‘Adventures’ is Withdrawing from the Blogging Ghana Social Media Awards – Now Here’s the Tea

cuptea

Nana Darkoa and I believe in African people telling the stories of African people. For centuries, our stories have been told from the perspective – and in the language – of our captors and oppressors. That’s the reason I’m writing this post today in English on a Chinese manufactured laptop instead of in Twi. We started Adventures From The Bedrooms Of African Women because we recognized there was a real need for African women on the Continent and in the Diaspora to share their stories and learn from each other. (That same conviction is why I later went on the start Mind of Malaka.)

Blogging and content creation for social media has become big business, and with that comes some pretty big egos. I wonder if that was what was behind the snippy exchange between me and whoever was behind the @BloggingGhana Twirra handle yesterday?

Now, before I start throwing ‘bows and spinning into roundhouse kicks, let me say that Blogging Ghana as an organization has done a fine job of promoting content creation in Ghana. I have been a supporter of Blogging Ghana since the days when I was running MaizeBreak it was just a few people meeting at the top of Koala in Osu. When I can, I participate in all their twitter chats. I contributed towards their fundraiser for private office space and campaigned for others to do the same. Why? Because collectively, I think we share enough similarities in our individual visions to make us allies. Blogging Ghana has grown from a half dozen members to a veritable force in the Ghanaian social media space/industry. When the founders created the Social Media Awards to acknowledge and celebrate the work of Ghanaian bloggers or writers who create content specifically for the Ghanaian market, I know I was personally thrilled and looking forward to participating in that fete. And guess what? To Nana and my surprise, our blog won best blog for two consecutive years. This year we decided to go for a third attempt at best blog, since that would be a nice feather in our cap.

Now: the tea.

Lawd Jeevus on de throne…be a fence/a force field/a manual to he’p us all!

Back in 1998 when I was working in customer service to make ends meet in college, my call center trainer gave us three basic principles to resolve any issue:

  1. Apologize (Yes, the company knows it wasn’t your fault for x issue.)
  2. Remedy the situation to the best of your ability
  3. Inform the customer once the issue has been resolved, and if it can’t be, offer recommendations until the customer feels satisfied.

Somebody needs to run on down to Blogging Ghana and paint these three steps all over the 5,000 steps leading to the office at iSpace where they are headquartered now, because what I’m about to show you is not the way forward.

It’s awards season, right? So what do people who have been nominated do to make sure they win an award? Come for a cookie if you said “campaign”. And since we are campaigning with the goal to win, we send folks the information they need to vote for us, right? Well, how they gonna do that if the links don’t work, or outdated, or not optimized for mobile or on particular operating systems? Now, in this instance, who’s responsible for making sure the right information is out there? Come for cookies AND milk if you said “Blogging Ghana.” So that’s what I did. I sent a query and got this response back.

bgsilly responsebg silly

Ninja, what? I thought I was seeing things until the woman I had asked on behalf of replied to the note, noting that it was unnecessarily aggressive. We waited for a while and STILL never received the link to vote for. We were just told to visit the home page of the organization.

“And click through how many links?” someone who was following our conversation quipped.

Lemme help whoever was tweeting that day. Your response should have been:

  1. Gosh! (or Ebei!) I’m so sorry for the inconvenience.
  2. Let me see about disabling all those other links from 2013-2014
  3. Here’s the correct link to vote

Simple.

But naw! You know what happened instead? Dude/chick behind the twitter handle DELETED the tweets when they got called out for their churlish behavior and tried to act like the conversation never happened. How many people know Da Bible says “the innanets is forever”? I just happened to capture those tweets because I hadn’t shut down my PC before heading out.

Then…THEN (!) later that same afternoon, all of the nominees got an email from a Chile Who Shall Remain Nameless, stating:

As part of the scoring, you are required to do the following

Score the other candidates in your category except yourself. Please score only in your category and do not score yourself. Scores placed in your column will be ignored during the final tabulation. This is to peer review your categories and find out who you think deserves to be second to you. 

This constitutes 20% of total scores. Find voting sheet attached 

 If you have been nominated in the best blog category, there is a 10% weight on your traffic. Please send a screenshot or analytics in XML version of your blog showing your traffic per month. Please do well to capture over a period of not less than 3 months. We have no preference for any specific software for traffic. The blog with the highest traffic will receive maximum points and the runner-ups will be ranked according to how close they came to the highest traffic. Please note that we will not award you with any score if you choose not to submit this data.

 

Okaayyyy….this was new. We’ve never had to do this before….

We had until April 4th to score the fellow nominees in our categories. I don’t know about you, but 5 days and last minute notice isn’t enough time to visit, critique and form an opinion about somebody else’s blog that I have never visited. We were later informed that we’d be penalized if we didn’t participate in the peer review process. This was a pile of moose crap. You know how I know this was some bull? Because I know TOO many people who have tried to pawn their work off on me and call it an “opportunity”. Apparently, we were being given the “opportunity” to review our peers. Nah playa. It’s your team’s job to review the blogs AND Google has all the traffic and ranking information of every blog that ever existed in the history of mankind available at any time. You just want us to do your work for you.

This was the last straw. I was done after that Twirra interaction, but Nana was really done after this email. The Nameless Chile then went on to accuse us of not wanting to share our analytics. Ninja, WHAT?!? Nana shares our stats near monthly. If you don’t go set down and find yourself a Poki…

When we were first considering withdrawing, Nana and I were both worried that people would say “Oh, it’s because they got scared that they couldn’t win.” We know how Ghanaians think. Now, I can say what I’m about to say because I have no decorum, so note that this is ME speaking, not Nana Darkoa.

Adventures From the Bedrooms of African Women is a freaking juggernaut, ok? I tested this myself. Even mindofmalaka.com – phenomenal as this blog is – couldn’t stop Adventures. We would have swept those awards in our category easily. You know why? It’s not because Nana and I made it into what it is – our readers and supporters did that. The strength of any brand/enterprise/movement is in the engagement of its people. YOU guys went out there and voted for us. YOU take the time out of your day to drive traffic. YOU refer us to your friends and family, and if we have stayed in this race YOU would have carried us to victory. The Adventurers are the real MVPs, and quite frankly we ALL deserve better than this!

In conclusion, I haven’t felt this elated since I returned that Michael Kors bag in defiance of white supremacy as I do right now. I literally feel power surging through me. I will not stand to be insulted, and I certainly don’t want our blog associated with mediocre and inefficient processes, hubris, rudeness and ego. Where’s the prestige in that?

Chiiiillle…that’s the tea. Good luck to all the other nominees.

 

 

Weaves, Pain, Desire, Prayer and Love

I’m going to attempt to put a week’s worth of thoughts into 1500 words or less. Bear with me. Oh yes, and before we begin #NotAllMen and #NotAllWomen. Some of you people are Cinderella’s step sister, forcing your foot into the proverbial slipper of my observations that was not intended for you…

I hate a weak man – but in particular I loathe a weak Black man.

The most exquisite pain I have ever had to endure was bestowed upon me by a weak Black man who was so dedicated in his devotion to causing me harm it was like a religion to him. This is the man you know as Douche Bag. Conversely, some of the greatest moments of joy and peace I have experienced are the direct result of the intentional words from and actions of my husband. Douche Bag and Marshall could not be more different from each other. Douche Bag is big, muscular and boorish. That boorishness and callousness disregard for the feelings and needs of others is what many mistake for ‘strength’. My husband on the other hand is a gentle man…and that doesn’t make him ‘weak’. He is like the steady, soft dripping of water, which over time hollows out or reshapes the hardest stone.

Consistency

Steadfastness

Honor

That to me, is strength.

I have been watching commentary on various social media platforms and have been beside myself with grief for the past 36 hours. It’s as though the weight of our collective failure as a race came crashing on my consciousness. In particularly, I have been daunted and dispirited by the weakness of many – just too many! – Black men. This feebleness has manifested itself in their verbosely expressed vision of what the genesis of a possible relationship with a woman would look like if only she would “comport herself”. Here’s an example I culled from online:

Ladies: If a guy chases you for 6 months and you don’t give in, he will eventually get tired and go somewhere else. But when he does, you will tell him you didn’t try hard enough! Just remember it doesn’t mean he never loved you.

Drivel like this masquerading as “depth” gets retweeted and shared on social media dozens of times a day. Why? Because too many men are weak….and wack…and resonate with this level of foolishness. These brothers don’t value women and the trickledown effect is that women begin to see less value in themselves. Here’s an example from my own life in the opposite.

I don’t remember what we were doing – maybe watching Star Trek or cleaning the house; I don’t know – but Marshall paused and said to me “You know, the day I knew I had to marry you is when I sat down and thought about my life without you in it. I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see my life without you in it.”

That’s what a woman looking for a relationship wants. If you only have 6 months to focus on securing a relationship with someone you supposedly “loved”, then you’re not serious. It’s just that simple. Men will work their entire lives to buy the car of their dreams, but give up on winning the affections of a woman if she doesn’t reciprocate quickly and on his timeline. And what is this whole business of chasing? Is she a gazelle and you a hyena? Is a woman you “love” something you are going to gobble up and discard when you are done? That’s what your language suggests…and that’s why after 6 short months you were dogged. You as a boy/man never took the time to examine and improve yourself.

Selah.

They say hurting people hurt other people. Are you hurt, Black Men? Is that why you are hell bent on hurting the closest thing to you – which is Black Women? If so, let us know so we can help you ease the pain. That’s what we’ve been doing for centuries, isn’t it? Right when we were chained up on the same boats, or chopping tobacco in the fields right alongside you, or fighting in the same wars, or mourning your lifeless bodies in the middle of the street… WE’VE been there for you, right? So what’s with all this hatred in return for our devotedness? Is it because we are too tough and expect strength out of you? Surely, you’ve witnessed what life is like globally for people of color – not to mention the rigors of being a woman of color! Hint: it’s freaking hard…and still we don’t break. But now you’ve joined the feeding frenzy against we who are your truest allies. Why do you now seek to join those who want to break us?

I came across this article that quotes Common referring to Erykah Badu as the ‘bossiest’ Black woman he’s ever dated. Gazi Kodzo has dismissed Common as a man whose only true claim to fame as the ‘ex-boyfriend of Black female elite stars’. Common has dated Serena Williams. Taraji Henson and Miss Badu. It is rumored he is dating Lupita Nyong’o. These are all strong and gifted Black women, yet the moderator could only come up with a question framed in negativity because these are the shenanigans of the New Black. He didn’t ask who was the kindest, or most nurturing or had the most depth in conversation…just who was “bossiest”, which we all know is code for emasculating and/or domineering. I posted the link and my expressed my disdain for Common’s reflections. Along the way, I made mention that I would rather see Lupita stay in a relationship with Jared Leto (the whitest of white men) than to date Common who has proven he would use their past to get ratings/cheers/laughs.

You should have seen this brother go to WAR because I dared to make this suggestion. Why should a Black woman want to be desired by a white man? How quickly you’ve forgotten the lustful eyes of the slave master! The same white man who you would have date Lupita is the same white man who will gun your sons down in the street! What short memories you have, Malaka!

Oh, saa? And who do you think is responsible for the majority of sexual abuse meted out against Black children? Whose cruel words play repeatedly in the head of the Black girl who doesn’t believe she’s good enough. And wasn’t it Chris Brown who turned Rihanna into the face of young domestic violence? Today Riri is the face of Dior…and that’s not because Breezy connected his knuckles to her temples.

Of course we continued to wage a war of words until I challenged him to find and speak to 3 complete strangers and ask them if they believe Black women are loved by Black men. Not desired, lusted after or fulfill a booty fetish…I mean loved. As in supported, nurtured, respected and valued. We await the results.

I don’t think Black men know how much their words and deeds affect Black women. It’s one thing to worship at the Altar of White Vagina, but it’s another thing entirely to make the only person who made your existence possible to feel as though her womb….and her whole body….are unworthy. Take a quick look at this:

bleach

Hundreds of people jumped on this girl to tell her how “sick” and “brainwashed” and “stupid” she is. It is a stretch for them to imagine how she ended up this way…but how can it be? How can people not understand that when Black women and girls see messages like the following every day, several times a day:

race1 race2 race3 race4(This dude can’t even add…smh)

This is psychological warfare! And if we don’t overcome it, it’s because we’re not “strong Black women”. What is the strength of a women worth when her sons, brothers and fathers see her as something dirty or something to exploit? That leaves a wound in you…sometimes it’s a sore so deep it becomes more a part of you than the ‘normal’ skin itself. Your wound becomes your identity, and the pain associated with it becomes your constant, faithful and reliable friend. Janette McGhee Watson expressed this so eloquently in her vows to her husband in this clip.

 

It’s 10 minutes long. How many brother have 10 minutes to spare to hear the heart cry of a Black woman? Not enough. Far too few. And you know why? Because Y’ALL don’t love US. You don’t value you us…and if/when you do, it’s only when we’re conforming to your perceptions of what womanhood should be. I know 5 women – Black women – who have told me that they used to pray every night as little girls to wake up white. I ain’t never heard of a white woman praying to wake up with the skin and burden of a Black woman.

Now, some of you can (and will) deflect and cast blame and say it’s all the white man’s fault, or you can man up like Matthew and restore some broken hearts and rebuild the crumbling edifices of our unions.

 

Materialism, Mindsets…and Heck; Why Not? Jets.

“I wish I had been better prepared for this moment.”

“You are the descendant of a mighty people…of kings and queens. Their blood flows through your veins and they have prepared you for this moment.”

-Paraphrased conversation between Coretta Scott King and Amelia Boynton Robinson in the movie Selma

 

A few friends and I have been talking about world views for the past few weeks, an exercise we engaged in regularly in college but really haven’t had time for as we got older. The basic questions we ask ourselves are:

“What is your world view?”

“Have you even taken the time to develop one?”

“Why do you/we accept the things we see today as truth and reality?”

Since we are a group of Black women, we concern ourselves with Black life and how it is experienced globally. Our shared analyses were pretty sobering, to be honest. My friend Tosha* talked about many of the young people she works with – most of whom are in their late 20’s and early 30’s – who have no true concept of how the world works around them, or worse, how it relates to them. Many of them are men.

“They just don’t read,” she sighed. “A lot of these guys think that life is about getting a check, having occasional sex, and repeating that simple cycle. They don’t read!”

The conversation was all over the map, ranging from racial profiling, internalized racism/colorism, spending, forecasting and economic (dis)advantages for people of color. It was the lattermost topic that struck a chord with me: Economics. It drew me back to the scene in Selma I referenced earlier.

I am going to raise my hand and admit that when we talk about being descendants of a “great and mighty people”, I have never invested the time to explore what that means. On the surface I, and I think the majority of people, look at Blackness as the embodiment and epitome of physical strength. We have greater bone and muscle density than whites; we are capable of running long distances faster than any other race; we have proven a capacity to endure and overcome intense and unspeakable torture and terrorism. But what does all that mean? Where does that come from? What is the purpose of being able to endure beyond endurance sake? The idea that we are descended from a “great and mighty people” led me to query what made our ancestors so special that an entire continent of Europeans felt it imperative to erase their history and memory and appropriate their accomplishments as their own. In just 30 short minutes, I felt like I had entered another dimension.

Last night I read excerpt s from two books which are available online. The first is Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute  and the other is Empires of Medieval West Africa by David C. Conrad. In them they describe observations made by European traders and explorers who were so astonished by the great wealth of these empires and even went as far as to attempt to draw parallels to their own. One explorer suggested that the aristocratic airs of Songhay rivaled those of the Tudors.

“This most interesting spot was the capital of Songhay, a country described as being very fertile and rich in gold. The origin of its kings was from the East. At a later period it entirely dominated Melle, and established at Timbuctoo a dynasty about contemporary with our own Tudors, of which I wish that time per mitted me to give you some account.”

Later, he goes on to describe the magnificence of the Empire’s Court “in which the ladies were served on pure gold, and men on occasions of state wore velvet tunics, were booted and spurred, and had all their weapons mounted in gold or silver.”

He went on to describe the clothing of those who dwelt in various parts of medieval West Africa, and noted the intricate brocade, vibrant cotton tunics and gold woven into hairdos of the most influential aristocrats. Because gold was in such abundance in West Africa, only the leadership of the day was allowed to trade in nuggets while the proletariat was permitted to trade in gold dust, lest it lose its value. (The roads and trade routes that allowed each ruler to trade in knowledge and goods were also well maintained.) Medieval West Africa was sounding more advanced than 21st Century West Africa with every sentence!

So what happened?

We all know about the scramble and partition of Africa, and something tells me that destruction of an entire continent had more to do with Europeans attempting to cover their own shame than trying to expose our own. They literally swapped histories with us. It is no coincidence that the Renaissance period that took place in Europe also coincided with European contact with Africa and Asia. While we were wearing silk and cotton, they were still making their clothing from jute (a smelly plant substance) and wool. The gold that guilds the Versailles came from Africa. Much of the “enlightened thought” that reached old Europe was being taught in our universities for centuries. And of course, women had greater rights and influence in society, an idea medieval Europeans found boorish.

This is what it means to be descended from a great and mighty people. And yet, how do we see ourselves today?

I am not advocating for Creflo Dollar to get his jet, but I think his predicament offers a useful example in this instance. Let’s say he gets his $60-65M jet. So what? Out of all the jets that crisscross the world that are owned by Saudi princes, American CEOs and pop stars, how is this one jet going to change anything about our condition as Black people? It won’t . A jet is a tool. It is a thing. It is a vehicle to fly a person from one point to another in the most efficient manner possible. A group of men (and two women) got together to decide how much to sell this thing for, but what gives that jet value is you and I. If Boeing wanted, they could give that jet away for the price of a hug. Didn’t McDonald’s just end a campaign giving away meals in return for acts of kindness? But today, that same burger is back to retailing at $2.99.

“Oh! But Creflo can’t afford it!” I’ve heard folks say. Ah. The federal government with its trillions in debt can’t afford any of the programs it is touting, but it hasn’t stopped them from mortgaging their goals on the backs of our unborn great-grandchildren!

It’s all arbitrary. YOU are the great value in the earth. When Miles Monroe and all those who perished on the Germanwings airline died, we did not mourn the loss of metal and plastic. We mourned life. And yet every day – we as Black people in particular – put possessions and wealth above human life as though we can’t grasp this.

I have changed my world view on economics, things and wealth…or at least I’m trying to.

Queen Ekuba is one of our contributors on Adventures, and in 2013 she shared a series called “Gran” on the site. In it, she uses her grandmother’s voice to talk about the sexual shenanigans of women in her village of Ajumako, about love, lust, loss and coming into womanhood. It’s a thrilling, informative read which you can find here.

Ekuba’s grandmother tells us about the day she started her menstrual cycle and how it was event celebrated by everyone in the community, from the Queen Mother down. On the day her transition into womanhood was celebrated in her family’s courtyard, she was dressed in the best kente, brand new sandals and adorned with gold bangles and earrings. One of her aunts rubbed gold dust on her face to make her skin glitter. Bear in mind that this was only about 70 years ago and 115+/- years after the slave trade ended. Judging from the stories Ekuba’s grandmother tells about having to go to the farm as a child, she sounds like she came from a solid middle class background…certainly not a princess in a royal palace. But a middle class Ghanaian girl from a Fante-speaking farming community was draped in kente and gold because she got her period…and we’re losing our minds over cars and jets? We are so brainwashed we can’t even create fantasy for our brown children to imagine themselves as anything besides dirty, barefoot things that play in the mud. Isn’t this the image we think of when we think of ancient and “typical” modern African childhood?

When I bought my luxury leather bag from F&W, I got quizzical looks and furrowed brows from at least two women when they asked me the cost.

“$290 plus tax,” I replied flatly.

Eish…Malaka…”, one of them breathed.

goldI offered a half smile in return. Our ancestors, yours and mine, were walking around with gold braided into their cornrows…and it’s a stretch for us today to carry a quality leather purse? It’s just leather! Once we begin to see ourselves in new and through the lens of a different world view, this will be easier to grasp. I believe that our history of wealth, intelligence and enlightenment is what kept those mighty people now trapped in the bowels of those slave ships alive and thriving. When you KNOW your life has instrinsic value, you fight to protect it.

For those bent on missing the point: I’m not advocating that we all go out and buy a whole bunch of stuff we don’t need, but I am saying that I am no longer going to feel guilty for pursuing quality. Besides, don’t we have enough junk in our lives already? We deserve better. We deserve to treat and think of each other better. We are capable of much better.

Mo’Ne Davis’ Accepting Casselberry’s Apology is ‘Mature’, but it Ain’t ‘Right’

It’s pretty hard not to be in the know where Mo’Ne Davis is concerned. Even if you were previously unfamiliar with her name, you certainly heard of her story. She is that (now) 13 year old girl who played in the 2014 Little League World Series and is the first girl to earn a win and to pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history. That means she can throw a ball really, really fast.

Her face has become ubiquitous in the sports world, with skill so phenomenal that she made the cover of Sports Illustrated and a back-story so inspiring that Disney has approved a movie to be made about her life. This did not sit well with some people, and one person in particular – Joey Casselberry, a junior first baseman at Bloomsburg University – took to twitter to make one of the most disgusting comments about a girl barely older than my first born by saying the following:

joey

Selah

A grown man, who has never had any sort of interpersonal contact with this 13 year old CHILD, called her a slut.

Everyone has agreed that this is pretty offensive and definitely unacceptable, and Mr. Casselberry has been dismissed from his team. As far as I and 98% of the world are concerned, this was absolutely the right move for the university to take. However, his remarks left young Ms. Davis in an awkward position as people were clamoring for a response from her. Her response was one typical of any girl her age – which was to forgive. She even went as far as to plead on his behalf and ask the university to give him a “second chance”.

Every mother to a Black daughter I know experienced cognitive dissonance when news of Joey Casselberry’s sorry apology and Mo’Ne’s crusade to spare him discomfort came to light. Many have gone as far as to term her actions as “mature”…and that is problematic for me. Sure, her actions are righteous, but they are not right. A grown, crusty man should not be putting a girl this young in the position to act righteously in response to his boorishness.

Let me just get to the point: The fact is, Joey Casselberry’s remarks are a direct reflection of a culture that sexualizes young Black girls and their bodies, then moves on to demonize and punish them for labels not of their own choosing and ultimately marginalizes them. Girls of African descent are built differently from any other girl on the planet. By the age of 5, our hip to waist ratio often mirrors those of our mothers. I have had trouble fitting at least 2 of my girls for trousers and pants because the items are cut for (white) girls who are built straight up and down. (This is a battle Black women have to fight our entire lives.) It is not the responsibility of the 5 year old to cloister herself so as not to have these labels ascribed to her; it is the responsibility of grown men to check their privilege so that she can thrive.

This is not the first time a Black girl has been sexually degraded in the media at large by those who occupy positions of power and privilege. In 2013, 9 year old Quvenzhané Wallis was called a “cunt” by The Onion on twitter during that year’s Oscars.

Qcunt

As I recall, this was in response to Ms. Wallis refusing to let a journalist refer to her as ‘Annie’ because she was too lazy to figure out how to pronounce the child’s name. She made a “mature” decision to check that chick, and in return a representative from an organization dominated by white males labelled her a moniker that is so disgusting, it makes bikers shift in their seats. But it’s free speech, right? It’s satire, ain’t it? Making jokes about Black girls’ bodies is funny, isn’t it? Remember how Black male comedians jumped to Don Imus’ defense when he called an entire basketball team “nappy headed hoes”?

Slut

Cunt

Whore

All ascribed to girls who are barely old enough to knock on Womanhood’s door – and suspiciously – all at the top of their game in specific fields.

The main reason that Davis’ acceptance for Casselberry’s apology sickens and saddens me so much is that it is yet another spoke in the wheel of accepted public violence against Black women and girls. The part that Mo’Ne plays in this cycle is by shielding her abuser in the name of turning the other cheek and maturity. How many Black women refuse to call the police on abusive husbands and boyfriends because they have been conditioned to believe it is their job to protect them, or their responsibility to be strong enough to endure the abuse for the sake of peace? THIS is exactly where it starts…and that is not Mo’Ne Davis’ fault – it’s ours. While I applaud Mo’Ne for her poise and level headedness in this situation, it is not okay that she should have an innate sense that this particular reaction is expected of her in a situation like this. These are not the lessons we should be teaching our young girls of color, especially in a world that views them as provocative minxes before they’ve had a first date, first kiss or first menstrual cycle.

 

It’s Time for the Ghana Blogging Social Media Awards!

BlogCamp15Logo-White-forWebsite430x140

MOOOOM Squaaaaad!

Happy Monday to one and all. There’s so much that I want to talk about today that I can’t decide which topic to tackle first. And since I only have an hour left until I have to pick up the kids, this was definitely easiest on the to do list.

What is “this”? Man, I love it when you ask me questions!

It’s that time of year when it’s time to vote in the Social Media Awards, 2015 edition. Adventures From the Bedroom of African women, the blog I started with my BFFFL 6 years ago is up again! We’ve won the best blog category two years in a row, and this year we’re looking to score a hat trick. We can only do that with YOUR help.

Good people, Mom Squad, Random Readers, Lurkers and even you Pesky Trolls (for how dull would the internet be without our villainous  trolls?)  please do us the honor of clicking on this link right here (http://www.blogcampghana.com/social-media-awards/), pressing the little bubble next to ‘Adventures’ in the best blog category, and do your part to catapult your humble blogging servants into interweb glory! After this year, we think it’s only fair to pass the baton over to younger talent, but THIS YEAR we’re going for the glory.

Edith Faalong received our award on our behalf last year.

Edith Faalong received our award on our behalf last year.

Will you help us do it? Of course you will. You’ve made lightening strike in the same spot twice already! :) Remember: You can vote from anywhere in the world. All you need is internet access and a valid email address. I just voted and it took me literally 45 seconds. And while you’re on there, you might consider a vote for the Green Ghanaian, since their organization is trying to clean up the filth and find solutions to eliminating the mountains of crap Ghana is being buried under on a daily basis.

Mmmkay? Great.

God. I love you guys. I love you so, so much. *sniff!!!*

NOW GO VOTE HERE!

http://www.blogcampghana.com/social-media-awards/

 

Why Can’t I Find a Reliable African Illustrator?

Palette.

Dear Ancestors and Sweet Baby Jesus:

Whatever I have done to offend you, I repent for it! Okay! I yield. I give up! Ah. Warrenthis?

Oh. You want to know what has me so agitated, eh? The title should have served as a clue. I am overwhelmed and confused as to why I cannot secure a reliable, talented illustrator for my books. I just don’t get it.

I have struggled for 2 months about whether or not to write this post, ever since it became evident that the company I had contracted in Ghana to work on my next project was not going to meet the deadline we had agreed upon in November of last year. Still, I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best.

Stupid me. When it comes to dealing with Africans, I should always rely on the portents, not my optimism. I know this – with every fiber of my being – and yet I still dare to hope!

Ever since I decided to become a professional writer, I have made it a goal of mine to make sure that every aspect of my novels supports another African. When I needed an editor for my first book, I contracted with a Nigerian editing company and paid a pretty handsome sum. I was rewarded with a product that was returned with MORE typos and grammatical errors than I submitted. When I wrote my second book, I didn’t make the same mistake. I sent it off to a white woman in Seattle who charged me 25% of the price and sent me back a pristine product. I was both pleased and perplexed.

When I decided to write a children’s book, I looked everywhere for an illustrator and referred to a Nigerian gentleman for whom this would be his first time illustrating. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the kinks with that whole encounter, but suffice to say the kinks were aplenty. I decided that I would not give up so easily and try to find someone Stateside to redo the work, since I know for a fact that there are plenty of talented artists in Ghana who are looking to elevate their skill and turn their hobbies into a profitable business…or so I heard. That’s why I contacted a group in Ghana to have them illustrate my new book – and I’ve been burned for it.

The MOM Squad knows me. I have no problem naming and shaming, particularly when the targets are big. But this group of artists are a small outlet and I don’t want to come off as a bully by putting them on blast here. Beside, I’m not really angry with them. I’m just really, really sad about how all of these events have played out for the last 5 months.

As I mentioned before, I reached out to their director who is responsible for getting new clients on board. We struck up an easy social media friendship. I was quick to answer his queries. I told him that I would do and give him ANYTHING to get the project done on time, which was in February. I wanted the release of this particular story to coincide with Black History Month.

“And I have your cash ready too,” I said solemnly. “I don’t like chasing people for money and I also don’t want chasing anyone for money.”

We laughed, especially when I remembered that someone owed me a couple hundred myself.

“Great. And on our part, we will send you concepts back and forth until we get an idea of what you are looking for.”

He was very honest and said that they had one other client they were trying to wrap a few things up for and that they would get on mine as soon as they were done. That didn’t seem like a problem from my end, because there was plenty of time ahead.

I continued to keep in touch with him throughout. First he said that Christmas was coming, so the guys weren’t really working. Then it was New Year’s with the same “explanation”. There was radio silence throughout the month of January. In the middle of February I sent a message to ask how it was going. I was assured that there were no problems! February 28th came and went. And then, in the middle of March, I got a voice message telling me how “sorry” they were.

“Oh, Malaka…hahahaha! We haven’t really started on anything for you. We’ve been so busy with another client. But here is are some sketches of some ideas we have. Oh, by the way, can you send the concepts for these scenes?”

“Dude. I’ve already sent them twice,” I said tersely. “But I’ll send them again.”

Then I got another voice note asking me what range I had asked for (they offer a low, mid and high price range) and for some other particulars we had already discussed. That’s when I lost it. That’s when he went from “dude” to “nigga”. This was just TOO unprofessional.

“You aren’t doing me a favor,” I hollered into my phone. “I AM paying you for this service. You’re not ‘helping me out’ and doing it for free! As cool as we are, I am still you’re client. This isn’t cool.”

When I asked him how he would feel if I tossed him around the way he and his group have tossed me when it was time to pay, he got serious.

“Let’s deescalate the tension, shall we?” he replied stonily. He said he would send me an invoice and I said that would be great.

“And my sh*t better be spectacular.”

That was 2 weeks ago. I haven’t gotten an invoice, an final image (out of the 15 I need), a nothing.

Like I said, I’m not even mad. I’m just sad. You know why? Because I’m going to have to break my commitment to invest in African artists, and find me a little weed smoking, Dorito eating, basement dwelling white boy in Nebraska who will finish the work when he says he will. And you know what? Basement Boy WILL.

The only good thing about this encounter is that I did not pay a deposit that I’d have to fight to get back because these young men did not fulfil their end of the bargain, but this really hurts. I was looking forward to bragging about them and recommending their work. I can’t recommend anyone whose business practices and delivery suck, no matter how great their product may be.

 

 

F & W Style: Handbags for Happiness

Did you know that today was the International Day of Happiness? No really. It’s an actual, real thing. Here is a blurb on www.dayofhappiness.net on why the day was created and sanctioned:

After years of happiness research, one thing has proved fundamental – the importance of our connections with other people.

But modern societies are built as if the opposite was true. We are surrounded by people, yet we feel genuinely connected to almost none of them. The effects are devastating. 

Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking; and the epidemic of loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity.

We could change this in a day if we all reached out and made at least one positive connection. For the International Day of Happiness, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

I took this mandate very seriously, and as my contribution to International Happiness Day, I went out into my community and spent some money. Eh heh! What greater connection can a woman have than with a designer/retailer who makes her spirit come alive? And are designers/retailers not also happy when they have parted us from our money? Everyone has a part to play in this cycle of joy!

No, but seriously MOM Squad: you all know I have been on the hunt for Black Luxury ever since I told you about that article expressing mainstream disgust for Black dollars, and I am happy to report I have found it. As of 10:43 this morning, I became an F &W Girl, thanks to the design and business prowess of Alexandria Alli manager and head of creative concepts at F & W Style. The story behind her brand has been featured in this month’s edition of Jezebel Magazine, as well as on Black Enterprise and other publications you can look up at your leisure. They will tell you all the stuff that comes as part and parcel of a polite and proper interview. Me, I went to her shop for gossip.

photo 3(1)Alexandria Alli is tall with a tiny waist and stunning with a perfect complexion. Pimples daren’t approach her skin. Her lipstick doesn’t smudge when she talks. Her body is one fluid masterpiece and all its pieces work in tandem. Today she was wearing a figure flattering green and bronze asoke blouse and skirt ensemble. If I was going to buy a luxury handbag from anyone, it was going to be this Nigerian goddess today! She greeted me warmly and invited me into her studio. I was immediately impressed by how clean it was design and décor wise. The simplicity and boldness she surrounds herself with in her environment translates to the way in which she designs her bag.

After our pleasantries were exchanged, I told her without mincing words why I had come to seek her out.

“Someone actually put that on a blog? For the whole world to see?”

“Yes! And no one on their editing team thought it might be a good idea to take it down!”

“Wow,” she said pensively, “that’s really sad.”

(In hindsight, I’m glad that they didn’t. I might never have discovered F & W if I had remained in my pop culture stupor. )

I took a quick scan around the back office we were meeting in and took note of several of the bags I’d seen online. My eye went immediately to the red Chloe bag, since red is my favorite color. At Alexandria’s subtle urging, I turned my attention over to the croc embossed bags to the left. I asked her about where she gets her leather and inspiration from.

photo 4

“This is Italian leather,” she replied. “As far as the type of leather we choose, that’s all because of our customers. They indicated that they like pebble grain and crocodile, so you will notice that all of the bags have that sort of embellishment. It just gives them something special, and gives it a more luxurious look.”

I ran my finger over the details of the burnt orange croc embossed bag I was holding and had to agree with her.

“As far as inspiration, I look to women,” she continued. “I spend a lot of time just observing women…how they move and interact with their accessories…and I then I try to imagine what they might like that is functional while still having an element of luxury.”

We then went on to discuss color and how she chooses her leather. Alexandria’s favorite color is pink.

Pink!

Aba!

A strong Nigerian woman should like gold or midnight blue…warris pink? She laughed.

“Not just any pink…strong pink. And besides, pink is a very happy color, I think!”

photo 2(3)

Alexandria opened up the purse I had been looking at and drew my attention to the lining. Every F&W bag is lined with the same hot pink in its interior. This distinguishes it from other luxury bags and serves as her stamp.

“And it was a compromise for me, since I couldn’t make every single bag I designed pink.”

“How does your mother feel about your success?” I asked. I am always impressed when Africans of a certain age pursue a career in the fine, literary and/or digital arts and are successful at it. Such careers do not come without some opposition from our parents. Of course, Alexandria’s mother – being a designer herself – is very proud. “Did you go to school for design?”

“No. Actually I was modeling in school.”

“Heh? Wait! Your mother – your Nigerian mother – allowed you to go to modeling school?”

“No! I went to school to study management,” she replied, “but my mother allowed me to model so long as it didn’t interfere with my work. She’s just really happy to see us doing well, you know? Parents love to see their kids succeeding…”

“…even when it’s not the ideal career that they would have mapped out for them. But when the success comes?”

“Oh! Then suddenly, all of this was their idea!”

We cackled for a bit about Chimamanda, Wale, African norms, husbands and children and making it all work. Alexandria mused about how her husband was the one who really pushed her to start her own luxury brand. She gave me a look that told me she thought he was crazy at the time.

“Who does that?” she asked. “But he really encouraged me and we’ve been in business for 5 years. This year, it’s really taken off!”

She did a swoop motion with her hand, like a rocket taking off. I was compelled to smile. Her enthusiasm was infectious and her humility refreshing.

photo 4(1)Now that I had everything I needed, I bade her goodbye and thanked her sincerely. I don’t know if she or her husband know what they have done for (newly) conscious consumers like me by giving us a choice. I am particularly grateful that she views her luxury brand as something that all women – no matter what their social strata or racial makeup – should have access to and enjoy.

This won’t be my last bag from F&W Style.

 

 

 

 

Visit http://www.fwstyle.com to find a list of stores that carry the brand in your area or to shop online.