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03.06.2009 Feature Article

'Abrokyire' Palaver: Madam-student love; hormonal imbalance or cultural confusion

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By Dorothy Asare-Kumah

A story published on Myjoyonline.com about female teachers in Florida in amorous relationships with their students makes interesting reading. Such reports are not strange by any means but for the fact that it raises concerns about ethics for the noble teaching profession.

It is no news that some guys in this country are in sexual relationships with women who are much older than them and vice versa. The interesting thing, though, is that the laws of the land reign supreme and so boys under age 18 are still treated as boys.

In a country where people tend to develop their independence at a rather early stage in life, it is sometimes very confusing to know how old a person is because of the high level of maturity that you sometimes find in even 17-year-olds. It is even more interesting because, unlike Ghana where age and social status become the deciding factor for 'falling in love', there are no such boundaries here.

For instance, if I find a cute (that's the girls thing about boys) young guy crossing my path all I need to do is use all of my female arsenals to capture his attention, win him to myself and keep him forever—simple and short. No long romantic sermons and time to think and pray as we do in Ghana. Love is a rather simple path to pursue in this country.

I remember when I started school and was working as a food vendor, there was a 'cute' guy who would always come and get something called wrap. The wrap was made like a sandwich and he would always ask that I make him one. For me anyone who was nice got a special treat, like more chicken or lettuce or dressing and it was my own way of putting the little sales trick I learnt from my mother's one-time Kaneshie market store to attract more customers.

Interestingly my 25-year-old workmate had noticed this guy and any time he came around she would nudge me with her elbows and once the guy left will start giggling all over: “I think this guy likes you, he really does. Maybe you should ask him for a date”. “No, Nicky not me” I will tell her. What! Me ask a guy out for a date when in Ghana all I need to do is pick up certain calls, no way it won't happen.

“Do you know my age? First of all I am a little over 10 years older than most of you students on campus?” is the next thing that falls from my lips in response, and, poor me, my colleague was amazed that I was so concerned about my age and not my heart. Well, I had deliberately locked my heart in a barrel for good reason.

At that time it really surprised me when I heard the ages of people who dated but soon came to realize that most of the women I knew had boyfriends who were younger than them. My former roommate, who came from one of the former Soviet states, was not sure whether to date a guy who was five years younger than she was and, for the first time, I was surprised when I advised her to go with her heart but not without ensuring the guy was at least 18 years. “Who cares about age, my dear, if you love him go for him but just ensure that his age does not earn him any less the respect you would give another man your age”. She did and they are still rolling.

At least I have become Americanized in this respect and that is why I am not surprised that some female teachers are confusing what could possibly be a hormonal imbalance that needs urgent attention with visiting their emotions on their students. I must admit that it is difficult, though, because some of these boys can just sweep you off their feet with their maturity, sense of confidence, and show of love.

It is even more difficult for the female teacher when this student has developed a close relationship with you and tells you everything he is going through. I had an experience with one of the students I was advising in my line of work. He was about 26 (for me still an 'aboa konkontiba') and we became rather close and sometimes he would come to me not for what I was paid to do but because he just needed someone to talk with and wanted to talk with me. It was getting tricky for me and I had to devise ways to suddenly introduce how I miss my 'husband' and my son (imaginary) back in Ghana and then he asked my age and almost rolled over when I told him. He was dumbfounded but at least it helped us to put a break on what could have become a potentially explosive situation.

So, yes females too 'gat feelings' but the expression of those feelings makes all the difference. Is it a case of hormonal imbalance or one of cultural confusion? I don't know but the next time I come to this world I will certainly not live in Florida, if I have a choice.

To reach the writer: Dorothy Asare-Kumah [[email protected]]

Dorothy Asare-Kumah
Dorothy Asare-Kumah, © 2009

The author has 21 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: DorothyAsareKumah

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