Yesterday I talked about how somebody has a wife and how he feeds the wife and how he and his wife and children live together on the part of cooking food. Today I am going to talk about what work the man does for the wife to make her heart white, and what work too the woman does for the man. And so this talk is about how we Dagbamba take our wives and love them and how our Dagbamba women love their husbands. And it separates into two types, because we have the typical Dagbamba way of staying with the wife, and we have the Muslim way of those who are really following the Muslim religion, like the maalams.
I will start first with the Dagbamba way of taking a wife because I am a Dagbana. When you look for a woman and they bring her to your house, the first thing you the man will do is to be giving the money for cooking. The cooking is the leading thing, and although I have told you how a wife can help with that, truly, the cooking is from the man. There are some Dagbamba men who don’t farm, and someone who doesn’t farm, his work is very difficult on the part of cooking. As he doesn’t farm, whatever happens, he has to get money to give to the woman to go to the market and buy food. He has to buy everything for the soup and everything for the saɣim — the food. The money a man is able to give a woman to cook, it is this money that will make the woman like him or not like him. Maybe this woman is a young girl: she has not been doing anything in her house, and they have just brought her to give her to the man. If he is going to give her money for food and he doesn’t give her much money, you will see that she will start to suffer. If she is suffering, she will not have trust in the man. The man has not done anything good to make her trust him: her nose will smell at the man, and she will become fed up. And what I told you yesterday about how a man has to give money to the wife for food, that is the first thing a man has to do before the woman will be free of suffering and her heart will be white.
And the second thing which is following the food money is on the part of the woman’s clothes. A woman’s cloth should not be torn before the man buys a new cloth for her. If the woman’s cloth is not torn and the man buys her a new one, the woman will know that the man loves her. As for sandals, too, the man will buy sandals for her. The two types of sandals she wears, the sandals she wears in the house and the sandals she wears for gatherings, when the man buys these for the woman, she will know that he loves her. It shows that all the hard work she has been doing in the house, the man has seen it, because it is not that she has told him to buy these things for her. But as I have told you that we Dagbamba are many types, the buying of the clothes is different.
If it is a rich person who has his wives, every six months he may give each of them a half-piece of cloth [six yards]. As for a chief’s way of living, as a chief has many wives, sometimes he only gives each of them two yards once a year. It isn’t that he wants it like that. There are some chiefs who have thirty, forty, or fifty wives, and if such a chief is going to take money and buy cloths to give all of them, he will become tired. And so a chief will take a full piece of cloth [twelve yards] for six women. If he takes two full pieces, it shows that he has twelve women. That is how he will share the cloth among them. And he won’t buy scarves and sandals. But as for the rich man, every six months he will give his wives half a piece each.
As for those people who are not rich and not poor, they can give each of their wives a half piece every year. The maalams also give their wives in this way. And in our Dagbon here, we usually give the cloth during the Ramadan fast, about four days to the end of the fast, so that the women will sew the cloth and use it on the festival day to break the fast. And we say that it is because of the suffering our wives have been doing, because they have been cooking and the fire has been burning them. I myself, as I am sitting, I give my wives a half-piece every year. And those who are tailors or sell things in the market, they also give a half-piece. But the typical Dagbamba who are farming, they give the way the chief gives, two yards. And as they are giving like that, it shows that the two yards is what they are able to give.
As I have said that we give the cloth during the Ramadan fast, it isn’t that you just cut the cloth and give it to her. You may have a woman, and if you buy her the cloth your heart wants, it is not what her heart wants. You will watch the price of cloth, and maybe you can buy a cloth for sixty cedis or eighty cedis [1978 prices; 1981: 1200-1400 cedis]. You will take this money and give it to the woman and tell her that it is because of the suffering she was doing during the Ramadan month, and she should add this money to her money and buy a cloth. If there are two women or three women or four women, you will give all of them the same amount. I myself, this is the way I give money to the three women I have.
The reason why many of us give money to the women to buy their own cloths is in our way of living here. You can buy a cloth for your wife today, and tomorrow you buy another cloth for her, and the next day you buy another cloth; her friends outside will say that you are not keeping her well, that keeping a woman is beyond you, and that you don’t look at the suffering the woman is doing for you. You are buying her many cloths, and so why do they say that? It shows that what your heart wants is what you do for her. If you buy a cloth for your wife, she will not refuse it, but maybe the woman would not buy that particular cloth. And so it shows that if this woman tells you what her heart wants, you will not agree to do it for her. As what your heart wants is what you do for her, it shows that the woman is a slave in your house. Apart from that, today, a half-piece of cloth sells for about two hundred cedis or more [1978 prices; 1981: 1200-1400 cedis]. If you have many women, if you are going to buy for all of them, your anus will squeeze. As for the rich person with a lot of money, whatever cloth the woman wants is what he will go and buy. But maybe what you can afford is only sixty or eighty or a hundred cedis. There are some cloths you can buy like that, but there is no woman who will wear such a cloth. And so you will get the money and give, and your wife will take the money and get her own money and add to it.
Truly, the cloth that some women will not wear, the women who will wear it are there. When the chief gives cloth to his wives, he gives it like that. If she doesn’t like it, she should go. And some of the farmers and villagers, this is also the way they hold their wives. As for them, it is, “If you don’t like it, what are you going to do?” As so it is by force that the wives will collect the cloth. And some of the women leave their husbands because of this. A chief can easily divorce his wife, and this divorce sometimes looks as if the woman has driven herself away. It is the chief’s work that shows. There can be a chief who is going to give cloth: he will just give maybe two yards to each wife, and he won’t add money. What is the woman going to wear under the cloth? And what is she going to put on top? Maybe this woman came out from another man’s house and married the chief, and she was formerly wearing full cloth with all three parts of the dress. And now she is coming to wear only one. As for this, she has taken wet sand and put it on dry sand. Do you understand the meaning of what I said? She has seen the truth and covered it with lies. This talk is not standing on cloth alone, but in this matter, it shows that what she was getting where she was, now she is in the chief’s house, and she is getting only two yards. And so what she saw and refused, she has come to the wrong place. That is putting wet sand on top of dry sand. That is how it is.
But as for us, truly, we beg our wives. We beg them because we have not been able to get the full amount for the cloth. When you give the money you have, your wife will try and get some money to add and buy the cloth her heart wants. If a cloth is now two hundred cedis, and you get about a hundred cedis for her, whatever happens, she will also get a hundred cedis to buy the cloth. And so if you see a chief’s wife wearing a nice cloth, it is not the chief who has given her: it is from the bone of the woman. If you see the wife of a commoner who is farming, and she is wearing a nice cloth, it comes from the woman: it is not the farmer; he won’t give like that. But those of us who are commoners on top of them, our eyes are open, and we look for money. We get money that is up to the one the farmers or the villagers would have bought, and we give our wives the money, and we beg them. And truly, as we have many expenses during the Ramadan fast, sometimes the fast will end before the man is able to give this cloth, and it’s not any fault and the woman will not blame the man. And this is the way we hold our wives.
Apart from that, there are other things a man will do for his wife. With us Dagbamba, when something happens in your wife’s house, you have to go to greet her housepeople. If nothing has happened, some men don’t have time to go to greet their wives’ parents. They don’t care. But let’s say nothing happens in the woman’s house, and the man gets up and goes to the woman’s house and greets her housepeople. When he comes back, he doesn’t tell the woman, “I’ve gone to your house.” It is only when the woman goes to her house that they will tell her, “Your husband came and greeted us.” It will make the woman’s heart white, because she has not told the man to go to her house. In our Dagbon, when we have festivals, on those festival days we go to greet our wives’ parents, but sometimes you will go to greet your wife’s parents when it’s not a festival day. It shows that you want your wife, and it shows that you don’t only greet her parents on festival days. You are sitting down, and any time you feel like going to greet them, you go to greet them. People will say that as for you, you love your wife very much. And the woman will know that you are doing good works for her.
Apart from this, you go outside, and when you are coming, you hold something and give it to the woman. It is not the woman who told you to buy it. When you give it to her, you’ll see that her heart will be white. And her white heart shows that she knows that you love her. All the things women need, the necklaces for wearing, the sandals, and all the other things, men who love their wives will buy all for them, and the women will know that their husbands love them. And as we Dagbamba keep animals like hens, sheep, and cows, some men get these animals for their wives. Inside love, a man can get money and buy an animal and give it to his wife, and I’ve seen a man buying a cow for his wife. If not now that things are spoiled, it is only a few years ago that we used to buy a medium-sized cow for about a hundred cedis. [By 1981, a bull for farming was 20,000; medium-sized one was 10,000, and a small one for performing a funeral was 6,000.] As for the spoiling, now we can’t even get any animal for a hundred cedis. But we have seen a man who has money just buy a cow for his wife. Someone can buy a sheep. And someone can buy a hen. The selling of hens can let you get money to buy a sheep, and the selling of sheep, too, if you are lucky, you can get money to buy a cow. And so if a woman gets even a hen, and as she is selling, she is able to get a cow, she knows that it is the man’s love that has let her get all these things. It will make the woman happy. In our Dagbon, it is a man who buys a cow and holds it, but here is the case that the man has bought a cow for the woman. She will know that the man loves her. And so when a man loves his wife and does good works for her, the woman knows it.
And again, you go outside and you come back to find your wife sitting with her jaw on her hand. You ask her, “Why are you sitting down quietly?” The woman will know that truly you love her. Have you seen how a man loves a woman? Where the man is, that is where the woman is: if you are going to see this man, you will see him with his wife. It is love which brings that. Where there is love, you don’t become fed up with one another. And so when a man loves his wife, he doesn’t go outside after outside women. A man can go and get an outside woman and even bring her to the house, or a man can go find a woman and have sex with her outside. But if the man does not do this, and the woman does not see him going after outside women, she will know that he loves her very much. She sees that he has no appetite for other women apart from her.
And so if you love your wife, you will do everything for your wife. As we are farming, you can farm for your wife because of love, because you want to get something so that your wife will also get. If a bad thing is going to touch you, you don’t want it to touch your wife. A woman can fall sick and be crying, and the man who is not sick will also be crying. Why is he crying for the woman? It is love. When there is no love, he doesn’t care. And so how a man loves his wife, he doesn’t want her to be suffering alone. You go outside and when you come, you see that your wife has peeled some yams and put them on the fire to cook. When the yams are boiled and there is no one else around, you get up and help your wife pound the fufu, although it is woman’s work. This woman will know that it is not the work of the man, but it is because he loves her very much that he is doing it. And again, in Dagbon, it is the woman who does the washing. When you have your wife, she does your washing. But if there is someone who loves his wife, he can let his wife stop, and he will do his own washing. And all this will let the woman know that the man loves her, and she will be happy.
Actually, I want you to know that a typical Dagbana will not agree to do washing. The Dagbamba who help with washing have seen it from the Ashantis. Somebody who has gone to the South is the one who does that. But a Dagbana who was born here and is in Dagbon, as for him, it is his wife who washes his washing. And if he doesn’t have a wife, if his brother’s wife is there, his brother’s wife will be washing. But the Ashantis help their wives on the part of washing, and today, some of us have collected it from them. But as for helping with the pounding, we have been doing that for a long time. The Ashantis do it, but we haven’t seen it from anywhere. I saw it in my mother’s house in Voggo when I was growing up. My mother cooked yams, and there was only one woman adding to my mother, and my brother Mumuni and three of his fellow young men pounded all the fufu. And so it isn’t that a man cannot pound fufu. How the women use the pestles, men cannot do it that way. A man will just do it with his strength, and it won’t be as nice. But men pound fufu. It’s not that the women take us to be like those Gurunsi boys who pound fufu in the chop-bars. It’s not like that. But if people abuse a man who pounds fufu in Dagbon here, then they don’t know custom’s way. I myself have peeled yams, cooked soup, and pounded fufu, and I know how to fry meat very well. It doesn’t matter. My wife can be in the market, and before she comes, I will peel yams and put them on the fire to cook. And it has helped all of us. There is no weakness behind it. Even if you follow Islam, it is true inside it. If you like your wife, you will like yourself. This is how it is on the part of helping her in her work.
And again, if a man has his wife, and the woman has given birth to children in the man’s house, the way the man loves the woman, that is the same way he will love the children. And so Dagbamba have their proverb: if you beat a dog, you should wait for its owner. It means that if you know the owner of a dog and you beat it, the knock you’ve given the dog shows that you are waiting for the owner of the dog. If you love somebody, you love his thing; and if you hate somebody, you hate his thing. And so the proverb shows that if you love your wife, love her child, too. And so all the things I have counted are the good works men do for their wives.
And so when a husband and wife love each other, their everything is for the other. In the villages in Dagbon here, how a villager is, his best things are kept by his senior wife or by the wife he likes best. He doesn’t even keep his best things with himself, but he will rather give them to his wife and tell her that she should keep them for him. His every secret or valuable thing will be kept by her. He and she will sit together, and they will only be speaking the truth to one another, and the talk he hears will be the talk that comes from her. This is how the life in the villages is, and this is how it is when a man and his wife love each other.
But if a man does not love his wife — ah-ah — everyday there is going to be trouble. Even if the woman does good work for him, he will say it’s bad. The woman will not do any work which the man will help her with. If it is giving money for food, the man will just get a little money and give it to her. The woman will be suffering, and it shows that the man does not love her. But what I have been telling you is the work you do for your wife when you love her. And this is how we hold our women.
And if it is the Muslims we are going to talk about, it starts from the way of marrying the wife. The time you go to find your wife, it is in the finding that the girl’s parents will know whether you love the girl. With the Muslims, they will give the wife to you before you will do all the things you have to do to marry her. The girl is sitting in her house, and you will start doing good works for her even before she comes to your house. Getting the cloth and taking it to the girl’s parents will show, and it will tell the girl herself that you love her. You will be giving her money for food in her house. You will be sending things to her house. And it is not all Muslims who do that. And it is not the girl’s parents who will tell a man to do these things. It is the man himself who will say, “If I send these things to my wife’s house, it will help them to bring my wife quickly.” All the things the wife needs as a Muslim, he will try and get money, and he will buy them all and put them down. It is because he wants his wife that he is doing all this. And if he does all this, they will take her from her house and bring her to his house. And because he wants to do good work for her, what he will do for her in his own house will be more than what they did in her house. Maybe he will put down ten sandals there in his house, and there will be more cloths.
And there is something the Muslims do to their wives. If they bring a wife to your house, there is some food you will eat, and we say, “They are going to pound yaaʒi.” This yaaʒi is pepper, salt, and some other things pounded together, and they will cook some soup with it and eat saɣim. And there are two hens you will kill for it. But the man who wants to do good works for his wife can slaughter a sheep, and the wife will know, “Truly, my husband loves me.” And three days after that, there is something which we call, “They are going to open the head of the new wife.” What is “opening the head”? That is the unveiling. When the new wife is brought to the house, she uses a veil to cover her face and head: you don’t see her face. And it is on the third day that they will remove the veil and they will plait her hair. They will plait it very nicely, and on that day you will see her looking very, very beautiful. It is on that day she fetches water for her husband, and on that day she will know that this is her husband, and the husband will know that this is his wife. Already they knew it because they have slept together since the first night she came, but it is only on that day that all people will know. And so the third day is the day they “open the head” of the new wife. And on that day too, the husband can slaughter a sheep for his wife. He has done it with a sheep because he loves her, and she will know that he has done some good work for her. When she was a young girl, she used to go to the weddings of her friends, and they were only slaughtering hens, and some were not even doing that. And her husband has now come to slaughter a sheep. This is the good work a Muslim can do for his wife.
After opening her head, the man can put a bed with pillows for her in her room. And he can get a big cupboard for her to put all the things he bought for her wedding. He can plaster and paint all the inside of the room. If there is no ceiling, he can seal the room where the roof joins the walls. If it is in town where there is electricity, some men even buy fans for their wives. And all these things are big works and good works that a Muslim can do for his wife. On the part of cooking, there are some Muslims who don’t want their wives to be cooking and suffering from smoke entering the eyes. Such a man can buy an electric plate for his wife, and they will be eating only rice and yams and fried meat. In a few days he will go and buy a lot of dried fish. And all this shows that he loves the woman, because he was not doing this when she was not there. And when the woman is there and he does this, it shows that he has done all these good works for the woman. Do you see how Muslims love their wives?
Apart from this, the man will ask his wife, “Do you know how to read Arabic?” If the woman says she knows, he will let her read and he will hear. If she says she doesn’t know, this man himself will not teach her, but he will let his brother teach her. This is another of the good works a Muslim will do for his wife. And if the wife is going to her house, she will go with her husband. This woman herself can say to the husband, “Get up and let’s go to my house and greet my mother and father.” If the husband does not like his wife, he will say, “What are you telling me?” and he will tell her to go. But if he wants to do good works for her, he will just get up and go. And outside people will say, “If you see the wedded girl, she will be with her husband.” Sometimes it makes people say, “As for the man, he has been licking at his wife’s vagina.” It is because the man loves his wife that they say that, because when people abuse someone because of someone, it is love that has brought it. If it is not that, they will not abuse somebody because of somebody. And so how a Muslim loves his wife, he doesn’t want her to suffer in the way she lives. There are some Muslims who don’t even let their wives trade, because it is suffering. Whatever the wife wants, he will give her.
And in the way of the Muslims, too, when a Muslim dies, they perform the funeral after a week. If it is that one of the wife’s parents is dead, a man who wants to do good can buy a bag of corn and give it to his wife’s housepeople to be making food for the week. He is doing that for his wife, and if not because of his wife, he will not mind. And at the end of one week, he will get about one hundred cedis [1978; 1981: 400-600 and up to 2,000 cedis] and give it to his wife’s people. As for Muslims, they don’t buy cloth and sheep to perform their in-law’s funeral. It is only the Dagbamba who do that. And for us Dagbamba, sometimes it is six months or one year before you perform the funeral; even if you are useless, during that time you can try and get your cloth and your sheep. But as for the Muslims, they perform their funerals quickly. It’s one week. Even if a Muslim chief should die, it’s one week. If it is a big maalam or somebody whose people are in Accra or Kumasi, they will make it two weeks so that those who are in other towns can come and gather. And so if your wife’s father or mother dies, and within this short time, you have been able to do all this, to give a bag of corn to your wife’s people and add an amount of money going to a week or two weeks, then it is the work of love. It is the love you have for your wife that is making you do all these good works. And all this is love. And so this is what a Muslim does for his wife, and the woman will know that the man loves her.
Let me add salt to this talk, and it adds to the talk I have talked about funerals. If it is a Dagbamba funeral, the expenses will be more than the Muslim one. If it is the real Dagbamba, you will buy a cloth, buy a scarf, buy a sheep, and you will add money on top of it, and then you will get some money again and give to your wife to help her at the funeral. If you follow it, the whole amount will be two times or more what you will spend for a Muslim funeral [1981: 4,000]. And everybody has the extent to which he will perform a funeral. If one person takes two thousand cedis to perform a funeral, somebody else will take ten thousand, and somebody else will take twenty thousand [1981, “as we are sitting”]. Someone will take music and go to a funeral: maybe the funeral is at somewhere like Nanton, and he will add money and hire a lorry to carry the people he is taking. He is going to buy food and add: he will buy yams and give to his wife to cook food, and someone will slaughter a goat or two goats or a sheep just to make for the strangers he has sent to the funeral house. As for the expenses of a Dagbamba funeral, there is now fear inside it. And so the real Dagbamba say that even the expenses of a Muslim’s funeral are small. And all this, I have already talked about it.
And what I want to add you is this. On the part of our Dagbamba funeral, for a man to perform it well is coming from the wife. Why do I say that? If your wife loves you, she will like your people and your friends, and they will witness that. If her person comes to die, it is not even you who will perform the funeral. Your friends are going to perform it for you because of your wife. And your mother’s children are going to perform it for you because of your wife. The woman likes them, and it is like a debt, and you won’t know the extent of the debt until you see it. If she has given birth to children, your relatives will say, “How this woman likes us and is holding us, we have given birth to children with her.” And your friends will come and say, “How this woman likes us and is staying with us, now her mother has come to die,” or “now her father has come to die.” And they will say again, “How we are going to catch it, we cannot even catch it with a sheep. Let’s search for a cow, and we will give the sheep to her children to perform the funeral of their grandparent.” And all this shows that performing the funeral comes from the bone of your wife. It’s not that it is standing like a custom, but it is there like that. How you will perform your in-law’s funeral comes from your wife.
And as for the woman who has not given birth, it will be more than that. You see how I am with my senior wife, Fati. She hasn’t given birth to a child, but we have been sitting together for fifteen years now. And all the suffering in my house, she eats it. If something happens to me, I can take her and go to Nanton, Savelugu, or any town. If I get strangers, she looks after them. Even if I am not around, she looks after them. And so if some trouble comes to meet her, and it is that her father is dead or her mother is dead, I cannot sit down and say that because she hasn’t given birth to children, I will not perform the funeral. I am going to perform it more than for the woman who has given birth. That is how it is. And so I have told you what the typical Dagbamba and the Muslims do for their wives on the part of performing funerals. And this is how we Dagbamba take our wives and we love them.
And truly, as we have talked about funerals, you know that funerals have many talks in Dagbon. The way we gather people, if something happens and there is a gathering, it is the women who suffer to help us. The way we perform funerals, their suffering helps us to go out of shame. What is the shame? You will gather strangers. It is the women who are coming out to cook. The way the women are going to prepare the food, you will come out and show them that they should take this food and go and give to this stranger. Take that food and go and give to somebody else. All the many strangers who have come to greet you, you have to share food to all of them. If there are no women, what are you going to do? Your mother’s children and your friends have all come to greet you. If there is somebody who is up to being a person, and he dies, maybe he is at Nanton. If they perform his funeral at Nanton, his mother’s children will come. Those he was with at Nanton will come. People will come from Tamale, Savelugu, Kumbungu, Voggo, Tampion, and other towns. All of his relatives and friends will be there. If I am the elder of the funeral house, I am going to share food to all of them. And it is these woman who are going to help me to get food for them. If people come to greet like that, and I don’t get food for them, when they go back home, they are going to talk and complain that they went to perform so-and-so’s funeral, and I didn’t give them food, and it was because of me that they went. And so at that time, is my name spoiled or not?
And so if a gathering comes like that, it is the woman who are going to cook and cover your anus. If you don’t have a wife, then you have to go and ask for the help of your sisters or your brother’s wives. You will get all of them and gather them into the house, and you will get the food stuffs for them to cook, and you will be giving food to the strangers, and you will not be ashamed. And so the women suffer like that. In Dagbon here, don’t you see how we perform funerals? It is the women we are standing on to perform funerals. If the women were not there, nobody will go to the funeral house and get food to eat. And so as for the women, truly, they help us. They help us. And so our Dagbamba women, the way they suffer to help us, you can’t compare it to anything. Some maalams have said that women get blessings more than men. God blesses them. Someone who removes somebody from shame, that person will get blessings. It is only someone without patience who will forget about all the good the women do, but God doesn’t forget. That is how it is.
And so all these good works a woman does, that is why women have a lot of respect in Dagbon here. Maalams say that God sees a woman’s good work and writes it down for her. And apart from the respect she gets from God, the man will also give respect for her. And so how we hold our wives, we give them respect. We fear them and they also fear us. Sometimes a man will go a different way and enter into a woman’s trouble. Trouble like what? When I talked about how a householder feeds the people in his house, I told you that the man is supposed to give everything for the woman who has cooking to prepare food for the house. And I gave you an example of about a man who only gives corn for a woman to cook without adding anything for the ingredients. He has entered into a woman’s trouble. Truly, it can separate because if a woman wants, she can tell the man that as for her, she doesn’t need anything else from him. In that case, the man has not fault. But as for the man who doesn’t add money to the corn, then he has entered in her trouble. And so the way a woman will sometimes enter into your trouble and want you to forgive her, then you too, if you enter into her trouble like that, you have to respect her, and you will call her and tell her that you have entered into her trouble. The woman will forgive you. If you don’t do that, maybe she won’t say anything to you, but God will punish you for her.
And the respect we give in the way we hold a woman: she is your wife you have married. Don’t leave her in the house and go outside and look for a girlfriend. She will cook for you, and you will eat and be strong and go outside for another woman. You have entered into her trouble. If you don’t apologize, then God will punish you. And the maalams show us again: if a woman does something bad to you, you should call her and talk to her that she shouldn’t do it again. And if she wants, she will agree. And they show again that there is no way for a man to beat a woman. If you beat her and her body becomes hot, you have entered into trouble. If she has done something and you call her and talk to her, and she refuses, and she does the same thing again, and you call her and talk to her, and she is not changing, it is good that you send her to her father. And you will tell the father, “My wife doesn’t hear my mouth. She has been doing this and that. And I have been talking to her; but she will not change.” So if the father wants, the father will also let her sit her down, and he will talk to her and advise her. And if she still refuses, then there is a way for you to break the marriage. And so this is the way it is. The way we hold them, we fear them and they also fear us. If you enter into your wife’s trouble, God will not forgive you. And if the woman too does that, God will not leave her. So that is the way. This is the reason why we fear them and we give them respect.
And as for the women, I will tell you how a woman loves her husband, and I will show you all the good works a woman does for her husband in the house. And you will see that it follows the talk I have talked on the part of how a husband loves his wife, because as a man has been going and suffering on the farm for the women and children to get food to eat, our Dagbamba women have a lot of work to do in the house. If you have your wife in your house, all the work in the house is done by the woman. A woman cooks food in the house. She can make saɣim, and sometimes she peels yams and cuts them into slices to cook, and if not that, she will get beans and grind them to make the food we call gabli. All the types of food we are eating, it is the woman who cooks all. And inside the man’s room, it is the wife who sweeps it. Inside the entrance to the house, in the sitting hall, it is the woman who sweeps that; and even inside the whole compound, it is the woman who sweeps it. This is the work the wife does in her compound. Going outside to fetch water is the wife’s work, and fetching water for the man to bathe, too, and even when the wife brings food, it is she who will fetch water for the man to wash his hands. If the man comes from the farm, it is this woman who will fetch water for him to drink. When the man’s things are dirty, this woman will go and collect them and wash them for the man. And this woman will go to the bush to collect firewood and carry it and bring it home. All these are the works our Dagbamba wives do inside the house for their husbands. And all these works are for the house, and they are the work of women. And a woman who loves her husband does all this, and the man will see it and know that she loves him.
A woman who is a good woman, she is always doing good things for her husband and good things for her cowives in the house. She doesn’t go outside and do things that will make her husband tell her something her heart does not want. As we are sitting today, if you have a wife and she does some bad thing outside and people talk to her, it will make your heart rise. If your wife loves you, she won’t do that. Or if it is the other women she’s living with in the house, she won’t do anything against them, and people won’t be coming from outside to tell them, “This woman came and said some bad things about you to us.” If a woman loves her husband, when she goes out and sees something good, if she has money, she can buy it and come and give to those people she’s staying with in the house. If it is any food or anything she knows will be good for the whole house, she will just buy it. If she sees something that will be good for her husband, even if he didn’t tell her anything, she will buy it and come and give him. And if a woman loves her husband, too, every day it is only the husband’s name that is in her mouth.
And if it is on the part of going into the husband’s room, there are some women, it is only when you are going to have sex that you know the woman loves you. You know she loves you because when you want to have sex with her, she will give her whole body to you. She gives all her body to you, and she doesn’t think of any bad thing that maybe you have done to her. And such a woman, it is only when you and she are going to have sex that you know whether she loves you or not. If she doesn’t love you, when you are going to have sex, you will know it: any time you want to meet her in her room, she will always be a stranger to you, and you will be wrestling with her in the room. And so if your wife doesn’t love you, every day you are a stranger to her. But the wife who loves you, before your heart tells you that you love her, her heart will tell her that she loves you. And as she loves you, her heart will not be cool unless she is with you.
And so when a woman loves her husband, there are many things she will do to let the man know that she loves him. Every suffering of the man is for her. With us, we have even seen a woman love a man and follow him to the farm. But in our way of living here, women don’t farm; as for going to the farm, everybody knows that it is the man who goes to the farm. Women will help on the part of harvesting the crops, but that is the only work they do on the farm. It’s not that women are forbidden to farm; it is only that people don’t take farming as something to show to women. But if a woman loves her husband, she can go to the farm with him. It is not that the man will say, “Get up and let us go to the farm.” The woman wants to go to the farm to work for him so that he will know that she loves him. And truly, it is because she loves him and wants to do good work for him that she follows him to the farm. All the work of the man, when he is going to do it, he will be doing it with his wife, and he will know that she is doing good works for him. And again, it is the man who buys the woman’s clothes, but if the woman loves the man, she can buy clothes for him. The man will know that his wife loves him, because it is not her work, but she has done it for him. A woman can go out and see another man wearing a nice hat, and the woman will try and get money to buy that type of hat for her husband. Even if the woman has no money, she can go to tell her parents to give her money to buy that thing for her husband. And it is love which brings that.
If a woman loves her husband, if something happens that is not good for the wife, she will not want it to touch her husband. There is no day when the woman will think of bad things for her husband. She can go outside and come and find her husband sitting in a way she does not like, and she will ask her husband what is wrong. If it is that there is a funeral at her house, this woman can take her own money and give it to her husband to go and perform the funeral, as if the money is from his own pocket. Your wife can love you so much that even when her mother dies, if you don’t have money in your hands, your wife can come to tell you, “Let your heart lie down. As we love one another, let your heart lie down.” When it’s time for the funeral, this woman can get the money to buy a sheep and a cloth, and give it to you. And when they are performing the funeral, you will take the sheep and the cloth to perform it. As for this, we see it and we have been seeing it among ourselves. The woman loves her husband: that is why she is doing all this for him. If there is no love, she won’t do this for the man.
And if it is on the part of the man’s parents, sometimes a woman will go to her husband’s parents’ house and do some work for them. And the man will not know of it unless he goes to his house or his parents come and say, “Oh, your wife came and did this for us.” There are many types of things a woman can do for her husband’s parents, and when she does good works for them, her husband will know she loves him. Even sometimes the man’s parents will say, “Our son’s wife is his relative.” Before this man will do anything for his relative, it is this woman who will go first and do it before the man. And sometimes when it comes like that, people will say, “He is useless: it is his wife who is doing all this. If not because of his wife, can he do anything?” They are abusing someone because of someone, and it is because the wife loves him so much that has brought all this. She wants to do good work for him so that he will be happy. And so you see that how a woman loves her husband, it looks like how a man loves his wife. Everyday it is good works they will do for one another, and they will be sitting down coolly; and if you look at them you will see that their way of living is good.
And this is how we Dagbamba have our wives and we love each other. And this is what I know about it. And I think that tomorrow I will continue about the women and the work they do in the house, and how they live together with their cowives and their fellow friends.