Month: August 2015

Love Brewed in an African Pot… with a Melody!

RRPicI love love.

I just love flowers and rainbows and unicorns and romance and happy endings (not those… gutter mind much?)…

I love beautiful ‘how I met my partner’ stories and ‘how I almost let her get away but then I got my mind right’ stories…

I love ‘Love and Basketball’ because I secretly wish I knew someone most of my life and just woke up one day and realized they were the person I was meant to be with.

I am a hopeless romantic and I believe there is a love that can conquer anything.

I love love!

I also love love songs. Really pretty ballads with someone crooning on a track… giving us the false sense that relationships are these collections of 5 minute moments of bliss, set over a beautiful piano composition with simple lyrics that you remember for a lifetime.

Ah… love!

USrenewallove

Recently, a friend of mine sent me a song he composed and sang. It is a beautiful ballad about being in love until eternity and— catch this— it is all in Twi, one of the popular languages spoken here in Ghana. So here’s the thing, if you understand the popular music scene here in Ghana, there is literally one mega genre into which all music sort of sits under. Whether you call it afro-beats or hiplife, the truth is, the Ghanaian sounds are usually these fast paced, repetitive dance tracks that will definitely tear up the club but may not push the envelope in musicality or content. Don’t get me wrong, Ghanaian music is definitely making waves internationally and there are people who are trying to do something different in the form of music or content, but they are definitely few and far between. Our award show categories don’t even include a plethora of music genres (ie. best ballad, best traditional, best dance etc.), its more or less categories of best types of musicians (ie. best new artist, best artist with a name that starts with an S, best artist to release a track that became a jingle during a telecom commercial, etc.) So I was really grateful to hear a ballad sung in Twi with such soulful delivery.

afrolove

Probably Nigerian. Probably spit the ill game by suggesting they take this photo. Probably got her address in no time to send her postal mail. #DonJuanwasReallyDonUgojukwo

Now this could definitely turn into a conversation about identity and music and the influence of the West and authenticity— but I am here to focus the conversation on how important it is to have this kind of music. Songs like this restore your faith in African men because a) an African man wrote it and you sort of want to believe (whether true or otherwise) that there are guys out there that love this beautifully and b) it puts the local language into a different light, allowing you to appreciate it beyond proverbs and general narrative conversation. African men definitely get a bad rep for being particularly unromantic— well Ghanaian men, I should say. Everyone knows that Senegalese and Nigerian men get the stereotype of being especially handy with words and compliments and romance (but will be spitting the same great game to all the woman in the village). Ghanaian men get the stereotype of being timid and dutiful, though not particularly romantic, after all, taking care of you is the highest form of love really— so there’s that. But I like that this song, sung by a Ghanaian (even though he looks straight up Igbo— but I digress haha), is in a Ghanaian language and characterizing the principles of love and commitment— as opposed to the hiplife version of love where women are compared to food, and sex and love are used interchangeably.

Beyond just the song, the video is also beautifully done and super creative. It definitely transcends ethnicity, culture, race and location. Anyone can watch the video, and whether you understand the language or not, you can immediately relate to the themes. My favorite part is the glitter hands… because glitter is my favorite color it’s such a beautiful way to represent the sanctity of marriage. I also just love the overall use of fingers, especially when the girl finger (whatever that means— talk about gender norms, lawd!) kicks her foot up… so cute!

In any case, I will stop gushing over the video, and let you all judge for yourself. Whether you understand what is being said or not, you can concede that the love brewed in this African pot is sweet like aliguntugui— ok I am done with food references and love (HA!).  Check out the video and let us know what you think!

Do you think there is a place for this type of love song in Ghana’s music scene? Sound off in the comments, we love hearing from you!

Advertisements

Someone Will Always Be Collateral Damage

I have to admit, I was one of the skeptics when Afua said she wanted to publish that article. In my mind I was thinking, I just don’t even understand why men have to be solely implicated in the issues of toying with emotions and hurting people. It was not an attempt to play devils advocate or to even the tone of the conversation, but it was to say that no one gender has complete ownership over ‘collateral damage’. I will concede, in Ghana, men are given the pass way more than women. Especially with issues of infidelity. But Afua’s point was bigger than just this idea that people cheat, her point was that people use people, and it’s unfair that it’s largely women who suffer in the end. I think that the issue is really that hurt people, hurt people. And that there is a bigger conversation beyond just telling men to stop being emotional abusers. I think the conversation is about mothers and fathers and social leaders investing time and energy into developing the social intelligence of the generation to follow. I happen to think that this issue is about social accountability.

I will take myself as an example.

I have been in the situation where I have recently stopped seeing someone. In my haste to ‘move on’, I sort of rushed into something new. In my mind, I may have entered with good intentions. I may have thought, maybe that old adage is true… that the best way to get over someone is to get under beside someone else. So here we are having fun, laughing, getting to know each other— building. Suddenly it dawns on me that a) I am not really even over my ex and b) I’ve been faking it up until this moment and it’s gotten extremely tiring.Here the person is, constantly talking about a future life together… about how much they love you and how they will marry you. How perfect you are and how wonderful it is to meet someone as lovely as you (duh and duh!). And in my mind, all I can think about are deciding on the most sensitive and considerate ways to slowly break away from the relationship. In the time of my thinking about these things, I start to detach and get easily annoyed. It becomes clear that I am just not interested.  I clearly needed to address some personal issues with regard to my past relationship. I also needed to be real with myself about what I wanted. And I feel this is fundamentally, the real issue. I don’t think people are out here purposely trying to hurt people. Even though I am of the mind that people are inherently evil and self seeking, I think that they are also preservationist— that is they want, as much as possible, to save face and at least put good into the world so they can also benefit from that good energy. I don’t think Ghanaian men, or African men in general, are hard wired to want to be deceitful. I just think our societies don’t foster the type of self- reflection necessary to enter into healthy relationships. I agree with Afua: “Sometimes the journey towards ‘…happily ever after’ or ‘…and the rest is just history’ does not leave you unscathed.” But this is true for everyone, male and female. Unfortunately, in Ghana, women carry the burden of emotional intelligence. There are conferences and books and preachings and seminars and speaker series and conventions and anointing oils— dedicated to ensuring women get to the status of Proverbs 31— not so for men. While Full Gospel Christian Business Mens groups exist en masse to encourage entrepreneurship and honest business practice, the same does not exist to spur on men to be honorable men, worthy of lifetime commitment. And yet, with all the Proverbs 31 messaging being thrown at women— neither men nor women are taught how to be emotionally intelligent. Preparing yourself to be a a wifable woman and developing your emotional intelligence have somehow been separated. So while yes, there are men— nay, people— who trample on the hearts of well meaning, good natured, loving partners en route to their happily ever after… it is not an epidemic that is wholly owned by men. It is the epidemic of not offering enough training, support and mentorship in growing our overall emotional intelligence (as evidenced by the messy, shady, crazy things women are also doing here in order to bait, keep or trick a man). As children of immigrants, we know too well the high standard of academic excellence placed on us, however the same is not necessarily the case for emotional intelligence. And while women are definitely exposed on how to develop themselves into ‘wifey material’… there is a general shortage of ‘how to deal effectively with your emotions such that you are not making your partner a causality in your sordid love affair” development opportunities. All in all, I will repeat hurt. people. hurt people. And the only real solution for all of us, is to get our emotional intelligence game up by seeking resources to help us grow… after all proper preparation prevents poor      partner   performance— eh?

What say you? Do you think it’s all one big male ploy to trample the hearts of unsuspecting woman of valor, or society overall has failed our generation in adequately preparing us to be good partners in relationships? #SoundOff 

Short PSA: We’re Changing Things!

Nola_caricature

We’re switching things up a little… just a little. We’ve had a good time rambling about relationship topics, but there’s definitely more to our lives and the world at large than love and pursuit of martial bliss. And more generally, talking solely about love.dating.sex can get some way… there’s just so much more to our returnee experience that we think y’all are missing out on hearing about 🙂 So we’re opening up the discussion to other topics! These will include, but not be limited to:

-working in Ghana as returnee women
-gender and race issues
-religion
-general hot topics and popular culture

Don’t worry, we won’t slack on the juicy relationship stuff though!

~Love, RR

PS – If you want to guest post for us, please email us at: ramblingroommates@gmail.com