Category Archives: GH2013

Oh John Dumelo! Why Should we Try to be Rome?

This post isn’t about John Dumelo, my ex-boo. A while ago I wrote about how much I admired him and how compassionate and brilliant he was. Then we went and started speaking off script in a series of videos, tweets and radio interviews and my regard for him imploded. The gravitational pull of my contempt for him destroyed the walls of the ivory tower I’d mentally placed him in. It’s not like someone close to him hadn’t warned me about John Dumelo earlier, either. But as the old adage says: I can show you better than I can tell you.

This post isn’t about John Dumelo. It’s about a nation of John Dumelo’s – or rather a large enough section of population that share his philosophies and thought processes. These are the people who – in the midst of the worst power crisis Ghana has ever seen – want to lead us to proverbial Rome.

Welcome to Ghana, land of my birth. Akwaaba! In the metropolitan areas, there is a load shedding schedule that cycles on 36-48 hours of electricity off, 12 hours on. I’ve heard of people going on 8 day stretches without electricity. My father was one of them. There is very little manufacturing that takes place in Ghana for a myriad of reasons: Corruption, coups, mismanagement, fraud. Pick a combo from the menu; the results are the same. Ghana consumes WAY more than it produces, and the power crisis only goes further to hinder the efforts the few manufacturers that dare to operate under these conditions. In the middle of all these comes John Dumelo, megastar actor and beneficiary of the ruling government’s World Cop “generosity”.

He appealed to Ghanaians to give the president time to fix the power crisis.

“After all, Rome was not built in a day.”

You see this? This is the sort of Post Traumatic Colonial Disorder that plagues the nation. This is anti-Blackness. THIS is why Ghana is spiraling downward. Remember when MP Nelson Baani (NDC) wanted to stone/hang adulterous women because “that’s what they do in Afghanistan”? He was reminded before he went slithering back into obscurity that Ghana is NOT Afghanistan, it is not a caliphate and his job is not to function as anyone’s executioner. But it’s not his fault. Like John Dumelo, Nelson Baani suffers from Post Traumatic Colonial Disorder. He can’t think for himself. He relies on a prescribed set of rules from people who have never had his or his own people’s interests at heart to dictate what and HOW he thinks.

Why would we want to look like Rome, I ask you?

The Romans were notorious copycats. They stole from the Greeks, North Africans and Persians. They appropriated global cultures and presented it as their own inventions with such veracity that the antics of Kylie Jenner and Iggy Azalea pale in comparison. They were a democratic society, but they were far from egalitarian. Their survival and progeny was wholly dependent on violence, and that violence kept power and privilege centralized in the hands of the few. The strategies that Romans used to facilitate slavery would later serve as the handbook for a successful 400 years of African enslavement in America, right down to determining who was fit to reproduce and who wasn’t. Oh, and they had some really nice gardens, pottery, aqueducts and a coliseum. But is Roman society what Ghana is meant to aspire to?

Oh, John Dumelo-ites!

In making his comments about Ghanaians and their expectations for leadership to do their jobs in regards to solving the energy crisis, the actor came off as insensitive and completely out of touch. This was the impetus for fellow entertainer Yvonne Nelson’s hashtag #dumsormuststop which went viral in hours. It consequently led to an interview with the BBC the next day. This of course, made government officials livid. Several of them went on a rampage, calling Yvonne Nelson and her compatriots “liars” and seeking to discredit them. Please. The proof is at Kotoka (Ghana’s international airport), where the lights just off a few weeks ago for the world to see.

But let me show you how dumsor (lights on – lights off) affecting real people. The following infographics have been brought to you by Fazebook and Twirra.

The Problem:

photo 1(4)

 

The Promise(s):

The Influential Defenders of Incompetence:

jmelo

 The Outrage/Grief/Disbelief:

The “Unofficial” Official Government Response:

photo 2

In case you are wondering who this misogynistic bloke who is more interested in policing the bodies and relationship statuses of Ghanaian women, he is a former aid to “D” President’s Chief of Staff. Chances are, he’s still functioning somewhere in Ghana’s government.

photo(1)

And that is the cycle, my friends. This is why Ghana will NEVER progress…because at the end of the day, our political officials, religious leaders and business titans are more concerned with the location and preferences of a woman’s vagina than they are dedicated to solving pressing issues.

Because Rome.

Cash for Coverage: Ghana’s Media Elite Are on Consignment

At the core of journalistic professionalism are the ethics of honesty, integrity, non-partisanship and objectivity. In Ghana, it appears that those ethics have been brushed aside in order that the most elite of the country’s journalists may benefit from the ruling NDC government’s goal of fostering a culture of generosity with news outlets.

That’s what they are calling bribes in the annals of politics these days: “A culture of generosity.”

Tweeaaaa….

Like all evil times, there is always a remnant of men and women who possess enough strength of character and honor to expose rot, even when that decay swaddles those whom they call comrades. Had it not been for the bravery of Ato-Kwamena Dadzie who has been credited with breaking this news, none of us would have ever known that the Chief of Staff called 100 senior journalists to Flagstaff House for a meeting, and then shelled out a total of GHC100K to these individuals at its conclusion.

Ato Dadzie

When we think of media collusion and bribery involving powerful entities like the government or multinational conglomerates, we often imagine huge sums of money passing between hands in dimly lit rooms. At the other end of the spectrum, a terrified and conflicted journalists may take a bride in an attempt head off a bodily threat or harm to his/her loved-ones. Not so in this case. Greed was the only factor at play here.

It’s common knowledge that media professionals are sometimes pressured to either kill a story or slant it in a way that benefits the rich, powerful and/or famous. It is the masses who are either lulled into forgetting the undesirable or cajoled into  eagerly consume fables presented as fact. This was never the goal of journalism. The code of ethics journalists are bound to compels them to serve in the public’s interests, not those of the powerful few. Usually, a journalist – a senior and seasoned one at that – who has studied his/her craft and perfected it over time would balk at the idea of betraying that hard won trust. It takes years to build the reputation as a trusted news source, and that investment is not something a true journalist would throw away for a pittance…unless that journalist was part of the Soli 100 in Accra this week. The term “soli” is short for “solidarity”. In the simplest terms, it is ‘Cash for Coverage’. It is immoral, unethical, and it does not serve the public interest.

This is how pathetic the situation with our most trusted reporters is. About a month ago, I gushed about the designer bag I had purchased from F&W Style. The embossed leather accessory cost me $315, after tax. At the time, I felt it was a good investment. However, had I known that for a mere $15 more – or 45 more minutes of paid work at my part time job – I too could be the proud owner of a Senior Ghanaian Journalist’s fealty, I might have saved my money and picked up a journo on the way home. One never knows when one will need to bend the will of the public in your favor, so it’s always good to have a “respected” journalist in your pocket, isn’t it? That’s what every journalist who took the NDC’s money this week did: sold their honor for the price of a handbag.

The identities of the journalists who took the bribes have been kept very hushed, with some reportedly threatening any colleague with “brimstone” if their names are leaked to the public. Now, what have these men and women got to hide, if their actions were so honorable and do not betray any ethics? What is there to fear? I am curious as to what “brimstone” might look like, but I have a general idea.

Ato Dadzie2

It is no secret that the media landscape in Ghana is dominated by male chauvinists who are highly invested in preserving a culture of patriarchy. It is also no secret that many women in media have had to compromise themselves morally in order to advance their careers. Some have had to turn blind eyes to practices that violate ethical codes. These women are frequently bullied on the workforce and in social spaces. I myself witnessed this (albeit on a moderate scale) when Gary Al Smith and I had the following interaction on Twitter:

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This exchange was in response to my most recent vlog on online harassment, of which Mr. Smith was one of my subjects. Notice how I referred to  “people” in my comment. Notice how he then includes the twitter handle of Ama Agyemang Asante (a female broadcaster), identifying her as the sender of those texts. This tweet went out to Gary Smith’s 14,000 followers, some of whom are mutual colleagues of the two media professionals. Do you think she went unscathed by this, as vindictive as Ghana’s media corps have proven itself to be? Furthermore, is this the type of individual (Gary Smith, I mean) who you would want at the helm of sensitive information in an international news organization…one who would publicly name a colleague in a private texts that YOU sent and put her at risk for a potential vicious backlash? I have never worked a day as a journalist, but even I know from 101 that you don’t reveal sources. I am ashamed for this man and for his uncontrollable impulses. This was cyber-bullying at its least refined. He knew exactly what he was doing when he pulled that move, and if he claims he didn’t, mores the pity. It reveals an acute lack of self and professional awareness. This gender based hostility just one aspect of the type of unprofessionalism that is rampant in Ghana’s media and further fueled by an atmosphere that politicizes everything. Only God knows what the journalists who took this bribe would stop at to keep up their facades of decency while attempting to hurt those who they feel “betrayed” by.

I am amazed at how the government located GHC100,000 to extend as a gesture of “generosity” to the media during a time when the country finds itself under IMF scrutiny. Is there a line item in the austerity budget for such “generosity” that we were not told about? What about the cripples and the homeless? Can they expect some fruit from this new culture of goodwill? Some who have benefited from this blatant  criminality or see the sum as “minimal in the grand scheme of things” are attempting to normalize this corruption by diminishing it. Well, little acorns grow into mighty oaks. It is not the $330 received that is of utmost importance: it is the potential long term benefits to an incumbent government in a campaign year that are. How many favorable stories (or unreported calamities) is $330 worth?

Our eternal gratitude goes to Ato-Kwamena Dadzie for revealing this scourge. Those few journalists who refused to prostitute themselves in broad daylight also have our admiration. The rest only deserve our disgust and scorn… and they have it.

My Favorite Moments from the 2015 VGMAs

Last night (and part of this morning), Vodofone hosted Ghana’s version of the MTV/American Music Awards in this year’s edition of the Ghana Music Awards Festival. Whereas the average American Awards show is 2-3 hours, the VGMAs was an endurance testing 6-7 hour affair which ended around 5 am GMT.

Reviews of the show have been mixed, with a number of people of the opinion that this was the worst VGMAs they’ve ever seen. This was my first time watching the show, and I felt privileged to be able to view it online. The fact that it was streaming worldwide was a win as far as I was concerned. I’m not a big awards show fan and avoid them wherever possible, but the VGMAs was worth eschewing my principles for just one night. It was many things: entertaining, confusing, dull and inspiring. Here are my favorite moments.

The Red Carpet

Sister Durrrby’s Dress: Ghana Twitter went absolutely insane over Deborah Vanessa’s dress last night. Hands down, she was the best dressed entity out there. I’m talking better decorated than the stage, the lights, and any bi-pedal being at the show. Sister Durrrby is often makes fashion statements with her clothing (or lack thereof *ahem* nudes *ahem*) and last night was no exception. She was a stunning mix of old world fantasy, modernity and queenliness. The dress was commissioned under the Wusuwaah’s Diary label after Deborah told her she wanted to “look like a princess” for the night. Home run! Check out the label’s tumbl’r account here.

 

Blaque Boy’s Coat: Chale, chale, chaaaale. Without a doubt, Blaque Boy was the worst dressed person on the red carpet, and that’s a pretty impressive feat, considering he’s a dude. Guys have two choices when it comes to red carpet attire: black or blue. Pick any shade of the two. Occasionally, you may even venture out and try on a white jacket – but even then, one must be careful. White jackets if done incorrectly can be interpreted as an attempt to pose for the new face of the Cream o’ Wheat box. As for Blaque Boy, he threw all caution to the wind and showed up as a mix of ringmaster, paisley upholstery and a meth overdose. And he took these liberties while in the function of the red carpet host. How were any of the viewers supposed to care what the artists where wearing when the host showed up as the conductor for a rave party? I think his coat was made in Ghana, which can be forgiven and is even admirable because…

 

Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, Ghana’s Minister of Tourism was filmed strutting the red carpet in a stunning azure dress with crystal details that was made in Morocco. Minister Ofusu-Agyare was trilling on and on about supporting Ghanaian artists and showing the world what Ghana is capable of in a Moroccan dress. What bigger night than this to showcase a local designer? Heh? But it’s okay. These are the tactics of the current government – to tell Ghanaians to patronize made in Ghana goods and then fail to do so themselves at critical moments themselves. She was right in line and step with this lip service administration. Well done, madam minister.

But you know who kept it real? Who kept it absolutely one hunned and ten? Yvonne Nelson. Yvonne Nelson don’t care what none of y’all think, how none of y’all feel or that you’re in your feelings about her looks. In what can only be described as Viola Wig Shedding moment, Ms. Nelson glided down the red carpet in a short ‘fro and bare feet you guys! Just coming off the heels of filming ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ which required her to cut her hair, she chose to rock her natural tresses without pressing, dying, weaving or gluing any attachments. This was really brave, particularly since Ghanaians are so critical of short hair on grown women. (That’s a whole ‘nother discussion.) Asked why her shoes were off, she said “They are Loub’s (Louboutins) and they are beautiful, but they hurt my feet.”

Yvonne-Nelson-at-2015-Ghana-Music-Awards

That’s grown woman stuff right there. Someone please come and dash her dambs, because clearly, she is fresh out!

 

The Show

Wiyaala was the opening act for the show and she brought it. She brought that old school – Tina Turner -rock goddess – Grace Jones – AC/DC – that funk and that power to the stage. Whooo! I wish I could find a gif for this one move she did with a back-up dancer where they melded – literally fused bodies – together using nothing but their thighs and toe nails. Then she did a back bend while balancing on his quads. I was like “ OH MY GAWD!!!!” And she never missed a note while singing Tinambanyi (Here We Come). I’m getting chills just recalling it. She looked like a frikking warrior deity. Someone said she could have taken bold Leonidas’ position in 300: Rise of the Strong Women. I agree. She’s taking the musical game, devouring it, and asking for seconds.

I love that woman.

Dark Suburb. Humph. These boys. (Or boys and girls, no one knows.) Their show was so full of energy. I was exhausted! There were flipping dwarfs, bare chested dudes painted in white clay, lightening, growling, strips of leather; You get the picture. They are just different and in a league of their own. But as impressive as they are/were they couldn’t touch…

The Compozers Lawd have mercy. I said lawd *stomp* have *stomp* merrrrcy!!!!!! They opened up their set with a rock inspired, smooth version of the Ghanaian national anthem that was so incisive in its delivery it almost made me proud to be a Ghanaian again. (No seriously, the country is so wrecked I feel like we’re living through a lost episode of LOTR: The Desolation of Mahama.)

Musicianship is something we’re losing not only in Ghana, but globally, so it’s always a thrill to see people who can still play an instrument. My generation is the last to remember what it was like to go to a show with full bands backing a singer exclusively, rather than a DJs turn tables and it’s great to know that this sort of performance isn’t going the way of the pterodactyl just yet.

 

Special/Touching Moments

Wiyaala won awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best Songwriter, both well deserved. She worked really hard this year and the lyrics to all of her songs are important and impacting. When ascending the stage to accept her award, she brought her mother along to accept it with her. (Her mom also brought along her handbag.) Wiyaala has spoken frequently about her mother’s unwavering support for her dream to sing and entertain, and as a mother myself, watching the two of them together in that moment got me right in the uterus.

You know what else was special? Lydia Forson’s face when her co-presenter starting rambling in broken English and fake slangs about his business prowess and innovation. Apparently, every Ghanaian award show that was ever performed in the history of mankind was his idea. I asked Lydia to tell me exactly what she was thinking and in what exact order, but she hasn’t yet. She doesn’t need to. Every woman watching her face that moment was thinking it too.

Crazy dude in his crazy coat making crazy claims

source: Ameyaw Debrah Look at her face. Now imagine an epic side eye. Heish!

 

As excruciating as that was to watch, it was not nearly as painful as waiting for Daddy Lumba to take the stage to perform his set. Daddy Lumba’s back up dancers deserve the MVP Award for the night. This living legend sent 4 women in black booty shorts and crop tops to dance on stage like four hapless kittens while he sat back stage doing God-knows-what for a full 8 minutes. That’s 8 minutes of dead TV air time, watching 4 grown women jiggle and gyrate to nothing. Someone buy them Poki and meat pie. They’ve earned it!

Reggie Rockstone’s refusal to speak in English touched my heart. His group VVIP won something (by this time I was getting sleepy and didn’t care who won what), but in his portion of the acceptance speech (delivered in Twi), he commanded the entire auditorium to stand up and sing him ‘Happy Birthday’.

They sang in English.

 

Weirdness

In 2007 Tic Tac, aka Ghana’s Busta Rhymes, had a hit called ‘Philomena’. It was about a girl who had poor personal hygiene. It was/is arguably his best and most well-known song. He forgot all the words to this song on stage. Every last lyric. Why?

Akosua Agyapong is like our Rosie Perez. She was our Jennifer Lopez in the Fly Girls days. Akosua Agyapong did the robot during last night VGMAs. Akosua can’t dance anymore.

At one point, every hip life/hip hop was on stage pretending to be the African Oliver Twist, asking crazy questions like “please sir, can I have some more”. Apparently, they want the Ghana Music Association to make sure they are still getting paid when they are “no longer relevant”.

Dude.

Come on now. If you know you are planning to be irrelevant as an artist in a few years, invest your money NOW…and I mean right NOW.

As strange as that request was, nothing beat Blaque Boy’s slangs. He was speaking clear, intelligible English, but he just didn’t sound…right. Here, try this: Put your fist in your mouth. Now say ‘cup cake’. Now talk like that for the rest of the day. You see the problem?

 

I can’t wait for next year!

 

‘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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day to Ewuraffe Orleans Thompson

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International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900’s, and began as a celebration of the strides women were making during the Suffragette Movement. Women were demanding better pay, improved working conditions and the right to vote. It started in New York and fanned out from there. Today, International Women’s Month spends 31 days in March to address all the ills, injustices and scourges that come hand in glove with gender inequality while celebrating those women (and men) who are the champions of those causes. There are dozens of iconic women and girls that come to mind when Women’s Day/Month come to mind, none of whom does not come without a whiff of controversy at the mention of their names: Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Steinem, Malala Yousafzai, Chimamanda Adichie, the list goes on. You get a feel for the ilk of women who are celebrated the world over.

Some of these women set out to plot a course of recognition for both themselves and/or whatever faction of the feminist movement they fall under. Some became reluctant icons and symbols of the global plight of women. Hundreds of thousands of women still who fight for gender equality the world over will never have their names or deeds recorded in history. The acts of resistance against cultures and policies that serve chauvinism – rather than humanity – may seem small in their eyes, but they are part of an eternal chisel that chips away at the petrified cocoon that protects the patriarchy and shuts out the basic rights of women as humans.

For me, Ewuraffe Orleans Thompson represents one of such reluctant symbols of the African woman’s fight for justice and dignity.

But for a chance encounter with another Ghanaian “icon” (and the word is used a bit too liberally in Ghanaian culture), Ewuraffe Thompson could have gone on to live a normal middle class Ghanaian life, graduated university and become someone’s wife/mother or a businesswoman. I don’t know her personally, and in all the media reports that were churned out for 24 hours and three successive months, no journalist ever bothered to find out what her aspirations were as a young woman first. The goal of the Ghanaian media was to paint her as a loose girl who had no one to blame for her assault and victimization but herself. Ms. Thompson was (allegedly) violently raped by KKD – a reported child predator and rapist – late last year.

For the benefit of full disclosure, I also had a run in with KKD when I was a 12 year old girl. I’ve written about how my parents probably saved me from becoming a victim of molestation at his hands. There are some who would say I am biased/uncharitable/lying when I discuss KKD and some of those accusations may be true. I have no words for these people…just a huge, swollen middle finger, brought on by the rigors of my premenstrual flow. I have zero tolerance for folks who support rapists in the name of playing “the devil’s advocate”. Now that my position has been made clear, let’s carry on.

After her attack, Ms. Thompson took the brave step to report the incident immediately to the police. I say she was “brave” for a few reasons. 1) 95% of rapes that are committed in Ghana go unreported. 2) Victims who DO report are often re-victimized by untrained and judgmental police officers (depending on the precinct) who question a girl/woman’s morals by asking her what she did to provoke the attack. 3) KKD is a powerful man in Ghana, with many influential friends in entertainment, the media, the judiciary and business. Plus, as a man, he automatically has the benefit of Ghanaian chauvinist culture to shield him from the perception of wrong-doing. Virtue – as we know in most of Africa – is the province of women…and it is on our shoulders and between our thighs that virtue lives or dies. The morals regarding sex become our burden to bear and protect. It’s nonsense; but as a 19 year old girl, Ewuraffe Thompson forged ahead, lodged her complaint and put her trust in the Ghanaian criminal justice system. And because of that, she has become one of the most polarizing figures of our time.

Battle lines were immediately drawn in the sand once news of KKD’s lurid action became public. It was impossible not to choose a side. The incident made many men and women check their beliefs about gender equality, classism, ageism and views about women. Lawyer Maurice Ampaw even went as far as to say that “there is no need to rape a Ghanaian woman” because we are “easy to get into bed, submissive and give sex freely”. As disgusting and incredulous as this sounds, these are the ideals that too many men operate on in the country. They believe that not only do they have a right to access women’s bodies, but it is for women to make themselves easily and quickly available to service the sexual desires of men. When Ms. Thompson filed this report and refused to go quietly away – as so many other women who had been victimized by KKD and other powerful men have done in the past – it challenged the status quo and people were shaken.

Ms. Thompson would eventually go on to withdraw her complaint after the pressure and the media scrutiny became too much to bear, but in a stunning move that shocked the culture, State prosecutors chose to pursue the case on her behalf. Very few people – myself included – expected this to happen. KKD and his legal team were certainly shocked. In a country where an Member of Parliament can go unchallenged and unchecked by his colleagues or superiors after calling for women to be stoned or hanged to death, hardly anyone could dare to hope that the State would take up the cause of ONE girl who had been violated in the most degrading of ways. For those of us who truly believe that women deserve to exist as whole human beings, it gave us hope and made us proud of our country.

This is why I want to publicly wish Ewuraffe Orleans Thompson happy International Women’s Day. She may not see herself as a champion, but her sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. Her anguish was not for nothing. Though sexist sections of our society tried to (and still do) shut her and other victims down, they have to see now that they will not be met with timidity or with no opposition. We will continue to fight for and celebrate those women who only want the one thing that all living beings want: the right to live with dignity in their own skin.