Editor's note: The author of this opinion, Shiro Kiriri, moved to Ghana two years ago. She compares Kenyan women and females from Ghana. According to the author, Ghanaian females listen to their men and obey them. While the men are more outspoken and happier with their female counterparts, unlike in Kenya.
Two years ago, I moved to West Africa, Ghana to be specific.
With me, I carried many stereotypes gathered from their movies, such as everyone is involved in witchcraft, everyone goes to church, and gossip was a favorite pastime. Two years down the line, I can confirm that there is lots of witchcraft here, everyone goes to church and gossip spreads like bushfire.
Electricity and water are a luxury, courtesy is affordable, flooding happens in a flash and men here like to take selfies. More important however, I have had an opportunity to assess not just me, but Kenyan women.
When I first arrived in Ghana, several of them complained that I was too aggressive and needed to spend time reading Proverbs 31. I did not fully understand this comment, and wrote it off as bigotry.
However, I kept getting these comments from almost everyone I interacted with, and had to step back and critically assess my actions and inactions.
Whereas I was straightforward and forthcoming with my colleagues, I noted that their approach was different. No harsh direct words were said, rather, the rebukes were general, never personified.
Nothing was intentionally offensive. I changed my approach grudgingly, and began to keep my opinions to myself. Those around me began to be more comfortable around me.
TRUE KENYAN FASHION
I also got to know from my Ghanaian female friends that unlike true Kenyan fashion, face-offs with male counterparts are discouraged here. Women listened to their men and obeyed them.
They also thought through their responses, and gently offered their thoughts. They took this approach not only in their homes, but also at their places of work. I also noticed that the men are more outspoken and happier with their female counterparts, unlike here.
Though I do not approve of all the cultural practices in Ghana, I am impressed by how the women relate with the men. Why be aggressive when courtesy and being humble will get you what you want? Maybe this will help create happier homes, where more men are motivated to rush home to their wives.
Think about it, could it be that we Kenyan women, with our unnecessary combative attitude, have turned our homes into battlegrounds?
Attempting to take control over everything and subsequently making our men seem and feel powerless while taunting them?
All of this, while complaining to all who will listen how our husbands have left everything to us? Have we lost the plot? Maybe it is time we divorced how we carry ourselves in the office from how we relate to our husbands at home.
I have learnt from my West African sisters that I can be a successful career woman and an outstanding wife.
I can be both! I am a hardworking, intelligent and successful woman at the office. One who respects all my colleagues and gives objective feedback in an unemotional way. Willing to receive feedback, good and bad.
At home with my family, I am a servant. I serve with pride and joy. I communicate gently when I am overwhelmed. I also raise my concerns without the need to raise my voice. With the same diligence in the office, I anticipate the needs of my family and ensure meals are ready on time and that all their other needs are taken care of.
Should I feel tempted to go back to my old behaviour, I hope this article will put me back on track.