ghana

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!

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When Being a Woman in Nigeria— Spoke for Everyone

If you missed out on the hastag #BeingFemaleinNigeria trending last week on twitter, do you live under a rock? don’t worry we’ve round up a few of our favorites. It’s nice to know that we’re not out on an island by ourselves sometimes.

Let’s start with Amma’s top picks:

This one is hilarious because it reminds me of the side eye I sometimes get for wanting to go back to school.  “So you want degrees but you don’t want children, eh”—ermmm I’ll take both please and thank you.

This one I like because it is positive and it also represents something I am very passionate about. I think the privilege of getting to raise a boy child means bringing someone sensible that all the girls will swoon over because he will be all of the greatest sophisti-ratchet swagged philosophical things I wanted… you are welcome in advance to his wife.

A bit problematic given my tendencies towards guys younger than me… but ma sakyira. 

This I find HILARIOUS… because I was just talking to a friend about the erectile dysfunction commercials over the airwaves in Ghana and how it is VERY clear that women are not ashamed of their ‘carnal desires’. Here… it is obviously the men who are struggling to keep up. #viagrabeforeviagra #goingtojujumenforstrokegameupgrades #struggleisreal #beingaghanaianman

Here are my picks:

I had a few too many favs, so I have less to say about them and will just let you marinate in their truth instead.

#realtears** because I can actually see Ghanaian aunties and moms saying this in their accents.

I’ve been saying this Over and Over and Over again. This emphasis on equipping women to be ‘good spouses’, and somehow thinking that men have this innate ability to know how to love, serve, protect, stay faithful to, be sensitive to and open up to their spouse is beyond me… but this will have to be saved for another time and blog post.

Again… #realtears**

When the holidays roll by… when the family functions take place… hell, every damn Sunday.

Afua, you look [fill in the blank with any ordinarily-positive-compliment on brains, beauty and confidence… which somehow doesn’t quite come out as a compliment in the context it is given]

It’s that, or all your relatives will think ‘you’re not taking good care of your husband and home…’

I had to add this for a friend… #butthat’snoneofmybusiness … chirp … chirp’

These last two I take to heart… because a guy friend politely informed me of the following when I told him I just want a regular guy to approach me, because I’m a regular ol’ gal: ‘afua, when a man sees you out and might want to approach, first he has to contend with the sea of too known repat friends you’re surrounded by, then he’ll be hit with the SERIOUSS slang, then he’ll find out your schooling and job, then he’ll see you driving some car wahh, the apartment and the places you like to frequent…. #massabegonewiththatdesire’

[sigh]

Word to your mother… and your grandmother.

– – –

** Real tears because I’m laughing so hard that I’m crying

Repost: Family demands 100 gallons of petrol as bride price for daughter

If you are not already following YesiYesi Ghana, you are truly missing out on some great comedic gems. Given the general gray state of the nation, it’s always great to have a laugh once in a while. This is not the first time that YesiYesi has been featured on our blog. They wrote a really fun parody called “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Ghanaman” which followed Afua’s post about some of her God Awful weirdo strange run-ins with Ghanaian guys. Here is another parody post inspired by a recent post about the impact of Ghana’s economy on our love lives. As the post and this parody rightly portray, girls AND boys abr3 and no one can afford love anymore.

Enjoy!


“In the Ghanaian tradition as with many other African, Asian and some eastern European traditions, a groom is required to pay a bride price to the family of his bride as a show of his commitment and ability to financially support his prospective wife. Centuries ago, the bride price was quoted in gold, land, cows, tubers of yam and pots of palm wine. In recent times the price has been demanded in money, cloths and bottles of gin and schnapps. Evidently, bride prices are demanded in items that are of high value in the prevailing economic circumstance.

One family is reportedly asking a 27 year old Ghanaian man to cough up 100 gallons of petrol if he is to be given the green light to marry their daughter. Kofi Ghanaba, a university graduate working for a bank in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, has confirmed the family of his girlfriend is demanding 100 gallons of petrol as bride price. “I have been with her for a while now, we are very much in love so we wanted to do the right thing and get married. Tradition requires that I pay a dowry to her family. When I received the list from her father, I was expecting the usual items; ring, cloths, money and bottles of gin and schnapps. To my surprise, there was only one item on the list. Just one! I smiled to myself. But before long, my smile had turned into wailing. 100 gallons of petrol is what they wanted and it wasn’t just any type of petrol, they demanded Shell V-Power,” revealed the dejected man.

A spokesman for the girlfriend’s family explained that the demand for 100 gallons of fuel is not just a sign of the ever increasing value of fuel due to the recurring shortages, but also a test to determine if Kofi can adequately take care of their daughter. “If he loves our daughter he wouldn’t mind queuing for days to buy the gallons of fuel we require.” The spokesman argued that their request is no different from what happened centuries ago when young men had to spend years growing crops and raising animals to be able to pay the bride price for the girl of their dreams.

With fuel prices up by 53% since the beginning of the year, Kofi’s shrewdness will be put to test, according to the family spokesman. “With the frequent increases in fuel prices, will he decide to buy now or wait and see if prices drop? His decision will give us an insight into how well he will manage his home in the future.” The demand for 100 gallons will also test Kofi’s physical strength. “It will require great physical strength to carry 100 gallons, and we will be looking to see how Kofi fares on that.”

With the worsening economic situation, Kofi Ghanaba is not just feeling the pinch in his pocket but also in his heart as he battles to marry the girl of his dreams.”

She No Want Ferrari: Impact of Forex on Love and Dating

occupyBefore I begin this post, and especially because it deals with the economy, I want to give a major shout out to the #OccupyFlagstaffHouse team that worked in collaboration with Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance and other citizen groups. Whether you were there in presence or in spirit, the fact that so many people were talking about it shows that there is definitely appetite for this sort of activism. The entire protest was organized in under 5 days, and there was a lot of (healthy) back and forth about demands, expectations and next steps. If you visit the facebook page, you will find a full copy of the petition but I also pretty much summed up the demands in 5 simple points on my own development and policy blog (ahem.shameless.plug.ahem). In any case, we are awaiting a response but in the interim, do make sure to sign the petition, agitate MP’s however you can (I’d say use twitter and direct it to Hanna Tetteh), and keep abreast of what’s happening (Constitution is under review, and there is plenty wahala around it, did you know? chale… ) so that the next march (should it come to that) will be even greater. The onus is not on those ‘protester types’, the onus is on us ALL! (you see what I did there… I should be a rapper, ha!)

At any rate, on to the post…


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Cause e want e my love o She no want designer She no want ferrari She say na my love o You belong to me And i belong to her o

Prolific words sung by Davido… Unfortunately… these words have not been said in Ghana since… well… the cedi rate was 1 to 1! I was having a very interesting conversation with my taxi driver the other day. He was telling me how difficult the economic situation was for him. I really felt bad. The truth is, when trotro’s raise fares, they do so in unison and there is standardization more or less so everyone must oblige. But with (car) dropping, people will sort of haggle at the same old price, as if the cedi isn’t deep diving into oblivion… and if the taxi driver won’t take them, they just wait for someone who will.

Sucks.

But then he went on this diatribe about how he has had to adjust his lifestyle… most specifically, his ability to date. I found this fascinating. According to him, because he is not able to give a girl chop money, and pay for her to get her hair done, or to buy transport or even credit, he feels unfit to enter a monogamous relationship. He was explaining to me how painful it is to ‘invest’ so much in a woman, only for her to tell you she doesn’t want to marry you but would rather be with someone else. I said, ‘oh ho… but what about the investment of love… I mean it was at least worth it then, no?” He looked at me… laughed… and then said, “Well.. I would have been better off buying land”

Ouch.

Land over love, eh? But I get his point. One point the driver kept making that really resonated with me was about how dating/courtship looks so much like marriage these days… that there is almost no point in getting married at all. He was saying, ‘If my money is your money and our bodies are at each others disposal.. then what are we really rushing to the altar for?’ He even talked about how he recently took a vow of celibacy and was mocked by his ex-girlfriend for being less than a man for wanting to wait…

wonders.

never.

cease.

So how is the forex rate impacting dating and love? For one, its quantifying it. Instead of looking at a mutually beneficial relationship that is about building a life and leaving a legacy… it sounds, more or less, like a contractual relationship based on barter and quid pro quo. Tres unfortunate for a romanticist like myself. I want rainbow and unicorns and flowers and all the warm fuzzies that love is supposed to bring. But the economy is intimidating folks out of pursuing relationships, and it’s jading men who automatically assume that I am impressed by a Porsche Cayenne.

Ladies be like "umm... can you pay my bills, can you pay my automobiles"

Ladies be like “umm… can you pay my bills, can you pay my automobiles”

Look. I no want Ferrari (yet.) I no want designer (right now.)… whatever happened to building something together? And the thing is… if you read many of our posts, you will see that there is a lot of joking and banter about this ‘ideal, made man’. But last weeks post talks about how that can sometimes actually be the compromise for us. And in all honesty, Afua and I aren’t that deluded. All of the wives that we admire, including our mothers, made grave sacrifices for their relationships. In seeing those examples, we definitely know that there is no progress without struggle. We are so here for that… We are down like the economy. Yet, even in this knowledge, we can’t entirely be annoyed at the women jading these men and making them feel like if they are not willing to pay for all your bills, he’s not worthwhile. No really. It’s not their fault.

readytogooutIn a conversation I had recently with a close friend, she was telling me about the difficulty she was having in just saving money. That lately she wasn’t able to go out much, hang out with friends… you know… enjoy her days as a single, beautiful, independent (but not in that annoying, too known, in your face way) woman. It’s unfortunate too… because Ghanaian men are missing out on this great opportunity to interact with her because she has to think twice about using the fuel in her car and about whether she wants to get her hair done, eyebrows done, buy makeup and pay for that mani- pedi to be in top stellar position for such an outing. If a woman has to decide between being social and being broke, well that’s really problematic, don’t you think? And yes, for all you party poopers, we recognize there are deeper issues than being able to afford Marc Jacobs perfume so you can be wined and dined, but focus… this is a representational issue… the point is… we can’t actually afford love anymore. And that’s sad.

All in all, the declining cedi isn’t just a matter of the economy, in this super macro, higher level sense… it’s also a matter of the heart. It has implications on the way we interact and socialize. We are already restructuring our relationships, quantifying their value, weighing them against… say… investing in land. That’s a problem. If the economic sitch doesn’t switch up… no one will get married. ever. Ok… maybe that’s a bit dramatic but you get the point… So here’s some advice for the next protest… if, perhaps, rising fuel costs, erratic electricity, inconsistent supply of water and devaluing currency aren’t enough for you to take the streets. If disappearing money, lying politicians and financial scandal don’t compel you to stand up for your rights… Well be like R. Kelly and… do it for love!

 

banksylove

 

Love, Returnee Style: An African City Season 2

photo (1)By now, most of us have seen and heard about the latest series, “An African City” (shouts to Nicole Amartefio for bringing us this one!)… If you have not watched it then shame on you SPOILER ALERT, because in this post we wanted to give our take on the show. Why? Well… because they are telling our whole lives on TV this is essentially the story of five women newly repatriated to Ghana from various parts of the western world, and we thought it was somehow relevant to our own lives. In their journey toward love the show is filled with characters of varying sensibilities that navigate through everything from getting sex toys cleared from customs to explaining to MP’s that anyone (including “clean looking girls”) can contract HIV/AIDS. There are funny moments, such as Makena always getting her period when she meets this fine, chocolatey man (see God speaking to her and she won’t listen? Nawa ooooo) … and there are the more emotional, girl-I-can-relate moments like when you bump into your ex with his new girlfriend and you are trying to decide which of you is cuter  funnier better. Plus the outfits… GOOD GAWWWWD! hahaha… I mean, I just want everything I see all at once… they should totally do some kind of raffle to get all of the outfits from season 1, I’d enter… as long as it was rigged. #ghanaelectionsstyle #pinkslipsandall #Ghanataughtme LOL!

 

Moving on though…

 

631159bc-f32a-4994-ac8e-3ef10d988d75I can totally relate to hanging with the girls at the gym or at some restaurant laughing and being generally frivolous. Apart from the daddys-got-connections-and-we-are-super-rich, I think most people can at least relate to having girls with whom you enjoy their company and have generally inappropriate conversation. I have heard a lot of critique about the relat-ability of the show to which I say pish posh. Can you relate to Kerry Washington in Scandal? Or Sansa in Game of Thrones? Or Joan in Girlfriends? The shows we love touch us, not necessarily because the characters or stories are themselves ‘relatable’, but because we identify with certain emotions and we are compelled by the story lines…

and that’s the greater point.

That maybe folks aren’t moved by the storyline or the emotion of the characters. I think when people say they can’t relate, they are either offended at the way returnee women are being displayed (see this Yesi Yesi Parody piece for more funny commentary) or, as stated before, are longing for more depth in the story.

I fall in the second boat.

I (mostly) love the show, but I am more excited to see what Season 2 has in store. I think most people are waiting in anticipation for something a little more meaty. Given the end of the first season, here are a few things I am looking forward to seeing in the next season.

  1. Depth of Characteranafricancity-thereturn

    The thing about the characters is… at this point they are caricatures. Each of them fit neatly into a box. There’s the super christian one, the hyper sexual one, the ‘down-for-the-people” one… and I would just love a greater exploration of who they are as women. Their complexities. I think that would help us better understand their love lives, and it gives us another dimension. For example, Ngozi is a vegan in Ghana. Please… tell me… what. does.she.eat!? It would be fun to see her struggle bus through Max Mart or Makola trying to buy vegan foods or the scene where she invites folks over to dinner and everyone is like “Ermm… we don’t want to eat like rabbits” or “If I wanted to eat beans and leaves, I’d join the Rastas at Tawala” or some rendition of this since we know how vegan-phobe us Ghanaian folk can be (special shout to my vegan friend who is forever “enlightening” us.) Or even the main character and Segun… that is obviously a Nigerian name and she is obviously Ghanaian. The discussion on inter-tribal or intra- African relationships would be something fun to layer on there. I mean I know these are like 15 minute episodes but… can a sista dream? All in all…I think they have set the stage for us… I think we all love Sade and I want to better understand how she became so logical and rational and black and white about all her opinions (there has to be a story there… there’s always a story). I would also like to know more about the sugar daddy she has that she secretly wishes would take her seriously (from Episode 2). There are a number of black web series’ like That Guy and Awkward Black Girl that manage to use 8- 10 minutes really well to offer you depth of character without making it super complicated or deep. I think An African City could also join those ranks.

  2. More Nuance on Returnee Living

    The pains of trying to do things, without paying bribe.

    The pains of trying to do things, without paying bribe.

    I liked that they tried to hit on issues of the returnee experience such as buying an apartment, clearing things at the port and how horrible the customer service is (seems like Zainab can never get her water done right). I think there is a lot of room to grow from there. For example, Zainab works for herself. That is probably RIFE with interesting stories like trying to register a business or engage government institutions in any meaningful way. Or trying to hire employees who do shady things or just are not up to the task you have set out for them. Or… following Ngozi to church, there are so many interesting things to be said and documented about sexuality and the hyper christian experience. There are so many ways to explore love and returnee living and I would like to see some of these there too.

  3. Diversity

TROTRO-PALAVA-boys-kasa-610x400

The ONLY boss with one s!

It’s funny that diversity is usually associated with tokenism and usually means adding the occasional person of color for visual effect. In this case, I just think not everyone needs to have gone to an ivy league or be highly connected. It would be great for us to get a better breadth of people, activities, sites and sounds in the country. After all, with all the exposure they have gotten, people are getting a glimpse of a Ghana many people did not even believe existed (yes, I get messages on facebook about how people had no idea <insert something human and ordinary> was in Africa). Trust me… the hood is watchin’— I mean, people are taking note. I am hoping there will be a little more breadth. Though I understand that this was a pilot season, limited funding, limited sponsorships, limited time (heard they filmed the entire season in 6 weeks— amazing!). So now that the ball is rolling (and the money is maybe flowing), lets get a little more! A trip to Takoradi? A visit to a cyto school (doesn’t Zainab work at an NGO… why is she living so high and mighty while I struggle bus.. I am not jealous… I am just saying… but I may be a little jealous though…)? It would be really cool to have an episode with Kalybos (the only boss with one ‘s’— duh!) trying to hit on them and they return his genuine interest with general disgust— as returnee girls tend to do when, say,  the occasional kebab seller asks for your number (because is he going to call you on his Nokia? and meet you at the trotro station? and take you to a ‘spot’ for malt and kebabs?! … chale, boys abr3 ampa— just ask Kalybos!) Pluuuuus.. I am going to need for their lights to go off in one episode… just one. It’s the right thing to do.  I am not saying they should do a poverty tour, or put tro-tro mates in there for good measure… I am just saying, find creative ways to highlight the diverse array of imagery that is here in Ghana.

All in all, An African City is a breath of fresh air, precisely because it’s different from the mainstream everyday of what we see and experience on television here in Ghana— and really in the world. They are appealing to the modern, urban chic young, ambitious afropolitan woman of this century, and so while you’ll have to excuse the general pomposity of it all, you do have to embrace the fun and free spirit of the characters. I love where it’s going and I can’t wait for season 2!

Have you been watching the show? What are your favorite parts and what would you change? Sound Off!

An African City: Episode 1- The Return

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

Hmmmm.

Well.

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)

perfect

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.

27863

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?

okay

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.

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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