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18.03.2019 Feature Article

Let's Give Dove People Time:  But How Much Time Do We Have?

Davi is in labour. It's a fact that labour contractions usually cause discomfort or a dull ache in the expectant mother's back and lower abdomen along with pressure in the pelvis.

The 23-year-old is a first-time mom and she's in active labour. This means, the cervix has dilated to about 10 centimetres, and the baby can pop up anytime at his/ her own choosing.

It also means that the contractions could get longer and more intense. If she's not lucky, this game could drag on or go on for eight hours---a situation typical of first-time moms.

Davi describes her contraction like 'strong menstrual cramps'.

But that isn't the end of her woes.
In Dove, her hometown, it's 'Haram' (taboo) for a woman to give birth in that land they call sacred. It's sanctioned by the deity.

Tawoo or Tar what?
I said Taboo.
Is it enshrined in the constitution?
No, Dodzi I told you, you won't find it anywhere, not even in Facebook.

It isn't contained in the written law, but rather rooted in tradition, upheld by society and perpetuated by the people.

Taboos are observed by peoples all over the world. But some are extremely odd.

Do you've one Kokuvi?
I touch wood!
That's mine. Did I crack you up?
This is superstition, yet some people do it in order to have good luck.

Be reminded, this is not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, but it's connected with old ideas about magic and supernatural.

So, as I was saying...
Davi is due. She's in labour. It's dead in the night. The tiny town is gone to bed.

No motorists in the streets. No cabs on the road and there's no hospital at Dove.

'Okada' (motorbike) is available.
A neighbour across the street has responded to her distressed call. Off they go, to a nearby hospital 20miles away.

The potholes on the dirt road is going to, perhaps make the situation worse for her.

But she's no option. She can't have her child in Dove.

Imagine if all the satellite communities had same taboo or something outrageously worse than say-- you cannot brush your teeth at 7 pm, or you cannot sing while taking shower.

Imagine if Dove's neighbours also forbid pregnant women to visit their towns.

Where would she go then?
The beautiful young woman is married to a prominent member in the community. Efo, her husband is a traditionalist. He sanctions.

He's fined many. Today, reality has hit home.
His wife is in serious pain. And the pain is palpable. He fears the worse.

No one breaks this taboo of the land.
This land their forebears bequeathed to them.
It must be kept sacred and sacred forever as the old observed in yesteryears.

Even the 21st-century girl- child wants it preserved. And the boys talk about it as if it's part of the school syllabus.

But do we have time?
I deeply respect people's belief.
We all believe in something. Individuals and people have what they believe in. And the case in Dove is not peculiar in modern day Ghana.

However, I like to suggest that we begin or engage in a civilised discourse to address this problem. Yes, it's a problem and it needs to be addressed head-on.

Admittedly, not all of our beliefs are useful or positively affect our social life of economy. Some are inimical. Some are weird. And some are appaling.

Thus, I think the conversation must start now and mothers must champion this discourse and ensure that they involve girl/boy-child.

Early education and enlightenment would help immensely.

Also, opinion leaders, chief and the elders of Dove must avail themselves to change.

It isn't going to be easy but with modicum effort, they'll overcome it.

Indeed, the taboo seems weird, but we can't uproot it overnight.

Did Jesus say something about the Sabbath?
Yes, he did.
The Pharisees were acting stubborn.
They were deeply caught up in the mundane Jewish traditional practices. One of them was the Sabbath.

So Jesus simply told them this:
'Man is lord over the Sabbath'.
I might be wrong. But I think it's either Fawomayor or Mmeretwoso, in the Upper Denkyira, Central region of Ghana.

Legend has it that many years ago, it was taboo in one of these towns to pound fufu after at 6pm. Offenders were fined or punished.

The people lived with this outrageous taboo for many decades, perhaps over a century. Today, that taboo is gone. And the people are enjoy their 'Timtim' ( to borrow Wakiki's word) even at midnight.

So let's give Dove people time in the hope that in not too distant future they too will see the light.

Gordon Offin-Amaniampong
Gordon Offin-Amaniampong, © 2019

This author has authored 284 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: GordonOffinAmaniampong

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