtedly end if things go the way they are going. The tricky part is what happened at the Rebellion Stage of your marriage and how it was handled(See Stage 3). If the struggle and animosity got intense and that phase passed with these differences unresolved, it is generally at this Reunion Stage that some couples, can quietly and without drama separate. Some couples, do not move past the Rebellion Stage but stay in the marriage just because of the children. When that factor is out of the equation, they just walk away to find solace in new things and in new people.

Action To Be Taken: Refocus on your marriage, get off autopilot & unpack any old baggage. Plan some special events that bring back good memories. If you can seek coaching on how to spice up your love life and return to a miniature Passion Stage.

You may be in the Explosion Stage, which can happen anytime, if you are experiencing major career, health, parenting and family crises. From Redundancy to Debilitating Sickness or worse the death of a loved one can set the family and marriage on fire. It is a stage most marriages pass through in a form or the other and the knowledge of it helps us meet it and handle it well.

Action To Be Taken: Make use of emotional, physical and spiritual support for yourself, your spouse and your marriage. Pay attention to your physical and emotional health and well-being. Do your best to ease the burden on each other rather than aggravating it.

You may be in the Completion Stage as stability and security reign, and you enjoy each other and the life you have created.During this period, a sense of bliss and equilibrium in your marriage and family life.

Action To Be Taken: Look to create a new sense of meaning & purpose for yourselves & your marriage. Establish a special project that you will begin together.

Adapted and expanded from The 7 Stages of Marriage by Sari Harrar and Rita DeMaria, Copyright 2007 The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


Family Recreation is any set of activities undertaken by the family for the purposes of pleasure and relaxation. Most families have these activities scheduled on their calendars as they value the importance of such moments. 

In this video, PG Sebastian, an Author and a Relationship Coach, and Victoria Esenam Offei-Assah, a Clinical Psychologist look at the dynamics and the various facets of family recreation and how important it is for the emotional, behavioural, cognitive and social wellbeing of the family. 

Enjoy this video and share with the world! 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


My name is George Sebastian Abban. I write under the name PG Sebastian (Paa George Sebastian, with the Abban Omitted) I am a family man, and I cook, wash and clean. No, it does not make me feel emasculated. It makes me feel I am helping make my home a well-balanced home where chores and other domestic responsibilities are evenly distributed. Yes, I believe in the Godly family, but I also believe that when the Bible was being written, women were not officially sanctioned to work. No, let me put it well; we were then not in an age of consumerism so we could get by with the little we had. In this day and age, without going into the details, the many needs and realities that confront the modern family means that a working wife and mother is no more an unnecessary chore, but critical to the survival of the family. That, however, is a subject for another time.

Today, I want to share with you how I came to be me; the guy who cooks, who is interested in the family and who thinks we can do more to build relationships and marriages we can all be proud off. I was born in Anaji Estates in Takoradi, where I lived till 2006. I grew up in a family of four; My Dad, My mum and my sister, who is five years older.

My Dirty Laundry

By the time I was nine years old, I was washing my clothes. I was taller than my sister by then, and it came with its own rivalry. Mikelin was in Secondary school by then. Respect was thrown into the trash as we fought as often as we could find a reason to. So my Dad, James Mike, issued a decree that was not to be overturned in his lifetime. If he cannot respect those who wash his dirty clothes, then he will have to wash them himself. That was the last time anyone washed my clothes for me...unless I was sick. From my Handkerchief to my Suits, I do it all; I don't even know where a laundry is.

So While I was being taught the rudiments of respect, I was also being given a lifelong lesson. Some parents would have concentrated on negative and positive reinforcements to either discourage me from disrespecting Mikelin or encourage me to respect her. Reinforcements were used alright, but I was also made to learn that, when people serve you, the least you can do is to respect and show them appreciation. If you don’t, you risk losing their service over time. That lesson was learnt, but I also came to accept and relish the responsibility of taking charge of what I put on and how they look. I still wash my things and every single washable thing in my marital home till date (Calm down, It is a washing machine). It was a very simple measure, but it has paid off big time.

Madam Caro's Kitchen
When my sister went to Secondary school, I was left alone with my parents and at least two cousins who stayed with us at different times. They were always girls, either from my father's side or mother's side. My mum was your typical Caterer aside being a Head Teacher of a local elementary school. It was in the days of the Revolution; you needed more than one source of income. We had a small town bakery where Madam Caro’s legendary bread was baked. God bless My mum, Caroline. At every point in time, there was one pastry or the other going in and out of the Oven; from regular bread to cake to the more complicated ones like ‘Melting Moment’ – God only know what kind of pastry that was. It had the same mixture as a regular cake, except the flour was twice or more that of a standard cake mix. And you cover it with Breadcrumbs and press one peanut on top of it and bake it. Lord. That was heaven.

Anyway, I was a boy going into my teenage. I play hard and fight harder. In all truth, some fights were nastier than others. Those that got back to my mum got me a free ticket to be whipped. I told you she was a teacher, right? Canes were always available at home. ‘Madam wo ba no abo me ba no!’ To wit, ‘Madam, your child has beaten my child’ That was Kudjo Maame. My mum was ever ready to ensure that I was not rewarded.

However, as you may have known by now, in my house, you are not just punished for an offence and left to be; you were subjected to another form of corrective engagement that…well… growing up, I realised was the best for me. Typically, for the next three days after such misbehaviour, I would not be made to go out to play. So after school, it was my mum and me at home. The other ladies were doing one thing or the other. There was always something to be done in my house, gosh. My mum would look at me with 'those eyes' (ankikankye) a litany of instructions would follow: go light up the coal pot, clean up a sauce pan (the particular one described to me) and fetch water up to the median and put it on the fire. Go to the fridge and get tomatoes and pepper. I think we have onions on the shelf. No, we do not have some, I would say after going to check. Ok. Go and buy some from Naa Kokye’s mum. Go and look at the time and come and tell me what it is. I would go and look and come and report. It is 3:30. Ok, be back by 3:45 or don’t come back to the house at all, she would warn. So I have to shut my eyes to all the boys playing and the particular guy who is the cause of my doom and sprint to and fro. Before I know, dinner is ready and all my mum did was to sit and give instructions as to how to go about it. She is 71, and she's been sitting and giving instructions since 19 Kojo OO.

As a young boy who had countless reasons to fight; (from someone teasing me with my local name, being called dogo yaro because of my height to something as mundane as talking to my childhood Crush, Baaba), trust me, kitchen grounding was next to the air I breathe while growing up.  It was, however, not just about cooking; it was more about everything done in the house. I would be tasked to whip the butter and sugar so we bake a pound of cake two. Then we did not have an electric Cake mixer so it was all manual until a Moulinex Mixer showed up in the early 90s in my house. I would be tasked to wash and clean the lettuce and carrots so we fixed Salad. I would be tasked to pound dried fish and shrimps so we could do a homemade shito. Before I turned 20, I could cook almost every food I eat. I still cook, and I enjoy it.

Back then, it was not a pleasant experience, but then who was I to revolt? I was lucky she was not giving me head knocks three days after biting someone in a fight. I was lucky she had not gone to report me to my teacher for an all new season of beating. Please don’t even hint it. Just keep up appearance and stay in the kitchen already. After two or three days of pressure and tension, everything goes down, I gradually find my way out to play with my boys, 80% of whom I was older than, until Allan or Nana Kentinka provokes me…Then the cycle starts

These were the formative stages of my life, and until I turned 15 and went to Boarding school, I had no option than to learn it the best way it was offered me. Who do you expect to Iron for your father? Who do you expect to wash the car? Who do you expect to weed around? You are a fully grown teen who is fed and money spent on. You want additional expenses to be incurred in bringing in someone to come and weed, Sweep and iron? Not in my father’s house. And that man hardly spoke; so when you heard the expression, 'wo Papa ba na ebetse' to wit, you will see what will happen when your father comes. That is the Season finale of the punishment, and it is usually grand and dramatic. That can make you sick at ease.

There were times my mother would be busy with a few home issues, but we also had to be in Mrs Opoku’s bakery to mix the dough for the bread. That was the only Bread Mixer in the entire estate. So my mum would pack everything for me to go and queue. When it gets to my turn, and she is not in, I would be by-passed until I start muttering and insulting people in my head. But she always came, we did it together, and we would carry it home in a wheelbarrow. Boy, we loved that thing. You would see a bunch of kids all wanting to help me push. There was a catch to it all – Potosuaba. This was the smallest bit of the dough that was left after kneading the bread, cut and designed into a doll and baked for you, for all your troubles. God, the good old 80s.

That was how I developed the interest in cooking, and being gradually conditioned, I came to internalise it. From an early age, I came to appreciate that cooking is not a two minutes job, so standing on my feet to cook a proper meal for a day or the week is something I do without thinking about the time cost. The first time I prepared shito after completing secondary school was in 2011. When it was done, my Ga neighbour walked to my house, asked if I was the one preparing the shito. She took a bit of it to eat her food and returned for the entire jar. GHC100.00 gone down the drain. From Palava sauce to the craziest recipe online, if I can find the spices and the ingredients, I can give it a try. I just love the whole adrenalin rush that comes with preparing something new and taking a picture and posting it online.

Would you not want to raise your boy like that? And for that, I am eternally grateful to my parents. They raised a man who did not have to use a woman’s ability to wash, clean or cook as one of the key requirements in selecting a wife. And that makes me eat with gratitude any food my wife sets before me because I know the effort that goes into preparing a simple meal. We compete with recipes and always try something new when we are together. I was single for two years in between relationships before I met my wife and there was not a single moment, cleaning, eating and surviving as a guy made me desire to find a woman at all cost. Those things were sorted. So when a woman came into my life, she was most often caught off guard realising that the usual trick in getting the African man was just not working on me. And Yes, I can be difficult to please. They did a good job in raising a complete man and you can do the same too with your boy child.

The Palm Plantation and the Making of Red Oil.

We had a palm plantation in my father’s hometown in Ashiem, close to Sekondi (Now it is replaced with Teak). At least once in a month, the entire family would go there to check on what was happening. When we go, we would harvest the palm nuts that were ripe, sometimes sell them to BOPP, or bring them home, depending on the quantity. When we take them home, people come to buy some, and we would also use some for domestic cooking, usually Abenkwan (Palm nut soup). After a few days, the vast majority of the fruits would be in the state ready to be converted into Palm Oil. We had a huge Dadzesan (Cauldron) in which we boil the palm nuts. The following day, who do you think is made to pound them in the equally massive mortar? Me and my cousins and any boy in the hood willing to pound in exchange for a loaf of bread. Before you could say, Jack, it was done. We love bread any day. After that, together with my mum and sometimes my dad, usually in the evening, we would all go through the process of preparing the red oil; which is just like preparing a palm nut soup. That was before the cold extraction machines came. These were the days of the revolution, and you needed to do multiple things to manage your cash outlay. We hardly bought red oil on the open market, until Zomi took over and we once in a while use it at home.

Oh, and when we were done, we would be left with the Adwe (Palm Nut Kernel). They have two-fold importance; the shell is used for lighting up the oven since they can be quite combustible while the kernel or the nut in the shell is sold to the Zongo folks who prepare another kind of oil with it – Adwe Ngo. But before you can separate the shell from the kernel, you need a granite stone to crack the shell up. And ooh the occupational hazards. For most of the boys, when the thought of our colour TV came to mind, something they don't have, and their need to watch Akan drama in our house, they discovered that helping me crack the shells up was in their interest. Sometimes, it was more desperate than that; You are home from school, your mum is still hustling in the market, and you do not have food in your house except Mama Caro’s bread which I am willing to offer on the condition that you help me crack the shells up.  A cup of Blue Band margarine or two is enough for a day’s labour, and we can go and play happily thereafter. Oh and the football is mine, so if I am not done cracking the shells up, no one is playing. You should see the boys running to help. Mind you, there was a Cracking Machine for that kind of Job, but what was my use as a Primary school child? Always playing? Naah. You will do it. 

Fix It… If It Breaks We Will Save And Get A New One

That was my father’s mantra; allow the boy to fix it. So every new gadget that was acquired, I had to study the manual and fix them. This was in the 80s and the 90s. Manuals were Major League hefty. No Joke. But you needed to read the whole thing page to page before you attempted to operate anything. From regular electronic gadgets to more dangerous things like learning how to operate a Giant Gas Oven that could bake a large volume of bread at a goal. Oh yea…that was the ish. We ordered it from somewhere in Accra…. A place they said was called Sowutuom, and it took an entire day to Reach Takoradi. And people came from far and near to see Madam Caro’s Gas oven. All silvery….  freshly painted. I could just stare at the oven unending…. An End of the Swish Oven with all its logs and the hustle of getting the fire started whenever it rained heavily, and the water went to where we stored the logs.

I loved to paint. When We finally built our four bedroom house and moved in, I single handedly whitewashed it in three days. I strained myself and broke down after that so a painter was contracted to do the actual painting; something I found a lot of faults with. I was 20 years.
All these have made me a hands on person. I love to try my hands on everything before I bring in someone to look at it for me.

My Pigeons

In the late 80s and the early 90s, there was a craze in Takoradi about rearing pigeons. Most of the boys were rearing them. I remember the price of one was 800.00 Cedis, which is now about 8p or 2 cents. I went to ask my mum for money to buy some of the birds, and she came up with a deal. Sell my bread like others have been doing. For each quantity you sell, I will give you an extra loaf which becomes your commission. You can then buy your pigeons with the accumulated commission. I totally loved it. Saturday and Sunday morning, I will put some of the bread on a pan and hit the estate. I was tall for my age; I couldn’t balance the  pan well on my head. Lord, I was a sight to behold. People would call me and buy the bread just because of that. And those who cared, would come home to query my mum for doing that. She would tell them, I opted for it because I wanted the money. Between 7 and 10 am, I could go two rounds. In about two weeks I had two birds; a male and a female. From that time, every time I needed anything, I would sell bread and earn a commission, or I would sell the bread so that I would be in good books and they would do what I needed for me. It worked perfectly fine for me.

Growing up, I have learnt it is important that at a young age, children are made to understand that everything one wants in life must be earned. They may not have to sell bread or anything – that was during the PNDC era - but there is always something you can tell your child to do in exchange for they want so they appreciate the importance of duly earning everything they have. It gives them a sense of real ownership, responsibility in taking care of what they have and the existential awareness that if they are only willing to pay the price and roll up their sleeves to work, they can get everything they want. In other words, their wellbeing is directly in their hands, and it is a function of the work they are willing to do. They learn that in life, you can be equal to others, but what comes and goes, is not tied to the largesse and benevolence of anyone but your own effort. 

Someone may call all that child abuse… Haahahahha, such a big word for a Lazy Generation, don’t you think? Work the damn kid and he will grow up to be caring, supportive, all-rounder, responsive and responsible. The bible did not say to let the children ride; it says to train them up in the way they are to go….the path, the future and responsibilities and all that life will bring, so that when they are old and out of the home, they will not depart from the acquired virtue. No man will give to his wife what his parents did not teach him. No man will understand the import of becoming a particular man if they have no locus and premise upon which to build that ideal man. If you want a child to build an extensive vocabulary in English, you inundate him with books. If you want a child to be a Violin Maestro, you get him a violin and press him to learn.

If you want to raise a gentleman, do give him the tools needed to be one. Do not groom a woman to be a home woman, while your son is left on a free range to learn life on his own and later expect him to be the kind of man who understands his wife. How can he understand the woman, when he and the girl grew up on different sides of the home divide? How can he learn to treat a woman when it is enough for him to fight, walk on his sisters, disrespect them and still enjoy his privileges? How can he appreciate that helping with the house chores, is not emasculating, but a common sense approach to helping a family pull through the existential stress of modern day life? How can he be any different when all he had been told is one thing is considered girlish and the other boyish. Would he be any different from the familiar father who piles his ugly legs on the coffee table, reading newspapers and timing his wife on the length of time it would take to prepare dinner?

We need a new breed of gentlemen divorced from the mindset of yesteryears; men who are awake to the exigencies of modern family life. We need men who are willing and able to make a paradigm shift in the way they see the family, a woman's role in it and to accommodate the challenges that come with this social evolution in a way that absorbs the shocks that are a natural consequence of this evolution. We cannot create modern men with tools trapped in antiquity. We cannot build a future with rudiments that point to the past. It is like bringing a die-hard communist to head the Ministry of Economic Planning in a Capitalist country. The mindset will just not fit into the environment it is supposed to operate. There will be a fundamental dichotomy between thought patterns and the environment that thought is to be planted. 

This change of mindset, I am sorry to inform you, does not start after saying I DO; it starts when he says his first, daa daa daddy. (and they always say daddy first)  

PG Sebastian
Copyrights 2016