Monday, 21 April 2008

The land of cohabitation.

As mentioned earlier, in Ghana it is common to stay living with your parents until you get married. Not only for financial reasons, but because that is the done thing. As a good Christian you are not meant to be doing anything ; ) that would require you to live with anyone else until you are married. Of course, it doesn’t mean things are not being done. Ghanaians go off to university either in Ghana or abroad and live on campuses, having all the fun that you do on campus.

Ask around and you’ll find that many Ghanaians, even after university, are unofficially living with their girlfriends or boyfriends. But would anyone ever come out and say it? No.

Coming from Sweden, the land of cohabitation, we’ve even made a word out of it (sambo = cohabitee), I didn’t realise the taboo about living together. I’d speak to a friend and he’d tell me about his girlfriend of four years, so naturally I would ask, “are you living together?”. He’d look at me as if I’d asked whether he eats babies for breakfast and exclaim “Noooo!”. After a while though, I realised, yes, people may not be officially living together, but they’d be found at their partners place four to five times a week, is that not more living together than not?

In Sweden, cohabiting is such a natural thing, nobody gives it a second thought. Most teenagers look forward to the day they can move out, and most do move out at least by the time they’re 21. And of course, if you’re going from a rent free existence to paying all your on bills, it’s convenient to have a flat mate, and who better than a boyfriend? You won’t need more than a one bedroom apartment and all the bills can be split, while your relationship grows to the next level. I would say it is very common that after 18 months in a relationship, cohabitation is the natural next step.

It is quite funny that in Ghana the pattern is probably the same, but due to the burden of being a good Christian, it is all going on behind closed doors. In fact, when a couple can no longer keep the fact that they’re living together a secret any longer, they’ll simply start referring to each other as husband and wife and leave it up to you and me to decide whether we can be bothered to go and look for their marriage certificates.

It seems in Ghana we live by the old tree falling in the woods notion: if you live together but keep up the pretence that you don't, in your God's eyes it's not happening. Hm, somehow, it seems the spiritual leaders are not being given the kind of respect they ought to be given...

4 comments:

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Maya! ring mig! noll två fyra nio arton sjuttitvå tio. Det här blir kul :-)

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

You have said this before, and I still maintain that I do not know anybody in a cohabitation. That said, I like the striking contrast (what isn't) between Sweden and Ghana here.

Maya said...

That's the point I am making, Nana Yaw. You won't find anybody admitting to it, but a lot of people are doing it. It is only when a child is on the way that there'll be a quick engagement and suddenly it is accepted to live together.

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Then, I believe you because the number of suspicious shotgun weddings has gone through the roof :)

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