“Are you married?”
It’s the questions I have become accustomed to hearing everytime I hop into a taxi alone in Accra.
“No- I’m not married” I tell the driver- which usually sparks a debate over my life plans and goals that spans that entirety of my journey to work/home.
It doesn’t stop at marriage though. As soon as I tell the driver that in fact, I’m not married and that I don’t have any plans to be married any time soon, the conversation turns to babies. Don’t I want to “born one child before I’m too old?”
In fact- I do find the idea of children quite endearing… but not now.
I tell the driver I’m only 25, and I have lots of time to have children. This would be an acceptable ending to this intrusive conversation in Canada, but here in Accra it is only the beginning. For the next number of blocks the driver tries to convince me that now is the time for kids and that if I wait, I will be too old and no one will want me. There are usually a sprinkling of propositions thrown into this argument- “I can take care of you.. I will rent you one bedroom- self contained”… “please- I want one white baby”.
According to a recent study out of the UK, the average age women here in Ghana marry is twenty. There is a huge importance attached to having children and preserving the family line and marriage is held in the highest regard. Unmarried women are considered to have lower status than their married counterparts.
This traditional view on marriage is almost comical when compared to some views at home in Canada, where a growing number of 20-somethings hold women’s independence and success above their ability to find a husband. The latest Stats Canada study shows the average age Canadian women marry is 28.5.
Although at first I was put off by “the baby conversation” during my morning commute, I now find it entertaining.The debate usually continue until I’m standing on the street.. passing him the agreed upon fare and wishing him a good day.