The wearing of waist bead is a common practice among many African women. But what roles does these beads play in the life of females? According to an 82 year old woman in Tamale,Hajia Balkisu Mahama, waist beads play a greater role in the life of a woman than merely used to adorn the body.’’ The availability of scientific medicine has made people forget their traditional methods of curing illnesses but in our youthful days when orthodox medicine was rare, waist bead were the cure convulsion among children, she said.
She said anytime a child suffers from convulsion in those days, all that was needed is to place the child on the bare floor in a corner of the room and any woman with beads on the waist will gently remove them and place them on the sick child. Within five minutes, the child will be cured’’, she added.
Haijia Balkisu also said waist beads are very powerful weapons in fighting rapists adding that it was difficult for women who know this secret to be raped.’’ Any woman with beads on her waist who is confronted by a rapists should just look for hard ground and put her hands into the beads and tear the strings.
The clattering of the beads on the hard ground will make the man loose erection immediately and that will calm him down,’’ she stated further.
But many girls interviewed in the streets of tamale could not give any tangible reason for putting on waist beads. As for me, waist beads only enables me to know whether am growing fat or not. Apart from that, I do not attach any importance to it’’, said a lady who only gave her name as Sherifa.
Many of the woman interviewed fell into Sherifa’s category. Many of them said that they realized that their mother puts beads on them as they were growing up and as such they also decided to continue the practice without bothering to find out why they did so. Others also said wearing of beads these days was archaic as many ladies prefer to put on chains on their waist.
An elderly man who wants to remain anonymous was also of the opinion that waist beads were very important in settling disputes between couples.’’ There are time in marriage that a man does not have the desire to have sexual intercourse with his wife but because seks is very important tool reconciling couples, a simple quarrel that occurs could escalate into major problem without the ‘’mediating’’ role of waist beads’’, he stated.
‘’the truth is that many men like playing with the beads on their wives’ waist in the same manner that members of some religious use beads rosaries to pray. So as the man goes to bed, he lies down and begin to count the beads on his wife’s waist one after the other just as it is done in religious prayers and this act of ‘’worship’’ quickly reconciles whatever differences that the couple might have encountered during the day’’, he said.
This assertion by the elderly man was confirmed by many of the men interviewed when asked if the wearing of waist beads by their wives or girlfriends was important to them.
One man who only wanted to be referred to as Eric said waist served as ‘aphrodisiac’ to him in bed. ’the rattling of the beads gives me so much sexual excitement and just as spectators o f a football match cheer on their team to perform better, so do waist beads urge me on in bed to perform, he said.
A marketing executive of the textile companies in tamale, Joseph Boateng, said waist beads were important to him. He said has used them to punish him anytime they have a disagreement. ‘’ I came from Aburi and we have adage, ahene pa enkasa (wit: good beads do not rattle) and my wife always wears the ones that do not rattle which I play with every evening. When we have a disagreement, she usually removes them just to deprive me of pleasure in bed and I have to beg her to put them on for me’’, he revealed.
For insight unto the roles that waist beads play in the socio-culture lives of people as mentioned earlier, the writer contacted a historian research fellow at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana, Dr.Samuel Aniegye Ntewusu. He was of the opinion that beads had generally been part of the religion-socio culture life of many Ghanaian societies for a long time.
He said though there was no scientific evidence on the role beads played in healing or enhancing sexual performance, many men enjoyed the beads play in arousing them sexually. Statistics at the Registrar General’s Department indicate that about 40 percent of registered marriage Ghana ended up in divorce, could the wearing of waist beads by wives be an antidote to this social canker?