The Acting Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon has disclosed that she had to quit law practice in order to take care of her two children.
Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu said although she had “always wanted to be a lawyer and a teacher,” when the opportunity finally presented itself she had to let one go.
Because she was an eloquent child, people prophesied she would make a good lawyer, therefore getting into law school was a dream for her.
Ghana’s nominee to International Criminal Court (ICC) told Lexis Bill on Joy FM’s Personality Profile on the Drive Time programme Thursday that, although she cherished getting into the law school, “getting to teach law was the height of my dream. It was like getting paid to do what was fun.”
However, things did not turn out the way she had envisaged, as the legal luminary who was called to the bar in 1982 said, “I did just a bit of practice at the beginning and then I had to choose between running my family and minding my teaching job, which was a career that was very demanding because you have to write.
“I could not do everything and I had to be a good wife. To be a wife, a mother and teacher, I opted to drop the practice. From about 1985, I did not do any law practice.”
She had her first two children while in law school and had to go to court because her senior had travelled and had asked her to represent her in court.
“On the morning of the case, my house-help refused to look after the children so my husband [who was also working] had to take them from Madina to Kaneshie to a relative.
The worried mother dashed back home from the court because was wondering what her husband had done with the children and since there were no cell phones to call and check up on them.
Then she later learnt they were sent to her husband’s cousin to take care of.
“That was the day I had to take that decision, that I have had enough. I was going to mind my teaching job and be a parent to my children,” she remembered.
Prof. Mensa-Bonsu said for women battling with similar situations, there comes a time when they have to take a decision.
“My male colleagues had a good practice on the side and it was attractive for me to try that. But that day as I describe, I knew I had to make a decision.
“Was I going to look for money so I pay my colleagues to represent my children in the juvenile court? Or I was going to give that up? For me, there was no contest. You have to make the decision,” she added.
She said she didn’t miss private practice because she did not enjoy it anyway and she was already teaching.
“You spend the whole day in court, only to have your case mentioned late. The judges do not have vehicles, and things were very difficult and it was no sacrifice.
The Director of the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), University of Ghana said she realized that her male colleagues had their wives back at home supporting them and “I had to be the wife who stays at home.”
Prof Mensa-Bonsu said despite the arguments by some women that the modern day woman must not stay at home, she believes “when you become a mother, you will find that that tug at your heart when you are leaving your children at home will always be there.”
According to her, although modern day women can make arrangements for their children to be taken care of, they must know that if they want to do a lot of things at a go, they have to make choices.
She said Ghana although has its problems, it is a beautiful country that Ghanaians must be proud of.
“We can do better as a country but we are not doing badly. I have travelled around and I am proud that I am a Ghanaian. You go to other countries and people don’t have what we have here,”.
Prof Mensa-Bonsu wants Ghanaians to change their attitude towards work and take whatever they do seriously.
Using religion to make excuses not to work or getting to work late she said is one thing that people must avoid since no one appreciates their salary being delayed.
On the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, she said although she has not had time to read it, however, “I like the idea of setting up a dedicated office so that people who have done what they were not supposed to do are brought to book.”
Regarding the directive to judges to wear wigs, Prof Mensa-Bonsu said there is nothing wrong with it because sometimes it takes certain postures and garment to translate the majesty of the law to the average person.