Why do people have children, or what values do they assign to having children and how does the value assigned to children reflect in the ways they are socialized? These are the two main questions this paper discusses from a theoretical point of view and as basis for generating hypotheses to be tested out within the Ghanaian cultural setting. The paper draws upon ideas emerging from an ongoing research project - Value of children (VOC) - which was initiated about 30 years ago in nine countries and is currently being replicated in some nine different countries. Of concern in the VOC-project is that African countries were neither included in the original studies, nor in the on-going replication studies. This is not to suggest that the issues addressed by the VOC-studies are of no relevance to Africa. On the contrary, problems of rapid population increase growth / in the presence of stagnant economies plus the burden of the HIV / AIDS epidemic in sub-Sahara Africa make Africa an ideal site to undertake such a study. The primary aim of this paper is therefore to raise some of the concerns about the implications of the VOC-study findings for Africa and in particular for Ghana, and perhaps more importantly to initiate a similar study in Ghana. To elucidate the relevance of VOC for Ghana, the paper examines some of the changes globalization has bought in Ghana and links these to fertility behavior and child-rearing practices.
Family planning has been at the centre of Ghana's population programs that have been pursued since the adoption of a national population policy in 1969. A national family planning programme launched in 1970 and relaunched in 1991 and 2001 has aimed at achieving a high prevalence of modern contraceptive use in Ghanaian society. Unfortunately the desired impact has not been achieved. In fact, modern contraception has not even contributed significantly to Ghana fertility transition that began over a decade ago.
<br>The Ghana Statistical Service has attributed fertility decline in the country partly to abortion. Based on some theoretical considerations, and secondary sources of data and information to provide the empirical evidence, this essay suggests that abortion and other alternative resources available for managing childbirth and care probably undermine efforts at promoting modern contraception in Ghanaian society. It recommends policies to influence these alternative practices, which may not only improve the prospects of increased modern contraceptive use, but also resolve some underlying health and developmental issues associated with these private means of managing childbirth and care.
This essay is about the relation between the two human phenomena named in its title: sexual pleasures and excess. The context is as indicated: the era of the AIDS pandemic. The tiny word "and" stands for the relation between the two elements involved, and it could be read in two very different ways: as external and accidental or as internal and necessary . If we choose the first alternative, reading sexual pleasures and excess as only accidentally related, we are allowed to imagine sex as fundamentally harmonious and healthy, indeed as a constituent part of a well-balanced life, and by the same token, the logic of excess could be regarded as something we could be drawn into only if we betray the true meaning of sex, perhaps demanding too much of it and letting it be the director of scenes of our lives where it should not be in charge. However, the logic of excess could also be read as something that rightly belong to sex, as something sex could not exist without, at least not for long. In that case, sexual harmony is just a vain idea, perhaps a necessary idea, but still an illusion.
<br>Of course, claiming to have a final answer to such a question would be rather preposterous. Yet, I feel that the question has a real importance in the era in which we live, and that debating it could be worthwhile. The context of my inquiry is the era we live in, insofar as it could be called the era of AIDS. But perhaps we could have something to learn from people living in other eras: they could shed light on the way we live-from perspectives we would otherwise not be aware of.
<br>Now, the strategy to be adopted in combating an epidemic like AIDS will depend on what is perceived as behavioural patterns facilitating the spread of the disease. And it it is precisely on this level that our perception of the role of excess could be crucial. What I mean to say is this: the strategy to be adopted in order to reduce the spread of a sexually transmitted disease will, to a certain extent, depend on whether or not those who engage in this battle think of sex as something inherently excessive. If you think of excess as something that can be avoided in a pleasurable sexual experience, you will look for other strategies than if you identify sex with some kind of excess.
<br>There are so many unanswered questions in relation to AIDS, and the concept of excess does certainly not shed light on all of them. So, I will try to situate this phenomenon on the level where it belongs in this context.