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29.08.2007 General News

Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin Tells Her Story

By Daily Graphic
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Young Eno's love for books was so intense that whenever she woke up from bed, the first thing she did was to pick her book to read.

"I will not wash my face nor clean my teeth and my mother would scold me, because she expected me to do more household chores than I usually did."

And although she has no explanation for that intense interest in her books, her efforts paid off. She was so brilliant in school that she was jumped a number of times in primary school.

“While in Middle Form Four, I passed the Middle School Leaving Certificate Examination with distinction; the Common Entrance Examination and also sat for the Teacher Training College examination and passed."

Little wonder that young Eno who was so brilliant then, today holds a PhD in Gender and Energy Studies, is a gender advocate and a researcher. Young Eno is no other person than Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Regional Programme Manager of ABANTU for Development.

Sharing her childhood story with this reporter, Dr Mensah-Kutin stated that she could have been like any other girl either selling on the streets or hawking in the market.

However, she said she was fortunate to have her older siblings to look up to as role models since they occupied high positions in society at that time.

Born and bred at Brofoyedru, a town in Adansi, in the Ashanti Region, she grew up like any child in the town. "I used to fetch water from the riverside before I went to school every day. During weekends, I went to the riverside to wash and bath which was so much fun."

Her father had coffee and cocoa plantations as well as food crop farms so she helped on the farm at weekends. She recalled that one of the farms was very far and she had to walk about five kilometres to the farm to work and always carried a bundle of firewood or foodstuffs on her return home.

Eno, as she was affectionately called, did not like doing household chores and so was frequently disciplined by her older siblings which made her cry often. "I did not like going to the farm and doing household chores. I just loved my books," she emphasised.

In Eno's home, children were not allowed to go out unless they were sent. But interestingly, she and her older siblings occasionally sneaked out to watch concerts. She recalled an incident after attending one of those concerts when she was caught on her return home and whipped by her father.

Young Eno attended Brofoyedru Middle and United Methodist Middle Schools. She walked barefooted to school and got whipped whenever she reported late for school. She was, however, quick to add that her teachers liked her because she was very small and brilliant.

When young Eno left for Accra Girls' Secondary School, she was so proud of her background that whenever she was asked where she came from, she mentioned the name of her school and village with so much confidence. "And I was shocked they did not know my village because for me, Brofoyedru was the centre of the universe," she said smiling.

Eno used to put on long dresses while in school. For that reason whenever she was descending or climbing the stairs, her colleagues would pull her dress and comment, "maaba otale ke nakai" (meaning why is your dress so long). Her low cropped hair also attracted some teasing from her friends in school.

While in Accra, Eno lived with her elder sister at Legon and it was during that time that she began to enjoy doing household chores. “I admired my sister so much and wanted to be like her because she always kept her environment neat.

Dr Mensah-Kutin had her sixth form education at Aggrey Memorial Zion Secondary School. She entered the University of Ghana in 1975 and left in 1978. She did her National Service at Kpando Secondary School and went to Legon again in 1979 to study Mass Communication.

From there, she continued at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands. She had her PhD from the University of Birmingham.

Dr Mensah-Kutin was one time a Staff Writer of the Daily Graphic newspaper and used to have a column called Women for Change. She was instrumental in starting the women's page of the paper. Before she left the paper in 1989, she had risen to become an Assistant Editor. She also worked with the National Energy Board, now Energy Commission. She is credited as having initiated the production of "The Women's Manifesto for Ghana," a document on issues of concern to women directed at policy makers.

Dr Mensah-Kutin is from Fomena in Adansi. She is married to Prof. Kwame Karikari of the Media Foundation for West Africa . They have four children.