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28.02.2016 Feature Article

The Reason for High Divorce Rates in Ghana - Part I

The Reason for High Divorce Rates in Ghana - Part I
LISTEN FEB 28, 2016

Ewurama they called her. Born 1953 to a German accountant and Ghanaian nurse; baptized into Catholicism at an early age and educated as a sociologist and English major in the University Of Cape Coast. What a beautiful life she had lived. A remarkable woman by all standards; diligent, godly, submissive and supportive of her very wealthy husband. Ewurama had gone home, unfortunately, and left the rest for the living to conjecture. As I sat somber and reflective through the funeral service at Christ the King's Church, I fought back tears while pondering my own mortality, trying hard to not to be distracted by the grieving wails and groans emanating from the front pews. Sons, daughters, family members, church folks; all wept, for this remarkable woman of substance.

Buckle up. This is going to be the longest post I will make in 2016. But I dare you to read to the end. It might just change your life. If you seek questions about marriage, life, friends, meaning; all that and a bag of crispy chips, buckle up.

In the next paragraph, you will read the words of a loving daughter eulogizing her faithful deceased mother in the not-so recent past. This is not fiction. I have culled these very words from the Tributes section of the funeral brochure. My goal is not to leverage the grief of others for some sort of moral crusade, but to bring to the fore issues of contemporary relevance that has and continue to shape our social psyche and formation, for better or worse.

Angel, I choose to call her (for purposes of anonymity) wrote as her tribute, one of the most beautiful and thought provoking words ever to color the canvas of a human mind. Hear her:

"...When mama passed I spent a lot of time reminiscing about the yesterday’s we spent together. And then I spent a lot of time worrying about the tomorrows - wondering how I would survive without her. I soon realized, however, that my mother passing away was a grace from God - to help me understand the purpose of our temporary lives on earth. I often used to wonder what mama's purpose was. All I saw her doing was serving her husband and her family. I thought, ‘I get you, but there are other women leading global causes for child labor, African development, etc.’ I just could not grab, that God would bring someone to this earth just to be a wife and a mother. There had to be something more, I thought. Today, I see clearly what her purpose was – to bring all six of us up in the way of the Lord and to lead us to Him; to show us true meaning of a servant leader, a devoted wife and mother (concepts that appear to be totally lost in the world today); to be a blessing to others who need it, and to help the cause of the Church. And that is the most worthy purpose I can ever conceive now.” Source: Obituary brochure of ***(name withheld), p.25)

I promise you, not even the parenthesis in the above paragraph is mine; all this is verbatim, straight from the obituary brochure. I would give you two minutes to read and digest her tribute again. You done?

In this short write-up, I will have something to say about the Church, the family unit and social decay. First, I want to finish making the point with Angel’s tribute. You see, Angel’s mother was married to a very wealthy man who wields a lot of clout in higher circles. But their story was never so from the outset. It was one of humble beginnings. She married a man she loves, a man whose potential seemed nothing like their beginning reality. At one time, she forfeited a national service posting to Accra just so she can be close to her husband who had received appointment as a civil servant working for Cocoa Board in Sefwi Wiaso, far in the Western Region of Ghana. Every region the husband moved, the wife followed. In 1980 they made a joint decision to move to Nigeria to take up teaching at the Secondary School level. Long story short, Aunty Ewurama of blessed memory, ended up being the “right-hand” go-to of her own beautiful creation; her beloved husband, for through love, commitment and long-suffering, they had both crossed the Rubicon, together, now wealthy more than ever, running big value chains with international operations. Name it; manufacturing, haulage and logistics, consulting, etc.

There are so many lessons to glean from this story; love, commitment, patience and respect for each other. What, I suspect may have escaped your attention, is Angel's "modern" views about womanhood, and how death had challenged and changed her deep-seated assumptions about marriage, family and commitment.

According to Ghana Living Standards Survey Round 6 (GLSS6, p. 8), divorced and separated persons accounted for 5.6% of the population covering the period of census 2008-2013. This figure was higher in rural coastal (4.3%) than in say Accra (3.6%; 2.3% reported in 2008) or other urban centres (3.9%). In GLSS5, reported in 2008, total section of the population divorced and separated was 5.7%.

According to a news article filed in 2015 (please see Adjassah, A. (2015). Divorce Rates High in Churches) the head pastor of Assemblies of God Church, Community 4 Tema, Reverend David Nabegmado, had bemoaned the alarming rate of divorce in the church. The article mentions a report by Ghana Statistical Service indicating that in 2014 alone, 600,000 marriages had collapsed.

So what really is the problem? Why are so many marriages ending in divorce? In Part II of this article, the author addresses the impact of the excesses of feminism, patriarchy, religion and pop culture on stability within the family unit.

What is feminism? What are its intellectual traditions and philosophical claims? In what ways has the excesses of feminism disrupted the foundation of godly family values? What is patriarchy? Is patriarchy justified in our contemporary context? Why is divorce in the church on the ascendancy? Does the church provide practical counselling? Part II.

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