Author Archives: Malaka

What Kind of Kung Fu Did the Ashanti Soldiers Have?

One of the most enlightening trips I have taken was to the Western Region of Ghana, where I visited Princess (or Prince’s, depending on who you ask) Town, Fort St. Anthony and Cape Thee Points. While my group and I were there, we learned about Nana Jonkone and his interactions with the Germans. Like most Afro-European encounters, it began as a relationship built on trade and eventually evolved into one of European dominance and African subjugation. I wrote about our experience in 2013.

Every once in a while, I think about that mini excursion we took. I have looked for more material online since then, and have found none. I am afraid that just like much of Ghana’s proud history and traditions, the story of Nana Jonkone and his gallant resistance to the European (Dutch) invasion will be lost to some patty cake oatmeal version of sanitized events depicting Africans as welcoming, willing participants in their own destruction.

Nana Jonkone was king over a small area at Pokesu. Though his kingdom was not large, it did have an alliance with the mighty Ashanti Kingdom to the north. I haven’t had the opportunity to study up on what the terms of an alliance with the Ashanti would entail in those days (annual tributes, taxes or provision of a percentage of livestock, for example), but I imagine that there was some sort of Mafioso terms and conditions that the Ashantis levied on their lesser partners. Our guide that afternoon gave us a hint at what those may have been.

220px-Prempeh_IWhen the Dutch barbarians attacked Pokesu, Nana Jonkone travelled north to entreat the Asantehene for his help and protection. The Asantehene was happy to oblige and sent mercenaries to protect the coastal town. It would only cost Jonkone a calabash of gold PER mercenary for his help, and for 20 years, these strong men (and possibly some women) frustrated and prevented any Dutch attack or take over. When all seemed settled, the mercenaries left and the Dutch seized their chance, taking over Pokesu, dismantling Nana Jonkone’s seat of power and ultimately sending him into obscurity. Nana Jonkone was never seen or heard from again.

Last night I was watching the 36th Chamber of Shaolin for the first time, where the movie depicts the Manchu takeover of the Hans in China. San Te – the film’s protagonist – felt that if the Hans had kung fu from Shaolin, they would at least be able to protect themselves from the pervasive street harassment and indignity that the Manchus meted out on them on a daily basis. So then that got me thinking:

WHAT KIND OF KUNG FU DID THE ASHANTIS POSSES?!?!

No seriously: Think about it. To stave off the aggression of a Dutch force replete with canons, muskets and bayonets protected by an impregnable wall of stones, they must’ve had some pretty impressive fighting skills. They possibly scaled walls. They may have even floated in the air, just like real kung fu masters!

But why don’t we know this? Surely there were Ghanaian fighting styles that our ancestors had to learn and become proficient at. What made the Ashanti military so unique that they were able to suppress and absorb the clans in their environs? It had to be Ashanti kung fu! The real shame is that we don’t know this. Right now, the old armory in Kumasi sits beneath a market or something. It should have been preserved as a museum.

If you are a historian and have more information on what made the Ashantis such a formidable fighting force, please leave the details in the comments or email me. I’d love to hear more! It’d be something we could all add to our information banks for Black history month. Thank you, and

 

WHoWAAAAA!!!!

Open Letter to Kathleen Addy

You this Kathleen Addy woman. You asked for it…now come and receive it!

Dear Kathleen Addy:

When I accepted your friend request on Facebook a little over a month ago, I did it with blind faith. We share some similar “friends”, and I thought we could be cool. I can now see that nothing could be further from the truth, and I am writing today to give it to you. I shall not hold back!

You see, Kathleen, I have evolved. I am not that idealistic woman you met online in December of 2014. I have taken off my Polly Anna rose colored glasses and MOVED on. I have outgrown the things that concern you…those things in particular being your thoughts about how Ghana should look/act/operate. You are just going to frustrate yourself, because quite frankly, you are frustrating me. When you grow, you will eventually reach my levels.

There are so many things I want to say, but for the sake of brevity I will attempt to keep this to under 1500 words. Let’s just start with your political stand.

You don’t behave like a Ghanaian where politics is concerned, and this is appalling. You engage in civil debate. Your tone is always measured. Your comments, on any topic, are concise. You refuse to bloviate. You steer clear of hyperbole. You always have examples to back up your claims. And furthermore, you give people the latitude to be a part of and support whatever political party they choose and WILL NOT deride them for it. This is not the way a Ghanaian should behave when it comes to politics, and I wish there was a word in English to express the disgust I feel on that score. Let’s just settle for ‘tweeeaaa’, for now.

Secondly, you want too much too soon. You want transparency. You want honesty and integrity. You want clean air and efficiency. Damnit, Kathleen, WE ARE AFRICANS! We don’t do any of these things, got it? Remember the story you told about your (former) house help’s father coming to gift you plantain…and his 10 year old daughter? Your response was to lecture him on the dangers of child trafficking and to warn him about the types of people who could (and will) sexually abuse his daughter if he does not guard her welfare more closely. I could not believe what I was reading. What kind of a response was this from an African woman? The correct response was to take the child, force her to sleep on the kitchen floor like a dog, compel her to wake at dawn daily to scrub your home and slumber only after YOUR lights and the lights of YOUR children had gone off. You were to treat he like the Black slave that most Ghanaians look at children as. Do you honestly think that the country’s political, religious and social elite are not exploiting the poor and young to their advantage, paying them a pittance if anything at all? Again, you failed in your duty and to that I say tweaaa!

Now let’s get to the matter that inspired this communique: Your recent moaning over Ghana’s plans to use coal to generate power to augment the current energy capacity. We’ve already discussed this, but since this is an open letter and your Facebook page is not, I will reiterate my ire with your kvetching here. As I have already explained, we are talking about GHANA. We have to go backwards to feel like we’re making progress so that when we finally end up back at our starting point, we can pat ourselves on the back for how far we’ve come. It’s called ‘expectation management’, and I wish you’d get yourself a slice. Never mind that this is a temporary solution and that if adopted for the long term, Ghana will find itself importing coal to keep this scheme afloat. The point is not to make it work, or even to find a long term solution: the point is about winning the next election. If the ruling party can provide consistent electricity for just 30 straight days around the Xmas, Ghanaians will be so elated that they will forget the hardship and horror they’ve been living under for the past 3 and vote these geniuses back into power. Why are you trying to mess with the plan? Do Ghanaians ever actually plan, unless that plan is a plan to fail?

gallery1These your contrary ideals are contrary to the trajectory that Ghana has been on for the last 40 years, okay? Ghana is great at this ONE thing, and you and your ilk want to rob the country of that. Ghana excels at sucking, okay? When it comes to FUBARing a perfectly good country with a model citizenry, there are nations in the world who can do it with as much efficiency as the good ol’ GH. We went from HIPC status, to debt forgiveness, and are now gleefully hurtling towards HIPC status again with the vim of a mad man intent on pouring his excrement on a passing vehicle in Osu traffic. Speaking of excrement, you are aware that the capital and its environs are mired in it, aren’t you? I heard you and that rebel Akyaa I-clean-beaches-for-fun Nkrumah are hatching schemes to do something about that. Who told you Ghanaians want clean air, water, roads and beaches? Huh?!? Don’t you know we have the most polluted place on the planet in our midst? Agbogbloshie is literally THE NASTIEST place on planet Earth. We are number one! If you take that from us with your radical ideas, forcing people to question and challenge the status quo, real change may actually come. And then what will happen to our precious number one status?

Ghana’s penchant for sucking is so well-known that Hollywood is even considering doing a movie about it. Remember the $3M that our Black Stars were owed that needed air lifting? If our officials weren’t so abysmally inefficient in their duties, would Hollywood come a-knocking to put us on a global cinematic stage? To borrow a phrase from Delay why are you trying to “sit up” on Ghana’s fame?

In this environment of yentie obiaa (we can’t hear you) and fa ma Nyame (leave it to God), rebels like you cannot be tolerated. People like you give Ghana and Ghanaians hope, and hope in these times is very dangerous. We can’t have people thinking that things will or might change. We can’t have women thinking they are a capable as men, and we certainly can’t have women thinking they are worthy of their respect. We can’t have folks thinking they deserve a responsible media corps. We certainly be expecting political leaders (mayors, MPs, deputies, council/assembly men and women) showing up on time for work and focused on carrying out their responsibilities. We should expect doctors and nurses to work for free. We should expect to be harassed by the police. We should expect Ghana to fail at anything that does not involve a sheet of paper. And we better start learning Chinese, as our new masters will expect us all to be proficient in their language. Well, really I should say YOU. Like I said before, I have left Ghana to its own devices.

Just leave Ghana, okay, Kathleen? Ghana doesn’t want deep thinkers or positive change. Ghana wants shysters, swindlers, cowards and failures at the helm. How many of your elders have approached you and advised you to abandon this course you’ve purposely put yourself on? Haven’t you already been warned that you will be punished by some version of Mahama’s Gestapo if you keep speaking out in the manner in which you do? Is that what you want? Are you not afraid? Or do you (and those your friends) really think you can turn things around and force the country to live up to its potential?

Girl please.

Floyd Mayweather stands a better chance reading War and Peace cover to cover.

In conclusion, I am sick of you and people like you…but I am mostly sick of YOU. You need to just give up and stop trying so hard all the daggum time.

 

With all the revulsion I can muster without puking,

Malaka

 

 

NB: For those reading, I beg you oooo. This is all tongue-in-cheek. I don’t actually feel this way about Kathleen!

A Vision for a Black Star: Ghana’s Hopes for the year 2020

Even though I don’t live in the country, Ghana is never far from my mind. The proximity of the state of the country to my consciousness has everything to do with remittances, relaxation and eventual retirement. Although I do not call the country my permanent home, I have invested a lot in its development indirectly, as have thousands of Ghanaians who live abroad. The Kufuor administration even went so far as to name remittances from the Ghanaian diaspora as a major contributor to GDP growth and encouraged the Diaspora to send even more money back home for the cause of development. These claims and calls did not come without controversy, however.

Like any “investor”, I have been doing a great deal of thinking about the impact of my money and what kind of return I can expect. Hitherto I had thought of myself and any other working Ghanaian as a cabal of Angel Investors, whose sole function is to blindly (albeit sometimes grudgingly) provide funds and resources to our dependents on the continent without expecting anything in return. It turns out I was wrong. We were ALL wrong! In 1996, the ruling government DID promise us something in return…they just never talked about it much. There was indeed a vision laid out for the running of the country, however I’m sure they hoped we would all forget if they kept mum on the matter.

When I was in college back in the 90’s, I heard some talking head mention something about Vision 2020 and development goals. Ghana was supposed to be on par with the Asian Tigers – or whoever the competition du jour was – according to the man speaking. I filed that information. Fast-forward nearly 20 years later and there is unrest everywhere, from nursing protests, TUC strikes and the Occupy Ghana demonstrations. The concerns are valid and they are very real.

In conversation, the phrase “Ghana is hard ooo”, followed by the forlorn sucking of teeth is uttered from perspiring, hardworking people every day. All these people want is the Better Ghana they were promised. But what does that look like? For some, it’s just a chance to garner and complete a quality education. They can take it from there. For others, it is food security and a life without fear of where one’s next meal will come from. For another it’s a thriving business in an environment where people are empowered to patronize said business. Others still just hope to have their own home one day. Ghanaians want what anyone else in the world wants. Stability, health and happiness. This is what Vision 2020 was supposed to give every Ghanaian citizen.

I came across a document online that outlines what was supposed to have been achieved in Ghana over the course of 25 years, from 1996-2020. I was compelled to search for it, because I have yet to hear any politician from NDC or NPP talk about a real plan for how to move the country to middle income, and more importantly, self-reliant status. The only things Ghanaians get on a consistent basis from either party are platitudes and finger pointing. Sometimes that finger comes right back to the citizen with leaders demanding that citizens do their share. Well, sir (and it’s always a sir), where is the reciprocity? Everyday Ghanaian life is naught but a series of sacrifices. Our children die in hospitals where there is no water and electricity. There are only 4 oncologists in the whole nation, operating in only TWO cancer centers (Accra and Kumasi). People have no choice but to defecate in the open because each successive government has failed to provide the amenities that would give these folks basic human dignity. What, I ask again, is left for them to give?

The poorly written document that contains the Vision 2020 goals can be found HERE It reads like a wish list and has no concrete plans to guide it, and though riddled with fluff and thoroughly banal in its execution, it makes a fascinating read. I mean, someone actually took the time to put a dream on paper…and that dream would have been glorious if only we have the leadership to execute it. It talks of abolishing customs that hinder the advancement of women; about using science and technology to solve socio-economic problems; and about providing power to the entire nation using the most modern methods available. There’s even a Green agenda in there as well, with talk of reducing pressure on forests for wood fuels and setting up models for biogas use in villages. By the year 2020, Ghana was to have been a utopia. But what do we have instead?

GalamseyNow we have entire woodlands destroyed as people desperate for a living hacked down trees and gutted whole forests in search of gold. The toll ‘galamsey’ (informal mining) has had on the environment has been catastrophic. Ghana was once a global provider of timber…now the country imports it. If your child is lucky enough to go to school, he/she will have to sit in shadow or risk being feasted on my mosquitoes as they do their homework under streetlamps or at banks. One of the most dangerous things a woman can do in many parts of Ghana is get pregnant, as maternal health is so abysmal that a sub-chief who had previously worked abroad as a veterinarian visiting KATH said that he wouldn’t let his dog give birth there. And as far as women’s rights…well, you know about my good friend Nelson Baani and the non-apology he has offered in conjunction with an absence of any sort of reprimand from his bosses.

That’s not to paint a completely bleak picture though. There are some very nice restaurants, a new highway the leads to the Western Region and of course, the Accra Mall – the city’s jewel – a jewel mired with snarling traffic and accessible by a labyrinth of roads that look like they were designed by a lunatic schizophrenic. There is development in Ghana, but it is nowhere near the level we were (secretly) promised or what the architects intended. These are mere trinkets when we were pledged a crown glittering with jewels.

2020viz

This is what makes scandals like GYEEDA, SADA, the CHRAJ spending scandal and a litany of other incidences wherein thievery and corruption are the hallmarks. These monies were to be used to make Ghana great. It was for the citizens and generations to come. Vision 2020 promised that all Ghanaians would be free from crushing, abject poverty by the time my children came of age. Whoever takes control of power in 2016 will then have 4 years to make it happen. But the reality is, I don’t think most political or civic leaders are even aware of this document’s existence, let alone the plans it contains within. One of our complaints as Ghanaians is that we have visionless leaders. That’s not true. Rawling’s NDC took the time to create a vision and it was his party – if none other – that should have endeavored to make that vision a tangible reality. What we have is a group of gluttonous sloths, wholly and solely committed to engorging themselves on the suffering of the people, but they are not ‘visionless’.

That much, we can all see.

An Apology for Benedict’s Confusion in Thinking He Owes Us an Apology

Cumberbatch tired of Ôposh-bashing'Some people have suggested that I might be blind where Benedict Cumberbatch is concerned. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am an unquestionable and unapologetic deaf-mute where Benedict is the topic of conversation (or adoration). I hear and speak nothing else. Blindness to any of his perceived faults is only the beginning of the spectrum. If my feelings towards Benedict Cumberbatch should ever come into question, there is a YouTube video I created two years ago that should clear up any confusion. My frequency is not set to receive bad or disparaging news where Benedict Cumberbatch is concerned.

In light of this, you may well imagine my shock and horror when I saw headlines describing my dear, sweet Benny as a “racist” who had used the word “colored” to describe Black actors.

Wait.

What?

for-colored-girls-bookWhen did colored become a racist appellation? Do we not have an organization that fights for Black rights that boldly features a fat letter ‘C’ in it? (Hint: I’m talking about the NAACP.) Did Ntozake Shange not pen an entire book of poems entitled “For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is not Enough”? I’m pretty sure I’ve heard/read speeches wherein Dubois, MLK and Malcolm X have used the words colored and Negro interchangeably. If the word is anything at all, it is outmoded, but it is certainly not racist. Who are these people making these charges and what in the name of good grits are they talking about?

Tsewwww

I watched the video where Benedict used the “offensive” term in conversation during an interview with Tavis Smiley. In a nut shell, it went something like this:

Tavis: Why do you think actors of color aren’t paid as well?

Benedict: I think colored actors don’t get their due because they can’t shoot glitter out of their bums. I on the other hand, am English, and therefore can.

And for that slip of tongue (and it truly is) the PC Gestapo have come to hunt and incarcerate my Sweet Cumberbatch. Agents of Satan! They should all be ashamed!

Benedict, if you’re reading this (and I know you’re not, but that’s beside the point), I want to assure that no Black person – or person of color – thinks you’re a racist. You know why? Because we know what racism looks/smells/feels like. Unfortunately brother, you ain’t it.

The Black Caucus all got together and gave racism a definition we can all agree on. Nelson Mandela and Christ Almighty were present in the room. Racism is the belief in the superiority that one group of people has over another based on their race or ethnicity. These racists then go about setting up economic, social, educational and legal systems that will ensure their advancement and prosperity at the expense of other races deemed inferior.

Let me tell you who is a racist. John Boehner is a racist. Harry Reid is fo’ sho a racist. (Obama would have been your butler, huh? I ain’t forgot.) Nancy Pelosi is a eugenicist, and is therefore a racist. Ted Nugent is an anagram for the word racist. Rudy Giuliani makes Bull Connor look like he was playing house, he’s such a blood thirsty racist. Your ancestors, dear Benny, who owned slaves and a plantation in the Caribbean were absolutely racists. However, that doesn’t make you a racist…you are merely a beneficiary of racism. You come from wealth. That system built hundreds of years ago worked exactly the way it was meant to: in your favor and the favor of millions of other white folks.

But you know what? I’m not even mad about that. How can I be? I don’t feel oppressed by you for your use of the word “colored”, a word my own elderly aunt still uses in conversation. You know what offends me? When Jay Z calls Harry Belafonte “boy”, or when Kanye is dashing out n*ggers to hungry white audiences like he was a poki seller on a hot Accra day. Furthermore, you apologized for it, and swiftly. You were even self-depreciating in that apology, calling yourself an idiot. Never say that about yourself, my dear Benny. You are NOT an idiot. You know who is an idiot? Nelson Baani, MP for the Daboya/Mankarigu constituency in northern Ghana. After 82, 456 people signed a petition asking him to apologize for calling for the stoning or hanging women who  might be accused of committing adultery, this man has not only refused to apologize, he has withdrawn from society like the slithering bug that he is.  You recognized that you may have caused offense and were quick to repent. You are a MAN, Benedict. Slugs like Nelson Baani are not.

Let me assure you that there is no need for any angst you may be experiencing. I am sorry you were made to feel like you had to apologize for what is truly a non-issue. It’s not as if you were not in the midst of a tirade about how you’d love to conquer the savage races of the third world, or even asking why Black people don’t pull up their pants if they don’t want to get shot. In fact, you were attempting to explain the existence of what you feel is an injustice: unequal pay and opportunity for actors of color. That meddlesome American media and the handful of people who voraciously consume their fare dragged you through the mud and I’m sorry for it. Trust me when I say there are literally two Black people in the world who are offended by your use of the word colored, and that is because someone white told them they ought to be.

In the future, just stick to Black – or better still, call out each actor by name. African-American is now even controversial. Don’t you worry, Benny! I’ll be here to guide and protect you.

With love, devotion and spine-chilling adoration,

Malaka

Welcome to My Church!

Saints! I ain’t gwine keep you long on this Monday mernin’. I just wanted to share a memory that came back to me after I had a conversation online earlier today. Someone had shared with me that she had gone to a wedding this weekend, where as usual, sexism and simplicity (of mind) were on display.

“You are now subject to your husband!” the officiating pastor is said to have declared. “It doesn’t matter what they said at Beijing. You career comes fourth.”

He went on to add that she must never argue with her husband and that she must never deny him sex – even when he has offended her.

The woman recounting this series of events was horrified of course, and I was grateful she could not see my face contorted in laughter. Never deny your husband sex, eh? Even when you’ve got a yeast infection? Even when your underwear looks like the floor of a butchery during your special time of the month? Even when you’ve had one too many bean pies and have wicked gas and he wants to hit it from the back?

These Ghanaian pastors are, like, sooo impractical.

Of course the basis of all this advice is “scriptural”, with that scripture being based on Ephesians 5:22.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

Eh? You said what? Ephesians 5:21 says what? ”Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”? Please…no. That is contrary to the message we are preaching in Ghana. In GHANA, it is for the wife to submit and obey. She is the body. It is for the husband to be the head; and that head must be stroked, pampered, petted and fed. Is the head not where the mouth is? Com’on then! Bring it food to eat! What is this nonsense about mutual respect for each other? You are a married woman now, and your dreams/hopes/plans only have validity if I say they do.

Oh, Lawd! How I roared to myself this morning!

I asked my husband yesterday what he believes the average man’s definition of “submission” is, as far as a woman (because there are dudes who believe all women should submit to men, whether they be their husbands or not) is concerned. What constitutes a protocol of submission? Now Mr. Grant, who is ever the diplomat, first went on to make it clear that the Bible says that spouses are to submit one to another, that men have the greater responsibility to ensure the happiness and health of their households, and a litany of reasons that solidified why I married him. Is this not a man? I weep for my female counterparts who went to the altar thinking they were marrying men, only to get on the other side of “I do” and discover they were instead wed to a Baby-Pimp-Boss. You know…the guys who want you to be ever ready (and eager) to please him sexually, but relies on you to boil him water for a bath, but at the same time wants you to treat him like a deity, even in the face of his marginal competence? Oh don’t play coy. You know these couples!

Marshall asked if he was to start a church in Ghana, would his message to men be received.

“That message would not be welcome,” I said flatly. “Sure, you’d have a small following, but you would never have to invest in a large edifice or tons of seating. You’d have 8 members…10 tops.”

This made him laugh, of course. Who ever heard of a 10 member church?

The memory I wanted to share with you has to do with my Christian journey. I haven’t prayed for the sick and had anyone recover, I barely led one girl to Christ while I was in college and I don’t have many verses committed to memory. These are qualifications for being named among Christ’s disciples (not whether I choose to wear pants to work or not), so I don’t think I’ve earned the right to be called a Christian. Marshall, who is a deacon on the other hand, has earned this. It grieved him to see his wife so fallen behind, and many years ago he asked me if I could make the effort to become more ‘krife’.

I denied him that request. I know myself. He would not enjoy living with a Christian fundamentalist, krife Malaka. But what might such a woman look like? I can picture it now; I in my pink pillbox hat and ankle length skirt…and white stockings! All female preachers need white stockings…

 

*****MOM MODE******

Greetings, and welcome to Christ Feminist (He came to set the captives free) Church! Today, I want to talk to you faithful few about men.

Yes, men!

Some of you sisters have been causing men to fall, because you have not told them the truth about their place in Gulllld (translation: God). You have not quoted them Proverbs 6. You have not led them to Proverbs 24! You have allowed your Baby/Pimp/Boss mates to wallow in mediocrity, and now look who is suffering? You!

Today, I want to tell you about the parable of the cotton wool.

106HipPastorThere once was a plantation owner who had vast fields of cotton. Year after year, his slaves picked the finest cotton and put them into bales. The children of the slaves picked the seeds from the tiny white buds, and they were all unhappy. The plantation owner didn’t care though. His profits doubled every year and his cotton was used to make the finest clothing for the British aristocracy.

But one planting season, he got a bad strain of cotton seed, and his cotton bolls came out grey and hardly fluffy. When the slaves tried to put them in huge bales, they would disintegrate and often blow uncontrollably all over his field. Sometimes, the wayward cotton would stray into other planter’s fields, polluting their soil. Instead of the cotton being used for fine attire for the rich, it could now only be used as sanitary napkins.

Because you sisters have not fed your husbands, boyfriends and side-guys the proper gospel, they are now that lower grade of cotton. See! See how your men have lowered themselves. They have not taken on the mantle of kingship. They see themselves as poor cotton wool, whose sole job in life is to sit between the legs of whatever woman they find themselves in the presence of.

Whores! Male whores! Did not the Lord Gullllld create you for more than this? Why are you constantly seeking moist, wet environments to perpetually dwell in? Are you sanitary cotton wool?

 

*******

This is why God has never placed in me a desire to preach.

The Diplomatic Importance of General Mosquito’s Faux Fox Coat

There has been much ado made about Asiedu Nketia’s donning of a knee-length tan shearling coat in Germany for the last few days. The NDC General Secretary has been mocked mercilessly by Ghanaians of social media and on local radio. Even BBC for Africa joined in the fray, noting how the Secretary admitted that he had borrowed his wife’s coat to protect him from the biting chill of a German winter. Like President Mahama’s village boy in the city pose in front of the CNN Center post interview, the NDC cadre has declared that General Mosquito (Mr. Nketia’s nickname) in drag is no big deal.

asiedu

“I went to Germany for brain work, not [a] fashion show,” Asiedu Nketia declared. He went on to add that he chose to wear his wife’s coat because he “did not want to use state funds to buy a coat” and that he “borrows his wife’s clothes all the time.”

“In fact, anytime my wife comes down, she borrows my clothes as well,” General Mosquito announced on public radio.

As a married woman, I get this. I sometimes borrow my husband’s underwear as well. There is tons of room in both the crotch and backside. They are also made of the finest cotton. I can slip in and of them without getting my short and curlies snagged in the fabric, which always makes for a pleasant trip to the bathroom. But does Marshall wear my underwear? That, my friends, you will never know…because Marshall is a strong Black man who would rather eat his own knee caps than admit that he and his wife swapped clothes. Marshall is not a pimp, and as Slick Back will tell you, pimpin’ aint easy.

Eish! I'm sure the president is pleased! Got muh pointy shoes, sheepish grin AND dis dead buffalo on my back! Coon crown, here I come!

Eish! I’m sure the president is pleased! Got muh pointy shoes, sheepish grin AND dis dead buffalo on my back! Coon crown, here I come!

It takes a certain amount of disregard for your dignity to don women’s clothing in public. About 89% of pimp garb is comprised of feminine silhouettes, fabrics and accessories. Despite the absence of masculinity in their attire, there is usually no one more ferocious and dominating on the block than the neighborhood pimp. Such a man must be completely confident in his testicular fortitude. Prince – with his spiked heels and lace blouses – has been doing it for decades, and has not come out worse for the wear. In fact, he set trends for a particular segment of pop culture in the 80’s. Similarly, Secretary Asiedu has pronounced that he has also served as a trend setter by making it okay for African men to wear copious levels of fur in colder climates. Only the most confident human beings know what kind of self-assurance it takes to don the skin of a ferocious dead animal, and although General Mosquito’s was cut for the Queen, the simplicity of it still screamed “don’t screw with me! I’ll cut!”

What most people have failed to grasp is that Asiedu Nketia has actually done the nation a great service. He accompanied the President’s delegation to Germany to ask the world’s best engineers to solve our electricity problem. Hannah Tetteh, who cuts an imposing figure was draped in a structured black overcoat, back erect and face set like a flint. She looked too much like a strong African woman. Who then was to play the part of the helpless African child? Bravely, Asiedu Nketia took up the post, and we should all be grateful. Shame on you know-it-alls who have been deriding him for this choice! He did this for you!

Everyone knows white people are far more comfortable in the presence of Black men when they don’t look so…well…Black. For centuries, Black men who have voluntarily eviscerated their own masculinity have been well rewarded for their efforts. White people don’t like thugs, but boy, do they love a Black man in drag! Flip Wilson, Jamie Foxx, Martin Lawrence and most recently, Tyler Perry, are all Black men who have played some version of the Mammie figure, putting on wigs, dresses and hints of poorly matched rouge, flapping, screeching and squawking for cameras for white laughs. In return, they get loads money and live fabulously, while your bus driving, minimum wage-making, masculinity-still-in-tact husband entreats you to “rely on God” and promises you it will “be okay after a while.” Nonsense! Don’t you also like diamonds? Oh that would all Black men just put their pride aside for the advancement for the race!

Similarly, whites only help Africans when they look poor and witless…and Asiedu Nketia played that part convincingly. You think I’m lying? When was the last time you saw a foreign aid commercial featuring African children who were fully clothed, well-fed and living in a sturdy looking home? Who helps people who look like they have it all together? Such children do exist, and they do need aid; however that image does not tug on the heartstrings of white guilt. Asiedu Nketia, a whooooole government official shivering against the cold in his wife’s coat, however, does. The German’s felt guilty, benevolent, patronizing and compassionate. They did not feel like they were in the presence of equals, and this perception is vital if Africans are to receive the technological know-how from the West and Asia if we are to survive. Lord knows it is impossible to conceive of the idea that African governments should think to recruit the veritable thousands of MIT, Harvard or Morehouse graduates to come back home and use their knowledge to develop the nation. Why should President Mahama recruit and court Ghanaians in the diaspora who have worked and led in the fields of physics, CIT and agriculture? Nah dawg! Instead, he would rather let Asiedu Nketia pose for the German camera’s looking like a rack and the Goodwill on Crenshaw.

And God bless him for it.

I can see the scene before the President’s entourage went out to meet Merkel n dems.

“Hannah,” said JDM, entreating the statuesque Minister of Foreign affairs. “Hannah, we need someone to play the poor, stupid African. Can you put on these flip flops with your suit and go and meet the German chancellor? This is the last 15 minutes in the game, and we need a closer!”

Hannah Tetteh gives him that cold, unwavering side-eye she’s known for and offers the president a frosty, curt “no.” But it was okay. Asiedu Nketia slid onto the field and came to the President’s aid, like Asamoah Gyan in the last few critical minutes of a match, ready to defend Ghana’s honor.

“It’s okay, Mr. President!” he cried gleefully. “I have here with me my wife’s winter coat. The world won’t know what hit it!”

Humph. Malaria doesn’t have the power to keep a Mosquito down. What a goal!

Remember: Asiedu General Mosquito Nketia has said that he did not want to use state funds to buy a coat when his wife’s would do. Now, isn’t the General a public servant? Is his salary not provided by the state? Don’t these delegations get a substantial per diem when they travel abroad? Surely, he could have parted with 100 cedis to purchase himself some dignity? What is all this talk of not embezzling funds? Why would you need to? You could afford it on your own!

The only logical conclusion we can draw is that Mr. Asiedu made this breach of protocol on purpose, and in doing so, he has saved Ghana. The Germans will some, and they will end dumsor (rolling power outages) in six months. How could they not? The man can’t even dress himself for an official presentation. How can anyone expect this cabal of “great thinkers” to solve the power crisis? Of course the Germans will come to Ghana’s rescue!

asmFurthermore and in conclusion, Asiedu Nketia and choice of gender bending garb have (probably) ushered in a new era of acceptance in Ghanaian politics, and this is a good thing. This will be an era when Ghanaian men are not so beholden to traditional norms, built on machismo that have held the nation back. You see this man? Behold, and keep beholding! This is the future. I can support someone like this. This is the image of the better Ghana agenda at work!

Day 5: What It’s Like to Read an Uncle Remus Book for the First Time

Hidy and Happy Friday, Folks!

I don’t know if vlogging counts towards my posting goal, but that’s what’s going down today. On this Frivolous Friday, I have the distinct honor of reading from a beloved children’s book, Uncle Remus: His songs and stories.

Most people over the age of 30 have heard of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, and all the other Brer Rabbit tales. Uncle Remus is a fictional character who embodies the souls of three people; Uncle George Terrell, Old Harbert, and Aunt Crissy, who told stories and myths when they all lived on the plantation where the author of the book, Joel C. Harris was working at the time. He re-told their stories and sold them to publications all over the country.

It was really uncomfortable to read the stories at first, and there was definitely an overwhelming feeling of “WTH did I just read?!?” when I parted the first few pages of the book, but it gives a valuable look back at what plantation life was like in those days. African-Americans have always used stories, tall tales, songs and humor to get us through the dark times, and these stories are a nod to that reality. Furthermore, it gives one a glimpse at what Negro dialect sounded like in those days. Of course, I sound like a blithering idiot trying to make sense of the vernacular, but it definitely imparts a sense of respect to the unsuspecting reader. After all, it’s not like Negros were handed a Rosetta Stone and given diction classes on how to properly enunciate or communicate using proper verb tense agreement. Quite the opposite, in fact. Sounding too “educated” could get you killed. Our fore-bearers did the best they could, repeating words as they thought they heard them.

Enough of my prattle! Watch what it’s like to read an Uncle Remus book for the first time.

If you ever want to borrow the book to read out loud, give me a holler. It would make for a great evening with friends.

*This post is the 5th in the seven day long #YourTurnChallenge series.