Two young graduates in Accra who were dating found out that the girl was pregnant. Collectively, they had a savings of about 70,000 GHS from about 5 years of hard-work—entailing waking up as early as 4:30 am to catch trotro at 5 am to be able to beat the heavy traffic and make it to the office at 7 am.
By all standards, they were working hard and were a path, although difficult, to making something better out of their lives.
The pregnancy was unplanned but what follows is the absurdity I find hovering around in our society—it’s been with us for so long that we deem it the norm.
The families of these graduates, especially the woman, expected that they quickly get married before the public becomes aware of the pregnancy.
The traditional wedding, the white wedding, and the associated receptions cost the couple about 45,000 GHS. They used 15,000 GHS of their monies to rent a place somewhere in Tema for a year.
7 months later, the child was born and the naming ceremony together with the accompanying celebration cost them about 10,000 GHS.
Everything the couple had toiled for in the last 5-years was gone in 7 months, in a manner that is not only financially stupid but also depressing.
This couple, one of which is my own cousin, could have obtained a land somewhere in Accra, and even start building a 2 bedroom on this land with their savings—while the woman continued to stay at her parents temporarily, so they could start a life with some form of an asset.
But then our society is inherently imprudent—saving faces or pleasing others to the detriment of our future is what it has long become. It’s a disease, perhaps a generational curse inflicted by our desire to impress others and kowtow to nonsense, irrespective of the individual ramifications.
It’s not the pregnancy that mainly informed the spending if you consider this issue in relation to how much young couples in Africa, especially Ghana, spend on weddings and naming ceremonies—to end up renting forever and starting life with nothing.
Even though many Ghanaians lack proper financial education, it is the expectations of society and the general practices within this society that have entrenched a lot of such happenings as the norm of the day.
The money many spend on traditional and white weddings (what I call double jeopardy) and naming ceremonies is that initial investment capital that could have catapulted their lives to a higher start. They, literally, waste this opportunity offered to them to start life on a good footing.
When children come in, your saving potential declines and expenditure increases—so why waste everything you had in the bank before having a dependant?
How does anyone justify spending in a day what you used a year or more to save on something, a wedding, which is not an investment?