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Return of the Mac: An African City is BACK!

IT’S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy-Dance-GIF

Last week, I had the privilege of moderating the panel following the screening of one of the episode of An African City Season 2. This was quite exciting for me as I had already written a post about what I hoped to see in the next season. We have all been counting down and waiting patiently, wondering if we were going to get snubbed like how Frank Ocean did us with that follow up album (…still waiting…). Thankfully, the hour has come and we can all live vicariously through the lives of our favorite returnee ladies in An African City.


At the Screening that took place, hosted by the phenomenal organization She Leads Africa, I was able to ask some interesting questions of Nicole Amarteifio (Creator), Maame Adjei (Actress/ Co- Producer) and Esther Armah (Writing Consultant). My favorite was understanding the evolution of the show in terms of financing, character development and growth, and some of the thinking that went into the story lines. But I think what stuck with me the most was the ‘start-up’ nature of it all. This idea that people, many of whom were not actresses or writers or creatives in their professional lives, had evolved and come together behind this vision. The idea that everyone was sort of feeling their way in the dark, and along the way, gaining some light and growing and reflecting that in the product that we were seeing. Following the event, I just had to ensure I ordered my season because, well, I believe in being a foundation builder. I also believe, in a world where #oscarssowhite can trend for weeks on end, there is something to be said about African women writing their own stories and seeing the entire production undergo this creative metamorphosis in the public eye. All of this under the umbrella of the work being done by She Leads Africa to empower women to be entrepreneurs in their own right, whether that’s being innovative on the job or branching out and being better for yourself.

After all of this woman power, hear me roar-ness… I, being the support-and-uplift type of sister that I am (yup… bragging on myself… get like me), purchased my season and watched the first episode with my friends. I have to say, I was not disappointed. I laughed. I side eyed. I related. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It is evident that there will be a lot of character development because we are getting a chance to see their lives outside of hanging with each other. We are seeing them at work, at church… in the bedroom, and we are watching them interact with co-workers, drivers, and family.

 

Had to screen shot this fine, FINE brotha.. God bless his Mama.

What I’m also excited about is the social commentary on returnee living beyond just narrating their lives. This includes a line that I fully appreciate:

In America, one drop of black makes you black. But in Ghana, one western experience makes people question your Ghanaianess.

This is the realist thing I never wrote and I appreciate the direction of that discussion. Anyone could be a returnee depending on who you are talking to, how you are talking and what you are talking about. I also think this is a theme that comes up in various ways… this negotiation of one’s identity in various circumstances living on the continent. I could write a whole thesis on the subject but I’m pretty sure the world would rather watch a 20 minute episode instead, #YouTubeGenerationtinz.

In any case, I can’t wait to see where the season goes. Have you purchased your season’s pass? C’mon… Support and uplift ya’ll!

Tell us your thoughts on the first episode of Season 2? Did it live up to expectations?  #soundoff in the comments!

Single and Ready to Mingle: Lakeside Edition

DATING IN ACCRA

So Accra is one of those places where the idea of speed dating or hosting singles mixers can be such a turnoff for many guys people. Folks don’t like the idea of seeking love with any intentionality because it makes them feel desperate thirsty obsessed. But if there is anything we have learned from all the “Thirty Ways to Find Love” or “How to Meet The Perfect Guy in 8 days” or  “Six Memes that Perfectly Explain How You Can Get On Kim Kardashians Level and Marry Every Type of Black Celebrity Possible” lists that you get from your single/dating/married friends/Pastors wife/Concerned Parents/Divorced Aunty, then it’s the idea of being purposeful and availing yourself to opportunities to meet great people. And yet people find themselves— men and women mind you— complaining about the poor quality of options, or the seemingly small nature of the Accra social circles or the limited number of events available to really meet new, fun, worldly, exposed, chocolatey, tall people.

Enter: The Lakeside Affair 2015

Lakeside Affair Picture

This event promises to be a low key, casual fun- filled getaway by Lake Bosomtwe in Kumasi at the beautiful Wildwin Resort. If you you have never visited the Lake or Kumasi for that matter, this is the perfect opportunity to get to know a new setting, a new set of practices and cultures— and a new set of people.

There are a number of really interesting activities to choose from like horseback riding adinkra stamping— and of course: play cards and chill (my personal favorite). I like the idea of being able to see a new place with new people entering a new year. There’s definitely something refreshing about this, and I appreciate the effort that went into making this event convey that glimmer of hope in a see of Waldos.

I actually got the chance to interview Rita Kusi, founder of Three Sixty GH, on the Mpwrshow and she gave us all the details on what went into developing such a trip. We also got to talk about some of the challenges of getting folks to sign up and joked about the imbalance of these kinds of events with women being more open to patronage than men. While neither Afua nor I will be able to attend, we look forward to hearing about what went down. Of course they say, what happens at Lakeside… stays at Lakeside— but there’s no such thing as a secret between two people (at least not in this here Accra). <insert evil laughter here>

Be sure to watch this space to hear more about the event, and visit Three Sixty GH if you are interested in signing up. There may be a couple of spaces left, though things always fill up toward the tail end.

So have any of you ever attended a ‘Lakeside Affair’- esque event before? What were your thoughts? Do you think these kind of ‘intentional’ gatherings are any good or do they seem contrived? What kind of event would you go to if you were single and ready to meet some great people in Ghana? 

Sound off in the comments! We want to hear from you…

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!

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 

On Why You Should Change for Your Man

photo (1)“Don’t let anyone change you”

“Your partner should love you for who you are… as you are…”

“You can’t enter into a relationship with the idea of changing your partner… if you can’t love them as they are, then you don’t deserve them forever”

Raise your hand if you have heard one or more of these before…

I certainly have. It’s easy to believe that change, when explicitly requested in a relationship, can be bad. Often this conclusion is a result of deciding that when change is requested, nay, required, it is somehow an attack on who you are as a person— like a direct hit to your identity. Then the idea of changing at the request of someone who should love you as you are, feels contrived… almost like “Was this your plan all along? To woo me and then force me to transform to suit your fancy”?!?!

But sometimes changing for your partner… and for the health of your relationship is good.

Let’s look at Ginuwine.

As he said back in the day… even though he may be on TV, he is in fact the same ol’ G.  Fast forward to 2014, him and his wife are fighting on instagram as he foolishly posted a picture of their daughter with a caption implying she was a stripper— or whatever. I mean, I wonder how much Sole was telling him, “Babe, you actually can not be the same ol’ G… you should find a new G status to acquire that includes not being so faded on television that you are slurring your words in a live performance.” Perhaps if Ginuwine was a new Ol’ G, his marriage would be in a better place (and even maybe his career). ginuwine

Perhaps that example is egregious… because he should obviously change for his own good. But so… is that the standard? If your partner requires certain changes of you before you can move along in the relationship, is it ok as long as these changes are constructive? What if they seem constructive to your partner but may not be to you (as in, they are not destructive but you don’t find them particularly valuable)? Is it unfair of you to acquiesce and are you doomed to a life of sadness if you do? Will all your friends judge you and say you’re whipped?

I remember casually dating a guy in college that had been a childhood frenemy (I hated him until I was like 18… on everything, I wished death upon his life twice.) The fact that we were even casually dating was a feat. He was very headstrong, and I was very dogged in my beliefs, but we somehow clicked. I remember we had this long conversation about trust and what it means to really be vulnerable and show affection. He would always say that I was so hard. I thought I was doing really well with my smiley faces and the fact that I made a lot of time to talk to him. Over time, I became increasingly comfortable with him but I was still guarded. When it came time to go back to school, I told him straight up that I knew that this relationship was going to wither into the wind because we were in different time zones (Cali love #noTuPac) and he was a guy… so… we shouldn’t fool ourselves. He said we should just see what happens, and stay connected. I obliged. We tried to stay in contact but the time zone difference was killing us softly. I knew this would happen. I remember telling him that I knew this would happen. Even though we knew the time zone factor was an issue, he said it came back to me being an ice queen “hard”:

“You can’t ever just say how you feel Amma. If you miss me, tell  me you miss me. Don’t be afraid to be affectionate. I mean yeah, we always seem to be busy but you’re just not vulnerable”

“How can I be vulnerable when you are never around!?” I thought… crying on the inside but maintaining my nonplussed attitude on the outside. If he couldn’t handle my love…well… then… good riddance.

Fast forward ten years later, and in a number of relationships I have received a similar critique. It could be the case that I just attract these really soft, romantic types that do not reflect the archetype of the hard, emotionless African man I understood. Or it could be that I was in fact an African man Ice Queen. Upon realizing that the latter was closer to the truth (though the former is not mutually exclusive), I decided maybe I should try something different. Maybe I should change.

Here’s the thing… none of my friends take issue with my “lack of affection”— neither do any of my family members. They all love me as I am, and completely accept the way I show love (read: smiley faces and acts of service). Any changes I would make, therefore, in my propensity to show affection, would be at the strict request of the person I was dating. Thus: I would, in fact, be changing, for my man. Setting pride and ego aside and looking at this as purely wanting to make sure the person I am with is happy, one would be hard-pressed to find fault with my actions. Furthermore, these changes do not make me less “me”… in the ways that people know my character and general sensibilities. Yet, talking to friends about it… even in the abstract is often met with hesitance. “If you start now, will it ever end… what else will you have to change… blah blah blah”…

Most people understand that change is inevitable.

No one really expects to be the same ol’ G forever… but I think people take issue with the change being done for someone else, as opposed to for yourself. But what is really wrong with that? Am I less independent? less intelligent? less— anything because of it? And if the changes don’t make me unhappy (though… a bit… uncomfortable in the short term— open affection takes getting used to, I am fighting years of desensitization, allow!), isn’t it worth the effort?

All in all… I am happy with the changes I have made. Aside from making the other person in the relationship happy, there are also spillover effects for other relationships with friends and family. At the end of the day…I just cannot be the Ginuwine to someone’s Sole… it could never be me, me, me (*cue track*)

What are your thoughts? Should you change for your partner? Is changing for your partner a slippery slope? 

Know Your Status

We came across this HILARIOUS video that is warning women to understand their lane in relationships so that they can… well… stay in it. We could write a long diatribe on just how horrible it all is really that there aren’t more openly communicative people on the earth… But we’ll save that for another day, it’s friday.

Instead, here’s a video for your comedic pleasure:

So ladies, know your status… And no we don’t mean sexual health (though this is obviously of great importance)… We mean the status of your relationship. Because nothing sucks more than having girlfriend expectations when you are really just a side chick… Friend with benefits… Or, the unfortunate, smash and dash.

#teamtheonlydashyouwilldoiswithsalt

#teamloveonlymeorleaveallofme

#couldneverbethestalkergirlinthecommercialthough

#knowyourstatusoryouwillgetburned #dazall #wharrrelse

#heinoushashtagging

Happy (Red) Friday!

Guest Post: Opportunity Cost in Everything: You’re My Compromise.

Today we have a guest post from someone who has read this blog, been featured many times and identifies closely with our experiences here in Ghana. Some of you may have seen this post last week because I got trigger happy and sent it accidentally published the article. Some of you even made comments. So here we are publishing it again, but this time in the appropriate RR fashion complete with pictures and a fabulous introduction to the insight you will receive from this writing. I am especially intrigued by the way she has clearly flipped all of my dreams upside down by insisting that my ideas of a ‘perfect mate’ are actually the worst of them all. She essentially asks, who would we choose if our choosing were only about making us happy on the inside, and not, say… bringing two families together and providing a financially stable future. I guess all we can ever do is wonder. I hope you enjoy the post, and as always, please leave your comments below so that everyone can see and join the conversation!


 

Guest Post from our Mystery Woman

Guest Post from our Mystery Woman

We all know the old adage borrowed from economics: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Every decision we make has an opportunity cost, meaning there is value on the decision that was forgone. To put it in simpler terms, assuming the best choice has been made, there is a “cost” incurred by not enjoying the benefit that would be had by taking the second best choice available.  So what if I said that actually, the tall, dark, handsome, six figure guy with the high-powered job and jet set life, was actually not at all the ideal? What if marrying him actually comes at a cost?

Let’s backtrack.

Allow me to introduce myself, I am a close friend of both Afua and Amma, and I have been featured in a number of their stories on this blog (but, wait did I just out my self? *shrugs * ). Although I was born in Ghana, my life history identifies me as a * returnee,* one of those know it all Ghanaians with UK and US degrees who just cant seem to shut up. Fortunately, and unfortunately that’s me – with an Ivy League degree to make matters worse. I am sure it comes as no surprise to anyone, that relationships, love, and marriage are topics that I discuss amongst friends almost daily, after all two of my closest friends do run this blog.  These conversations are always interesting, and usually end up with me “quitting” and declaring a desire to move to the moon, since this planet country cannot seem to accommodate me or my preferences for a mate. But I usually return to my senses following the melodrama, and something profound (I’d like to think) manages to find its way out of my mouth.

When-someone-asksSince my return to Ghana I too have had to answer the questions as to why I am not dating.  I usually lash out  reply with some commentary about how single is a “choice” and blah blah, and I too have been asked if perhaps my standards are too high? The latter of these two questions perplexes me for several reasons:

          1. Because you don’t know me or anything about me, except that I am educated and lived abroad most of my life and so decide to assign to me  thoughts based on some appraisal  you made up on your own , oh because “girls like me” are well…all the same: demanding , not submissive or “too know”  and just talkative.
          2. Because your definition of “high” MUST be my definition  as well

Basically, I am a bit sick of the stereotype of being uncompromising and difficult to please just because of certain requirements

The movie titanic is proof that when death is eminent, rich, too known nice guys lose in the end lol!

The movie titanic is proof that when death is eminent, rich, too known nice guys lose in the end lol!

people typically assume I place on men.  I actually believe in many criteria for choosing a mate, I also believe that it depends on the person. But I digress; let’s get back to this “high” standard issue. It seems the Ivy educated, fortune 500 company job having, 3 piece suit wearing type of brother is assumed to be the only standard we speak of when the topic of finding a mate comes up. What if we reconsidered and actually considered this type of brother as not THE standard, but as a compromise. Believe it or not, there are more important things than education, money and influence (gasp), and what if the opportunity cost of having a boardroom brother is you and your children’s happiness. Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way intimating that every Ivy league board room brother is so into his work that he neglects his family. I am simply suggesting that perhaps boardroom brother, if you are reading this, you might actually be the compromise and not THE STANDARD.

Sometime ago, a friend of mine told me a hilarious sad story about a guy whose wife had left him quite heartlessly. It turns out she never let go of her ex, but she married her husband because quite frankly he was balling. I am not promoting infidelity, but what if she hadn’t compromised to marry a man whom she felt was equally matched in credentials? Because from what I hear, she wept liheartlesske a baby at her wedding, and those weren’t tears of joy ya’ll. She wept because she was denying herself of the benefits of the next best choice. To say the least, she compromised…. She compromised BIG time.

As much as what I am about to say will make me cringe, it must be said: my type may also not be the ultimate.  Sorry Ivy women, but when brothers who we deem as better matched with us go off and marry a “basic” chick perhaps he is not compromising even though that’s what we believe. Maybe, having a great job, and a great education is not the ultimate. Like you haven’t arrived just because your name is followed by numerous consonants.  This idea that a couple can only be designated the title of “power” couple if both of them have crazy “qualifications” to boot is quite artificial not to mention cursory . “Our type” likes to believe that we are at the top of the dating food chain, or at least should be. But if that’s the case why are we still single? (not that I am complaining because the single life is the #bomb #lovingit #gimmecoupleyears). And honestly, I blame my parents for putting that inflated view of myself into my head (actually I blame the whole system for making me feel entitled and myself for believing it of course).

Look, I am no gold digger but... le sigh.

Look, I am no gold digger but… le sigh.

Deep down inside, I want to be with a free spirited Vegan artist who would happily debate the Western aid agenda’s influence on the African woman’s idea of reproductive health, who does not conform to the ideals of modern society. But since I have a certain lifestyle and certain expensive habits, I am willing to forego a little freedom and possibly a version happiness to travel and live comfortably.  I can already hear the comments on being a “gold- digger” and the rest coming my way. But honestly, it is not about digging for gold, it is about security. It is about being comforted to know that finances or the drive that produces healthy finances is not a worry. Everybody thinks it, and I say it. At the end of the day, it is about opportunity cost, you weigh the options, and decide which consequences (good and bad) you are willing to forego and/ or are willing to accept (and that decision is entirely up to you). So however you turn it, “high standards” and all that other stuff we go on and on about is really a compromise we make according to what we deem important. For the fortune 500 brother out there, who may think he’s God’s gift to womanhood owing to his credentials and job, chew on this a bit, because even though society likes to make you feel like you are what every man should aspire to be and every woman should aspire to be with, you may very well be somebody’s compromise.

Signing off…