The Plight of the Single Returnee Woman [Dedicated to Komla Dumor]

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Some of you may or may not know that on Saturday we lost a great journalist, Komla Dumor. Komla was most recently a presenter on BBC’s World News and Focus on Africa, however most Ghanaians remember him as host of the Super Morning Show on JoyFM (a popular radio station in Ghana). Komla was host of the show for many years before he left for the BBC in 2006. He was a breath of fresh air when it came to journalism about the continent (not shying away from asking tough questions, but also bringing a balanced story about the triumphs and tragedies of Mama Africa); and he was a symbol of hard work and dedication to one’s craft- and I’m not just saying these things because he was also a fellow alum of the Harvard Kennedy School! Apart from Kofi Annan, I cannot think of a better ‘ambassador’ for Ghana in the last few years. If you haven’t seen Komla’s TEDtalk on Telling the African Story, I would encourage you to take a few moments to watch it.

I know you’re probably wondering what the passing of a journalist has to do with this blog. Well, about a week and a half ago Amma and I had a discussion with Komla on twitter. We discussed (along with several other people) the plight of educated African women and how challenging it is to find an African man to date and marry. I told Komla that I was working on this precise blog, and he told me to forward it to him once I had finished writing it. Though I cannot do so anymore, I will dedicate this blog to him. R.I.P. Komla.

Komlar-Dumor

I’ve included snippets of our twitter discussion below. If you want to see our full interactions on the topic please visit here, and scroll to Jan 7th.

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I wrote a blog back in August, and for reasons unknown I didn’t post it. It was a self-pity blog, and I knew it. A couple (brief) moments of Woe Is Me, which I (knew I) didn’t need to share with our readers. Amma also agreed: “OMG Afua, PLEASE don’t post that!”  Yes, thank God for co-writers/editors.

There are a few things that I hate to be labeled in life; other than being labeled as the type of woman who can’t cook/won’t take care of her man and home/ won’t be a good mother / and someone who has high standards, what I think I hate most to be labeled is ‘the angry single black female (blogger)’. I hate this label so much that I often censor posts about my relationship status and other topics that might make me come across as angry/bitter or having an attitude problem. At the very least, I DO NOT post things like the blog I wrote back in August. However, I stumbled across this blog over the holidays and re-read it, and Amma and I came to an agreement that perhaps we COULD share the blog (that was written in a momentary lapse of judgement that does not in any shape, fashion or form portray my general positive/all smiles outlook on life and love) and discuss it, because there are a number of interesting things that arise from it. What I discuss in the post is the plight of most some single returnee women, and I’ve come to the realization that whether I discuss it or not the world (and you our readers) have already formed opinions of women like Amma and I… So chale, #girlsabr3 paa… I’m posting and we’re going to discuss it. Medase [which means Thank you in Akan twi]. Enjoy the read!

What’s Dating like in Accra?

It’s a plane, it’s a bird, no it’s thirty I see on the horizon.

Le sigh. It’s my birthday. And though I am not 30 yet, I’ve now reached the humble age of being just as close to 30 as I am to 25.

One inch closer to 30, and one step deeper into the bottomless pit of harassment from everyone I know about marriage:

‘What about that one guy from…’  Nope.

‘Or that guy at church that…’  Notta.

‘Or the one friend which…’  Never.

‘Well, I swore that you had that one that…’  Well, you swore wrong.

Usually a cloud of silence looms following the above, and then comes: ‘Well how come [you're single]?’ Though I’ve never understood this question in the past, it’s irritation increases to new bounds with age. As if picking a man occurs on my Sunday grocery run, where he’s sitting on aisle 9 between the milk and cheese. What this question is really meant to do is to provide agreement to an unstated yet painfully obvious statement: ‘It’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with you, Afua’. It’s usually here that I’ll indulge in the conversation for the sake of the other party, because obviously the conversation is not meant for me, but for their confirmation that there still exists some order in the world: ‘You know, next time you go to The Lord in prayer, please do bare me up‘ / ‘In your next round of fasting, remember me kra… For I know it’ll come, he’s on his way, in due time’ *rolling eyes*.

In these types of conversations, the grande crescendo takes place with the full on questioning of how I stack up (compared to other ladies who are in relationships and/or are married already): but are you cooking for them? Are you dangling that feminist thing in front of them or talking too much? And then the icing on the cake is the definitive statement that the other party is not worried about me: ‘Because beh you’re pretty, and smart and not crazy, so most definitely you’ll find someone.’ Depending on the audience, I either stand with an innocent smile to join in their dumbfoundedness, feign state my confidence that I am indeed not worried because at any moment in time I could meet the man of my dreams, or unleash my semi-feminist attack that men don’t necessarily want these things they have listed out/ these things don’t mean anything these days because look at all the amazing beautiful smart black single women around the world *shrug*. The latter happens less, and usually only towards family to put the fear of God in them…

A couple weeks ago, a group of six of my girlfriends had a lunch to celebrate the return of one of our dear friends. A couple hours and a couple bottles of wine later came the dreaded discussion, the topic we love to hate, The Inevitable:

“Lay it on me girls, what am I really in for now that I’m back?”

Five of the six present are for all intents and purposes single, including the recent returnee herself. The one who isn’t, is dating a black American living in Ghana.

“Well,” One starts: “Hoes be killing the game.” I laugh, but she is dead serious.

Another chimes in: “If they’re not into their careers and still sowing their wild oats and surveying their options, they’re with some hoe, some white girl (white includes everything non-black in this case), or they’re douchey and not what you want. The few that are wifed up already with sensible girls hold down the rest.”

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After a few more comments of a similar nature, the guest of honor brings it home: “So essentially our men don’t want ‘us’. Great. Welcome ‘home’.” - And by ‘us’, we mean our prototype:  Ghanaian, but not. Feminist, but not. And definitely Too-Known. It was interesting to then collectively list out all the women killing the game in ‘our’ own country: the born and bred Ghanaian, the basic chick, the hoe, and the foreigner… hell, the foreigner is even killing the game from outside Ghana we conclude. From here we list out the number of guys we know that have met their significant others outside Ghana and have brought them back to the country to live with them. Let me interject here that the recent returnee’s own brother is seriously dating a ‘white’ girl who he has moved to Ghana. [SPOILER ALERT: Since the writing of this blog in August, the serious girlfriend has now become his fiancee].

Rest assured, it wasn’t an all male bashing session that followed, but it was funny to have things come full circle in my mind, because when I moved to Ghana from South Africa a little over a year ago (save a 3month dip out/dip in), I had a long conversation with an earlier returnee and fellow love/sex blogger, Nana Darkoa, who flat out told me: ‘Afua, there are no eligible men in Ghana… For your purposes, those men are all married.’ And then here I am a year later co-signing to a similar message to another returnee. Hmm. At the time I moved from S.A, I was less worried about this because I thought I was in a progressing situation, but a year later… a few abysmal first dates (actually a little more than a few), a lot of new ‘friends’, and a few okay guys… singledom still looms. Although I don’t think Nana’s assessment of Ghana is entirely correct, I do see her point. Even while at lunch my group of girlfriends tried to come up with five names of returnee women who had come to Ghana single and met men that they were now happily married to. Five. That’s less than 1 person per attendee (note that we disregarded women who ‘knew the guy in primary school’ or ‘the guy was a family friend’). Needless to say, we couldn’t come up with five women. Sigh.

The truth is I know why I’m single,  it’s quite simple actually: I haven’t found anything that has stuck [on both sides]. The reasons that follow really are inconsequential because they vary from guy to guy (so contrary to popular assumption, it isn’t about having high standards). I am of the belief that when it’s supposed to stick it will, even if that means that this happens on the other side of 30, to the horror and chagrin of my relatives… when it’s supposed to stick, it will. So until then, another year, another step into the bottomless pit.

Happy birthday to me.

- – -

Ya, I wrote that. *shrug* Don’t judge me.

So it’s six months later, how do I feel about this post and the things that I said in it. I won’t spend too much time here, because this blog is just a conversation starter to the general topic of ‘Dating in Accra as a Returnee’. However, I will say this: my situation may not have changed in the last six months, but my attitude definitely has. I’m in a place of ‘Whether or not my situation changes, I do not want to get tied up in knots about things (or allow others to tie me up in knots about them).’ I have life and health, I have great family and friends, and I like my job. I like where I am in life… I’m growing and learning a lot about myself, and until a man comes alongside me to join me on this ride, I should not be downcast and distraught.

Amma, thoughts?

Read Amma’s Response: No One is Entitled to a Relationship

Tis the Season: What to get your Guy for Christmas

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AMMA

It’s the holiday season… and the spirit of giving is upon us. I for one, know this can be a supremely stressful time for buying gifts… especially buying for guys. I feel like the world wants us to believe they are super simple and that meeting basic needs will prove satisfying enough for the holidays— not the case when you are dating a man whose fashion sense precedes him… or who insists he wants nothing (because he already has… everything.)

So in these harrowing moments, when your back is against the wall— what does one give to one’s man that is not insulting but won’t break the pocket (see Kim Kardashian’s gift to Kanye… #girlsabr3)

Here is what we believe to be suitable gifts from the heart that are genuine and will remind him daily of what an insanely awesome girl you are  and if he were to ever leave or forsake you it would be God’s wrath and not yours he should be worried about. Sorry. Crazy Person Moment.

1. Signature Apparel

So I dated a guy who dressed super well. Better than I did. I can admit this now.

Buying him things was like torture.

However, I figured out that if I got him something that no one else could get him but was essentially exactly like everything else in his closet, I would be #winning in the gift giving department.

I really like Ohema Ohene’s line of clothing items (and they’ve recently opened a shop in East Legon!—no they did not ask for an endorsement—yes I am doing this from my heart). There are some really bold pieces but also more subtle ones for those guys that don’t want to say much with what they’re wearing— that sort of casual appeal that we have all come to know and love.

CARDIINSTBLK

work and play come together effortlessly!

Afua: I won’t lie, I’m not so sure how much this is my cup of tea nor the type of guy I’m into’s either, BUT if this is your man’s swag, definitely run with it.

2. Tech— Accessories.

Look… I haven’t yet reached the Michelle O. level of dropping thousands of dollars on the newest Bose speakers, but I can definitely get you a boss iPad cover that lets all your friends, family and enemies know that you mean business. This is especially clutch because everyone else sees how great you are and it’s important during the season of giving that you spread your cheer (and style savvy) to all of his compatriots.

Plus, it’s actually handy.

(These could totally be made in Bolga… and then inscribed!)

Afua: I really like Amma’s idea of personalizing gifts. I once got a guy a money clip with his initials engraved on it… and I definitely came up on top that year. I am also a fan of patronizing the north of Ghana, so this gift idea is winning all around. 

3. Musical Compilation

This might sound a bit cheesy, but I once did a nice little compilation of songs that were meaningful in our relationship and it was a hit. Now I am NOT suggesting this gift be given as a standalone… as the sentimentality of it won’t compensate for it being sort of cheap and seemingly ad- hoc… but it’s a great complimentary gift. And there are so many cute little ways to package it now.

music is the language of love they say…

Afua: Personally I don’t see the problem with this being a standalone gift… it sure is better than just a ‘cake’ to me, *shrug*

AFUA

When Amma told me she wanted to do a holiday special on what to get your man for the holidays, I thought it was so appropriate. In our (Ghanaian) culture, where an appropriate present for your man on his birthday is a cake, I often wonder if women get creative with their gift giving, because there are some neat things out there… things you can really dress up or make as chill as you want, depending on the message you want to send.

First things, first. Kaftan.

kaftanAmma and I share many similarities in life, but our love for men in Kaftan stands above all most others.  I’m not one to call myself a fashionista, nor do I fuss about my any man’s clothing, but there is absolutely nothing like a man in Kaftan. Nothing. The way God designed our traditional dress to bring out all the qualities of sexiness, swag, masculinity (indeed everything a woman needs to feel about her man), it’s absolutely mind boggling. Kaftan has the ability to upgrade any man’s status instantaneously- Amma’s words, which I totally agree with. Long sleeve, short sleeve, shirt-level, knee-length or to the ankle, royal blue, grey, gold, take your pick… and don’t let it be white…wooowee *le sigh* Ok, I’m done. :) Now that I’ve clearly stated how this gift is obviously for my benefit, let’s get into how it is a suitable gift for your man. It’s practical: other than men needing clothes, it is a great outfit for weddings, parties, and even everyday wear (you can get away with a lot). And he’ll definitely be getting some love action from you, if you’re anything like us.

Something I just thought of that would be really sexy would be if you engrave a naughty cute little message on the inside of the shirt or trousers… this is the beauty of getting something made in Ghana, you can be creative… :)

Amma: AGREED! *swoooon* Honestly, in the hierarchy of men’s apparel… white tee and cargo at number 4, suit and tie at number 3 and kaftans tied at number 1… 

2. Krachi Bowties.1016226_484262954987086_1398472065_n

It’s interesting how they say a well tailored suit to a woman is as lingerie to a man, but my next pick is just one aspect of the suit: The bowtie. I don’t think this is something that Amma vibes with as much as I do, however I like a man in a bowtie, and if your man is that kind of man that rocks bowties, do it! It’s a clean simple gift, and we’ve found some 8ad770ac987211e2984822000a1f9707_7really nice ones at Krachi, a local company just taking off which makes local print (and other patterned) bowties. The company is just about to launch a new line of bowties so watch out for that!

Amma: I am not one for recommending neck wear for guys, largely because I think it’s really easy and sort of unexciting. But I love Krachi ties… so if you are going to make this your move, I’d say make it one that matters by getting something that stands out.


3. A Weekend Gateway

I think more creative gifts like creating a playlist or going on weekend getaways are actually the best types of gifts. Even though women probably prefer these types of gifts more… I’ll admit I once had my guy promise to take me on a weekend trip if I lost a bet we had going… I still think a man would really enjoy you putting together a nice weekend getaway for the two of you- And by putting together, I mean planning, PAYING, driving, etc. I’m not sure what man wouldn’t turn down fine dining… quality time together… and, couple massages. Done. Even though it’s been in small intervals, Ghana has stepped up it’s tourism game; I just returned from a really nice wedding in Aburi, so I can say for a fact that you don’t have to look far for some really nice (long) weekend getaway spots. See some suggestions below!

Hillburi

Beige Village

The Royal Senchi

Sisimbo Beach Resort

Brenu Beach Resort

Sankofa Beach House

Amma: I loved Beige Village… and I definitely think it’s a cool chill spot for guys to get away and hang around without prostitutes and debauchery distractions. Golf… massages… buffet meals and excellent service. Annnnd all the OG’s go out there to relax (there’s this great pic of Amoabeng and co. as a reminder, haha)… so obviously their spirit of OGness will rub off on him. Honestly… everyone wins!

Clearly this list isn’t exhaustive, similar to our date spots in Accra post (look out for part 2 of that soon btw!), however this is a decent list to get you coming out on top this gift-giving season. So a Merry Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours, and we’ll see you in the new year for more ramblings!

Dear Lola (and Amma). Pt 2 of Faith, Fidelity, and Family

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WHOA. I don’t know what to say, but THANK YOU. I’m not one to be very outwardly emotional (y’all know this), so you can probably imagine the inner struggle I had writing and actually posting my last blog, but your response has only confirmed that it was the right thing to do. After posting ‘Knowing Before You Know‘, I received so much love through calls, emails, whatsapp messages, informal discussions- thanking me for being so blunt open, it was kinda crazy weird. Not to mention the fact that y’all really shared the post – it was the highest single day viewed post in the history of this blog, by more than double… ya, crazy times.

So without getting too emo on you again, I wanted to say thanks for the encouragement and support…and the sharing of the post! It’s great to know people relate to and appreciate what we’re writing.

On a last note, I want to clear up that that post wasn’t about bashing the guy or men in general; there are great guys out there, and I actually think he’s one of them. Judging from the way he treats his family and friends, I know he’s going to be a great husband to his wife one day; my post was about the fact that ‘she’ wasn’t me… and I should have been more attentive to the signs so I could have bowed out of the game much earlier and been on a path to find the person who was for me.

Anyhoo on to my actual post, which is a response to Amma’s piece on Faith, Fidelity and Family.

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photoIf I’m honest, I’ve often wondered if when this subject would come up. In fact, it’s such a dicey topic that it’s taken me over three months to pull a response together. Amma and I have had several too many conversations to count on this topic, because it’s a little too close to home for us. Like Amma, I also grew up in a strong faith-based home. Although not quite the Pentecostal hooting and hollering-type, it was definitely the grounded in faith, grounded in The Word and church-type. And like Amma, I also fell in love with someone who didn’t share in my faith  was basically atheisty- agnosticy, and I had to grapple with how I wanted to proceed. Following the relationship, I still have to say that my feelings toward being with someone outside of my faith aren’t hellbent on ‘no’. Too much has happened since then for me to know that life is complicated, and sometimes love is complicated too. So as much as I would love to be with someone who shares my same beliefs, I can’t guarantee that if put in the exact same situation again, I wouldn’t continue on with the relationship… And that’s just real talk.

The topic of inter-faith or faith/no-faith relationships has reared it’s head several times in the last few months, not only with the referenced letter in Amma’s post, but also with an intriguing conversation that I had with some new friends of mine here in Accra. And because you know I love to retell a good story… let’s begin:

The setting is the apartment of a young married couple in Accra. I’m having a friendly discussion with the man of the house about everything and nothing in particular. The conversation slowly steers towards the standard, “how is life in Accra treating you as a ‘returnee’ ‘half-outsider’?” Armed and loaded with my ‘young returnee answer tool kit’, I respond politely that things are fine and uneventful.

“And dating in Accra?”>> ‘bold, much?’ I think to myself, ‘this usually doesn’t come up till further into these types of conversations…’ But still, I present my neatly packaged response: “uneventful.”

“Are your standards too high?” Was the subsequent question. Which for now I’ve come to expect when I give anyone a less than stellar response to the “Are you seeing anyone?”-type question. Unfortunately for me, the one word response of ‘No’ is never believed by whomever I’m speaking to, and spending time explaining how their assessment of me is incorrect is always a very conscious decision because it means getting into an exhausting argument exchange that I’m so over before it begins. However, as life would have it I found this gentleman mildly worthy to continue engaging with me on this topic, so I gave him a half truth in response, ‘I’m not picky, but I do think wanting someone that loves Jesus in a genuine- genuine meaning not illogical fanatic way**- is hard to come by these days (read here how some studies brand Christians less intelligent than atheists).

“Aaaa you’re one of those. Like my wife.”unequally-yoked

“Excuse me?”

“My wife is religious, and I’m not in the least.”

From here, he proceeds to tell me their story and how things work for them in a faith/no faith relationship. For some context: this is a young, well educated, well traveled couple with no kids. However, this isn’t the end of the story- his wife walks in and he invites her to join in on the discussion, which puts an interesting spin on things. I won’t waste too much time on the details of the rest of the exchange, but my two takeaways from the conversation were these:
1. It can work- Inter-faith and faith/ no-faith relationships. However, the can is a very big can. And that work, is very real work; and,
2. It is not ideal for the party that is Christian (particularly if this is the woman).

Obviously, I don’t know the ins and outs of Mr No Faith and Mrs Faith’s marriage, but as it pertains to #1, what I mean is that heaven doesn’t rain down fire and the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt (like some Christians would like to believe). However, undoubtedly sacrifices have to be made: Mr. No Faith mentioned he accompanies his wife to church on occasion because he knows ‘it’s important to her’, and Mrs. Faith mentioned that she doesn’t share with her husband her ‘God experiences’ knowing he wouldn’t appreciate them (I believe her actual words were, “he’d probably laugh”). In regards to #2, I say this isn’t ideal for the Christian spouse because marriage for Christians is supposed to have a deeper purpose of being one of the most important ways God uses to demonstrate His Nature -how He loves, how He commits, how He sacrifices, and how He forgives- to non-believers (and believers) on earth. Thus fundamentally, this is supposed to guide how a couple spends their time, money, and how they raise their children, etc. Particularly for the Christian wife, an ‘unequally yoked’ relationship isn’t ideal because men are looked to, in most people’s minds, as the (spiritual) leader of the home. Amma pointed out that this seems to be something women ‘obsess over’ more than men, and I think it’s because there is no substitute influence over a woman’s life and her children’s than the leadership of her man on all matters spiritual and none. With the number of ‘single’ women I see at church, children in tow, I often wonder what the dynamics are at home (for example, what is their continual response to their children when they ask, ‘How come daddy doesn’t have to go to church?’). [If you want to read more on this, here's a good article on whether interfaith marriage is always wrong, from a Christian perspective].

I think similar to Amma’s dad, Mrs. Faith having crossed over the hurdle of nuptials has the luxury of saying things like, ‘you should try to find someone you’re spiritually compatible with from the get go’- which is indeed something she said during our conversation. Because both she and Amma’s dad successfully found someone they actually connected with enough to marry (even church and hateif it was only on a physical and emotional level), hindsight is now 20/20… especially when you’re rendering advice to single young women like me and Amma. But for us who haven’t been fortunate enough to have found our ride-or-die, lover, roomie, best friend person to share our lives with yet, we recognize that it’s quite a tall order these days to find someone who you connect with – mind, body, AND soul. And things become more complicated when you add in the fact that the difference between some Christians and non Christians is inconsequential, for the most part now. It also doesn’t work in your favor when you’re smitten by a particular type of guy- the highly educated, highly analytical, highly opinionated critical thinker who is not drawn to fables about an intangible God up in heaven looking out for us (and dictating how we have to live our lives), much less His incompetent followers gouging money from poor unsuspecting gullible people *side eye*- yes, Amma and I dated iterations of the.same.guy. Although these men were supportive of our individual relationships with Christ (and have a lot to do with why we have individually matured in our faith/beliefs even now), I know our relationships with them would have been richer if we could have been able to-

…pray with them and not at them

… go to church with them

… make jokes about the Israelites in the old testament stories with them (really, Amma?)

… encourage them through scripture and (co)prayer

… and talk about hearing from God or experiencing a move of the Spirit without them rolling their eyes and/or smirking, just like Amma said.

However, I also know being a Christian doesn’t guarantee connection/compatibility (nor fidelity, honesty, good communication and all that other great stuff), so I can empathize with Lola that she was captivated by her husband by something other than his spirituality. I am happy that she found that special someone, and I recognize that people do change (note that it’s generally accepted that men take a longer time to ‘find religion/spirituality’ than women), but I also know that it’s not my job to change anyone, it’s God’s. So while not making any judgments on Lola’s situation, if I were to end up being with someone not of my faith, rather than placing stipulations on what their spirituality has to become ultimately, I would make peace with who I was marrying… as he was. And I would certainly make peace with the fact that I may be forever trucking to church solo, children-in tow, answering questions like ‘why doesn’t daddy have to go to church?’

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**What I mean by this is you actually know why you believe what you believe, and how it translates to practical living, rather than blindly following any hooting and hollering pastor of the day, or just going to church because that’s what your parents did.

He Was Never Gonna Wife You, Afua: 6 Ways to Know Before You Know

photo (3)Harsh words, but a reality… he just wasn’t that into you.

I spent some time with a close guy friend a couple weeks ago while stateside, and a slightly inebriated trip down relationship/situationship lane concluded with some chilling realizations and some good insights for me going forward. I thought it was time to start turning wounds into wisdom, so here goes.

The conversation began with the acknowledgement that ‘yes, there are always signs when something’s not going to work out, but we choose to ignore them- While for men, ignoring usually involves a fight between both “heads”, a woman’s 308551_245290692199249_127001387361514_718090_1318263351_n_largefight is usually between her head and her heart. So given this fight, how does one pick up that you’re not ‘his wifey’ in order not to waste your time? Good q. For the remainder of this piece, I’ll try to recount John’s** side of the conversation in italics slash give my thoughts and list out six key findings in bold. Although these are personalized to me, they are general takeaways for everyone on how to know before you know.

In no particular order:

1. How many times did I tell you to let this one go? And not just me, how many people told you to let this one go? You put it down, you pick it up. You walk away, then turn right back around and RUN back. You let it half way heal, then with one little itch and you’re picking at it. >>> When your guy friends cry foul, it’s a problem. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’ll reiterate it because it’s such a good test. Maybe even before ‘your man’ admits it to you or to himself, sometimes your guy friends can pick up on actions or inactions and let you know what’s really up with a guy. Listen to your guy friends when they tell you to keep it moving, especially when it’s multiple friends and said repeatedly. It’s not an exact science, but this is definitely better than listening to your girlfriends who tend to rationalize actions with you..

2. Not one? single one of his close friends, period, knew of the existence of his and your situation. And that is all on you, boo. As a relationship blogger, you really should know better. >>> I really should. I mean, I have a blog post that even discussed this… so no excuses on this one. Let me just copy/paste what I already ‘know’: His Family and Friends not knowing about you is a problem. If you’re ‘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 drop hints of loving to meet his family/friends and he evades or shuts down the conversation, it’s time to consider why. And this includes the lot of ‘I don’t tell people about my personal business’ folks. Yes, some men don’t like to gossip about who they’re fooling around with, but when he’s serious about you, he’ll want the important people in his life to know about you. And for you to know them. 

3. And on that note… the ex never left the picture, so you better go take several seats, little girl. If it takes any man 6 months to break up with a chick, don’t think for a second that thing is going to die easily >>> When the ex never leaves the picture, it’s a problem. So you did your research once the two of you started talking… Who was before, how serious was it, is she outta the picture? But it’s not always about the past, you need to also consider the present. Even if others have opinions about what their situation was/is, even if he said ‘she wasn’t wifey’…trust your gut. If things don’t feel right on more than one occasion, maybe it’s for a reason. And things not feeling right can manifest in various forms: 1. They’re still really good friends (a little too good) 2. photo 4 (1)She’s someone who never let go: Checking in… ‘Hows your mama & ‘em doing?… Did your pops receive the Christmas present I sent him’ Etc.*side-eye* 3. His friends never understood why he broke up with her, and continue to believe she’s the best match for him (See #2 again) 4. The general public/ his friends and acquaintances still associate him with her in a romantic sense… Everyone pause for a moment: I actually had a conversation once with someone who referred to the person I was currently talking to as ‘oh, you mean so-and-so’s ex’… Errr yup, that’s exactly who I was referring to… *side-eye*. For this one, John was stressing that perhaps I never lost him because I never had him to lose. That perhaps he was never the one, because he was always someone else’s one. If she’s got the best friends and family on lock, you’ll always be fighting an uphill battle; just don’t be surprised if in 2, 3, 4 years even they’re back together near engaged *shrug*.

3.5. Not to belabor the point, but you took too long to decide what you wanted and then to tell him, and in general there will be less encroachment on territory if it is clearly marked. One reason someone can come back so easily into a man’s life, is when he’s not locked down. photo 1 (1)You have a window of opportunity to lock it down with a guy, once that’s gone, you can’t really do much after that. >>>  When it takes too long to get commitment, it’s a problem. If you want something, decide quickly and take it. If you get hurt in the process, at least you can say you tried… But don’t allow a situation to float in the milky way undefined. One of the most eye opening lessons I’ve learned in the last year is the power of a decisive woman in a relationship. And this is all from the mouths of men too: ‘Women sometimes underestimate their influence over men (especially educated black women). A woman can have the power to make decisions for ‘us’, because sometimes we don’t know what we want or what’s best for us, and we need a woman to make a case/decision that ‘hey, we’re doing this’.’ What I’ve seen over the past year living in Ghana is that the purposeful/intentional/aggressive women be killing the game- and the laissez-faire, well…they’re not. And intentional here is not thirsty or manipulative, it’s just being straight with what you want.

4. Your values/ religion did not align, and no one backed down. Love compromises, so if yall weren’t willing to come to an understanding on this then there’s not too much you could do there  >>> I know this is a dicey one. In our favorite guest post on White Women, the author called foul play on African men brought up by traditional/Christian mothers who wanted to deviate from that with their own significant others. However, to that all I can say is: It’s. Allowed. God forbid men don’t want to marry their mothers, even if they think the world of them. You’re allowed to adore your mama and not want to date/marry ‘her’ per se, or allow ‘her’ to raise your kids in the world we live in now. And I find this true for a lot of African men who’ve grown up/ spent a considerable amount of time abroad. It’s the same thing really as marrying outside your race/culture. And I am fully aware that opposites attract and there are successful inter-faith and no-faith/faith couples, however if the two of you don’t see each others values/religions as assets (or at the very least not liabilities) to the other’s character, then its a red flag. And this is more than tolerance, it’s respect and a willingness to live with the consequences of that persons values/religion… Including (if you’re to get married) how you raise your kids.

5. Count for me how many times in 3 years, you TRULY felt this boy was going H.A.M for you, as in putting in serious time and energy to make the relationship work.

I’ll wait.

**Deafening Silence**

1, 2, 3 times? Maybe a handful? 

**Selah**

Actually that’s okay, you don’t have to answer.

>>> He likes you a little less than you like him. It’s the time tested rule passed down from Grandmama that we all heard growing up: You want a man who likes you a little more than you like him. For obvious reasons… or maybe not so obvious, so I’ll explicitly say it… Men like to chase and women like to be chased. It’s like the circle of life or something *shrug*. If you as the woman are driving things, if you’re the one  trying to manipulate situations to see him, speak to him scheming to make it work, it’s prob not supposed to work. If he shows unwavering commitment to his friends and family, and for you it doesn’t quite seem like he’s putting in as much dedication to show you how he feels… sooner or later, the truth always surfaces. And I’m not advocating for playing games here either… I do think women should make their feelings known, but after that if he’s not reciprocating on a similar level then keep it moving…  And I realize there’s a delicate balancing act one has to do between this and #3.5. 

6. WTF. Even as a man, I WAS confused of this guy’s actions. He’s in, he’s out, he’s up, he’s down. >>> Indecision is a decision. And I’ve already talked about this …. twice. Don’t necessarily equate leaving and returning as a sign that he wants to be with you… Because although he comes back, he still leaves again. If he can’t make a permanent decision about you, and it’s been more than 12 months…keep it moving – words from a man, not me.  And I can’t give enough stress to #1, if your guy friends cry foul… well, you know the rest.

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Well, that’s the list I uncovered can remember with John. Perhaps he was a little hard on me, but I needed to hear it and I think many women need to as well. What’s worse than being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back, is wasting time on being with someone who truly doesn’t want to be with you, so use the 6 tests above… I think they can save you a lot some of the head heartache. The guy may like you (even care for you deeply), but the key here is that he’s not into you enough to stay permanently… Enough to tell his fam/friends about you… Enough to pass the smell test with objective guy friends. I think more than this being a therapeutic post for me, I also don’t want anyone to ever spend too much time on a one-sided love, or ever have to hear a guy say to you after three years, ‘you know, you don’t exactly fit in with my whole life situation’… *shrug* It happens.

**Name changed obvi

Afua Participates in BBC Africa Google Hangout: Challenges for African Women to Finding Love

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Yesterday, I participated in a small google hangout as part of the BBC’s 100 Women series. It was short and sweet, only a couple bloggers ended up being able to join, so the conversation wasn’t as full, but it was some fun times. Also, just wanted to clarify the presenter called me an expert – I’m not. And I didn’t start Bandeka.com, I was only a part of the leadership team. Enjoy! And for more on the 100 Women Series visit HERE!

The Ten ‘Places’ to Eat in Accra (First and Second- Date Style)

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There’s nothing to do, nothing to eat in this town.

Wrong!

Because we care about our readers (and their dating lives) so much, we thought we’d run through ten categories of good restaurants in town where one can have a nice first AND second date. Bare with us, this is sort of the first time we’re attempting to have a real conversation style blog. The conversation is led in regular font by Afua, and Italicized is Amma.

1. Sushi

first-dinner-dateFirst date: Santoku. 

Af: Make sure you’re ready to pay though, it is not the place for posing either, don’t get there and order water and edemame. Yes, I’m talking from first hand experience.

Am: This is a good first date spot mostly for guys to show off a little bit. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the main course menu but as a desserts girl… they had some really fun things.  

Second date: Rockafellas

Af: Everyone would think to eat at Monsoon, it’s the obvious choice, but give rockafellas a try. A newer, less expensive joint (it is the old 3121) inside the Tantra compound in osu). Nice ambiance, fresher sushi, and not as crowded (like monsoon).

Am: Plus they have edemame… and I can’t stand going to sushi places that don’t serve edemame (ahemMONSOONahem). Since I can’t get my personal fix (I have yet to figure out where I can buy it in bulk and eat it like popcorn while watching the movie channel), I need to have it when I eat sushi.

2. Thai

First date: Thai Island (Afrikiko)
Second date: Zion Thai

Af: I like the feel of Thai Island, but in terms of food, people really prefer Zion. I wouldn’t venture there if your stomach isn’t strong, I’ve known more than a couple of people get sick after eating there- myself included :( – So it may not make for a cute morning after the night before situation.

Am: Because Zion Thai is in Osu in this sort of quaint spot on the corner of a street, it seems way more casual and therefore perfect for the second date where you can break out the dark denims and heels. Plus they serve really good Thai Iced Tea (and it’s always available) and Afrikiko has yet to have it when I go. 

3. Pizza

First Date: Mamma Mia

Am: I love thin crust brick oven pizza, especially Margeritta with fresh basil, tomatoes and cheese. Mamma Mia is probably the closest I have gotten to it. The outdoor seating is a really nice way to make a casual affair of a rather formal encounter, it being first date and all.

Second Date: Dine in and order Pappas Pizza

Af: Living with your bestie has some perks, including skipping out on dates, period, and lazying around the apartment catching up on the week’s Newsroom, Scandal, Good Wife, or Suits episodes over some Pappas Pizza. It’s a great stay in option if you’re living in East Legon, and they are SUPER fast – 15min! Plus they deliver the pizza to your car door when you go to pick it up.

4. Traditional

azmeraFirst date: Azmera

Af: Ok, Amma and I differed a little on the first date option. A lot of people say Buka is the spot for upscale traditional food. And although I am not a fan of their wait times, nor impressed with the quality of food, I would put it as #1 for the ambiance. However, I really like Amma’s choice of Azmera in Airport as well, so we’ve gone with that option. It’s really good food. Great for a lunch date, but you will pay a decent penny for the ‘luxury’ buffet. Try their palm wine (not too much if you have to go back to work). I’m not usually a huge fan of Palm Wine, but this one is really fresh.

Second date: Bush Canteen (or any other chop bar)

Af: Second date-wise, you can switch it up for your local chop bar. I’ve been on a date before where the guy took me to a fufu spot under a tree. No lie. And it was definitely one of my most memorable dates. If you can vouch for the quality of food (ie. your date won’t be sick the next day), take her to a ‘local spot’ and see how she fares…. it’s a good litmus test.

Am: Groundnut Soup and Omutuo are my kryptonite. I like that Bush Canteens is spicy without burning my lips, and has a good amount of groundnut paste. I also love the general chop bar vibe because at the point that you can eat with your hands, licking bowls and slurping soup without repulsing the other person, it’s probably a good sign for the both of you.

5. Spanish

First date: Toros Tapas
Second date: Chase El Paso, Osu

Af: Toros Tapas is kind of a given for a first date, but because we do not have very many choices for Spanish/Mexican food in Accra, our second date choice is Chase Tex Mex. It’ll hit your pocket like a first date would, but the atmosphere is more relaxed than toros.  It is across from Koala in Osu.

Side note, if you want to just have some bomb nachos on the fly-by, hit up Rhapsody’s! Their nachos hit. The. Stop. Every time.

Am: I was low key going to just put Rhapsodys as the first choice, SOLELY because of those nachos plus the fajitas! But I do like tapas… I wish they weren’t all so expensive, but the concept of small plates to try together is really cool, and a good way to ascertain sense of adventure… no? If he’s all ‘nachos and quesadillas’ then it’s on to the next, right? haha!

6. Bar Food

Yummy goodness from Republic Bar and Grill

Yummy goodness from Republic Bar and Grill

First date: Honeysuckle 
Second date: Republic

Af: Honeysuckle can be hit or miss depending on the day. Not my idea of a sexy first date, but if she’s into watching football games, you really can’t go wrong here. With the new renovations, make sure to sit in their non-smoking section! Also, get their wings – they’re really good.

Am: Republic has such a chill vibe plus the goat and rice is delicious. It’s definitely one of those places you go to live out your Harlem in the summer fantasies. Sitting outside in the evening, talking really loudly, bumping into familiar faces and enjoying your place in the hipster sub- community makes for a great second date. PLUS the food and drinks are locally sourced. #forallbyus

7. French (we’re not experts in this field)

 

First date: Le Must
Second date: Chez Clarisse 

Af: We’re not experts in the french field, however I’ve had great dinners at Le Must. We have heard La Chaumiere is also good, however we are yet to try it. Note these spots will both put nice holes in your wallet, gentleman. Yes, I said gentleman, as this is a first date spot.

**We must admit, we’ve afua has become a little obsessed with this little Ivorian spot in Osu in the last month, as such it has made it onto the list for a second date spot. For amazingly spiced Tilapia and good attieke, there. is. no. other. place. in. Accra. to. go. **

Am: Chez Clarisse- I think I have been there about four times in the last three weeks. It’s very divey, but the people are so friendly and the bissap is delicious (though it could use some ginger for spice). It’s sort of out of the way, which makes it a bit more intimate without all of the frufru of say, Le Chaumiere.

8. Lunch-date

Sadly, I have so many options for lunch… Sigh

First date: Sunshine cafe
Second date: Starbites

Af: I love me some sunshine cafe. I go there at least once every 2 weeks, and it’s always filled with duos. For nice portions, options, and a great atmosphere, it’s great for nice first date and being in Osu makes it easier for you and him/her to get back to work quickly. Unlike our second choice. Starbites definitely has a special place in our hearts. Not only because Eric the owner is a friend, but because the place is the backdrop to a lot of good laughs in our lives… remember our random run-in?

Am: Starbites is one of those places you go and just expect to make a lazy day of it. Getting your food will likely take a cool hour or so, but that’s great for second date because you aren’t really in a rush to leave and it’s likely that you are completely not even focused on the fact that your drink still hasn’t come around. Plus, the honey wings are absolutely divine and will also help you forget if this date is going really badly and you need to focus your attention on something more— stimulating.

9. Weekend Brunch

brunchThe hotels have monopolized on this so whether first or second date, you’ll be paying for this one

First date: Labadi…

Af: The oldest, and most tried and true breakfasts in Accra, we think at least…-and probably the most expensive.

Am: One thing I like about the general Labadi atmosphere is that it feels other worldly without being super ornate or grandiose. Plus, they have a good lamb tagine. Even if that’s not breakfast food, they are still yummy. The brunch is a good spread of foods and the desserts are also a good array of sweets. 

Second date: Fiesta Royale or others

Af: Our criteria for here is less about costs than just crowds – so for something less frequented, try hotels like Fiesta Royale.

10.Lebanese/Turkish/ Sharwana

First date: DNR
Second date: Chase

Af: I don’t know much to say about DNR. It’s consistent good food. Done. It’s not going to hit your wallet like the other first date spots, but it’s nice. Regarding Chase, they are consistent as well, and though their new renovations have bumped them up the design pole… there’s just a lot of the ‘I’m too cool for school’ crowd of youngins that hang around there, this may turn some people off for a first date.

Am: It’s so sad how I live down the street from DNR but have never been… as for Chase’s though, I think their Shawarmas are allllrrriiigght. I really like the Shawarmas from Basilissa’s, also in Labone, but Chase has a nicer set up inside and there is a little outside venue too in case you want to enjoy the weather a bit (though dry season may not make that so enjoyable). So it’s pleasant.


Af: We’ve definitely not exhausted the list of good eats or date places in Accra (and we’ve left out categories like Indian, Italian, Ulterior Motives and Weekend Trips). So we’ll be coming back to you in part II soon… After we’ve eaten at more places, and gone on more dates perhaps?

Am: Ese Woara Hehe :)

So… what are your favorite first and second date restaurants? Let us know, in the comments below!

On Being Better than Basic

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This is a response to Afua’s most recent blog post “Go Check Your Wife, Now!”

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Amma: “Yo…I saw you called. You never call. Whats up?”

Afua: “Girl! Guess who texted me”

Amma: “<insert names of many an antagonist in the Afua Telenovela of Life>”

Afua: “No…. ***’s wife”

Amma: “Who?”

* face palms*

* rolls eyes *

*<shows other general signs of incredulity>*

I HATE… with a scathing hatred, when women approach ‘the other women’ about their relationship issues. Does that even make sense to you? Do you really think that if your man is going to step out, the woman is some seductress trapping your man with fetish powers and flirtatious text messages? Are you a fool?!

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That is what I wanted Afua to say to her, but as Afua noted, she decided to take the high road of not even responding at all— well aside from the blog post. In a secret fantasy of mine, I hope she happens upon the post and sees how ridiculous the situation even sounds. After we had a ‘could one person be so dense’ fest… I started thinking about Afua’s stance on keeping in touch with exes in relationships… and now I am starting to wonder if it is all a function of age.

In high school, when it was all, semester long relationships… maintaining a meaningful friendship with an ex was an excusable thing because a) you could totally fall in love again in college or after and b) what you shared wasn’t deep enough to throw a whole wrench in your social calendar. No reason to make going to the movies with the group this big awkward experience.

In college, when you thought you would marry on your graduation day and you didn’t, it still made some sense to at least KIT. I mean… networking. Plus…you could always fall in love again in five years if you were not married and there was no one else (was I the only one making these social contracts?). In any case, maintaining a superficial relationship with an ex… the kind Afua described in her last post, made a lot more sense at this stage than in the next one.

In Quarter Life, when people are actually getting married,having kids and forming these intricate family/ friend relationships with their play groups and reading clubs for moms, it would seem really out of place to insert yourself in that situation at all. Like how does a conversation as a single woman sound when you are checking in with your ex who has three kids and is planning a family vacay? Surely the banter you cherished will be a little– distracted, no? Plus… there’s no chance of rekindling the flame at this point. Don’t let  bollywood nollywood hollywood fool you… we can’t all be The Good Wife.

So maybe Afua should amend her rules. No talking to exes who are married— with kids, unless they can literally get you a meeting with the Obamas period.  Because clearly folks go ham to protect their family unit… even if the main threat to the said unit— is an actual member of. the. said. unit. #noshadeImage

My favorite part of this is how much people have been commenting on Afua’s insistence that the wife is a basic chick. I haven’t met her… and she is probably a lovely girl with many qualities that make her wifey material (hashtagcancook hashtagwifeytings). Furthermore, she is at least very committed to eliminating all threats at any cost… which is the sort of Ride or Die, thug lifeness that most men dream of… so I have heard. So at least she has that as a redeeming quality to her ‘basicness’… and she was the one he wifed… which threatens me to ask: is better than basic… better? 

I mean… maybe at the end of the day even the most sophisticated of men don’t want that in a pairing. Perhaps having a women who, “…hasn’t traveled much or at all, hasn’t gone to university, she’s quiet, (very) young- there’s about ten years between the two of them, and she’s the seemingly shy and submissive type.” is a better long term investment. I had the most interesting conversation with two guys I work with. They were explaining that as folks who have experienced both US and GH living, they seem to be at war with themselves. On the one hand they want to be around someone who pushes them, challenges them and provokes them… but mostly they don’t want to come home to a two or three hour session on the latest in political economy. **guffaws**

Who is out here trying to give you three solid hours of political economy?! You get the point, Amma.

I do.

So here we are going in on the basic chick… but she is the one that has the quote ideal guy unquote to sleep next to every night, while Afua is left to her intermittent discussions of political economy once every six months.

Again… is better than basic really better?

*shrugs*

Clearly a woman of more style, grace, class, wit, and sense would have avoided the aggressive text message in pursuit of a 3 hour long conversation with her husband about how the political economy of their household was bound to come crumbling down like the Roman Empire if he did not delete his ex’s facebook, twitter, phone number, instagram, snapchat, googleplus, email, and LinkedIn (what have we come to…!!). And perhaps the right response for the actual woman of style, grace, class, wit and sense is to just avoid all of the exes who hold no future value in terms of relationship and marital bliss.

But maybe… the real lesson here is that: being a basic ride-or- kill die chick >>>> the better than basic chick– chick.

#jussayin’

Go Check Your Wife, Now.

Pls stop been friends with my husband if u want to live long.**

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A few weeks ago an ex reached out to me- not unusual because he reaches out from time to time, so I didn’t think much of it. His infrequent bursts of communication usually involve 1. Some random way of getting a hold of my # (I’ve been in and out of Ghana for the past few years and my numbers have changed), 2. Him reaching out to me 2x a week or so for a short span of time to discuss world politics, Ghana politics and the economy, and how he plans to take over the world. 3. Him disappearing as quickly as he appeared.

Rinse, and repeat. In a year give or take.

This time around we had a few conversations and exchanges of text messages in the span of three weeks. Now this ex is married. And let’s park here for a moment. He’s been married for almost a year and a half now. And he is married to what I can politely say is a ‘basic chick’… What does this mean? This means she hasn’t traveled much or at all, hasn’t gone to university, she’s quiet, (very) young- there’s about ten years between the two of them, and she’s the seemingly shy and submissive type. If you think this is pure stereotyping, you’re imageright. But this gives context to the blog. I’ve never met her, but this is my impression from things people have said (people being him, and members of his family and mine). In any case, in my last song and dance routine with him I toed the line carefully, trying not to text back or pick up every time he called (for obvious reasons), however he is an friend acquaintance and mildly entertaining so yes we held a few superficial conversations about life, Ghana, and the pursuit of political dominance (his, not mine). Let me insert here, because I’ve touched on being ‘the other woman’ and ‘the ex’ in this space before, that my philosophy isn’t that one can’t be friends with someone of the opposite sex after you’re married, but that you need to be careful and you can’t have a best friend of the opposite sex after marriage. But I digress. A few mornings ago, I woke up to the afore-quoted text, from a number I didn’t recognize. I will save you all the hoopla I went through in the 30 minutes that ensued after waking up to this text, but it did include a highly annoyed call to my ex’s brother (there was no need for any more communication trails between the ex’s phone and mine), and a ranting session to Amma… standard. What I will offer now is some things to consider for Mrs. Current Wife and other women like her:

1.  Nobody I don’t want your man. Because this text was sent at the crack of dawn, my assumption is that you snuck into his phone read a couple text messages that you didn’t like and your head started spinning, fine. But if you took some time to read the txt messages carefully you would have seen the platonic nature of our relationship, at the very least from my end.Not every single lady having a conversation with a married man wants to jump their bones. 

image (1)2.  Hun, you received your ultimate result, because the BARELY existent friendship I had with your husband will for all intents and purposes be NON existent going forward, but it has nothing to do with your asinine threat, rather it is because continued engagement with women like you and their partners on matters such as this is beneath me. If you believe I am the biggest threat to your newlywed status, I do wish your marriage a very big good luck.Sometimes women feel threatened because they know how they acted prior to marriage, and they believe all single women are of the same bred. We’re not.

3. Grow up. To stoop so low as to hide behind a text and threaten my life, makes me feel so sorry for you. If you want to grow up a little, try having a conversation with your husband if you suspect infidelity, and IF there is need to speak to another woman about overstepping boundaries, try a conversation where you show your face (or own up to who you are) and speak to me as a mature adult.There are cases, I’m sure, when men believe certain behavior is appropriate when it’s not, or they get off course and need their woman to steer them back, however This. Is. An. Internal. Affair. Clean up your own house before you come threatening someone else’s.

These are just the top three things I wanted to say. I know Amma is itching to chime in on this though… Read her response HERE

** text was written verbatim (see below- yes, this is the picture of the actual text)

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Lastly, Amma I’m not ignoring your last blog/letter. I’m going on public record now that I will respond to it :)

Dear Lola (On Faith, Fidelity and Family)

If you have not already read the story of Lola and Dayo, then definitely check it out before proceeding in order to get the context and background story.

Dear Lola Akindele,

photo (7)First off let me say a big, huge congratulations. I am actually really jealous covetous happy that you have found someone with whom you can share your life. Afua sent me a message about a 93-year-old man who wrote the most beautiful love song to his recently deceased wife of 75 years and I hope that I too can one day experience the joy of meeting my ride-or-die lover-roomie-friend. After reading your letter, I was at first challenged in my faith. I know that I too believe that God can do outstanding things in various areas of my life and I definitely believe that it is in His power to bring me a tall dark handsome Lecrae-esque Obama character who will engage me in freestyle battles and discussions about DuBois and Foucalt God fearing man. Nevertheless, as someone who has dated an actual atheisty- agnosticy person, I found it very interesting that your partner was originally Muslim. Not because those two things are alike, but because in my super conservative, Pentecostal Ghanaian upbringing, to date someone who is not Christian, is essentially a banishment to the deepest depths of hell.

Essentially. *shrugs*

ImageEveryone I have ever known in all of my life has always said that we should never make it our mission to change our partners’ beliefs. I mean we can change our partner in so many other ways but in this one area, we should essentially just ‘not be unequally yoked’. Yet, after reading your story the second time, I am now burdened with a myriad of questions about religion and relationships. When I consider my own parents, I know that my father was not a believer when he married my mother (a woman who was like—literally—3 sneezes away from becoming a nun) but that he eventually came into the faith and after she passed, his faith has only deepened. Yet, even he will advise me that it is in my best interest to just ‘get it right the first time’. What’s interesting is that I love my dad. I baaaasically want my husband to be a 30 year old version of his 60 year old self (I know— talk about impossible standards). My dad wasn’t a ‘bad’ person when he wasn’t going to church with us or making us listen to Elder Mireku jams during long family trips. And I loved him then as I love him now, but I do notice how his countenance has changed. And I wish I could ask my mother the questions that I am now coming to ask you. So here goes… three essential questions about faith, fidelity and family that I want to know about your Saul-to Paul fairytale wedding…

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His Fidelity

ImageOk… so I completely understand that God told you he was going to become a Christian. But I do not get why you were dating before that actually happened. Why couldn’t the two of you have just been bff’s (since that’s all you were given the whole ‘no sex before marriage’— ‘no marriage before you get saved’ thing)? Why did he have to pledge his fidelity to you so early in the game? If I were him, I would be thinking, ‘Hmmmm… welt… since you know without a shadow of doubt I will come to Jesus… let me philander and/ or see what else is out there and if I come back to you a saved man… we just walk down the aisle the next day.’ And if it was his decision to date you in spite of yourself, what would compel a man to do this… especially one who may not understand all of your visions, dreams, signs and wonders? For me… I believe in a God born of a virgin who resurrected after being crucified. I recognize how ridiculous this is (foolish things confound the wise… its true) and I am therefore able to believe the other supernatural utterances of the faith— I mean really anything after that is possible. BUT for someone who has a completely different faith base, how do you convince him to stick around? And how does he not get weirded out by your uber spirituality? In my experience, I have found these things met with smirks, eye-rolling, face-slapping and general derision… so I want to know how that all panned out.

His Family

Now it seems your family was super involved in this plan for his soul. And that’s great… because we all know what they say about families that pray together. But then… what about his family? Because we also know that when you marry someone, you marry their family and from your letter it is not clear that anyone else changed their beliefs. How do they feel about the fact that their grandbabies and nephews won’t be called Ismael and Jamal? How do they feel about the influence of your prayers on their son? How will that affect your relationship with them going forward? I guess this means you won’t be coming around for the Eid celebrations then, eh? And what about the kids… I mean, a whole side of their family is Muslim— are there any implications for how you will raise them? I mean, my mothers father was Muslim and so a number of people on her side still practice the faith. It did not really have much an effect on me, but then we were separated by time, space and water, and I am assuming his family will be a bit closer.  Any thoughts?

His Faith

ImageAlrighty… soooo a soul is won for the kingdom. We rejoice! My question is… how will his infant faith and your adult faith come together in your home? Can he really be the head of household and the spiritual leader of the home if his faith is literally the size of a mustard seed while yours seems to be a mustard orchard of sorts? I know that the measure of faith isn’t necessarily time… but then if he has been Muslim his whole life there are a lot of things that he will have to change in his thinking to grow in his faith. Chief among those is the value of faith for salvation as opposed to ‘works’ for salvation— and even we Christians don’t get that right. And I am not sure when you plan on having kids but will he be able to admonish them in the faith? Is that important to you?

There are a number of very interesting nuances that come to bear when we talk relationships and religion. I, for one, do not have any the answers. After all my talk from my Pentecostal days about only dating ‘a man after God’s heart’… I ended up with someone who actually said, and I quote, ‘I, like Biggie, would rather go to hell than be stuck in heaven praising God’ end quote. To his credit, he was very disciplined about reminding me about living out my faith (without being all ‘… are Christians supposed to do thaaaat?’) and a lot of my maturity happened because of my experiences with him. Nevertheless, while I learned a lot from being with him, especially about what I believe and what I value in my faith… I wish I could have been able to pray with him and not at him…

willywonkaatheist… and to go to church with him

… and make jokes about the Israelites in the old testament stories with him (Golden calf?? Really?!?! After you see a whole Red Sea parted… REALLLLLYY?! Ha!)

… and to encourage him through scripture and (co)prayer

… and to talk about hearing from God or the move of the Spirit without him rolling his eyes and/or smirking

I think it’s awesome that these are things you will enjoy with someone who is in your faith and yet, as you can see, I still have questions and concerns. I would have really loved to get Dayo’s perspective because it would have helped a lot with some of my quandaries.  I have been talking to Afua a lot about this whole ‘marrying outside of your faith’ bit, and I am certain things are easier better when you are both strengthening each other with the same foundational faith. I see this in my parents’ relationships and some of my friends who have married recently. I also know that Christian marriages falter at about the same rate as secular marriages and actually more than those of other religions like Islam. I think a lot of that is more a testament of our own walk and commitment to God when we make our vows, but I think I will save that diatribe for another day. I am genuinely interested in understanding this, and though I have included my usual sarcasm and wit, I do in all sincerity have these concerns. We will be awaiting your response in our inbox: ramblingroomies@gmail.com.

Patiently Waiting,

Amma

PS. Afua? I know you got something to say girl… because you know it seems we Christians are the only ones up in arms about this whole inter-religion relationship thing. I went to a Muslim wedding in Tamale where I met loads of guys who said they could marry outside of their faith with no hesitation (don’t know if the same is true of women in the faith)— but that struck me as very interesting. In fact, most of the guys I know (Christian or otherwise) would be fine marrying outside of their faith. So is it just a thing us ladies are obsessed with? And if its gendered, why is that? And if its just our religion, why is that? Sheesh… all these questions!

I Need to Believe in Love Again

photo (3)My uncle, who is a marriage counselor, frequents this blog from time to time, and after reading my take on logistics and love, he took me aside and said, ‘Afua, I think you need to believe in love again.’ I don’t know what happened, and I don’t need to, but you need to start rebuilding your faith in love again.’

Although I don’t think I’m jaded on love, perhaps my blog(s) come across a lil more ‘matter-of-fact’ than ‘hopeless romantic’. And I think in my quest to be pragmatic in life, I’m less able to, as Amma says, ‘suspend reality’, so perhaps my uncle does have some-what of a point. In any case, he recently gave me a book (A Match Made in Heaven- Inspirational Love Stories) in order to encourage me to believe again that love always finds a way, that people can meet in the most miraculous ways, that your future spouse can have the guts to wait for you & not settle for whatever comes along (because of age/ time/ family pressures), that if its meant to be its meant to be, and that age and time are no match for the power of love, and all that other good stuff. So I’ve started reading the book – each chapter a new story of how a couple met and fell in love (sometimes in the most miraculous way… or even more touchingly, in the most simplistic way).

For those of you who can’t get your hands on a book like this and also need to jump start your belief in love again, I want do share a short clip with you (it’s ten minutes of your life…just watch it). I was already in tears half way through. I guess you can say I’ve begun drinking the kool-aid… a little.

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