Chapter III–23:  Sex and Rivalry in a House


        Today we are going to continue the talk about women.  As I have been talking about how we Dagbamba live together in our houses, on the part of the good work a man will do for his wife and a wife will do for her husband, I will join it to talk about how you have a wife and how you and your wife will have sex and love each other.  Sex can make a man love a woman and a woman love a man.  There are some people who want sex always, and there are some who don’t want it too much.  And it can bring trouble between a man and a woman.  The way women live, when a man has many wives and there are many women in a house, they do bad to one another.  They have things with one another, and they do bad to you the man, too.  And it is coming from the way you live with them on the part of how you sleep with them.

        I want you to know that somebody having one wife cannot know this talk I am talking.  Someone who has only one wife doesn’t know if a woman is bad or good.  If she is not good, or she is doing bad, she is his wife.  And those women too who stay alone with a man, they also don’t know.  If the man is good, that is her husband; if the man is not good, that is her husband.  And so the man will not know the woman well, and the woman too cannot know the man well. Somebody having only one wife, Dagbamba say that as for him, he is still sleeping inside his mother’s room.  And so truly, when you are holding many women, you have to hold them very well.  If you have many of them, whether they are three, four, or two, then among them, those who will be doing what you want are there.  Those who will be taking your talks, they are there.  And so they are more than one another.  They themselves will come to select one woman among them, and they will say that this is the houseowner’s best wife, the beloved woman.  It is her fellow woman who will call her like that.  And the man too will call her that she also loves him.  She has been taking his talk.  And so you yourself, if you have many wives, and one of them is always taking your talk, does it not show that she loves you and you love her?  And so inside holding many women, they are more than one another because all of their work is not the same.   That is its way.

        Yesterday I told you that it is the penis which brings about the quarrels in the house.  And so I will join the talk of sex to talk about how a man has many wives and how they live together in the house on the part of their sleeping together, and how there is jealousy.  And it brings bad things.  I have told you about the good a woman does to her fellow friends and to her husband too.  Yesterday, didn’t I say it?  And today, I will separate it and talk about jealousy and the bad character of some of our women here.

        Truly, the way we take our wives, it is only a few men who sleep with a woman before marrying her, and it is only a few women who sleep with a man before marrying him.  If the woman is staying in her house, and you are searching for her, you will call her to your house.  The time you call her, the two of you don’t know one another.  Know in which way?  You have not talked to her that you want to marry her.  If she comes to your house, you will ask, and say, “I want to marry you.”  If it is that she has a husband, she will say, “They have already given me to a man.”  If she has no husband, you will get the money you will use to befriend her, and you will give it to her.  After that, she will go home; she won’t agree to sleep with you.  Even if she loves you, she will not agree and allow you to sleep with her.  As you have told her you want to marry her, it shows that you have begun your love on that day.  If she sleeps with you that same day, it shows that she is a useless woman:  if you marry her, she will not sit in your house.  And so by that time, you cannot know whether sleeping with her is sweet or not.

        If it is a women who has married and come out from the house of another man, when she comes to your house and you give her the money and befriend her like that, sometimes after a week she will come and greet you.  At that time you have a way, and you will catch hold of her.  In the catching you will know whether you can have sex with her.  When you catch her, if she should loosen herself for you, then you will know you will have sex with her.  But if she makes herself stiff, as for that, you will let her go.  Sometimes she will ask, “Are you not trying to marry me to put me in a room?  So why is it that you are in a hurry?”  And you the man, you will keep quiet.  As she has talked like that and you have kept quiet, you know that whatever happens, you will get her.  After what she has said, if you love her, it will not be up to a month and you will go and bring her to your house.  When you bring her, that is the day you will know whether you will get her sweetness or not, and that is the day she will know whether she will get sweetness from you.  That is the day you will know the sweetness from her and she will know the sweetness from you.  So that is how it is.

        As for this, it is very different from when somebody is roaming outside and you call her and have sex with her.  As for her, she’s your girlfriend; we don’t call her that she’s your wife.  If you have a girlfriend outside and you have sex with her and enjoy, you cannot compare her to your wife because your wife is in the house.  You can have a girlfriend whom you do not trust to bring and put in your house.  It is only a few men who marry their girlfriends.  Why is it so?  There are some women, when you go to their houses, you meet other men who also go to them.  As you are seeing many men at a woman’s house, if you marry her and bring her to your house, she won’t sit.  A woman who is not married and who is in her house like that, maybe she would like you to marry her.  If you marry her, she will come to your house and be roaming about, and you the man won’t like it.  When you were going to her house, you were meeting people.  Whatever happens, if she goes out, you will think that she is going to some of the people you used to meet in her house.  And so if you have your girlfriend, it is good that when you go to her, you don’t meet men.  If not you, then you.  And before you will try to marry her, it is even she the woman who will tell you first that it is you she loves and wants to marry.  And so for us, it is only a few of our girlfriends we marry.  Unless you give her a stomach, that is, pregnancy, you won’t marry your girlfriend just like that.  And even if you give her a stomach, sometimes you won’t marry her.  That is how it is.  It’s not all women you will make pregnant and marry.

        You can sex a woman and not think that she will become pregnant, or you haven’t made your mind that you will take her if she becomes pregnant.  She has come to you, and you have sexed her, and now you are cool.  And something comes to follow you, that is, the pregnancy.  Whatever happens, you will collect your child.  Sometimes you may sex somebody’s child and make her pregnant, and you will say that you are looking for her to marry her, but her father will not agree, or the woman will say that she doesn’t want to marry you.  And so you can refuse somebody, and somebody can also refuse you.  Sometimes a woman will say she wants you, and you will sex her and make her pregnant, and she will come to say she doesn’t want you again.  All this, we have seen it.  And so you cannot believe the mouth of a woman on the part of sex.

        It’s all there like that.  All women are not one.  You can befriend a woman, and she has come out from a man’s house.  She will come to greet you one day, and you will want her to sleep with you.  She will ask you, “Do you want me to be your friend, or do you want to take me to marry?”  If you say you want to take her to become your wife, she will tell you that she doesn’t want that.  And you will say, “All right, I would just like to befriend you,” and she will agree.  A woman can be there and you will tell her that you want to search for her to become your wife, and she will come and sleep with you.  And another will say, “I won’t agree to sleep with you unless the time I come to your house.”  A woman may refuse like that because if she agrees to sleep with you before she comes to your house, it will show that she has been doing that.  And these young girls who have not been married, some are like that, too.  Someone will have sex with a girl before he goes to search for her to marry, and someone will just call her and befriend her, and she will agree.  And another young girl will say she will not agree unless you marry her and they bring her to your house.  There are some like that, too.  All of it, it is there.

        As for the ways of taking women, they are all there.  Some women are still in their father’s house, and there are others who are grown and have already come out from a man’s house.  The smallness of a girl is from her menstruation:  if a woman gets menstruation three times, she can look for a man.  Some of these young girls now don’t even have menstruation, and they look for men.  That is how some of them are.  A girl can be there, and she doesn’t want you to marry her.  She just wants to come and you will say, “Eh!  Enh!  Ungh!” and you will give her what she wants and give her some money and add.  That is all.  She will go out and be going her going.  If the wind comes to blow her to your side again, you will give her a knock again, and that is all.  Some women are like that.  Today, those women who know men are many.  Girls used to be small and we would promise them to men, but today, it can happen that a girl can mature to be a woman for five years or ten years, and she will not get a man to marry.  Nobody has come to search for her, and she will be sitting, and worries will worry her.  There will be a girl and they will give her to a man, or a man will come and see her and want her.  And she is still small.  She will mature to be a woman and will not know a man, and they will take her and give to the man.  A woman can be like that, and she will cool herself, and she will know only the husband.  It is there.  And sometimes someone will go after a small girl, and they will give her to him, but she won’t hold herself until she goes to her husband’s house:  she will go and sex somebody.  It means she has sold herself to him.  That one is also there.  And there are others who mature and just want the knocking to be knocking.  If you sleep with such a woman, and bringing forth comes, if God agrees, you will take her and marry her.  As it is, a woman who doesn’t know a man has more respect than a woman who knows a man.  If she wants you and you marry her, you will raise her high, just because she didn’t sell herself to somebody.  But a woman who knows a man does not have any fault.  How is it her fault?  Her father has not given her to a man, but today she is wearing a cloth and wearing a scarf and wearing shoes.  And she wants to get what her heart wants.  And you the man want her vagina.  She will tell you, “All right.  I agree, but I also want this.”  You will give her what she wants, and then you will give her a knock.  And she will go to another place.  This is what she is going to do to get and buy a cloth and buy shoes and buy what she needs.  And as it is, it’s not her fault, because they have not given her to a man.

        As for these women, they have troubles.  It is now that Dagbon is spoiled, but to me, I think that people from the South are more spoiled than people here.  Someone from the South can come here and see a woman and befriend her, and it is the Southerners who have shown the women here how to charge.  In Dagbon here, we didn’t know that when you were searching for a woman, you would sex her and she would charge you.  We didn’t know that.  We knew that you could call her and tell her you want her to marry, and if she also wanted, she would say, “I want you.”  You could give some money to her, and any time she came to greet you, you could be giving her something.  We called it “friendship money,” and it was just your white heart for her.  If it was that she was sitting with you, and you talked and it was good for you and her, you could sex her and get what you could get and give her.  She wouldn’t demean it, but she hadn’t charged you.  But now, in the towns in Dagbon here, they are charging.  And some women or some girls will take themselves and give to a man, and he will sex her free.  You will see a woman, and you will just sex her free, and you won’t give her anything.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s just the same as when a woman deceives you.  It is all one:  another woman will eat a lot of your money, and you will never get a chance to sex her.  It is all going like that.

        And so as it is with the ways of women in Dagbon here, there are many of our women, we cannot know whether we will enjoy from them or not, unless we bring them to our houses.  If you have many women, there are those whom you enjoy when you sleep with them, and there are those you don’t enjoy.  There can be a man who loves his wife because of the food she cooks for him to eat, and another man will love his wife because of the way she has sex with him.  And the woman who also enjoys you when you sleep with her, anywhere you are she will always want to hear of you.  When you are with her, she will always want to sit with you or sleep with you.  If you know that you love one another because of the sex you and this woman have, if you watch, you will see that you two will keep one another:  even if she runs away, she will come back; even if you don’t follow her, she will come back.  It is because your thing makes her enjoy and her thing makes you enjoy.  This can make a man love a woman and a woman also love a man.  When you are having sex, you two will enjoy each other.  Such a woman, if you don’t see her, you cannot sit down.  And if she also enjoys you, if she doesn’t see you, she cannot sit down.

        And truly, on the part of sex, a woman is stronger than a man.  But there are differences.  And in our watching, we see that there are some women whose happiness is only in having sex with the husband.  In Dagbon here, there are some women like that.  Such a woman, if you get money to fill a room and you are not sexing her, she will not be happy.  And so there can be a woman who loves her husband because of the penis.  If it’s not working, such a woman will not stay with a man.  There can be a man, too, if he sleeps with his wife, they will have sex five times in that one night, and a woman can love her husband because of that.  There are some women who want you to have sex with them until they are tired, and that will make them happy.  Such a woman, when you sex her only once, she will not agree.  When you are with her in the room and you want to sleep, you can’t sleep.  A little time will pass and she will wake you:  she wants the penis.  Some men will sex a woman until she is tired; and some men, too, if it is three times, they can sex a woman three times, but after the third one, there will not be water coming out again.  Such a man, as there is no water, he is suffering.  But the woman will not mind; she will be happy with that.  And you the man, you can be as strong as anything:  if you sleep with a woman and water comes, you will become weak; unless you lie down to rest, you will not feel to have sex.  And there can be a man who will have sex with a woman once or twice, and he will not mind her again.  And the woman will not be happy.  And there can be a woman, you will sex her, and if she should give out her water before you, maybe it will take a long time before you the man can give her your water.  When her water comes, she will be weak, and when you want to sex her for your water to come, she will not agree again.  There can be a women who won’t like you to sleep with her twice.  There is someone too, she won’t even want you to sleep with her once.  And there can be a woman, you will sex her and be tired.  And so a husband and the wife, on the part of their sleeping together, it comes from the woman.  That is how it is everywhere, not only Dagbon.  A woman’s work does not work only in Dagbon.  Women come from different towns and different tribes, but every woman:  this is how they are.  How the husband and wife sleep together is coming from the woman.

        And truly, it is that such people are born.  It is not that we learn sex.  Even if you learn sex, if the water is not there, whatever you do, you will only do to the extent you can do.  You the man, you can say in your heart that because a woman is beautiful, you will have a lot of sex with her.  That is what you will think in your heart.  But when you sleep with her, maybe when you go two times, you are weak.  And you will see that you will feel shy.  You can be a man and you will want to sleep with a woman, but your heart will be shy and you will see that your penis will not get up.  And if the penis does not get up, can you have sex?  But as for a woman, even if she doesn’t like a man, the man can sex her.  Her heart will not get up against the man, and even if her heart spoils, the man can still sex her.  But you the man, if your heart spoils, you cannot sex her, because your penis is not up.  But as for a woman, a woman does not think of this, because she can always get what she wants.  And so we have this on the part of men and women in Dagbon here, and we watch it, and it can bring trouble between a man and a woman.

        There can be a man, when he sleeps with one woman only, he will become fed up, but when he sees a woman who is not his wife, he will feel for her.  And I think that it is this heart which is a man.  There can be a man who cannot sleep with a woman three times, but when it’s daybreak and he gets about four different women who are not his wives, he can have sex with all of them.  And if it is chasing women, some men can even sleep with ten women like that.  And truly, these vaginas we sex are different from one another.  A hole is a hole, but they are different.  It is one word we use to call them, but they are different.  A man can love a woman because her vagina is different from others, and when he is sexing her, he enjoys the sweetness that is coming from it.  And there are some men who refuse their wives because when they are having sex, the sweetness does not enter the man.  Every woman’s vagina is different.  You can have sex with a woman and you will not enjoy her, and there is another, when you are having sex with her, you will enjoy.

        That is why I am saying that if you have many women, it can cause trouble on the part of sleeping with them.  What you are doing to one, you have to try to do that to all of them.  But here is the case:  the women are different, and the men are also different; and you the man, too, if you don’t enjoy from a woman, your heart won’t mind her.  If you are there with a woman and you are not enjoying it, this woman will know it.  It is the work you are doing for her that will show, and the woman will know what has brought it.  But when a woman knows that you enjoy sleeping with her, she will never worry.  And in the house, you will be doing good works for the ones you enjoy.  If you want to give your wives a gift, maybe you will give some of them smaller gifts than the other.  And the one you give the smaller gift will know what is between you and the others, and she will know what is making you not to love her.  And so if you are going to give your wives a gift, you have to give all of them equally.  You shouldn’t give to some and leave others.

        And as you have many women, in one day you can only sleep with one of them, and it is on the days they cook that they sleep with you.  When they finish their two days’ cooking, they give to the next one.  And you the man with many wives, if the cooking day of one of them comes and she comes to sleep with you, what you will do to her in the room is the same thing you will do to your other women.  If they are four, that is what you will do to all of them.  As you have many women, you will sex them and be fed up.  Inside having sex with them, if they are many and you are only one, and you are doing that, you yourself will be thinking that if you put your mind too much on always having sex with them, you will be weak.  And so you will stop yourself from sexing them too much all the time.  And that is when the trouble will start coming.

        If you have many women, and the one you enjoy more is there, the day she is not sleeping with you, she is not happy.  She will want you to be sleeping with her always.  The woman who likes penis will know that when you sleep with her, you will enjoy.  But as her cowife is there, it is that another woman will be sleeping with you before giving it back to her, and she knows that you will not leave her fellow woman to come and have sex with her.  If it is not yet time for her cooking and you are going to sleep with another woman, she will not be happy.  The sweetness she gets inside the room, she thinks that her friend is going to get that sweetness, and she will not want her friend to have the same thing.  If a woman loves a man too much, it can make her become fed up with the man.  That is the work of jealousy.  And you the man, as you are fed up with too much sex, the one who likes penis will come and you will have sex with her only twice.  And she will not agree.  And as you enjoy her, your penis gets up and you will do its work.  If you refuse her or if you give her, it is only trouble that will reach you.

        The next one’s cooking day comes, and she comes to sleep in your room.  That day you are tired and you don’t have sex with her, and you only sleep with her.  The next day you say that you want to rest and you will not sleep with her.  As she has cooked twice, she has finished her sleeping with you.  The day the first woman comes to your room again, and you have sex with her, there is a way the other one will know.  How does she know?  The maalams have shown us that you should bathe yourself after sex.  In our Dagbamba houses, there is a hole at the corner of the room:  we call it duumbilga.  Anything at all you want to do in your room on the part of water, that is where you go to do it.  Nowadays some people make it like a gutter to go outside, but how we know it, it’s just like a hole, and you just take something to collect the water and throw it outside.  And so after you and a woman have sex, you will bathe there.  The man will bathe inside the room, and the woman can also bathe there, or if she has her own room, she can go to her room and bathe.  As for this bathing, the typical Dagbamba don’t know that there is any talk inside it, and as they don’t know, they don’t follow it.  But to those of us who know, it’s not good if you have sex and you lie down and sleep:  if some talk comes and you have to go out, it’s not good if you haven’t bathed.  A typical Dagbamba will just be like that till the next day, and the women will fetch water for him to bathe.  And some of them will just get up and go out and even be eating.  It’s just like some of the prostitutes who go and have sex and then come and stand and buy food and eat.  It’s not nice, and God doesn’t want it.  And so as for me, I will bathe my bathing.  That is how I am.  There are some Muslims who don’t know, but someone who has asked, and he knows, he will bathe.  And when it’s daybreak and the woman goes to her room, the other woman you slept with but you didn’t sex will come and look at the one you slept with.  If you had sex, when she sees the water, she will know.  And she will leave what she has seen, and she will not say anything about it.  When it comes to the day of her cooking and you do the same thing to her again, only sleeping but not having sex with her, she will finish her cooking.  And the other woman comes to sleep with you, and if you have sex with her and you wash, and the one you left without sex comes and sees it again, that is the day your eyes will see.

        On that day, she will start causing trouble.  She will start it with the women, and you will see that there will be some small talks coming out, and she will be talking proverbs.  And we know that she is talking about the one who sleeps with you and you have sex with, but we keep quiet.  And when the one who is talking sleeps with you for the third time and you don’t do anything to her, on that day she will go to her house.  On that day, if you send somebody or if you yourself go to her parents’ house, it is on that day she is going to say all the things that are in her mouth, and she will count all these things and show to you what she has seen and what she has heard.  If you send somebody, the wife’s father will call the woman, and your wife will tell the one you sent to come and tell you, “I have not come just to be watching your house.  And apart from that, that other woman who is there has not got four vaginas.  Why is it that when I go into the room with you, you turn your back to me as if you are not a man?  The day I am to sleep with you, your penis is dead, but when the other woman comes in, your penis is alive.  And so you and I are finished.”  It is on this day that you will know whether the woman’s father is a good man or not.  If he is good, they will bring her back to your house that day.  If she is going to cook that day, or her cooking day comes, it is by force that you will have sex with her.  You don’t want your name to be spoiled, but she herself does not fear for her name to be spoiled, and what she will take to talk to others, you the man cannot talk it.

        And truly, such a woman, if her works are good, you can have her because of her work.  But if it is that her works are not good, you won’t have her.  You will throw your face aside and leave her.  If you don’t enjoy her and she’s not doing some work that makes you the man happy, you will leave her.  You have taken her because of two things.  You’ve taken her to be fetching water for you — to be looking after your house — and you’ve taken her because you love her.  And if her works are not good and you also don’t enjoy her, you will throw your face aside.  As for that, it is not any talk.  Here it is:  the work is not good; the vagina too is not good.  Why are you holding her?  And whom do you fear?  You wanted her because of two things, and neither of them is good.  And so this is how it is.

        And all this, it is the work of jealousy.  If you have many women, and the one with cooking has come to enter your room, no other woman of yours will enter your room.  Even if you send her, she won’t agree to enter because she doesn’t want to see the secret there.  If one of them comes to enter your room, it is jealousy.  As for jealousy, even if you lock your room, a jealous woman will know what she will do, and the door will open and she will come in and see.  It is jealousy that is working.  That is how it is.  The women don’t like one another.  It’s not standing that if one of your wives comes to your room and goes out, another woman should come and look to see whether you have done such-and-such.  If a woman is not jealous, she will see her fellow woman fetching the water and coming out to pour it, and she won’t mind.  But a jealous woman will find the way to come and see the water.  And truly, it is not even the water she will see and know.  Whether you a Muslim or a typical Dagbana, it doesn’t matter.  As for a jealous woman, whether she sees or she doesn’t see, she knows everything you are lying in the room and doing.  That is how jealousy is, and that is what jealousy wants.

        As for a jealous woman, we say she has no medicine.  You cannot treat a jealous woman’s sickness.  Sickness can catch a jealous woman, and they will take all medicines, and they will not be able to treat her.  Why is it so?  A jealous woman’s sickness is not standing at one place.  If she has stomach pains and you ask her, she will say she has a headache; if she has a headache, she will say her stomach is sick.  You don’t know which part of her is sick, and any medicine you bring won’t treat her.  She is saying she’s sick, but she is not sick.  She wants to find your fault to show that you don’t like her, to show that you want the others but you don’t want her.  She will say that if it were so-and-so who was sick, you would have treated so-and-so to become well.  You will use every medicine on her, and she will say she is not well, just because she wants to find fault with you.  She is just like someone who lies down with closed eyes but is not sleeping:  if you want to wake the fellow, it’s difficult.  Jealousy is like that.

        And so what we know of women and men, on the part of sleeping together and having sex, it can make a man and a woman love each other, and it can bring trouble into a house.  If a man has sex with his wife and does not enjoy, this alone can make the man refuse the wife.  And there can be a woman, a man will count money to fill a room, but because the woman is not enjoying the man, she can refuse him.  There can be a man who wants to sex a woman too much, and the woman will not agree; and with this, the man will not be happy, and there will always be trouble in the house between the man and the woman.  And there can be a woman who likes the penis very much, and when she marries a man who does not like to sex too much, it can make them always quarrel in the house, because he does not give her what she wants.  Those women who like the penis too much, when it’s daybreak and they don’t get it plenty, they are not happy.  Such a woman, as she is used to it, whatever happens, she cannot stay with one man.  And those who fear the penis, as for them, they can stay with one man.  If somebody does not want something too much and comes to meet someone who also does not want it much, you know that they will be able to stay.  And so we have this with the women and we also have it with the men.  And this is what we know on the part of the women and the men.

        And so the talk about women, on the part of their staying with a man and on the part of their living with their fellow women, it is difficult.  If you say you are going to talk about it, you will only talk about the part you know and you will leave the rest.  And in our watching, in Dagbon here, if somebody has four wives, the four wives will not have one mouth.  Two wives will have one mouth, and the other two, too, their mouths will be one.  Their mouths are not on one another:  the two whose mouths are together will not have time for the other two whose mouths are together.  What makes it so?  We call it nyintahili, rivalry among wives.  Such cowives are rivals.  It is jealousy.  And I think that as for jealousy, we all got up and met it.  As it is there, it shows that maybe the man likes the first two more than the other two.  That is why the mouths of all wives are not one.  If it is that the wives are two, then today their mouths are one; tomorrow their mouths are not one.  What brings it?  The day the one is cooking, her heart is whiter than the moon.  She knows that she is going to enter the man’s room and they will sleep together, and that is why her heart is white.  When she finishes cooking, and her friend — her cowife — will get the cooking, her heart will not be white.  Her heart will be pounding, and if you see her mouth, it’s big like this.  What brings it?  It is jealousy, and it makes them not have one mouth.  And if their mouths are not one today, tomorrow they will have one mouth again, and in three days their mouths will not be one again.  Whatever happens, if you have many wives in your house, they will have some trouble.

        Apart from that, the day a woman will be menstruating, you will see that her mouth will be big again.  If the women are many, she knows that the man is for the other women.  She has nothing to do about that; her hand is not in it.  If it is her cooking day, she will cook, but she will give the entering of the room to her cowife friend in the house.  She will say, “Go in.  Today I am not well.”  The woman knows that when day breaks, menstruation will go and get her friend, and her friend will also tell her to go and sleep with the husband.  If they are many, they do that in the house.  And some women don’t give it to anyone, and no one can enter, and the man cannot say anything.  That is how it is.  It’s not that if the one cooking is in her period, the one following her will go in.  It can happen that the one following her is not her friend.  If she doesn’t give it to the one following her, nobody can say anything.  It’s not standing that it’s forbidden to sleep with your wife if she has menstruation; it’s only that it’s not good.  If your wife has menstruation, and it is her cooking day, you can’t jump over her to take another one.  If her period comes to twelve days, as for that, it looks as if it is sickness, and you will be treating her; and if you are treating her and you are sleeping with her, it doesn’t matter.  The blood is coming, but it’s not that it is her period.  Some men don’t mind, and there are some who even sleep with a woman who has menstruation.  Our old Dagbamba talk.  Do you know the animal we call nantarga?  It is a musk shrew.  It’s very smelly.  Old Dagbamba say that if a soothsayer is a nantarga and you need someone to look for you, you will have to go and bring him:  you will close your nose and let him sit down and look for you.  And so if your wife is in her period and you want to sex her, and the blood is coming, all right:  close your nose and go in.  But I think that most men will not sleep with a woman who has menstruation, and even the woman herself won’t want it.  When she has her period, if she likes, she will give the room-entering to her friend.  If she is someone who is jealous, she won’t give it to anyone.  And the day she will be happy will be when she finishes her period, and she has washed herself, and it is the day she will cook.  That day, if you see her, she will be laughing as if she has just found some gold.  On that day too, if her husband should see her, he himself will be very happy, because he has missed her.  And this woman, too, when she sees that her cowife is in her period, her heart will always be as white as the moon, because she knows that she is the only one for the man.  That is the work of the jealous woman, and this is how our women live together when they are many in a house.

        And truly, in our way of living, I have told you that to have only one wife in Dagbon here is hard, but to have many wives is also hard.  That is why I said that we call someone with only one wife a bachelor, because he doesn’t know what is inside marriage.  And as for this talk about jealousy, it’s not all women who are like that.  Sometimes you will see many women in a house, and if they are good women, they will be helping each other in all their work in the house, and every day is their happiness.  If you have a girlfriend outside, and they want to complain, they will tell you to marry the outside woman and bring her into the house so that she will also help them with their work.  But it is also not all women who are like that.  Our old Dagbamba say that jealousy is the heart of a woman.  And what we see is that if you have many women in a house, say four women, two of them will join together, and they will be happy, but their happiness will be short.  And if you watch it, it is on their cooking days that they are happy, and when it is their friends’ cooking days, they are not happy.

        And according to our way of living, it is difficult to hold three wives unless you have sense.  When you have four wives, your heart sleeps better than when you have three wives.  When you have two wives, your heart sleeps better than if you have three.  I’m talking of some houses with three wives, not all houses with three wives.  There are some women who will have one mouth and they will not change.  But there are some three wives, and two of them will have one mouth, and then they will change later on among themselves.  Those who are always changing are the ones who cause trouble.  If a man has three wives like that, the mouths of the two women are one, and the other one woman’s mouth will be alone.  The one who is alone will think that the man is following the two women, and the other two will say that it is the other one he likes.  And I want you to look at the thing yourself and see.  These three women:  two of them have one mouth and the other one is alone.  Which of them do you think a man will like?  The two who are together, or the one?  Every man will like the one who is alone.  And so when the two wives make one mouth, getting to two months or three months, you will see that one of them will leave the other and come and join the other one who was alone.  And those two, their mouths will now become one.  The one has come to join the third woman because she wants the other woman’s love to touch her.  She wants to come and join her and hear the talk that is between her and the husband, and she will know what they are holding.  That is why she too has come to join her.  If she comes to join the third woman like that, you will see that it will come again and the man and all the women will not have one mouth.  What makes it so?  As the one woman has come to join herself with the one the husband likes, it shows that the other one is now alone.  And the two who are now together will think that because the other woman is now alone, the husband will be doing her the good he was doing to the one who was alone formerly.  It will come to rivalry again, and so they will all not have one mouth.

        And so in Dagbon here, to have three wives is the most difficult, unless you have sense.  When there are three women and they are changing like that, they will not have one mouth.  Every day there will be quarreling.  Here is the case:  two of them have joined together, and one will leave the other to join the one who was alone.  And she will open the anus of her former friend and tell all her secrets to the third one.  What will it bring?  If it is not quarrels, then it is quarrels.  A woman should not know the secrets of her friend:  when she knows the secrets, every day that is what she will take and talk to her.  And so every day there will be jealousy among them, and every day there will be quarreling.  And you should not separate them and find that one woman has more truth than her cowife.  If you find one woman’s fault for quarreling with another, it shows you have given the other one the truth.  Then the one whose fault you found will quarrel with you, too.  And so it is better if you just tell them to stop.  And if they don’t stop, if you want them, you will separate them:  you won’t let them be in one house.  If you like, you will put those who say their mouths are one into one house, and you will put the one they don’t like into a different house.  Whatever happens, they will not be together and be changing again, and when they sit together, their mouth will be one.  Quarrels will be in their stomachs, but it is better than to put them in one house.

        Sometimes when they are three, and two of them make one mouth, the one who is alone will not join the other two, and they will also not change to join her.  As for that, their sitting together in the house is a little better:  they don’t refuse greeting one another, and their trouble will be with their husband.  The two who are together will always be finding the fault of the husband.  Is it not better?  If you the man knows how their living is, it is better than not knowing it, and you will live better with all of them.  But if you don’t know anything about all this, you will even get trouble from the one who is alone because she is alone, and the other two are together.  You are resting, and the two who are together will be telling you they want something, and they want to hear from your mouth if you have it to give to them.  If you say you don’t have, they will say it is the other one you like, and that is why you don’t want to give them.  As they are finding your fault, if you follow it, you will spoil the way of your living.  And so the medicine for them is:  they talk; you don’t hear.  The talk of someone who is not a person, don’t accept it and don’t refuse it.  And if you know about all this, you will live better with all of them.  And so to have three wives is very difficult, but to have four wives or two wives is not difficult.

        And so to have many wives, unless you are someone God likes, it can bring trouble.  Trouble like what?  A woman can be jealous of her fellow woman and even kill her.  When they are quarreling, one can put medicine inside food so that her friend will eat and die and leave her alone.  Somebody too can put medicine inside food so that the man will eat and die and leave them, and then she and her friends will all become one.  And so we say that a jealous woman does not want herself, and we say again that she wants to kill herself.  To kill in which way?  She will quarrel with her fellow woman, and everybody will tell her to stop, and she will refuse.  If they are going to beat each other, you will stop her and she will refuse.  And as they are living together, if she does not kill the other woman, then the other woman will kill her.

        And if it is not that, every day there will be quarrels in the house.  And the house will be noisy.  When a jealous woman sits down with her fellow women, her stomach is burning like fire.  She doesn’t want her fellow woman to be there.  She will not even mind to see her fellow woman being sick.  And even she doesn’t want the child of her fellow woman.  Any time she sees that child, her nose is smoking.  If her fellow woman’s child should do anything good to her, she will say it’s bad.  She will always want to see her fellow women to be bringing forth and the children will be dying.  And she can even take medicine and kill her fellow woman’s child.  As for that, we have it here, and it’s just common.  And there are children we call alizini children:  they are not human beings and they are not like human beings.  A jealous woman will always want her fellow woman to bring forth such children.  If the women are many in the house, she can abuse one of the children, and it will look as if she is abusing one of her fellow women.  If her rival has done something bad to her, when she abuses the child, she will abuse the child in a way so that it will come and stand to affect the woman she is quarreling with.  That is why I told you that Dagbamba say that if you beat a dog, it means you are waiting for its owner.  She doesn’t want her fellow woman to be there, and she doesn’t want her fellow woman’s child to be there either.

        If it is on the part of something you the man has brought, she doesn’t want her fellow woman to get it.  As for us, when we want to give our wives a gift, I told you that we give them all equally, and when we are going to bring it out, we group them together and give them each separately.  If you give it to your first wife to give to the others, she will not agree.  The thing you yourself have given her with your hand, and you say she should share it with them one-one, she is going to share it with them half-half.  She doesn’t want you to tell her that another woman should get something, and so she will make you give it to them in a group.  You John, as you are sitting, you have been seeing it.  The two photographs you snapped of my wives and you gave to me when we were sitting at my house, didn’t you see Fati say that I should give the two to her?  She didn’t want me to give the other photo she snapped with her friend to the other woman; she wanted to collect the two photographs herself.  She didn’t want her other friend to be there.  That is the work of jealousy.  And the photos are still with me up to now; I haven’t given them to anybody.

        On the part of work, when a woman cooks today, if your clothes are dirty, she will wash them.  There is no way for you to take your things to another woman to wash; even if you give them to her, she will refuse.  That is jealousy.  If it is not that, you are the one who has brought all of them to your house.  If your heart wants you to give any work to any of them, you can give it.  But it is jealousy:  she is cooking today and she is also washing, and she is also going to suffer to do the cooking and suffer to do the washing.  But if you give the washing to someone else, the one who is cooking will quarrel with you.  And the other woman too will refuse; she will say that it is not her work.  And so among your wives, when one’s cooking day comes, if you have some things to wash, she will wash them first and then come to the cooking, and sometimes she will cook in the midnight and you will eat.  Even the day a woman is cooking, if a stranger comes to your house, if you tell any of the other women to fetch water and give to the stranger, they will all refuse.  When we marry our wives we say that it is because they will be fetching water for us to drink, but there can be a woman who doesn’t want to fetch water because she is jealous, and a child in the house will go and fetch it.  It is the jealousy that has made all this to stand like that.  I can even say that jealousy is our custom here.  We don’t worry a woman to do any work that she is not supposed to do.  And it has become like a custom, because it is standing.  And it is jealousy.

        Apart from that, if there are many women in your house and one of them has been doing good to you, the others will all keep quiet and be looking at you.  If they are many, the others will group together and leave this one woman.  And this one good woman, if it is not that it is God who made her a good woman, you will see that she will change.  The good she was doing formerly, she will stop doing it.  If a woman is good, she doesn’t want her fellow woman to be good.  A jealous woman always wants to go outside and hear the bad name of her fellow women.  If she sits in the compound and somebody comes to ask her fellow woman to pay back some of the money she has borrowed, the jealous woman will take it outside herself and be talking to others, and say, “Is that not all?  As for her, she is always borrowing money.  As she has been going about bluffing, it is money that she has been going about to borrow.”  And she will want to hear people tell the other woman that, “So-and-so said that you came and did this, or you came and said this.”  A jealous woman is always causing trouble, and she does not know had-I-known.  If she does something and it brings bad, she doesn’t care.  That is the work of a jealous woman.  Women don’t fear shame.  If you hear that a woman feels shame, before such shame has caught a man, he will die.

        Why do I say that a woman doesn’t fear shame?  A woman will fight a fight she is not supposed to fight.  It is not good for a woman to quarrel with her rival in the house.  If this woman catches sickness, before her housepeople will come to greet her, it is her rival who is going to make medicine for her to eat and going to be boiling water to her to bathe with.  That is why I said that a jealous woman doesn’t want herself.  If this woman is quarreling with her fellow woman like that, it shows that she is not shy about anything or she wouldn’t do that.  How can you quarrel with the one who is going to look after you if you are not well?  Apart from that, a woman can be in her husband’s house and go outside and sleep with another man, and they will catch them:  she won’t be ashamed.  The man can go and hang himself because of the shame, and she will just be standing.  I have already told you that shyness or shame is what makes a human being.  And a human being too is shyness.  Is it not so?  There might be some talk, and you know that if you take that talk and talk it, you will quarrel with the fellow you’re living with:  you will leave that talk; you don’t want the two of you to see the fault of one another, and you fear to let shyness come between you.  You will see somebody doing something, and you know that if the fellow sees that you have seen what he is doing, there will be shyness:  you will pull yourself away and leave him, and he hasn’t seen you.  It is shyness you fear.  But a woman doesn’t mind.  She will look to see the secrets of her friend, and she will talk what she wants.  Even a small disgrace can make a man die, but a woman doesn’t fear it.

        And what I am saying, it is what we have been seeing with some of our women in Dagbon here.  I don’t know how it is at your place, but in our watching, we see that a woman does not like her fellow women.  Among many women, there will be somebody who is stronger than her fellow women.  Or a woman can be richer than other women; whatever happens, her other women will not like her because she has more money than they do.  If she has many clothes, whatever happens, her other women will not like her.  It is jealousy, and sometimes it brings trouble to them.  I want you to take your head and look, and I want you to watch when women gather at a place.  Even if it is not that they have come to meet in a man’s house, if they are ten or twenty, they will quarrel among themselves.  If they are relatives, they will quarrel.  And if they are not relatives and they have just come and gathered, they will quarrel.  Even as we have been entering buses and lorries, you can just sit and watch about ten or twenty women entering a bus.  When they enter, they want to show one another who is stronger.  And they don’t even know one another.  As for a woman, she is always jealous with everyone.  And you cannot look at her and know whether she loves her housepeople or she loves outside people.  And so as for a jealous woman, her name is trouble-causer.

        And so what we know, before you see a woman sitting down and her heart will be white, it is one of two things.  The first is a woman who is sitting in a man’s house, and she is the only one.  When you have her alone, she will do every good work for you.  You will never see a fault of hers.  When they are counting women, you will say that there is no one like your wife.  If she does bad to you, she will get other people to come and beg you.  Even if you do bad to her, she will come and get people to beg you.  Every day is her white heart.  How you sleep with her in the room, whether you have sex with her, she doesn’t worry, because she knows that you are not going to have sex with any other woman except her.  Apart from that, if you give her cloth or you don’t give her, she doesn’t care, because she knows that you will not get some and give to another woman.  If your wife is staying alone with you, she will like all your relatives.  When you give her cooking money, whether it’s all right or not, she will not mind.  When a woman is alone in a man’s house, she never complains that she is short of food.  If it is something on the part of cooking, she will always be the first to help you the man.  Outside, she will be showing herself, and trading; and if she is trading, she will be worrying herself to get money.  And the work she will be doing in your house, if you had six women, they could not do the work that she does.  If they are many like that, they will do the work and be complaining, but a woman who is alone and staying with her husband, she will never do work and complain that she’s tired.  And on the part of the children, if a woman is the only woman in the house and there is no other woman, then the children and the husband, they all look like one.  The way she loves the husband is the same way she loves the children.  If the women are many, I told you that someone will abuse her rival’s child.  But if a woman is alone, when it’s daybreak, any food she gets, she gives it to the children.  It is the work of the man, but she will take it.  Any good thing, it is for the husband and the children, and this is how it is.

        If it is not a woman who is one wife in a house, then the woman whose heart is white is the woman who is for herself.  She has no husband.  She will be trading, and no one will ask her anything.  As for her, she is sitting in her house, and there is nothing worrying her.  And there is nothing about a man worrying her.  What she wants is what she eats.  The man her heart wants is the man who has sex with her, and the man her heart does not want is the man who will not have sex with her.  And so the woman who is in her house without a husband, every day she’s happy.  It is not anyone who is for her.  Every time she wants penis, she gets it.  But those women who are together in the houses of men, when they want to get penis, if their cooking day does not come, they won’t get it.  When a woman is in her house, she can take the work of a whole house and do it, and you will think the work is being done by many women.  And again, this woman can help her friends in many ways.  I told you that when women are many in a house, what lets them not help one another sometimes is that they will be grouping themselves, and the one who is in one group will not help a woman in another group.  But the woman who is sitting holding herself in her house, as she has no husband, her heart is white on the part of her fellow women.  And so the woman who has no husband and the woman who is alone staying with her husband, their living is better than those women who are there with many other women in the house.  As for those two women, there is nothing worrying them.  As for them, they are always happy.  And this is what I know about the white heart of women.

        And so as for women, no one can know all the talks about women.  A woman is like knowledge:  no one can finish learning knowledge; everyone will only learn to his extent.  Knowledge doesn’t finish, and you will search for knowledge and be learning, and you will never finish.  And that is a woman, too.  To know a woman, you will only know to your extent.  Even your wife, you will only know your wife to your extent.  You will say you know her well, but someone will know her more than you.  You can be there with a woman and she will love you, but you will not know that she loves you.  It is only in the way you live with her that you will know.  And you will be there with a woman and you will think she loves you, but she will not love you; when there is trouble between you and her, it is then you will know that she does not love you.  And so as for the talk about women in Dagbon here, you cannot take it to compare to that of the men.  You cannot compare it because the talk about women is too much.  A woman is not holding one talk and not holding two talks.  But men don’t have long talks like a woman.  You can know a man, but you cannot know a woman.

        You can have a wife and you will quarrel, and she will abuse you.  It will stand like that, and she will run and go to her house.  As she has abused you, she knows that if you come to her house, you will say that she has abused you.  She knows what she will talk against you at her house.  Do you know what she will say?  When she arrives, she will say, “I and my man have quarreled.  And he asked if his equal is in this house.  He has abused me and abused us.  Is it nice?  And I told him that my housepeople are more than him a thousand times.  And that is why he has driven me out.”  As it is, you haven’t called any name of her parents or relatives, but if she goes to talk like that, her housepeople will take it that it’s true.  Your child is in somebody’s house, and she comes to say that the one she is staying with has abused her and abused her parents on top, that her parents are not his equal.  And it is lies.  If she goes to talk like that, has it not spoiled all of you?  This is why knowing a woman is difficult.  You cannot know the sense she has taken to go and stand like that.  You haven’t quarreled with her to that extent.  A man cannot just go and tell lies about a woman.  Even if a woman abuses a man, the man will not go to the woman’s house and say, “She has abused me this and that and this.”  But if you say something to a woman and it’s not up to that, she will say more than that.  If she doesn’t want you again, she will know the talk she will take and enter to spoil you and her.  

        And so to us here, how a woman is, we say that a woman is like a watch.  As you have her and you trust her, don’t have trust in her too much.  If somebody says that his watch is good and doesn’t become late, a day will break and the watch will be late.  That’s how a woman is.  A woman can change at any time.  You and she can be as sweet as anything, but a day will break and she will hold herself and show you something different.  As it is, no one can know a woman and finish knowing her.  It is not only in Dagbon here.  I don’t know of your place, but everywhere, women are the same.  They have too much jealousy in their hearts.  That is how they are.  This is why I have told you that a woman’s sense is different from a man’s sense, and a woman’s sense is a bad sense.  A woman will not agree that her sense is a bad sense.  Who is bad and says he is bad?  If every bad person agreed to say that he is bad, then we would have been knowing bad people.  But what we see is that a woman does not hold good thoughts.  A woman holds bad thoughts and puts them in her stomach, and she hides them.  If you talk a good talk, a woman won’t take it like that.  If you talk a bad talk, a woman won’t pick the good inside.  She holds bad talks on the part of her husband and on the part of her fellow women in the house and her fellow women outside.  It’s not all women who follow it like that, because a woman can be there and will be doing good to everyone, but I think that jealousy is with all of them.  And so how I have talked about the good work women do and how they help each other, I have also talked about jealousy and how they do bad to one another.  And we have that here.  And truly, women have many ways, more than hundreds, but a man will not know all of a woman’s ways.  Even if you have a wife, you cannot know all her sense.  If a woman is a stranger and she comes to a town, before it’s daybreak, when she roams once, she knows all the talks of the town and all that is in the town.  The maalams say that it is a man’s rib that has been used to make a woman, and so a woman is half of us.  But if they are half of us, they have more sense than us.  And the sense they have is different, and if you follow it, you will come to see that it is a dangerous sense.  And so the talks of women are so many that if you say you are going to talk about women, you will only talk on the part you know, and you will leave the talk on the way.  And so I think that I have talked to my extent, and this is what I know about our Dagbamba women.  And so in Dagbon here, the way we get our wives and the way we keep them, this is how it is.