Thursday, October 28, 2010


Before I go any further to discuss the topic for this blogpost, please be aware that what you are about to read in no way tries to condemn or justify the culture of Bride Prices or Dowries in our traditional marriage ceremony. This post only seeks to discuss into some detail, the constituents of the Bride Price in view of current modern cultures, practices and trends.

Now onto it.

I’m sure most of you have at one point or the other in your lifetime been to a traditional engagement ceremony in Ghana. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, it is usually along the same lines. A man and a woman date for some time; the man asks the woman to marry her (or the woman coerces the man to ask him to marry her :P); they agree to be with each other forever and then comes the Knocking Ceremony. As the name implies, it involves the man knocking at the door of the lady’s home, then being invited in by the bride's family. The man’s entrance is usually with singing, drumming or dancing (sometimes all of the above). Him, his abusuafoɔ (family: nuclear and extended) and friends come in bearing gifts of all forms, sizes and shapes - the Bride Price - in a colourful display. It’s very fascinating really. The elements of this gift package include, her dowry, a Bible, the engagement ring, yards of fabric, underwear for the lady, a suitcase (portmanteau) jewellery, a goat, a cow, a car (in some extreme cases), among other things. Some families prefer to give out a list and from what I’ve heard, this is the subject of many a debate, both internally and externally. It is very likely that if the potential mother/father-in-law approves of it, the potential son-in-law will disapprove of it. And so on, and so forth. Sometimes, the engagement ceremony is put on ice until some amicable agreement is achieved.
Let's milk the cow dry, shall we?



But I'm no expert in tradition, so I won't go any further down this road. My case is very simple. If in 1945 owning a full piece of Printex wax meant the world to you, in the year 2010, a full piece of Printex wax print pales in comparison to a 60 inch Plasma television! All in favour say "Aye aye Captain Rebel".

What in goodness name am I going to do with bails of Printex or GTP fabric? Perhaps if I had a shop in Makola, that would be ideal. But I'm not, so go figure! I like tradition, don’t get me wrong. I admire the thought that went behind the action back in the 1700s. Note: Pass tense. You do realize that these traditions were based on the customs of the era in which they were created, and back then, there was nothing like High Definition Television!!! I dey lie?

So I am making a decree, right here, right now on this World Wide Web. This decree goes out to enlighten any man out there who may dare to marry me, that he’s not going to get away easily with a few pieces of cloth and a portmanteau. No no no. I'm a modern girl (anybody know the equivalent of 90's girl in the 2000s?) as such, I have modernized my traditions, with modern items in my modern engagement list. As such modern items such as the full range of all of Apple’s products; I’m talking iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macbooks, iMacs, and whichever Apple product may have emerged; a 60-inch HDTV; designer watches (emphasis on “watches”); 12 sets of pants suits, some artwork from a famous painter (preferably a dead one), a complete gym set to maintain my figure after having our children and several others. I could go on until eternity. I want practical items, things that apply to my life in the year 2010. I don’t want to do things for the sake of tradition. The tradition must be applicable. We must evolve our traditions and in effect our bride price! Is that too much to ask? I don’t drink schnapps; nor does any other member of my family. So it would be prudent of you to bring in a bottle of Alize or Chardonnay or something like that. Forget about the old stuff. It’s absolutely useless! What am I going to do with unending yards of cloth? I might make a series of bed sheets out of them. That’s all their good for (from the Rebel's perspective, that is).


If traditions are based on the lifestyles of people, and we both agree that society evolves, why don’t our traditions evolve with the evolving society? Why do we stick to irrelevant customs made for people who have been dead for years now? Someone tell me why. If you think of a good reason, please let me know. I’m counting on you.



  1. On point! I'm with you on the 60" inch HD TV and the Chardonnay. Seriously who drinks schnappes anymore?

  2. Aye Aye Captain Rebel, I'm sooooo with you hehehehehe

  3. Hehe! You selfish girl, you!
    What about those of us who like the 'pleeeeenty' cloth, or the sexy lace panties, and the fuss? Mmmm? What about those of us who like the look of dusty bottles of Schnapps in our precious cabinets of displays, eh?
    You are totally warned to stop playing 'chaskele' with our heritage.
    Upon the third warning, you will be fined one lusty stud of a cow (I need it to cross all my on-heat female cattle ... trophies of my past engagement).

  4. Hi! Phreddy,
    Just found your blog today. Nice article.
    Why would you prefer artwork from a dead painter? lol

    Keep up the blog!

  5. Thanks Remy. Well, paintings from dead painters are usually more expensive than artwork from artist who are alive...

  6. My Rebel!!! First of all an irrelevant point: OASIS was Da BOMB!!! I'm certainly not coming back in one piece hahaha!! Romantic undertones of the experience will be hinted in a couple of poems. hehehehe!!! Now to RELEVANCE!!! You HAS nailed it paaa for me! Blown up THUMBS UP to the Apple products requirement! Medaase for splitting me up! Marriage is War and only Men who Dare shall survive. I'm not feeling particularly intelligent today but I will attempt a few additions to your oh-so-practical Apple list:

    1) Life time internet connection. eh?
    2)A collection of air tickets to various destinations around the world [ that can actually take the place of the goat/livestock - much less smellier too! 3)Visa should be no problem with me in the works]
    4)Lifetime supply of Vodka, Amarula etc [for your sister from another mother: moi!]
    5) A contract stipulating that domestic work is not your job [refer to obaa foong]
    6) Another contract securing the element of sexual pleasure [especially vaginal orgasms] for you at every romantically creative encounter. According to my bible an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away.
    7) I will end at this point as my vision suddenly got hazy with the mention of vaginal orgasms. Memories assail!

    Cheers mi-lady! a good one there!

  7. lifetime supply of internet connection…how could i ever forget!
    and a contract stipulating that domestic work is not my job. love it. we truly are “Obaa Fong” epitomized!!!!
    as for item 6, we shall “diskess” at a later date, at a much later time of the day ;-) … heeheee

  8. [...] Just for the record, I am Akuapem, so this list will be added on to the list I so freely furnished in my previous post. [...]

  9. How does one update the traditional engagement for a 2010 cross-cultural marriage?

    When we were planning our wedding, I told my Ghanaian husband he should fill my suitcase with all the essentials for the Obroni woman in Ghana: sunblock, sunglasses, aloe, language lessons, cheese. But in the end, my husband's abusuafoɔ would have had a long long and expensive journey to do this knocking so we went for something more western. We got married at the Registrar General where the love word was not mentioned but rather my husband was strongly advised to avoid polygamy. It was a fairy tale come true.