Arlette Yao, qualified in law and business administration, with her husand and nine children. Photo: D.R. Fraternité Matin

Last September, at a Gates Foundation event held during a General Assembly meeting of the United Nations in New York, French President Emmanuel Macron opined that high fertillty in parts of Africa were “not chosen” but the result of girls not being well educated and marrying too young. Quoting himself he said: “Present me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight or nine children. Please present me with the young girl who decided to leave school at 10 in order to be married at 12.’”

Macron is not the only politician or expert to spout such views, but this effort brought a spirited response from North of the Equator in the form of #PostcardsToMacron from highly educated mothers of large families in the US and elsewhere. This month, seven couples from Ivory Coast added their voice, the (well educated) wives signing the following superb testimony. published in the newspaper Fraternité Matin on February 15.

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A persistent opinion from the North claims that large families are a problem for Africa. And, what is perhaps more serious, some go so far as to say that if African women have seven or more children it is out of ignorance: an educated woman, claim these scholars, doesn’t allow herself to be trapped but knows how to avoid having many children.

Well, we, African women with an advanced degree and practicing a profession, would like to say that we are very happy with our large families, our children around the table, their cries when they welcome us, the joy of sharing a loving union of dad-mother-children — which is priceless. Even if needs that come with the lifestyle make themselves felt, happiness does not depend on it.

Mutual love, devotion to one another, the concern of everyone to make everyone else happy, these are the sources of true happiness. We feel rich as individuals and as couples in acquiring and developing personal and marital skills in the education of our children. That can neither be quantified nor bought and sold.

By the way, in our opinion, it is children who have grasped this aspect of happiness who will eventually become responsible citizens, in solidarity with others.

It is very likely that we have a vision of family and happiness that some of those trying to teach us neither share nor know. This is a shame, and we can only feel a certain compassion for those who confuse purchasing power with happiness.

We know that many of our African sisters have few children, either because they could not have more children, or because they preferred to limit their number, for sometimes serious reasons. We understand them and will not pretend to tell them what to do. We will simply say that we, our husbands and our children are very happy.

In addition, we want to transmit to our children our vision of life, happiness and the beauty of conjugal love. They need to be educated so that they know how to build a happy home in the future, and are able to appreciate and live married fidelity and dedication to the children, who are the source of a truly successful life. And if they (our children) are led to limit the number of children, let them know that the means and methods are not neutral.

We would like to ask the international bodies that seem so concerned about our happiness that they let us educate our children according to our convictions and that they do not come to impose their ideas about contraception or sexual health. And we would also like to ask our authorities to protect us and our children from these foreign ideological currents.

Finally, we kindly ask you to believe us: we are very happy! And, if you do not want to believe it, at least leave us alone and leave our children alone.

Mrs. Tra Lou Gohi Clémence, Senior Administrator of Financial Services, 7 children
Ms. Aminata Toure, Masters in Business Management and Finance, 5 children
Dr. Achi Flavie, medical doctor, pediatric specialist, 8 children
Ms. Soro Fonondia Ella, Master Financial Engineering, 6 children
Ms. Arlette Yao, law degree, certified in Business Administration
Ms. Sandra Essoh, licensed in English and Communication
Mrs Ahekpa N'Guessan Laetitia, Graduate INTEC (National Institute of Economic Techniques and Accountants) of Paris, 7 children

(Translated from the French. Email addresses were supplied with the original article)