Category Archives: Afua’s Guest Blog
First off, I want to give a shout out to all those who listened to Amma and I on Yfm 107.9 last Tuesday. We had an absolute blast with Ms. Agnes and DJ Snoop, and we hope to grace their presence with more ramblings soon!
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Although I planned to write this blog some time in the
near future (like many a blogs I have in my mental pipeline), Amma and I had a peculiar encounter on Saturday, which has hastened the writing of this. On Saturday, the two of us and another friend were approached by a gentleman in an eating establishment in Accra. Strangely, the way this man approached us wasn’t creepy, so we obliged his request to join us and 4hours later we all walked away with a new friend and stories and laughs for days. Everyone pause for a moment though: this is not a normal occurrence… we usually don’t talk to strangers In any case, at some point during our discussion we got on the subject of relocating for your significant other and our new friend had a lot to say about this: his marriage had fallen apart due to this very issue. In a nutshell, what had happened was that he had been married to an African-American woman in the US, and had an agreement prior to their marriage that the two of them would spend five years in the US and then move to Ghana for at least the next five years after that. However, the lady reneged on her part of the deal and just couldn’t bring herself to move to Ghana. What, you may ask, changed her mind? It’s quite ironic actually, because the lady ended up becoming closer to her family throughout the beginning of their marriage BECAUSE of her husband, and after doing so couldn’t bring herself to move to a strange land far away from them. Throughout the beginning of their marriage she saw how her husband had a strong connection to his family back in Ghana and would do a lot for them, and once he encouraged her to become closer to her family in the US… it kind of backfired on him.
I’m not sure how this topic keeps creeping up on me, but I’ve had at least 5 conversations around spousal relocation in the last couple of weeks (hence the mental note to write about it). Although these conversations will be sprinkled throughout this piece, I had to lead off with this one, because it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The way our new friend described how much he loved his wife, but that there was just no way to get around the relocation issue, was really telling. I mean we
pressed grilled him on all the possible ways he could have made it work, but he assured us that all options were explored. **Side note: location is not a deal breaker for everyone**, but for him it was. This man is also an Ashanti man, and if you know anything about Ghanaian culture, the Ashanti’s are the most ride or die, family-oriented people of all Ghanaians. I totally understand where he was coming from, because for me, this is one of the factors into my move back to Ghana ‘so early’ into my career. Because I am now at the age where the man I marry will most likely be already established wherever he lives, I didn’t want a situation where I fell in love outside, and I had to deal with choosing between being with my man abroad vs living longterm in Ghana. A family member of mine is going through something similar to this right now, and it’s sad to watch because I know her heart is in Ghana. Her situation is more of a bait n switch setup (if you ask me) so it’s even worse. Her fiance resides in the US, and during the course of their dating expressed his openness to moving to Ghana within a few years after their marriage. Now that they are engaged, the moving back rhetoric is changing and to be frank, last time I talked to her, she didn’t sound like he was willing to budge. One thing she pointed out to me was that, once she gets married, she has no leverage to say, ‘I don’t want to move to the US’ … and expect to keep a happy home. I feel her too, because her desire to stay in Ghana is just like mine, and I don’t know how I would feel about leaving Ghana for an unforeseeable amount of time for my man right now.Yes, my love for this country is a little disgusting.
So to the title of the blog, I don’t think love conquers all. Don’t get me wrong, love is a beautiful thing, but when it comes to spending YOUR LIFE with someone, you need more than love. In this case, you need to get your logistics in order, because down the line you don’t want any kind of resentment over this or for your spouse to be miserable in a foreign land. #nobodysgottimeforthat
A family friend of mine recently got engaged to an American lady. And as exciting as the news was, one of the first things I thought when I heard was, ‘this girl is going to move to Ghana without ever having lived or visited the place, I pray she loves it here when she comes’. We are a global society, yes, and home is literally a 6hr hop over a ‘small’ pond, sure, and Ghana’s the most amazing country in the world, obviously, but living here longterm (and in Africa in general) is not the easiest thing in the world, and it is not everyone’s cup of tea (even those OF African descent), so this isn’t just a small change in physical surroundings.
I dunno… perhaps this could also be the African woman in me talking (remember our guest post on
Foreign White women)…cause there are some folks doing it successfully I guess *shrug*. What do you think? Does love conquer all? Would you marry someone who wasn’t about relocating for you?
Before I turn this over to Amma, I also want to know when should this conversation come up? Cause I feel like this conversation needs to be had from jump, NOT when yall are just about to have the marriage talk. A few months ago I was considering a Ghanaian guy who, like me, has been dubbed by society as an ‘Afropolitan‘, however when he confessed in passing that he wasn’t married to living in Ghana necessarily, I already knew this was not gonna work. Your “I’ll go
wherever the wind takes me wherever is right for me at the time; and if that’s Ghana, great, and if it’s not, great” was not common ground for us, and that’s cool… so I didn’t follow through with it, because I knew hey, we’re not compatible on this… and being in Ghana is actually THAT important to me. But this happened in the very beginning stages of us getting to know each other, and I think rightfully so, because what I was not about to do was get into a relationship with him, possibly fall in love, and then now get to the marriage stage before realizing, ‘hey, you’re not tryna be about that life in Ghana… and that might be a problem’. This would make the decision harder for me, because I’ve gone and fallen in love already. I think some relationship decisions need to be head decisions, NOT heart decisions… particularly in this day and age. Perhaps one of the reasons divorce rates are so high these days is because folks delude themselves into thinking love conquers all, when maybe sometimes it doesn’t…
From time to time, I get told that I’m heartless… so Amma, am I being too pragmatic? Should you allow your heart to fall in love and figure out the rest later? Ie. What if Mr. Afropolitan could have been ‘the one’? Or are people being too naive these days? Everything just doesn’t fall into place because you love someone, does it? Should there be these parameters around love? Sadly, I have a feeling I know what Amma is about to say, but for you the reader watch this space this week for her full response, you might be surprised!
I am temporarily in a living situation where my cousin’s girlfriend visits the house a lot. Watching them interact and observing how they make decisions ’as a couple’, particularly concerning their future, brings to light what I love (and miss) most about being in a relationship (right now): Being in a partnership with someone.
And here’s what I mean…
For me, probably the best part about being in a secure longterm relationship is having someone to be your partner-in-crime. I am currently looking for an apartment in Accra (no small task, might I add), and I’m running around town seeing places with various agents… updating my price to location to convenience to roommate vs living alone matrix after each viewing (don’t judge me), and it would be so nice to have someone to go through this experience with me. Someone to listen to my abuse of the agents and my insults of the ENTIRE foreign community in Accra for jacking up real estate prices! Someone to tell me I’m wack for even contemplating living in Osu/Labone/ or Cantonments* for less than $1500/month, and to listen to my economic analysis on how this housing bubble will. have. to. eventually. burst. Pause: Clearly, I’m feeling some kind of way about my apartment search right now. But you know, someone to say, “hey babe, don’t pay out rent for more than a year**, because we might be looking for a place together by then”… Hehe
Although I’m getting ample advice from friends, and I have my ride-or-die dad who will accompany me to a viewing at the drop of a hat, and put in his two cents (even when not solicited), it’s different when you’re doing it with your significant other.
I’ve yet to read the famous 5 Love Languages book, but I know for me, the highest form of intimacy and when I feel most loved by my significant other is when they become my go-to for making life decisions, and I become theirs… when they’re hearing me out regarding career and life decisions and supporting and encouraging me to make the best decisions given all the seen and unseen moving parts. When they’ve become not just my teammate, but my biggest cheerleader as well.
Have you thought about your love language lately? What does it look like, and have you articulated it to your significant other so that they can show you love in a way that you can actually feel?
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Bonus: Just because I love seeing couples that display a friendship and are just having fun with each other, I’ve put a video below that has been circulating around the web. Aside from it’s comedic nature, I just LOVE how this couple interacts with each other. #Toocute I had to post. Enjoy!
* areas of Accra where I would be straight crazy to ask for something less than $1500/month
** in my beautiful country of Ghana, landlords ask for rent payments for a yr to 2yrs, upfront; yes, you read right: upfront.
A couple days ago, one of my dearests emailed me a quote from the book ‘So Long A Letter‘, written by Mariama Ba. It is a letter from a wife to a husband who intends on taking a 2nd wife (they are muslim). Sometimes I think I take for granted monogamy as one of those given non-negotiables, however it isn’t. Although the wife in the novel is part of a religion and culture that allows for polygamy, monogamy was a non-negotiable for her. This letter had me in knots because of the raw emotion of her words, or as my roommate put it, ‘Its like this super refined literary masterpiece of righteous indignation…’ …yes, yes it is.
Princes master their feelings to fulfil their duties. ‘Others’ bend their heads and, in silence, accept a destiny that oppresses them.
That, briefly put, is the internal ordering of our society, with its absurd divisions. I will not yield to it. I cannot accept what you are offering me today in place of the happiness we once had. You want to draw a line between heartfelt love and physical love. I say that there can be no union of bodies without the heart’s acceptance, however little that may be.
If you can procreate without loving, merely to satisfy the pride of your declining mother, then I find you despicable. At that moment you tumbled from the highest rung of respect on which I have always placed you. Your reasoning, which makes a distinction, is unacceptable to me: on one side, me, ‘your life, your love, your choice’, on the other, ‘young Nabou*, to be tolerated for reasons of duty’.
Mawdo**, man is one: greatness and animal fused together. None of his acts is pure charity. None is pure bestiality. I am stripping myself of your love, your name. Clothed in my dignity, the only worthy garment, I go my way.
We were sitting on a couch together at one of me and roommates famous house parties. He was flirting, I was flirting. It was fun times. I’d do my lap around the room, playing gracious host, but somehow I’d always find myself returning to that couch. He was cute. Correction, he was hot. He was sweet too. And above all, he was into me. Done. Numbers exchanged and we were off into dating bliss for all of…two weeks.
There was a chink in the armor.
Actually a few chinks. But I ignored them… after all, he was so sweet… and hot.
A couple more weeks and a couple more chinks. Hmmm ya, this isn’t going to work. But… he’s… so.. sweet. Like that kind of, take you and your roommates out, sweet. Like that kind of, come over and cook for you, sweet. I must Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Perhaps the chinks aren’t really chinks, perhaps I’m being too picky, perhaps I’m comparing him unfairly to the previous one, perhaps…
Perhaps, these chinks ARE real. Very real.
Against all my better judgment, I think… I had to end it. But now what?
But of course, we stay friends…let’s hang out when we can or speak from time to time.
Nope, was his response. Why would we do that? I have enough friends.
Hmm k, well I guess that’s that.
But it isn’t just that. I genuinely miss him as a friend, and although I didn’t fancy him as anything more, I hoped we could continue to be friends. He didn’t though. He saw our relationship as one of all or nothing.
Maybe my desires were selfish, who knows. He does have the right to pick and choose his friends, right? In all honesty, I’m not sure what else I could have done to steer clear of an outcome like this. Perhaps we should have never dated. Now I see him frolicking with my roommates… ‘so you can hang out with them, can you…
thought you had enough friends‘… yes, I’m a little salty annoyed. Perhaps we should have just been friends.
I suppose one can’t be too mad because if I look at the reverse, just a few months ago I did the same thing:
‘We can ease up on this friendship thing for a while.’
And I find my actions completely reasonable when I’m the one dictating them *shrug*. I guess this is just one of those casualties of dating. But, I wonder… how does one minimize these types of outcomes? If you knew losing a friendship could be a possibility, would you be deterred from dating someone? In my case, looking back, prob not.
I think there’s some expectation for me to begin this response with some form of unwavering support to the original piece: ’It is so cliche now to see an intelligent/ well-to-do African man with a white woman’ or some other biting statement, but the truth is that this type of response is so cliche… another
bitter angry annoyed black female blogger writing about black men and white women. It’s a waste of time and energy, doesn’t help anyone, and is such a bore. Although, I can relate to the sentiments discussed in the piece (and the scenarios as well), once we come down from the ‘ranting and raving’ on our soapboxes, I think there are some things to address as African women, with the role we play in ‘letting our men go to other races white women’.
My last longterm situationship ended last year and following the demise of the relationship, I had to take a hard look at the role I played in its demise. Not only because I don’t ever want to repeat the situation again, but also because I felt as though I let my fellow African sisters down. It’s a bit difficult to convey this feeling because
I don’t fully understand it myself I’ve never felt a particular sense of devotion to my fellow African woman. However, in some strange way I felt as though I let the past, present, and future African woman down. Namely on my part, I contributed to the stereotype of not being able to ‘hold your African/black man down’, ‘love and take care of him like he needs’… and accordingly, I was not able to help the world see what real (educated) black/African love looks like in the 21st century. Please note before you keep reading, the only thing I am addressing in this piece is me. I am writing this in hopes that it can help someone out there, because I think we do ourselves a disservice if we’re not learning lessons from others.
When a close black guy friend read the White Women guest piece I am responding to, he sent me this:
I don’t totally agree with the premise, but it was humorous. If I had to answer the question of what is the difference between the Black Woman and the White Woman, it is as simple as this: Black Women spend more time talking about “What I’m not going to do…” where White Women spend more time talking about “What I’m open to consider…” Thus, they get the man they want, because they’re willing to consider things where Black Women immediately put up the no and set the ultimatum for the Black Man to take it or leave it, and we see what he usually does…Leaves it.
What’s said above is spot on. From what I’ve seen, a lot of African women are brought up with very principled backgrounds, which leads them to an attitude of ‘I don’t do this, I would never do this, I only do this this way… take it or leave it’. Like the guest blogger mentioned at the end of her piece, “I am not moving to anyone’s country where I do not speak the language, cannot cook the food and burn every time I go outside unless there are ring(s) on it…take it or leave it.” Whether it’s from watching what has occurred in their own households (how the women in their lives didn’t compromise, or did compromise and got burned); or it’s from growing up in strong christian or traditionally valued households which have framed what they believe a lady should and shouldn’t do for a man… these things play into what women give up and give in for their men.
In my personal case, I held on to things, rightly or wrongly, which I believed trumped being with him. When I was eventually ready to lay aside “my ultimatums”, it was way too late. My point here is not necessarily about being principled about certain things, but it’s more about understanding the situation. We, African women, can’t get mad when African men pass us up (because of this issue) when
other white women are more willing to, for all intents and purposes, ‘sacrifice for their man’. And ladies, the amount of times I’ve heard (and said) ‘well if he loves me, he’ll oblige, and if he doesn’t…then he can get to steppn’ is beyond countless. And there is some truth to this, BUT there is also truth to the fact that you may not be giving him the chance to fall in love with you with all your barriers placed, so you can’t get mad if he doesn’t decide to stick around long enough to figure out whether he can love you.
Second thing, and this is a little paradoxical to what I just mentioned, is that for me, I didn’t demand anything in terms of commitment from the guy. And I think this is more common than not with black women. Though I wasn’t content keeping the relationship as it was, I thought because he didn’t say anything about things, I didn’t want to rock the boat… so we remained non-defined and that’s an equation which will never add up: Not requesting commitment + Having demands 1,2,3 now or before we are ever to take it to the next level = diaster. Perhaps what should have happened is a discussion of commitment and what that entails on both our parts, which would have also helped with the issue of ‘giving in’ and ‘giving up’. I think some African women put barriers in place because they don’t have the commitment they want or they are scared that they won’t get the commitment they want if they let down their guard. This is not to say the fear isn’t unfounded, but at the end of the day love is an art not a science… you go all in and try. When Beyonce said, ‘if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it’, I don’t think she meant neglect telling a man what you want in terms of commitment before the ring stage. And I’m not saying to do this to any guy, but this is for a guy who you believe is serious about a relationship with you.
Of course this is my one-dimensional take on things, and I have not exhausted the list of my faults in the relationship, but I think these two things stand out as dear lessons learned, which I thought I would pass on to my fellow African woman. So no Kanye, ‘he didn’t leave my a$$ for a white girl’, really he just left my a$$, period. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what color the new girl is, because it’s less about that than it is about what the two of you couldn’t do and be for each other. White women aren’t stealing African men as much as they are offering them something ‘WE’ won’t or don’t. Until we’re willing to change that, or at the very least acknowledge it, we can’t be mad when another bites the dust.
I must separately address this idea of not being African enough or foreign enough, because it’s so intriguing to me. I have to say that
unfortunately for me, I was privy to this guy’s thoughts about our compatibility after the fact… and I was indeed hit with the ‘you wouldn’t fit in with the fam’ chorus… so it was a little fascinating to see that family compatibility would exist with a white woman. However, the one foot in/one foot out explanation makes a little sense now. It is excusable when a foreigner acts as a foreigner, but when someone brought up in an African household acts as a foreigner, perhaps traditional families are less forgiving with this. This is definitely a topic to continue exploring… I wonder readers, what’s your experience on African men opting out of relationships with African women who are too foreign?
On an ending note, perhaps me and ms. guest blogger should be encouraging our fellow African women to become more open to scenarios such as the one on the right **KanYe Shrug** ->
You. I want YOU. Yes, YOU. Not some 2.0 version of you, not what I think you could be after I fix you, not some idea of you. You. You with all your gunk, your craziness, and your flaws. You. I just want you. Isn’t that so sexy?
Not just that, but I think it’s actually called love… But hey, what do I know
I met a guy about 1.5months ago, and in the short time that I’ve known him, he’s made quite an impression on me. I met him through my cousin initially, and then through some
random not-so random events I met him again through my roommate (Accra is a very small city). During our second interaction, he did not waste any time chatting to me about our initial mutual acquaintance, my cousin.
“I’m pretty much in love with your cousin”
…Errmmm, *I’m looking around the room* ‘… Is this boy talking to me?… I don’t know him from Adam though…’
I remain polite. “Hmmm, Ok.”
The conversation continues to my bewilderment.
“Yup, I’ve told her I am going to be with her”
And yes, the words, “I want to marry her” did come out of his mouth during our conversation.
I continue to remain polite. ‘…Ok sure, mr man (whom I’ve only met twice in my life). Nice story.’ *side-eye*
Side-eye not because you’re kinda crazy to be telling me your business after meeting me twice, but side-eye because my cousin
is was in a fully committed long term relationship at that point in time. One in which discussions of ‘he could be the one’ had taken place between she and I.
“Ok, great, nice to meet you and aaaa good luck with that.” Second *side-eye*
Let’s fast forward to last week, shall we? We shall.
You guessed it. They’re dating.
Talk about surprise right? Well… Maybe not so much, and here’s why: this boy was determined and decisive. He knew what he wanted, and made plans to go about getting it. No, he wasn’t a home wrecker, but he made his feelings known to my cousin and showed her time and time again that ‘hey, I’m serious about this… I. Want. You.’ He also wasted no time to get support from family members. Case in point, my sister also met him, and later in a
random not so random conversation with me, she shared with me a similar interaction she had with him.
SIDE NOTE: I’ve glossed over the part where they’ve been friends for a bit and she is into him too, but I hope that at this point in time you would know that friendship is foundational to me.
. . .
I’ve been slowly working on a post about how to know when you’re wasting your time with someone, it’s sort of a rundown of red flags that I’ve picked up on from my own experiences, other people’s experiences and just reading things… It’s still a work in progress, but two things on that list apply to mr man’s situation: 1. Indecisiveness and, 2. Your relationship with his close friends and family. I’ll give you a snippet of my take on these two things:
1. Indecision is a decision. Don’t necessarily equate that you keep breaking up and then returning back to each other as a sign that he’s clear about whether he wants to be with you longterm. At a certain point, I can’t help you if you can’t make a decision of what you want. And there should be an expiration date on how long I can wait for you to decide. Ladies, when a man is indecisive about you, it’s for a reason. Or am I lying, men?
2. If you’re always introduced as a friend, he’s not that into you. If you guys are ‘together’ and every one of your close friends and family knows about him, but none of his close friends or family knows about your existence/relationship, it’s time to reconsider the situation. If you ask to meet his family/friends and he evades the question like the plague, it’s time to consider why. And don’t worry, this includes the lot of ‘I don’t tell people about my personal business’ folks too. Yes, some men don’t like to gossip about who they’re fooling around with, but this isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about when he’s serious about you. When you’re special to him, he’ll want the other special people in his life to know about you. And vice- versa. Period.
. . .
So back to
my future brother-in-law mr man. I can gel with his approach, BUT Please don’t equate his determination for stupidity. I know for a fact that this guy would not have continued to express his feelings for my cousin forever with no response. There was a communicated expiration to his proposal:
“I’ve told her that if she doesn’t let me know within X amount of time, I’ll back off’.
And I think that’s fair. Just because you’re in love doesn’t mean you throw reason out the window.
Welcome to the fam, mr man.
When I was initially sent this piece, I thought omg I’m going to have to preface this with X, Y AND Z so people don’t get their feelings hurt slash get mad at this blog slash think the author, me or this blog is racist. However, I’m not going to do that. I think editing this would have made the piece lose its authenticity and raw emotion. Take for it as you will… don’t worry, I’m ready for the backlash. This blog has been lacking some fire, and this piece definitely takes it up a notch. I will be responding to this piece personally… very soon.
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Conversation overheard at a bar in Accra, Ghana… yes… Africa:
White boy: <notices cute white girl and steps to her> Hey, how are you?
White girl: <busy dancing her best version of the azonto> Ummm… good.
White boy: <starts to lay his mac down> So—
White girl: Look. Let me save you some time. I didn’t come all the way to Africa to meet white guys. So, thanks but no thanks.
***drops mic. exits stage left. done.***
I appreciate her honesty. After all, if she spent $1500 on a plane ticket to spend a semester in an African country where the ratio of white women to black men is 1 to a bajillion, then why should Katie waste her time on Ken when she came for Kwame? The discussion concerning white women and their love of African men has been discussed ad nauseum in every black relationship blog on this earth. However, this is not about the white woman’s obsession, and its not even about African men just dating white women. This is about African men overwhelmingly marrying them. This is about the lengths that white women will go to keep them. This is about asking, are we —namely returnees seeking to date men of our own nationality–doing
something most things everything wrong?!
Disclaimer: I can’t be mad at love. I recognize that it
don’t matter if you’re black or white can be colorblind. And in todays pseudo post- racial society it seems only right that we would be very taste-the-rainbow-esque given our status as post- apartheid, post-black-president-in-the-USA, post-MLK- on-the-mountain-top intellectuals. But as was discussed in a previous post, the overwhelming rate of African intellectuals marrying white woman has really given me and my comrades some pause. Take the following real life, real world scenarios:
Scenario 1: Tricked ya!
I walk into a bar with bff slash roomie. The roomie notices a classmate in the corner who is very much an African man with great credentials (above 6 feet, nice dark skin, beautiful smile, ivy league degree(s) and a sense of humor— you know, standard fare.) He brings up his wife. I ask my roomie who this lucky Michelle Obama-esque woman of high standard and… of color could possibly be. I obviously needed to get her take on finding— oh wait. She’s not black. Oh… she’s moving to Ghana you say? Oh no, he’s moving to the US to be with her even though he wants to be in Africa?! Oh cuz she said she may or may not move to Ghana depending on how she feels in the morning?!
I don’t get it.
Scenario 2: Comin’ for ya!
Walk into a gathering of a friend. Start talking to a friend of a friend. He’s flirting. I’m flirting. Everyone is having a good time. Suddenly he has to leave to go skype with his girlfriend. Bummed… but at least there’s a woman involved. Most likely an Akua who is getting her masters in the states and will be back in Ghana in the next year. Only to find out… her name is Ashley, not Akua. She is from Texas actually, and she will be moving to Ghana next year even though she has never even visited the country once. Ever. He says they might get married. He’s still trying to decide though.
She’s coming either way…
Scenario 3: Promises and Pipedreams…
Guy breaks up with a friend, says something about misaligned values. Says he’s met someone. But of course he has. Because living in Africa as a smart, eligible African bachelor undoubtedly means connecting with hoards of pretty, intellectual African women that are teeming on the continent. So how awesome was it to find out that she isn’t a pretty intellectual African woman, but rather a white woman. And not one of those ‘homegrown white African’ types, or one of those ‘white women on the continent because they are committed to the plight of all Africans and not just the men’ types either; but your ‘I move to Africa
primarily for my African man’ types. Again, with no ring. No vows. No promise of a functioning, long-term relationship. Not even a modicum of excitement on his part for being with her.
Conclusion: Is it US?
White women seem to do a better job of marrying our men then we do and they are more than happy to relocate across the world and/or say they might relocate to ensure they get who they want. So what’s wrong with us? When Beyonce sang, ‘if you want it then you shoulda put a ring on it’, she was throwing a catchy tune and some iconic dance moves behind a motto that has gripped the heart and mind of many an African middle class, well-educated woman. Because truth is…
I am not moving anywhere for a man that hasn’t committed to me in some long-term capacity.
I am not moving anywhere for a man that has strung me along for more than half a decade.
I am not moving anywhere for a man that is with me out of convenience and not out of genuine desire.
I am not moving to anyone’s country where I do not speak the language, cannot cook the food and burn every time I go outside unless there are ring(s) on it…
I am also NOT currently dating an African man, so I suppose there you have it.
You might say… or maybe you wonder… hey, that’s just some of the guys, it’s not all and it’s not even most. But truth be told, it is a
critical mass large enough number. If there are maybe 10 guys who meet the minimum bar of intellectual, down-to-earth and mildly attractive, at least 5 of them are dating or married to white women. Is this a legit statistic? No. But based on my personal sampling in the experience of my time here in Ghana, it seems pretty accurate.
Speaking to a Ghanaian man seemed to shed a new light on the situation. According to him, the returnee is the worst type of mate. The white woman is an outsider and acceptably so. The Ghanaian, born-and- raised is the prize and highly desirable. But the returnee is the lukewarm, mediocre, watered down version of the prize. A guy would much sooner bring a white woman home because her ignorance is excusable but the returnee’s one foot in America, one foot in Ghana situation makes them a bit like a house divided—it just can’t stand.
So herein lies the dilemma…
Is it that we are not Ghanaian slash non- Ghanaian enough?
…That we don’t compromise (never mind the paradox of our compromised identity)?
…That we are so quick to lay down all the things we won’t do that he can’t see all the other great things we offer?
The bit about our identity, to me… doesn’t even make any sense slash is its own spate dialogue. So maybe I’ll address that in another guest post (my fingers are itching for the dada b v. returnee version of real world/ road world challenges—blog style).
But the one about compromise gives me the shivers. Explain to me in what world it would be okay to ask women to compromise on values that are very much the ones your own mother raised you with and still has?! Perhaps this shows you the stark contradictions and very real gender dynamics at play in Ghanaian culture. As women we are supposed to compromise on our ideals, dreams and expectations in order to ensure we can have a family with a man who complains about this very problem in his parents’ relationship. I wonder what kind of life these white women are giving up to live in Africa slash pretend to consider this option? How many of them wanted to go to law school, or raise their kids in Nantucket or be closer to their parents or
have Justin Beiber looking babies? Our parents taught us (men and women) that the holy trinity of life priorities is: Education, God and Family… in no particular order. So excuse me if the mix of these things requires:
1. A commitment to a career or livelihood that I cannot abandon on a whim or hope that maybe if the sun rises in the west one day, you may propose and/ or commit. My father sacrificed his everything to ensure I get some degrees and a useful job in the world because that’s his legacy, and my apologies in advance for wanting to honor that. Does this mean Career Rules Everything Around Me? No. It just means you better be talking kids and white picket fences before I consider any such diversions.
2. An expectation of love, desire and full commitment instead of a relationship of convenience based on shallow markers of compatibility. We have all seen those sad, tragic relationships, especially amongst African couples, and that’s just not the life we are about. We have also seen functional black relationships brimming with love and pride in one’s partner, and that’s what we want: Black. Love.
3. A Christ-Centered value system that means that many of my actions and choices will be based around my relationship with my God. The same Christ Centered values your mother lives by and probably tried to instill in you. However because you are a man, somehow the fruits of the Spirit become elusive.
Am I saying that we returnee women are perfect and just sitting there flawlessly waiting for hoards of Ghanaian men to throw stones at our windows and whisper sweet nothings in our ears?
Hell yeah. No! Am I saying that white women compromise their values for African men? No. I am pointing out that they don’t have the values we may have because they were not raised by the parents we were raised by. The same parents that the African men were also raised by. All I am doing is crying foul for the hypocrisy of the situation… asking us to compromise on values that we got from mothers very similar to those of these African men is unfair.
Compromise is important, but no one should have to compromise his or her character. No one should have to compromise his or her values. No one should have to neglect twenty some odd years of upbringing because there may be a fairytale-esque ending in some distant (unknown) future…
Or maybe they should. <KanYe Shrug>
I’m finally getting around to responding to Eli’s guest post… It’s taken me a little while to finish this… starting and stopping several times. As Eli knows, this is a sensitive topic for me. Something I’ve struggled with in the past.
Vulnerability is scary and often unnatural to many people. I find the latter even more-so true with Africans given that our culture encourages us to suppress (and sometimes not even acknowledge (certain) emotions). One of the main reasons for this is that being vulnerable is viewed as a sign of weakness and exposes flaws…and within a relationship dynamic, this can translate into very real negative consequences, ie. your significant other discovering that they do not want to be with you anymore. So people keep quiet. They conceal themselves. Or become who they believe the other person wants them to be. And this is why many relationships/ marriages have shaky foundations.
Time is the unassuming key factor in this equation. Rightfully, it should have a multiplying effect on vulnerability in order to achieve intimacy. In my opinion, opening up to someone gradually makes for a stronger bond- there’s just something about getting to know someone intimately too soon which screams warning signs (that crash and burn scenario). I know people wouldn’t be able to handle all of me in the first conversation, nor would they be able to understand certain things about me unless there had been a foundation set over time… for example, appreciating that I’m really not as tough as I want people to think I am, first, will allow you to better understand that my feminist roar really masks my burning desire to be an amazing wife to a great man one day… To take care of him… be his support… his best friend and the mother of his children…
One of the tough questions that Eli touched briefly on in his piece is how long should one wait to become vulnerable with someone – emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically- and is there an order which guarantees success? Is it best done all at once? My roommate and I were discussing the romantic landscape of our current lives, and she said something I really connected with: there’s something unnerving about meeting someone out and beginning the relationship on a romantic level right away. Her desire, and frankly mine as well, is to develop a friendship with a guy and for things to naturally blossom. Is this too idealistic? Who knows. But in my experience, the best relationships last when a foundation of spiritual and emotional intimacy is laid first. If I’m to be frank about things, I can accurately predict whether a relationship will be short- or long-term depending on how quickly we’re physical.
Opening up has been a journey for me, even with close friends. I’ve been guarded a lot of my life, because there’s always been an implicit persona that needed to be kept up… ‘the academic one’ ‘the good girl’ ‘the tough girl’ ‘the African daughter from a respectable home’. How exactly does one admit to their fear of rejection when she’s known as the ‘haaard girl’, you know. Although I’ve become better at opening up, I still stick to the premise that one does not necessarily need to share everything with everyone, and that means your partner too. Some things are just for you and your Creator. However, your significant other should be the one person on this planet earth who knows the most about you and who you feel the most comfortable sharing things with: not your best friend(s), not your colleague(s), not even your family, but your significant other- that’s just how I feel.
But to eli I would say this, a lot of people do not share
your our view that love blossoms out of vulnerability. I can “love you”, be married to you/be in a longterm committed relationship with you, and that have nothing to do with my emotional, spiritual (and even physical) fulfillment in life. Rather, my love for you is in how I take care of you- monetarily… it’s how I respect you as a woman and the mother of my children… but not that I necessarily share my feelings with you (perhaps because I don’t even acknowledge my own feelings to myself). Do we look at that couple and say that the man doesn’t love his wife if that’s his definition of love?
A little bob marley came my way today, and I thought I would share… it’s nice to hear these things sometimes…
And yall enjoyed my last marley post.
On a side note, I’ve been quite mute lately, but I’m hoping to get out a few posts (including guest posts) in the next couple of weeks. I’ve received feedback that I don’t really write about myself… so I’m going to start opening up in my posts..
“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”
― Bob Marley
-and, because every woman wants to feel worth it-
The caption reads, “Think ‘Sex and the City’ meets Africa! Five beautiful, successful African females return to their home continent and confide about love and life.”
When I have too much to say, sometimes I feel a question does the trick: Bandeka, are we feeling this?
I’m sorry, I can’t help myself… just one thing: “you can directly correlate the drive a country had in stealing African territories with the amount of drive its modern-day countrymen will have in the bedroom…” …ok let me not begin actually, #ican’t.