Literature-in-English was my favourite subject in both my O’ and A’ Level classes at St. Monica’s Secondary School in Asante-Mampong. Apart from the richness it added to one’s language, Literature-in-English also gave a vivid historical account of how people lived during various epochs of human civilization. I loved the African Writers Series but Shakespeare was also a favourite and I followed his writings with keen interest. Now, one of our select books for drama at A’ Level was HAMLET and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very early in the book, young Hamlet gave his mother, Gertrude, a dressing down in his first soliloquy. Apparently, Gertrude’s offence was that she had married Claudius, her late husband’s brother. “Frailty, thy name is woman”, Hamlet famously declared. When Hamlet later met with his mother in her closet, his words were even more scathing.
Even at that early stage of life, my 17-year old brain got shifted into fifth gear as I started asking myself a lot of questions. They were questions about Hamlet’s rude attitude towards his mother: why wasn’t Hamlet angry at Claudius who married his mother Gertrude but rather vented his spleen on Gertrude who, most likely, did not have any choice in the matter?; why did Hamlet bundle all women together and describe them as weak on account of his perceived weakness of one woman, his mother?, and so on. To my eternal surprise, though Hamlet could blast his mother with words that felt like daggers in her ears, he failed to find similar strength to accomplish the task his late father’s ghost had set down for him. Hamlet could not avenge his father’s death but he had enough time and words to berate his mother whose only crime was her marriage to her late husband’s brother. Thus, was the beginning of my appreciation of gendered perspectives and stereotypical attribution of ‘problems’ to women when we have no practical solutions to the real problems that confront us.
Female lawyers and judges under the radar.
On Tuesday, 15th September, 2020, the Ghana Bar Association held its virtual annual conference from the auditorium of the Court Complex in Accra. The conference was originally scheduled to be held in Bolgatanga but for the COVID-19 pandemic. As is the tradition at the Bar’s annual conference, the virtual conference was reportedly addressed by the President of the Republic, the Chief Justice, the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice and the President of the Ghana Bar Association. The theme for the conference was “Enhancing National Cohesion: the essence of free, fair and responsible electoral process”.