Fitting In

According to the Asante Culture Handbook, which I’ve been reading since moving to Kumasi, Asante women have quite a work load. This is not to say that the men don’t also have serious responsibilities.

“In the olden days, the security of the towns was the responsibility of the men.”

“Women played a very important role in the towns and villages. Each woman would wake up early in the morning, sweep her compound and the surroundings, wash her cooking utensils, bath the children and cook the breakfast for the household before she would follow her husband to the farm. At the farm, she would work alongside her husband. When returning from the farm, she would carry the foodstuffs to be used while the husband would be holding the cutlass or gun. If the husband was not sypmathetic the woman would cary her child at her back also. The woman would prepare the supper while the husband would be resting. It was the women who would fetch water to be used in the house if there were no children in the house. Men were expected to defend and protect the women.”

But women’s council was often sought. “If in the course of settling cases there was stalemate, the presiding elder would adjourn the case to the next day so that the men would consult their wives for advice.”

Since my only job here in Kumasi is to cook, clean and shop while Bob earns all the money, does all the worrying and protects me from harm, I feel that my current life resonates with the Asante culture. I generally begin my day by sweeping the compound, hanging some laundry, then going off to market and coming home to cook. Bob often shares his thoughts with me and seeks my opinion. No wonder I feel that I fit in here!

Just kidding, actually because I don’t have to work in the garden but instead purchase whatever I want or rely on the men to harvest fresh produce from our back yard. Neither do I have a baby to carry around. No, my life here involves about 4 hours a day of work to support the menu I choose, perhaps another two of self-imposed cleaning chores and the rest of the day to exercise, read, write and play.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.