Month: January 2014

No One is Entitled to a Relationship [Response to Afua’s ‘Plight of the Single Returnee Women’]

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I must say, I am still, even a week after, in total shock and awe. It feels like just yesterday we were sharing witty banter and light exchange. I feel like I was robbed a little. I have heard such great things about Komla Dumor, and he was so accessible. I was just getting to know and become a true fan. And just like that. Gone.

Funnily, we were just talking about his love life… and about his wife who he proudly pronounced was a fellow Harvard grad from Ghana. I cannot even IMAGINE what she is going through right now. My prayers are with her and the rest of the family. The world has lost a renowned journalist, but his family has lost a son, a father and a husband. May he rest in peace and may his family be encouraged in this time. This is a response for which I am certain he would have approved. 

This blog is a response to Afua’s blog on the Plight of the Single Returnee Woman:

Ok Afua… tell ’em why you mad…

You mad, right?

All of us know the value of hard work. When I consider the demographics of our readership, I think we have all generally bought into the ideas of meritocracy (real or perceived). And while I could go on about the fallacy of boot strapism and the social constructs that inhibit true meritocracy… I think we all agree that generally if you work smart, you’ll get the things you deserve. We spend our lives accumulating titles, certificates, and accolades to prove to the world how talented we are. Somehow… these titles don’t earn us the one thing we want: relationship.

I read an article recently entitled 5 Ways Success May Be Hurting Your Love Life. The title itself is like a ‘Boy… BYE!’ type of call and response, but then when I got to the second point, I stopped and thought about it:

2. You may think you’re entitled to love because of your achievements



Apparently, love— like many other realms of life, is the furthest from meritocratic. Take Kanye for example. I mean, this guy is (in my opinion) a lyrical genius. College Dropout was like a rapper’s thesis on critical race theory and marxism (see: Slave Ship). I don’t think Kim K. deserves him. Yes, they are both narcissistic but Kim is generally… well… useless. Like the world isn’t more beautiful, or wise or enlightened because she stepped into it. She’s got many more years though (God willing). Maybe her impact is forthcoming. In either case, it seems a bit unfortunate that for all his genius, he ended up with Kim K. As JayZ would say, ‘I feel bad for you son’. And you might say, but he’s happy. To which I say, nah he’s delirious. Even Barbara Walters agrees. I guess the other lesson you could take is that maybe you can find enduring true love in a hopeless place. *shrugs* For purposes of this post, I will focus on the former. I will say that he (was) a nice, talented guy with great artistry and impeccable taste. He sort of earned someone better, in so far as one can earn someone at all. And I suppose that is just the point. That you can’t.

Similarly, Afua’s rant on the plight of the returnee in Ghana is another picture of a meritocratic dream deferred. That’s why I was concerned for her when she sent it to me… like Girl, you really want to say all that?! Essentially, the narrative here is:

I went to really good schools and I’m super smart.

I have a really good sense of humor.

I’m worldly in all of the ways that matter but I love Jesus and you could take me home to Aunty Martha.

I remember to throw on some mascara from time to time and I’m fun.

I can even cook a decent meal (if I am forced to do so)


It is therefore unfortunate that a woman so well rounded has yet to find a match. I mean, really, where is the justice in the world?! When our parents tell us ‘get good grades, be respectful, love Jesus,  don’t sleep with everything you seedon’t date until you are married…’ aren’t we earning credits towards our future wifey status— among other desirables? I mean it seems to work well for us in work and personal passions. We find that all the goodness about ourselves comes together perfectly to earn us promotions and favor. We see that we make friends relatively easily. We get a chance to sit at the table with the best and brightest. Why can’t this also warrant a (decent) relationship as well?

We are basically saying, we are perfect above average normal, so why haven’t we found our perfect match?!

Laughable isn’t it?

To say something SO presumptuous.

But why else do we feel we are entitled to a great relationship with an even greater man (preferably tall, dark and ballin’)? It really is about how highly we value ourselves. While there is nothing wrong with knowing your self worth, love is no respecter of persons. That’s what is frustrating about relationships. That there is really no exact science or even art to lasting love. It mostly requires faith. Faith that even if you weren’t as awesome as you are, or in spite of all your supposed awesome-osity, there is no way to circumvent time and circumstance. And that in due season, at the appointed hour, things will come in line.


So yeah, we do throw shade when we see the Honey boo boo’s of the world in happy relationships, while our own team (that’s killing the game in every respect) is single and ready to mingle. It does feel like the universe is out of wack when Halle Berry is still waiting to exhale after 2 marriages and a kid. But love doesn’t see beauty or accomplishment… and the sooner that is internalized, the sooner we can stop having these pity parties and focus on making the most of the single time. Use all your hard earned cred to do something meaningful and in due time… it will happen. One girl wrote:

“I’ve been living like God owes me something. Like He hasn’t held up His end of the deal. He has given me the desire for relationship and marriage, and He just hasn’t followed through.

I’ve been living under the impression that I deserve a relationship.

People talk all the time about pursuing people or things for the wrong reasons, but maybe we pursue God for the wrong reasons. Maybe subconsciously I’ve been treating God like He’s a vending machine. And my pursuit of Him has really been a pursuit of someone else.

Each day is a gift, and I’m not waiting for it to get here. It is present in every moment, and it begins anew daily. “

I think that eloquently sums it all up. To be in the present and allow time to do its work, as we continue being great.

I could go on to further critique Afua’s assumptions about what makes a girl ‘relationship material’ in the first place (being “too known” is a sure fire way to un- earn potential wifey status, just FYI), but that is its own commentary for another day. For now, I think it’s best to understand that relationships are not earned. They are not given to you after you have acquired a specific number of personal attributes. Relationships… much like the Grammy’s, may sometimes go to the seemingly undeserving, but when you get down to it… what does it even mean to ‘deserve’ someone’s loyalty and love? At the end of the day, we spend each day becoming better people and productive for the world, and hopefully… someday someone will be willing to join us for the ride.

Ok, Afua?


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.


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.

– – –

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.”


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