chapter  13
12 Pages

Not on this mat

A biographical sketch of marriage, labor, sex, and gender relations in an African history
WithEbenezer Ayesu

This chapter presents a case study and a narrative of women’s agency in customary marital relations as the dynamic interfaces of marital roles vis-a-vis potential variables that affect women's expectations. It focuses on the methods and insights of social history and ethnography and situates the discussion within the broader history of gender relations in Africa. The chapter examines the relevance of cultural norms that impact on labour vis-a-vis gender roles and male and female sexuality. This investigation contributes to broader debates on women as victims and perpetrators in gender studies in general. Contrary to popular cultural perceptions of African customary marriage as male hegemony, women's agency and their conscious manipulations are critically influential in conjugal and/or polygamous relations. The saga of Yaw Kaya and Abena Menko represents the complex enmeshment and the interconnectedness of customary marriages, expected gender roles, and labour relations in Ghanaian society.