Prime News Ghana

Elizabeth Ohene: A kiss, a pinch, a squeeze

By Primenewsghana
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When sporting competitions are on, I find I let my imagination run riot.

And so, I have allowed myself to get into the realms of what if it had been Ghana’s Black Queens that had won the finals of the women’s world cup in Australia on August 20, instead of Spain.

And there I stop.  

To continue with the daydream, I would have had to find the equivalent of Jennifer Hermoso, the forward player in the winning Spanish team and our own local Luis Rubiales, the Spain FA President.

Having found the equivalents, I would have to move to that moment on the dais as the Ghana FA President would scoop whoever our Jennifer Hermoso would be and, errrr, k-i-s-s her on the lips in front of the world cameras?

I doubt that my mind would have been able to paint that scene as vividly as it deserves.

First of all, do we kiss here in Ghana when we are celebrating?

I can’t answer that question immediately and therefore, my mind would have had to take a detour to examine the subject of kissing and where it fits into the cultural setup here in Ghana.  

I remember how long it took me to adjust to the greeting routine in France, where I was always being reminded that it is three times and not twice that you hug someone and exchange pecks on the cheek or kiss the air as you turn your heads around.

We shake hands and when it goes beyond handshakes, we hug and you measure the intimacy of the greeting by how tightly and how long the hug lasts.

In France, in Italy, in Spain, they kiss and make a great show of it.

There is no danger of a handshake being imposed, it is always consensual.

So, what would our GFA President have done in greeting a victorious Black Queens player to have triggered the uproar that Rubiales had brought onto himself and Spanish football and maybe even Spanish society as a whole?

Most likely, squeeze her breast or pinch her bottom and expect it to be taken as a compliment.


Just in case there are some among us who have been completely oblivious of this story.

I must provide a brief summary.

Soon after the final of the Women’s World cup match ended and the Spanish team and officials were celebrating, and one must mention the Spanish Queen who had made the journey to cheer on the team to victory, the Spanish FA President Luis Rubiales kissed Jennifer Hermoso, the Spanish forward  on the mouth.

By the time the ceremonies were over, Social Media ensured that kiss had become the only thing being discussed in relation to the Spanish victory.

Within days, the uproar had become worldwide and Rubiales was under pressure to resign from his post.

So far, he has refused.


I am fascinated by the story.

Some have suggested that this kiss will be the turning point that will change Spanish society forever.

The culture of machismo will disappear and no Spanish man will ever again feel entitled to behave towards women, the legendary way they have always done.

It has to be said that Luis Rubiales has his supporters, not least being his mother, Angeles Bejar who has locked herself up in an old 19th century church and declared she was on hunger strike over the “unwarranted, inhumane and bloodthirsty hunt” of her son.

Then there were his friends who tried to stage a demonstration in his support in his hometown.

“It was just a kiss, a little kiss, he didn’t kill anyone”, one of the men is reported to have said.

I can just hear a chorus of Ghanaian men shouting their outrage if a GFA president, or pastor, or headmaster, or managing director or minister of state here in Ghana, (all male of course), should be under a Luis Rubiales type of pressure.

It wouldn’t be a kiss here.

He would probably have pinched a woman’s bottom or squeezed her breasts publicly and expect that it should be taken as nothing spectacular.

But I wonder if there would be any kind of public outrage.

My suspicion is that there would probably be a lot of “what is the big deal, it is only a pinch, only a squeeze, he only squeezed her breast”. 


So, what would be considered spectacular enough in the realms of sexual misbehaviour to bring down a man in public office in Ghana?

It certainly wouldn’t be news of him having an affair with his secretary or his house help or a popular singer.

As I start going down that line, my mind takes me back to 1983 and I am beginning to think the cultural differences are indeed real.

It is an old story but it illustrates the point.

I am in the United Kingdom, it is October 1983 and Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party, having won their massive landslide victory at the elections, are gathered in Blackpool for their annual congress.

I don’t now remember which came first, the news of the resignation of Cecil Parkinson, at the time, the brightest shining star in the government, or the news that his former secretary, Sara Keays, was expecting his baby and had gone to the Times newspaper with her story.

In whichever order the news came out, the result was that Cecil Parkinson, newly appointed Trade Secretary, widely credited for masterminding the electoral success and for having introduced the Thatcherite vision of Britain as a shareholding democracy, had fallen spectacularly from grace and resigned from the government.

I remember reading one report that claimed the then French President Francois Mitterrand as being totally puzzled by the crisis across the Channel.

He was quoted as saying that if his ministers had to resign every time an affair they were having became public, he was certain he wouldn’t be able to form a government.

The definition of a sexual scandal was obviously different in France from the United Kingdom, or the tolerance level.

Back in 1983, Spain would probably have ranked on the same tolerance level as France, but now we are in 2023 and with smartphones and Social Media.

I wonder if there aren’t people in Spain who are secretly wishing their women hadn’t won the Women World Cup.

They would never have had to deal with having to decide if it was okay to kiss a woman on the lips without her consent.

The last word on the subject must surely go to the United Nations spokesperson who had this to say on the matter:

“How difficult is it not to kiss somebody on the lips?”

Just how difficult is it, to accord some dignity to a female?