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Opinions of Monday, 14 December 2015

Columnist: Owusu, Stephen Atta

The Wives We Leave in Ghana, Na Wow!

Ghanaians abroad are often confronted with diverse problems. Chief among these are their inability to procure resident permits or jobs which would enable them to bring their wives from Ghana to join them. There are some men who also fear that when they bring their wives abroad, these women will learn the ways of the “white woman” and abandon them. Whatever the reasons, not all the women left behind can hold out until their husbands come home, sometimes after several years. It is easy to fall into temptation. Some of these may result in pregnancies which are given to unsuspecting husbands who return home and sleep with them. Indeed many men are fathering children that are not theirs. These, among other things, are what the article is going to talk about. I will also talk about my own personal experience.

Joshua lived in Kumasi with his wife, Esther. They both had a child each from former relationships. Joshua, a hardworking tailor, took both children as his own and cared for them. He lived in a single room with wife and both children.

Joshua had a very good friend from childhood who helped him to secure a UK visa when he added his name to a business delegation visiting London.

Joshua overstayed his three-month visa, worked hard at several menial jobs and saved enough to “buy” a residence and work permit by marrying a Ghanaian lady with a UK passport. It cost him £12,000!!!

He called his wife and told her of the good news and promised her that she would soon join him in London. Since he had saved enough money he decided to have his own house in Ghana. She sent money to the wife to buy a double plot. An architectural design of twin buildings was drawn for him and he sent it to his wife. Work was finished on the project within two years.

Strangely enough Esther called Joshua and told him that he was no longer interested in the marriage because she had waited for so long. She added that if he got anyone in London he could go ahead and marry her. Joshua then ordered her to leave his house. But the woman told him that he did not have any house in Ghana.
He rushed to Ghana for the first time after living in London for seven years. The first thing he did on his arrival in Ghana was to consult a lawyer. He explained the whole problem to the lawyer. The lawyer explained to him that if he could prove by receipts and documents that he, indeed, sent all the money for the buildings the court would revoke her ownership of the houses and give them to him. But Joshua had no such documentary proof of the remittances he had made. The lawyer advised him to go and plead with the lady to give him one of the houses.

He took the lawyer's advice, went home and selected three elderly members of his family and an old friend. They went to meet Esther and her family members. No matter what Joshua and his people said Esther refused to give any house to Joshua.

They rose up to go. Esther and her people followed them and hooted at them. Joshua's friend who accompanied him hurled his elbow swiftly behind. His elbow landed accidentally on the left jaw of Esther's mother. She fell flat on her back and died on the spot. They ran to board the car but Joshua knelt before the dead woman and asked an onlooker to find him a taxi. The police arrived and arrested Joshua. To cut a long story short he was given a seven years sentence and imprisonment for bringing in the man who caused the death of the woman. As I write, he has already spent four years in jail.

What Joshua went through is very similar to what I am going through right now. I married a Ghanaian woman in 2003 after circumstances purely beyond my control led to a divorce between me and my Finnish wife with whom I have four children. When I came back to Ghana I met a lady who was introduced to me by a close friend. I married her but not long after her real intention for getting married to me began to come out. I lived abroad and I had a school in Kumasi. I placed my wife in charge of the kitchen. For most of the time, she extended her authority beyond the kitchen, stepping on the toes of teachers, head-teachers and even the board, anytime I travelled. It was my intention to bring her to join me in Europe. I returned to Ghana a year later. The head-teacher complained that my wife showed no respect to both parents and teachers. She was even insolent to members of the school board. The school suffered because of her attitude. Many parents withdrew their children. They could not take the insults from my wife.

I used part of the proceeds to buy a house and another plot. It was my intention to give the house to my four children and build another house for my wife. I could not complete the transfer of ownership forms with the landlord when it was time for me to go back to Europe. I gave my passport-size pictures to the landlord and asked him to complete the forms and I would append my signature when I returned from Europe. He did so and left them with a close friend of mine. I told my wife to collect the forms and keep them until I come.

I returned to Ghana to discover to my utmost surprise that my wife had changed the documents of the house into her name. She sold my cars; a MB van and a Nissan Pathfinder.
She sold the plot too and collapsed the business I opened for her. She got back the GHC8000 goodwill I paid for the shop space by giving the shop to another businesswoman. With all these monies in hand she was able to bribe her way through the Lands Department and succeeded in transferring my landed property into her name. She then finalized the deal with a lease-hold from the office of the Ashanti Stool Land Registry. This was how she decided to bring to an end all the achievements I made for the past three and a half decades spent living abroad.

Many well-wishers and sympathisers have suggested several ways of dealing with this woman. Some said I should divorce her. Others also said I should end her life by any means necessary. But I am a Christian. There is this group which also suggests that I choose the legal option to retrieve my property.

You as a reader may also have other suggestions. What do you say?


Written by Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads
Email: stephen.owusu@email.com