Delving Into It

Day 16 of the Afrobloggers #WABC2021

Just two more days till this challenge is over, and I am so grateful for how much it has pushed me out of my comfort zone… in terms of writing about things that I didn’t even know I could write about. Today we finish the culture and fashion part of the challenge. If you know a thing or two about tribalism, kindly share it with us in the comment section!

Love, Elise.


When a tradition gathers enough strength to go on for centuries, you don’t just turn it off one day.

– Chinua Achebe


I woke up on Sunday morning alone in the bed. It must have been drizzling outside, the petrichor still hung in the air. Mawuli was nowhere to be found. 

There was a text though, from 4am. 

Babe. I had to go for a drive to clear my head. I know you won’t be up till around 8am. I should be back by 9. There’s fresh coffee set to start brewing at 8:00am, and croissants in the breadbasket. Also a few cookies in the cookie jar.

I love you. 

I checked the time, and it was 7:20am. My eyes were still heavy. So was my heart. I didn’t want to get out of bed just yet. Didn’t want to wake up to my reality. My mind kept racing. I thought about Ol’man, I t thought about losing Mawuli. I thought about the possibility of remaining single, or settling for just anybody, just because his tribe was considered acceptable. 

So, I went back to bed. 

I woke up at noon.

Mawuli was next to me in the bed, reading. 

“Hey baby…I thought you’d never wake up.”

He reached next to him and pulled out a tray with coffee and some cookies, setting them next to me.

“I didn’t want to… in my dreams, I don’t have to fight for the man I love alone.”

His jaw hardened, and he went back to his book.

What was going on with him? 

I took a sip of the coffee, trying to clear the fog in my head. It was going to be a crazy week at work. We had several new clients all showing up at once, and a few old orders to finish. 

And for Ol’man’s one year anniversary, I had to order a new wreath for the grave and help organize a small part of the family members to visit the graveyard. Apparently, it was the tradition.

And now there was the added stress of this whole Fanti-Ewe thing. 

How I wished Ol’man were here to see all this. I missed him so much! 

I took another sip of the lukewarm coffee and sighed deeply, subconsciously. 

“Esaaba… When I say I don’t want to fight, I don’t want you to get me wrong. It’s not because I don’t love you. And no, I’m not giving up on us. I just don’t want it to get down to a fight in the first place.”

I put my mug down and sat up properly in the bed. 

“Because I’ve been there and done that and I’m tired. I have fought before – multiple times in fact. Because I was young and in love, and I thought that love alone was enough. But it always ended terribly. And I was always left wondering why I wasn’t good enough. So then I ended up dating all sorts of girls from my tribe because of that, justifying some toxic behaviors with “At least they won’t discard me in the end because I’m Ewe.”

“Do you have any idea what it feels like to constantly be rejected for being you? Something you cannot change? I don’t think so!”

I looked down at my toes, trying to make sense out of all of it.

“I love you. And if it came to it, I would probably even take a bullet for you. But futile fights are not for me Esaaba. I’m not giving up on us. I want us to work. I want to someday, wake up to your contorted sleep face every day. And make love to you all the time; hear you scream like a banshee, feel you shiver whenever I touch you. I want to be here for you whenever you need me to be, in whatever capacity.”

He paused for a bit and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Don’t you get it, that I love you so much? I just don’t know how to fight these evidently useless fights!”

With that, he got out of the bed, and walked out of the room, leaving me alone with my coffee and my thoughts.

I showered and went to find him in the living room, dozing off in the couch. I woke him up and snuggled with him. 

“I get it, that you’ve done it before, and I understand that it’s not fair. It really doesn’t make sense to me either.” 

“But this is going to be your last fight. Cos we’re going to have to make it work. So give it your all… your final push, and help me convince Mama to be on our side.” 

“Once we get that, it won’t be so much of a problem.”

He sighed and grabbed my hand. 

“Let’s just take it one day at a time, Esaaba. And let’s pray about it too. Who knows, there might not even be a fight to fight.”


I got home a little after 7:00PM. Mama was drinking a glass of wine in the living room and reading a book. 

We exchanged curt greetings, and I went into my room. She knocked on my door, after about thirty minutes, and asked me to check my email. 

I did.

Esaaba, 

My precious daughter, my first fruit. My only girl. 

When I was a very little girl, Ewes were off limits for so many reasons. 

First, they were considered a very fetish tribe – no that wasn’t a consideration. They were. People who offended anyone from that tribe, would mysteriously go missing, die, or get stricken with certain diseases. So, for example, if I had married into an Ewe family, and for some reason his sisters didn’t like me or agree with me, it was believed that they could easily ‘take me’ to the village and ‘tie me up’ with their strange magic. So that I would either be barren, (so they can force their brother to get another wife,) or that I’d get some strange disease and die. 

And usually, it wasn’t even about the person you were marrying. It was often more about his likely fetish extended family… Some grandfather or great grand aunt somewhere.

Another thing that was Ewes were very ‘inward-looking’. If you’ve noticed, if an Ewe man owns a company, at least 80% of the employees are likely to be Ewe. And it is said that no matter how close you are to an Ewe man, his brother (a fellow Ewe man) is always one step closer. But I guess most other tribes do this also? Just maybe not to the extent they do it. 

And then finally one major issue, was that Ewes practice patrilineal succession as opposed to the matrilineal succession that most other Akan tribes like ours have. 

So, if you have an Ewe woman and a Fante/Asante man, their children will not have a proper inheritance system, and won’t have a place to belong. The Mother’s Ewe people have a culture where children should follow their father’s tribe, while the Akan people too have a culture of children following their mother’s lineage. 

So then they’d be presented with a situation where the children are neither recognized in their mother’s tribe nor their father’s.

But then there are some other tribes with this kind of inheritance system… like the Akuapims. Yet they are not tagged negatively… So I can’t tell if this reason was as major as our parents made it seem. 

But I understand all that you said yesterday. And I get it that a lot of our cultural practices do not make sense. I agree that over time, we need to learn to be more open minded. And I’m sorry for the things I said yesterday. I like Mawuli, and I’ve seen he’s a sensible Christian young man.

 So I’m going to strike a deal with you. I accept Mawuli but I can only allow you to carry on with him and possibly marry him on some conditions. 

  1.  That we (both you and I ) will do proper research into his family and background and be sure that I’m not sending my daughter to be ‘taken’ into any village for whatever reason!
  2. That you and him will decide on an inheritance system for your kids, if you ever decide to have any. 
  3.  That he will show me, that his love for you will not stop based on what his family thinks, or which other person from his tribe comes around.
  4.  That you will learn his language. I have heard him speak yours. I need you to make the effort. 
  5.  That you will not storm out of this house like you did last night, ever again. 

We can talk in the morning.

I love you Esaaba. You’re my only girl. And I think about you! I want you to be happy. To at least have what Ol’man and I had… or maybe even better! 

Love,

Your Mama.

Comments (15)

  1. Lovely read. O almost thought I was reading something from Peggy Oppong. My first read but it was really great

  2. I am grateful that Mama is supporting Esaaba and Mawuli😃 Thank you for enlightening me about different cultural practices this week.

  3. A lovely read. My first time reading anything from you and I can say it was a captivating story. I loved it.

  4. Mama`s conditions-very sensible😂 In Uganda, inter-tribal marriages are still silently frowned upon. Some parents go-ahead to refuse the man or woman and everything is called off. Say among the Ganda, you can`t marry a man or woman from the same clan because y`all are considered to be siblings/clanmates.
    Some tribes from western Uganda, consider people from other tribes unworthy to marry from their side, they prefer to marry amongst themselves.

  5. Wow. This letter from Mama came straight from the heart. God bless our mothers 🙏🏾. Amazing read Elise 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

    1. Wow.. I love Mama’s letter to Esaaba.

      This tribal thing is a silent kill joy in Ghana even in recent times. I recently came across one a gentle a colleague introduced to me at work (wahalas of being single and in your almost mid thirties🙂).. After a great jelling session he finds out I’m a Gonja and says his family won’t accept me because his ex wife was from upper east and the marriage was so bad he nearly died.

      I was like I’m sorry you had to go through that, but she is from upper east and i am from savannah region.. Plus we are totally different tibes. He said no oooo we are all northerners so he will have to work really hard to convince his family to accept.

      I just bowed out asap.. Coz just like Mawuli, some fights just didn’t make sense. I love who i am and i can’t and wouldn’t even change a thing if i could 🤷.

  6. I’m glad Esaaba’s mother wants to give love a chance.
    But I feel like many, she tried to justify tribal discrimination in the early part of her email.
    1. Every concerned parent needs to find out information about the family of their child’s partner, irrespective of the tribe. Evil/ill will can exist everywhere.
    2. If inheritance will be an issue, I believe a will can be a simple solution.

  7. Wow you keep getting better Elise. The way you tell the tales of our hearts is so beautiful.
    This our version of Romeo and Juliet war, I really hope it ends someday.

  8. Wow…. Such a wonderful letter from a mum to her only gitl.. How many mother’s can reason like this with their girl child. Am sure Esaaba is on the right path.. Love indeed conquers all things.

  9. Wow…. Such a wonderful letter from a mum to her only girl.. How many mother’s can reason like this with their girl child. Am sure Esaaba is on the right path.. Love indeed conquers all things.

  10. For a moment tears welled up in my about Mum’s letter. A heart-to-heart talk with daughter. The conditions are really reasonable….the learning the language part is veeerryyy necessary to become a proper Daavi 😃🤠😁

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