Dipo Rites of Passage for Women of Marriage-Age. Ghana. Among the Dangbes of Ghana

Marrying Down: My Niece And The Metha.

NTOABOMA—My niece and her grandmother got into quite an exchange at the family gathering this month. My niece is marriage-age and her grandmother is concerned. It is the view in Ntoaboma, according to our traditions, that a woman (ages 20 – 30, roughly) or a man (ages 25 – 35, roughly) should be married and have some children.

My niece claims that women are happier unmarried and childless. And this was the cause of her grandmother’s outrage. She should not have said that kind of thing in front of her grandmother, but she did, and now the rest of us have to deal with settling the matter peacefully.

Later that day after the evening libation was poured, I sat with my lovely niece on her father’s front verandah. She claimed she got the information from watching a video on youtube. A certain feminist (and this is what the lady claimed she was) reviewed a recent study on her blog that claimed that women were in general happier than men, single and childless. I watched the entire video with her.

Of course, my niece wanted my opinion. People tend to ask my opinion on issues like this. They presuppose that because I have lived outside Ntoaboma, and dated several gorgeous women in and outside of Ntoaboma (and this is my view), that I might know a thing or two about topics pertaining to women. Strange.

My niece was not wrong.

As in, my niece’s view and this is also the view of the feminist lady on youtube, who by the way spoke eloquent Wolof (and this is what she claimed), is not wrong. I told her I can see how women, in general, can be happier single and childless – whether the study that actually made this claim is either valid or not. That is to say, this is also my opinion.

Let me explain: Just assume for a second that this claim that women are happier than men, single and childless is true (the Null Hypothesis). One alternative hypothesis is that married women with children are not as happy as their husbands. Or that men are better off married with children (this is a better framing as the study also finds). In this way then the only way to square the marriage deal for a woman is for her to find a man in a higher social class and better socio-economic or socio-cultural standing.

A man’s strategy then is to marry a woman of a lower social class, or even lower socio-economic standing. This way, a man can be useful to a woman, who want to marry, in order to justify her choice, since the man is already, by the hypothesis, happy in marriage anyhow. Now this is not the only way a man can be useful to a woman, but in general this seems to be the only objective way to phrase it. At the same time, a woman of a lower standing has something to gain by marrying a man of a higher standing and having children.

Which means that women of a higher standing, if this study is valid, can enjoy their happiness unmarried and childless. Frankly, I don’t see why women of a very high social class and socio-economic standing would choose to marry if, according the study, it is at their own detriment. You see?

Now that I have my explanation out of the way, let’s briefly react to the feminist’s video. Apparently this study has revealed a certain new “knowledge” about marriage and children. But has it? In traditional Ntoaboma it has always been the norm, in fact, it is the duty of the family to make sure that a woman is marrying a man who can be useful to her to justify the bargain. This is called hypergamy in certain western social circles, but the idea remains the same. And so how is this study, reviewed by this feminist on youtube, new?

And that is my point about modern culture, spawned increasingly by the Mis-Educated Than His Ancestors (the Metha). A feminist, by philosophy, at least now agrees with certain parts of traditional African culture, which I found to be the actual revelation. After all these decades of “women’s equality,” about traditional African culture being “oppressive to women and primitive,” feminists from the west (although some speak fluent African languages) have discovered that marriage is only justifiable when women, who choose to marry, are hypergamous?

I said to my niece. I can understand. It doesn’t have to be true, but I see how. Although I think she was stupefied by my reaction. She probably – and I don’t meant to say that this is the case – expected me to react in the same manner as her grandmother. At least she expected, not an altercation, but a certain strong retort. I am a traditional Ntoaboma man after all! My niece said to me, “Uncle, you are strange!” And she got up and left me there on the porch. I called after her, she left.

My niece is exceedingly intelligent and she’s going to need an exceedingly intelligent man to square her bargain, should she choose. I hope she does, but I am beginning to doubt this generation of men and women if they insist on rediscovering what has already been discovered. That is the sign of gross stupidity.

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~ Success is a horrible teacher. It seduces the ignorant into thinking that he can’t lose. It seduces the intellectual into thinking that he must win. Success corrupts; Only usefulness exalts. ~ WP. Narmer Amenuti (which names translate: Dances With Lions), was born by The River, deep within the heartlands of Ghana, in Ntoaboma. He is a public intellectual from the Sankoré School of Critical Theory, where he trained and was awarded the highest degree of Warrior Philosopher at the Temple of Narmer. As a Culture Critic and a Guan Rhythmmaker, he is a dilettante, a dissident and a gadfly, and he eschews promotional intellectualism. He maintains strict anonymity and invites intellectuals and lay people alike to honest debate. He reads every comment. If you enjoyed this essay and would like to support more content like this one, please pour the Ancestors some Libation in support of my next essay, or you can go bold, very bold and invoke them. Here's my CashApp: $TheRealNarmer


  1. Sounds like men with little money and status and women with lots of money and status will find this particular dating market really difficult to navigate.

  2. This is a must read, and boy I just can’t concentrate to write a comment, I keep going back to peek at those lovely young women’s photo you have pegged to your essay. You undid yourself Narmer! I read you, but I am not interested in what you wrote but the ladies! LOL.

  3. Listen! Ya-gemme! Narmer, your niece is brainy pass. I have passed this essay on to Abena. I would rather defer to her equally brainy self…. gee you’all stress me out. According to the study, women are unhappy married with children. They’ve got to be doubly unhappy married with children to men that are lower socio-culturally and/or socio-economically. So it seems that it is the women who are unhappy when they marry down not the men?

    • Dade Afre Akufu Hmmm.. this is getting interesting because I think this is what we hear, and I may be wrong, that men don’t want to marry up. Yet it seems that this study as you say contradicts that notion, or at least that both the men and the women are unhappy when the woman marries down. I see you’re coming from… very interesting!

      • Could this discontent, i.e. if this study were true, be at the root of the Family Crisis of America where it seems that the women are having 80 percent of their children by 20 percent of men, who are neither socio-culturally or socio-economically “better” than the women. Hence besides the numbers game-side-effect, the women would rather not entertain marrying their Baby Daddies since these women are happier unmarried to these men, who these women regard as inferior anyways? (This is my own opinion).

        • Hmmm… yet another conundrum. I may have heard that stat as well, but is that real? Are our sistas having some 80 percent of their babies with just 20 percent of the mandem? If this is true, then perhaps the Value-System being employed in baby-making is outside the scope of what we are used to in Traditional Africa.

    • Aya F. My niece is getting multiple inputs of information. And we are trying to make all the information make sense so she can make he own “better” choices – better to avoid trauma. Human relations can be traumatic…. We are trying in Traditional Africa to make sense of the avalanche of youtube scholarship. LOL!

  4. So those who keep telling us we are stupi*d ,we will die single and lonely if we don’t just settle with any man who comes our way because marriage is honour to us women so we don’t deserve to have standards nu at what point did that start, Or where will you place them?

    • Mabena Kunkpe Ansah I am not sure about not having standards. It is a must for a woman to have standards to minimize the risk of trauma. In fact, in my tradition, it is the duty of the family to ensure minimum standards for the woman before she sleeps in the same bed with a man. All to minimize risk of trauma…. Human relationships can be filled with fulfillment or worse, fraught with trauma. So standards are a must. I think the conundrum is about the value-system that informs the standard. If you are Christian from London the standard is different from if you are Vodun from Agotime. It depends.

  5. Narmer Amenuti comrade, I think you’ve slightly misconstrued her point. She’s saying:
    “We (women) will die single and lonely if we don’t just settle with any man who comes our way. Because marriage is (perceived an honour or obligation) to us women. SO WE DON’T DESERVE TO HAVE STANDARDS NU (refers to the wrong social/cultural perception that because of fitting in the straight-jacket of social “honour,” women must kowtow to those perceptions).

    She is right. Personal/female dignity must override such expedient socio-cultural ideologies. Equality, freedom and dignity must underpin marriage relations.

    Revolutionary regards ??

    • Oh dear your niece must stop watching and listening to feminist, those especially black /African feminist are confused bunch who refuse to learn the real history behind feminism and how it has impacted on the blacks. By all means she can choose to be single or not but it must be based on her own lived experience or from those around her. The problem with making such statements concerning your life is it will become so. She must speak to married and single women her age in her community. I love men and marriage.

  6. Highly inspiring. But however, lately I have been watching TikTok videos of childless never married independent modern women and they have made me realise that regret having to neglect the childbearing and marriage aspects of life. Despite the travels and freedom to do and afford all they want, a lot of them are beginning to realise the futility of material and financial independence. They feel lonely deep down

    • Basweka Mawanda Awareness then is key. Some of those women, I believe, would have rather been married with children. Perhaps that would have been their choice. The question is whether they knew that piece of information about themselves, prior, and still reneged on their own needs? More, perhaps, adopting one set of value systems over another may give a woman what she needs to square the bargain. Hypergamy involves a value-system – be that religious, economic, social or cultural. Since women are choosing more and more who to be with or not (since the family is no longer as involved) the more awareness about self would be helpful. A little honesty and grace for oneself goes a long way!

        • Dade Afre Akufu Yes, this holds true for all things, marriage or no-marriage included. Children or no children included. This is why we (in traditional Africa) insist on marrying and having children). Not marring and having children for a woman, is an irreversible process. For a man, not so much. Still I have yet to meet any woman who was married and had child(ren) who regrets having her children. Some do regret the nature of the man, but not the children. Which I think is fine – we don’t make men, but we make children. Therefore, when I woman can marry and have children, the default is to do both and think about it later. Family used to be involved to reduce the exposure to risky men, but modern culture has insisted on the primitivism of this practice so women have to do their own due diligence and accept the consequences as well. Family used to accept the consequences of unworkable marriages by taking in the children and allowing the woman to move on. Modern culture insists on not having that kind of family structure any longer and so the single mom has to take the responsibility of due diligence and the consequences as well. Such is life. You make the bed, you lie in it.

  7. If the lesson had been conveyed thoroughly and correctly the first time…the lesson would not have to be rediscovered. Sometimes elders do drop the balls and the youth pick it up but don’t what to do with it … Hence the path of “rediscovery”

    • La Vieja Mimi Yes, there will alway be Mensa’s in our society not all will understand why the ball is expected to be picked. But when the majority fails to comprehend, we have problem.

  8. If one chooses to rediscover what has already been discovered, that’s the height of ignorance and stupidity but to the undeveloped mind it’s freedom, .
    May be, tradition and culture has outlived its usefulness.

  9. “Of course, my niece wanted my opinion. People tend to ask my opinion on issues like this. They presuppose that because I have lived outside Ntoaboma, and dated several gorgeous women in and outside of Ntoaboma (and this is my view), that I might know a thing or two about topics pertaining to women. Strange. ” Prof dat o! ?


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