Sister Sandra, You are right! You are so right!
Sister NanaYaa72, I never felt discriminated against as a girl when I grew up in Ashanti. We girls were always proud of ourselves. We were different from guys, but a good difference. Eye pi ma me kra. Power is not always where it appears to be, thank Goodness! And a good argument will win out (and one hopes win over objectors), whether male or female. (A fair, open, honest discussion, perhaps with appeal to cultural or human precedents or proverbs, and definitely making the case, is what is needed first, though.)
Respect is always important, especially for the wise and more experienced or the aged, or those in authoritative positions. My father who grayed prematurely (silvered by his thirties) found his white hair an advantage in Africa, for he was allowed respect beyond his years.–Did he operate under false pretenses? But who would object to respect! And he certainly respected the African cultures he worked in, so it was mutual; and he taught my brother and me how to be respectful even before we arrived, and how much more while we lived there in Bekwai for six years. Besides, we saw respect demonstrated by other children, who always listened to their elders and were quiet, when our family had the pleasure and privilege of making a leisurely Sabbath afternoon visit (at the much more human tempo in Africa) to another family such as the Boatengs or to Pastor Agboka’s home (my favorite). My parents later served another six years in Rwanda; and they had the honor of having African children given the Christian name “Jordan,” after them as a lasting legacy–before Jordan became a popular appellation here.
Ah, the Sabbaths we enjoyed, in visiting or taking nature walks in the rain forest, on the road to the nearby village of Asanso! (a Sabbath day’s journey away). Sabbath was a happy day (Omeda ye niji da, me do Omeda biara); and in church we would sing Yesu Kristo reba bio. (Please pardon misspellings or the running together of words. I was only six or seven when Dad taught me to sing out of the Twi hymnal. I didn’t always know what I was singing, but he helped me learn to pronounce it reading in IPA. I must be allowed some clemency for my mistakes, as that was six decades ago. Surely I too am venerable by now!)
The most popular title on the transportation lorries was Nyame bechere, God will provide. We took a school lorry on field trips to Kokofu, and to the gold mine at Obuasi. There was one girl, Vida, among a whole fifth-form (I think) class of boys then, and I was impressed how the young gentlemen would give her a hand to help her down from the lorry.–My Mother, who taught them in secondary school, would speak up for the (then) unreceived idea of educating girls beyond primary school. She would win out by saying, "But educate a girl, and you educate a family!"
I would not trade my African girlhood for gold. As the French say, it was my formation (early education).
I envy you, Jeannette, for being adopted by the Kokofu Queen Mother! I once sat on the Asantehene’s lap, but I cannot boast of being adopted. When I colored in my Sabbath coloring book, though, during church, I made the Bible characters brown, not “flesh!!!” color. They were of color, after all, I knew. And wasn’t everybody else who was important in my world?
The exception was the other missionaries. My Mum said that she felt washed out in a line-up of women for a picture with the Ghanaian Secretary of Education, who was a woman and was the speaker and guest of honor at one graduation. (I’ll bet my Mum had something to do with influencing the Principal of the Teacher Training College, who was always an advocate of equality and of women–wasn’t he married to the loveliest and most gifted one? to invite Madam Secretary, for the school girls could then see what was possible for them.)
My Dad was also a proponent of another notion, unpopular in the Union and the Division at the time, of educating and advancing to high positions, positions of responsibility, the African workers.that God was calling. He also had the privilege of mentoring several himself. But old ways of thinking can die hard. No wonder why, on our campus at Bekwai, in Ghana, the first sub-Saharan nation to gain its independence–and we arrived there at that exact moment, in 1957–among themselves students inveighed against “Colonialism, Capitalism, and Imperialism!” “What are those big words, Mama? and why spoken with such passion?” Abraham Lincoln stated, my child, that we cannot escape history.
Besides a few families from the U. S., the missionaries on the staff of the school (for there were also African teachers) were composed of nationals from various countries in the Northern European Division. All except for Doc Jones–the pet chimpanzee of a black American couple, who was on one humorous occasion at a committee session jokingly named to a vacant faculty position!
Among the missionaries was a young (adult) Pastor Jan Paulsen. Being from the “Old World” he teased me with his gentle sense of humor about coming from the “New-nited States.” I never could set him straight on that! I looked up to his beautiful blonde wife, and thought the world of this godly couple. I still do. We must beware (I do not mean to put this too harshly, nor was I in attendance to hear what was said in this instance–but I think that the text applies more broadly here, too) not to “cause a person to be indicted by a word…and defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments.” (Is.29:21)’
I must apologize to those who think that I have taken their time simply reminiscing of happier days when I grew up in Africa. There is no substitute in understanding for living in another culture, in learning to respect and to appreciate how others think and speak and act. I came by this blessing merely because my parents went to Ghana to teach and to lead out as administrators and to bring there the benefits of world-class education and of the knowledge of God. (At the time as high as three-fourths of the student body at Bekwai were non-Adventist.) They knew that soon the work would be in the hands of the capable Africans themselves, and they rejoiced to see that day in prospect.
In fact Mother and Dad lived long enough to see Ghanaians and Rwandans come to the U.S. as missionaries and serve here and elsewhere, abroad from their own home countries. The Jordans’ 60th wedding anniversary, as well as their memorials were honored by the attendance or well wishes of numerous illustrious former students, not a few now living in the States, who went on to achieve M.A.s, M.D.s, and Ph.Ds, and who spoke of themselves as “fruits” of Mom’s and Dad’s labors in the Lord. These Africans were the stars of the occasions, and the envy of other guests in their eloquent speeches.
Few among us have such satisfaction of seeing things come full circle in life. Though Mom and Dad were not highly recognized here in their work upon return to America, and Dad’s full retirement was denied by the G.C. since they did not count his service in WWII because of a lapse of more than a year when, after Mom and Dad married, Mother conscientiously insisted in working a second year at Broadway Academy (the first year was a throw-away, it was felt in those days, given really to on-the-job experience), still the reality of seeing the advancement of God’s work in our church and, more to the point, the special pleasure in seeing former students from Africa achieve such heights was more than enough honor for a lifetime.
And now the family history and my own take on WO:
My Mother Jeanne, upon coming back to the Andrews community was active in AAW, and when the AAW booth at GCNewOrleans1985 was summarily shut down by a wife of one of the powers-that-be at that time, I’m not sure who, Mother and Dad (Richard Jordan) personally took it upon themselves to hunt down the hotel room numbers of the delegates and to place at each of their doors the packets prepared by the AAW and others interested in fair and equal treatment of women pastors. This was in the service of acquainting everyone with this line of reasoning and helping all the delegates make informed decisions.
My own thinking with regard to (not only) gender and race equality is best reflected in a couple of well known hymns–for Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage:
“New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth” (“Once to every man and nation”, SDAH 606).
In adaptation by Dr. Ottilie Stafford, whose impressive presentation on renewal of liturgy I once was privileged to attend at Andrews–SDAH 615:
"Rise up, O men of God! His kingdom tarries long Bring in the day of brotherhood (sisterhood–my addition, but of course it wouldn’t scan this way), and end the night of wrong.
"Let women all rise up! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of Kings.
“Rise up courageous youth! The church for you doth wait, her strength unequal to her task.
Rise up and make her great!..”
I would want it to be known that women have done so for ages, and it just needs to be recognized; and the future belongs to our zealous and wise younger generations, who have done what they could while patiently bearing long with their elders.
When will we bring our King, the Son of David, back? (I say even at the risk of sounding like or identifying with LGT, a term I only just now have acquainted myself with, having been out-of-touch from devoting in large part the last few years to easing and brightening my parents’ final earthly days.) After all, like the Hebrews in regard to bringing King David back over the Jordan, we do have something to say about the matter! LET’S DO IT! Sleepers, wake!
Afia Candace Jordan