Category Archives: Marriage

What Commodities are Trading on the Dating Stock Exchange in 2015?


I consider myself a woman of average intelligence, so I am a bit perplexed that I spent the entire night pondering the question posed by this brother. These are the sentiments shared online that cause me no shortage of gratitude to no longer be counted among the dating population.

The question posed is “what expectations do sisters have of themselves” after having been invited on a date by a man. He wants to know what the man can expect in return for paying for dinner (that he invited you to), pulling out your chair at said dinner (that he invited you to) and opening doors. On average, a man can expect to open two doors while out on a date with a woman: the passenger side door and the restaurant door. This is where I get stuck. The asker sincerely wants to know what a man can expect in return for that level of physical exertion. I believe a “thank you” will suffice. Am I wrong?

The prosaic nature of this line of questioning is an attempt at profundity that it does not deserve. At the end of the rabbit trail, this individual wants to know if $20 and some opened doors is enough to earn sex. Yes, I saw the part where he said “other than intimacy”. I’m assuming this is a “conscious” brother who would NEVER suggest a woman prostitute herself for the benefit of a date. But yeah, sex…or some variation of it.

Having been out of the dating pool for so long, this query made no sense to me. However, I recognize that I DO need to understand exactly what this type of man is getting at so that I can arm my daughters – who are fast approaching dating age – appropriately. My expectation of myself as a woman who has been asked on and ultimately accepted a date is to fully engage in the activities required of the date. If were are to assume that there is mutual interest between the two parties, that should be more than enough.

For instance: if a man invites a woman to go jet skiing, the only expectations she need set for herself are to bring a swimming suit and a readiness to get her hair wet. If she has a phobia of open water, she can set expectations to inform him of that. If a man invites a woman to a hotel to spend the night, she can expect to go to sleep. Inviting a woman to a hotel does not translate into expectations of sex. Inviting a woman to have sex will encourage her to prepare to have sex. Failing to do so is how we end up with cat and vulture games where women feel pressured and “used” and men conjure insipid questions like “what expectations does a sister have for herself” instead of just being honest about his desire to get his cock wet.

There is nothing else here at play. If a woman’s conversation, her wit, her observations, her sense of style, her physical presence and the way she carries herself in public and her willingness to share all of the above with you in a cordial or semi-romantic situation are not enough of a return on any “investment” a man may have made, then all there is left is a desire for sex. Or prayer. Maybe this dude wants prayer…which would be admirable, rare and highly unlikely.

A gentleman does not look for anything in return for being a gentleman. The act of opening doors and pulling out chairs are acts of kindness and consideration. They indicate that a man has been brought up to think of others before himself. They are not bitcoins for which you can cash in and redeem coitus or fellatio or whatever your fancy is at the end of the evening. They are not even a guarantee that there will be a second or third date. Believe it or not, there are some women who do not want to be treated well, in the sense that we think of. They want to be taken to bars wherein the floor is blanketed with peanuts and the bathrooms stink of urine. They want to open beer bottles with their teeth and arm wrestle with you. If you have a problem opening doors for your date, perhaps this is where your quarry lays…not in fragrant coffee shops or sumptuous art galleries.

In either case, neither the man nor the woman can expect her to be anything other than what she is or do anything outside of her nature. The point of the date is to learn more about her nature, isn’t it? And let’s be completely honest: the average man isn’t looking for “equity” in his relationship. He doesn’t want to wear an engagement ring nor does he want to answer the uncomfortable question of whether to take a potential spouse’s surname at the altar. He doesn’t want to be saddled with housework or have to give up his career because their coupling resulted in the birth of one (or four) babies. The average man is just looking forward to getting to third base with the chick on the other side of the dinner table after he’s dropped three hours’ worth of wages in chicken wings at Applebee’s.


Are chicken wings tradeable commodities on the dating stock exchange?

Tell me why I’m wrong. Tell me why this man’s question was an honest and sincere one and why I’ve read too deeply into it. You can’t hear me, but I’m begging you.

How Did Young Africans Express Affection in Pr-colonial Times?

One of my Twirra faves asked this question today:

This is a topic and a question that has interested me for a long time  as well, and I swore to Selasie that I had written about it back in 1998. But a quick run through the archives shows this to be false! I was so fascinated with the topic that I would ask Africans on my job, in public establishments and in churches where I might find myself a guest about information on ancient African Romance. It seems my fascination never translated into written words, so at Selasie’s behest, I am here to right that wrong and post the stories I gathered so many years ago.

Of course, “African romance” differs from everybody else’s concept of romance. Africans are magical and superhuman. There are certain activities and behaviors we can’t take part in – as an entire continent – because they are deemed to be “unAfrican”. Homosexuality, obeying the rules of traffic and eating food without hot pepper are chief among these.

The concept of romance is often associated with 17th century western ideals and mores. We think of electrifying kisses, bouquets of red roses, chilled bottles of red wine and candle lit rooms. All of the visual and olfactory delights are generally manufactured by horny men with the singular goal of getting the object of their erection’s desire into bed for the evening (maybe even for a month if things go well that night). In those days, when bees wax was scarce and candlelight was an indicator that one was well-to-do,well having a room lit FULL of candles was extravagant indeed! In modern Africa, a room full of candles merely signals that you are poor, since you don’t have access to a generator.

In asking about how young lovers in the per-colonial era expressed love and/or an interest in one another, I discovered some pretty interesting behaviors that frankly, I wouldn’t mind partaking in myself. All of us come from a village. The average African urban dweller has one generation or less that separates them from their ancestral homeland. And thank God that village people change so little in their ways! They are the keepers of our culture and it will be a sad day when our version of “civilization” overtakes and corrupts the villager. How would we get wind of this gem, for example?:

“When I was very young and I liked a young man, I would bend over discretely to show him my waist beads. (Waist beads are considered intimate apparel in Ghana and Nigeria.) We would arrange to meet each other in the evening by signaling each other with a whistle. I would tell my parents I had to go and ease myself in the bush and I would be back shortly. I would then eat roasted corn to make sure I had fresh breath before meeting my young man.” – my great aunt, aged 87.

source: panafrica.tumblr

source: panafrica.tumblr

“We lived in a village before we lived in Monrovia. I used to go with my wife (before she was my wife) to a small lake near our village with some big rocks on the shore. I would take some ripe fruits and put them in a basket for us to nibble on. Then I would sit close to her with our feet dipped in the water and cut the fruit and watch her eat it.” – Joseph, security desk manager from Liberia


“I remember my parents had nicknames for each other – which they used less and less as their children grew up! My maternal grandparents were perhaps more demonstrative in their love for each other. I remember them going to sit on the patio as soon as my grandfather came home! (I used to spend my long vacations with them till I was 9). Their house was the former District Commissioner’s house in Sekondi. It was high on a hill, and there were spectacular views from the patio to the ocean, where you could also see the yachts of the European expatriates moored in the bay. No one was allowed there when the two of them got on that patio, no babies, grandchildren, children, servants, even the President! My grandmother even took the drinks in herself! I don’t know what my grandfather did for her that was romantic, but the fact that they stuck to this arrangement religiously, obviously showed their devotion to each other. They had 9 children and were married for 65 years!” – A memory shared by Nana
Here is a slightly more modern story of the conquests of the romantic African male

“Well, as a veteran of 42 years of married life I think I can offer a comment! My husband used to be VERY romantic but the weird thing is that he does not want to be reminded of it, almost as if he’s ashamed of it—perhaps African men don’t think romance is “manly” or something.. Of course my definition of romantic may not be every ones but here are some examples–he bought me my very first car, a tiny Fiat 600 and tied a giant bow around it for my Christmas present; he took me on a month long honeymoon cruising in a French boat along the coast to Dakar, Abidjan etc; he polished the floors for me when we were in the States because it was “too hard”: for me; he never bought me flowers or candy but is quite comfortable holding my hand in public, even now; he takes me out to dinner even though he’d prefer to be at home; he cooks when I’m tired; he always notices what I’m wearing , and in any gathering, however large, he’s always aware of where I am and what I’m doing.” -Anonymous
And the piece de resistance!

“A friend of mine had a Tanzanian boyfriend who was lucky enough to have undergone one of the ‘initiation ceremonies’ that his ethnic group had for boys. Apparently, they were taught foreplay with a real ‘learn by doing’ assignment – they had to make love to a vegetable which had the consistency of a soft-boiled egg, without puncturing it! You failed when it got punctured! You apparently had to have several ‘revisions’ till you got it right – ie. ejaculating without puncturing the vegetable. My friend claims she has never had a man like him ever since. He was courteous, self-confident and the best lover she ever had. Unfortunately, he returned to his country after they finished college and the relationship did not survive the many miles between them.” – A Nigerian woman



Have you heard any stories about the amorous adventures of your people prior to colonization? Drop a note in the comments section! Sharing is caring oooo. Sharing is caring.




My Husband’s Wallet

Sometimes, my husband leaves his wallet at home. He leaves it lying carelessly on the dining room table or on the brown, felt-covered cube I bought two years ago from Wal-Mart to store extra pencils and exercise books.

For some women, the sight of a wallet lying unattended presents a rare opportunity to spend some unbudgeted cash, go snooping for contraband, or for the truly OCD, rearrange its contents by color and function. In the early days and on the occasions when my husband would have this lapse in memory, the sight of his wallet would cause anxiety to rise within me.

What would he eat that afternoon for lunch if he had no money?

Would he have to forage for food in the company fridge?

What if he wanted to buy something online for Cyber Monday and missed out on an great deal because his wallet was here at home with me, in my lap?

“Babe…you left your wallet on the bed. Do you want me to bring it to you?”

“Nah. It’s okay. I don’t really need it. It’s too far and not worth the traffic. I’ll see you later.”


His response implies that he will be okay…that he will not be forced to become the office rat who ate up all the left over crackers from last month’s company lunch and washed them down with packets of mustard whose freshness is far from guaranteed. He would be doing no online shopping that day.

But as time has gone on, I have noticed that my anxiety about his leaving his wallet has morphed from merely feeling unsettled at its sight to a full, fretful fever. What if he was involved in an accident and didn’t have his license on him? What if the officer called to the scene made the assumption that the Mercedes my husband was driving – old as it may be – was stolen because he did not have that little plastic 3×5 card to confirm he was who he said he was and that he was Old Faithful’s owner? What if a routine traffic stop became deadly all because he had left his wallet by our bedside?

I had all these fears long before Ray Tensing shot Samuel Dubose in the head last month. Shot him on with a digital device recording the entire incident. Shot him and lied about the sequence of events and got other officers to corroborate his version of events. If not for the recorded evidence revealing how quickly Ray Tensing reached for his gun and murdered Sam Dubose, this nation would have accepted – once again – the false narrative that there was a “struggle for the gun” and that the officer had shot the victim in “self-defense”. America would again suckle and console itself with the warm, bitter lies of fed to it from the blind folded vixen we know as Justice. Sam Dubose would have been painted as no angel, a thug who got what he deserved because…

Well, I don’t know what that because might be. What is the justification for this? All Ray Tensing had to do was run Samuel Debose’s name as he requested repeatedly after explaining he did not have his license on him. Instead, Ray Tensing executed him.

This is what I think of every time I see my husband’s wallet lying on the table, unattended. I yell his name to make sure he’s not too far from the house. I chase after his car or call him back home to get it if he’s left.

The sight of my husband’s wallet left alone, cold on the table, separated from the back pocket of its owner creates a panic within me. It is the same panic I feel with the onset of spring; when warm weather signals the scheduled and anticipated deaths of many an unarmed Black man, woman and child in America. Isn’t it ironic that the much welcomed season that ushers the regeneration of life for flora and fauna is the herald for the termination for so many that look like me, my kids, my husband…

Sometimes, as I’m walking through the aisles of the grocery store or pensively pumping gas, I’ll hear a brother yell out:

“Hey, baby! Why don’t you smile? It can’t be that bad.”

I quickly plaster a false grin on my face in hopes that the flash of teeth will send the questioner on his way. It would take too long to explain that yes, brother, it could be that bad – and here’s why. But I don’t do that.

Instead, I never let me husband leave the house without his wallet.



Building Strength into a Nigerian Marriage

Generally speaking, the concept of what an African marriage looks like brings to mind certain clichés. African men are encouraged to avoid marriage for as long as possible for the benefit of seeking fortune, while African girls are instructed to make marriage their end goal in life. There are strict gender roles that govern the dynamics of the typical “successful” union. Women are expected – or at least have knowledge of how to cook and clean on a daily basis (even if that woman in a PhD holder or CEO of a multinational conglomerate). A man comes home from work, throws his feet on the ottoman and waits for his dinner. Thrice a week he goes out to have sexual intercourse with his mistress because his wife has become dull, moody and unattractive…presumably from all the extra duties she’s expected to carry out in order to be a “good African” wife.

By all indications, marriage is something that modern African women of means ought to avoid at all costs. Culturally, African women are not expected to excel beyond a certain level and/or are expected to stifle their achievements for the sake of their husbands’ reputation. This can only lead to discontentment in a woman, which then transfers into the marriage: Miserable wife, miserable life.

There are no concrete numbers on how many marriages on the Continent end in divorce, but in the US, divorce records are packed with Nigerian surnames. If Twitter and the comment section of the typical Afro-centered blog provide any clue, it’s not difficult to understand why. It amazes me that the concept and workings of marriage between people who identify as African have not evolved with the times. Men no longer run into the bush to hunt game, so why this obsession about tying a woman’s worth to her ability to pound yam and make soup? Why aren’t more men and women of African descent focusing more energy into building stronger, better, faster, smarter women? The evidence is clear: when women are given the opportunity to flourish, uninhibited, the benefits ripple throughout society.

It’s easy to get caught up in the negative aspects of marriage that eventually lead to an African divorce, (ooo! That sounds like a book title!) because we dedicate more time to assessing why marriages fail instead of why they succeed. That’s why it is such a treat to be able to share the unconventional way this Nigerian couple have built a strong(er) marriage by incorporating strength training into their union and busting all those cliches mentioned previously.


Funmi and Ugo have three children celebrate ten years of marriage this year. Devoted to their faith, they serve in a number of their church’s ministries, including the choir, media and renew marriage ministry. Church duties aside, the couple found a new way to connect with one another through metal and floor mats in the gym.

Funmi and I were in the same dorm at Hampton University our freshman year, so when we reconnected on Facebook many years later I was shocked to discover that the smiling girl who went to school on a golf scholarship had earned a Taekwondo black belt and was a former instructor. Perpetually smiling Funmi had also married a perpetually smiling man named Ugo and they have birth three perpetually smiling children. It’s really amazing to see – but what’s even more amazing is the high praise Ugo always has for his wife. In one of his posts, he bragged about how physically strong he knows his wife is, despite her doubts. It was a sentiment he repeated when I asked him about his motivation for pushing his wife and vice versa in the gym.


It took a while but it finally happened. My stomach was pressing on my belt and hurting me. I had to tuck my belly away.

Now I know I was overweight but I didn’t think it was much of an issue but my belly touching my belt?  This is a problem. I am a vain man.

Time to hit the GYM.

It took a lot of false running starts but I figured out my issue: I would go to the gym and lift heavy weights as much as possible and then spend the next 5 days​ in pain from my muscles responding to the workout.

I finally happened upon 5×5 Starting Strength. 3-5 simple compound exercises that you start at low weights. I did it for 3 months sporadically but it allowed me to get used to working out for longer periods.  I enjoyed putting on more weight on the bar to show improvement.

I was getting strong but not thinner. I figured I could jog. I declared to my wife that I will job 2 miles today!  She gently suggested that I only run 1 mile since I hardly jog. She is a wise woman. I returned drenched in sweat and hyperventilating. I knew I was out of cardiovascular shape but this tired from 1 measly mile? Like I said, I am a vain guy so I started running in earnest. 1 mile, 1.5, 2 miles then 3 miles and now and then 3.5 miles. Great way to get away and challenge yourself.

I love running and hearing my lungs breathe normally. It makes me feel like I am doing push-ups for my lungs.

I work out for mainly vain reasons. I want to look good without a shirt. The health benefits are a great bonus but I want to be able to remove my shirt and have to fend off ladies that want to lick the sweat off my pectorals.  (Don’t judge me, I am a vain man.)

My Funmi is a strong woman but I soon realized that she is stronger than she thinks she is. I push her to remind her that the weights she does are too little for her. I want to push her boundaries. I never told her the squat bar already had 45 lbs. I slapped on 25 lbs. on both sides and told her to lift. She did easily. So my job is to push her. Make her lift that heavy weight. She is stronger than she thinks she is.


I want a woman with curves and muscles so the best way to do that is develop my own muscles. Going to the gym with Funmi used to be boring. She had her own routines and she would be in there for 2 hours. Now that I know more of what exercises to do, we are working out together and it is fun.

My favorite workout day with Funmi is leg day. She wears those sexy spandex and does squats and I like to be there supporting her all the way down and back.



I love working out with my husband.

Back in the day when we first got married, I was really into it, worked out 3-4 days a week, 2 hours per workout. Back then, he hated working out with me. (She laughs) He didn’t think that we needed to stay that long and would often be done in less than an hour and sit in the front waiting for me, until he just decided that he wasn’t with my long gym stints, and started going on his own.

Shortly after that, we started having kids and our motivation became cyclical.
Fast forward to 2 kids, I got really motivated and become my smallest and strongest size ever (gift from being dedicated to a boot camp class)… Then we had our third kid and I lost all motivation.

Too tired.

Too much wahala.

Too long a commute, etc.

Then all of a sudden my hubby became Mr. Workout King. He started running, started lifting and I started seeing a change in his body. I used to be the one that was motivated, but now he was trying to push me!

This year, I’ve had a few things to motivate me. We’re going to Cancun this week to celebrate our tenth anniversary, and I didn’t want to feel blah in my swimsuit, I wanted to feel sexy.
My brother and sister-in-law went on a trip a few months ago; I saw how hard they worked leading up to it and how great they looked in their pictures and I wanted that.
I made August my goal month to meet my weight goals. I slacked off a lot for the winter and the spring. I tried and stopped  a number of times.
 Then I heard about the whole 30 program (www.Whole30.Com). My friend lost a lot of weight on it, and it didn’t sound like a “diet” per say (I’ve never liked those). It sounded more like a way to revamp my relationship with food. So, about a month and a half away from my trip, I took the plunge.
30 days later of eating delicious food, and I lost several inches, 9lbs and 1-2 pants sizes.
Now I am motivated. Interspersed in these last few months, Ugo and I have worked out together, but it’s harder to do with the kiddos. Whenever we have gotten the chance, I’ve loved it. Now that hubby is somewhat of a gym head, he can stay there for two hours.

I had gone from being confident in the weigh  room to being intimidated. It’s weird.
I think it’s from years of not lifting and then going to a boot camp place that only used resistance band training for strength training. Either way, I’m learning weights again and Ugo is my teacher.
He is knowledgeable about a lot of things and does research on things that he wants to learn. Weight training is no exception! Whenever we go and workout together, he takes me to the weight section and having him there makes me more comfortable. He teaches me about what weights I can use for what body parts and helps me figure out what to lift. I err on the side of weight that I can comfortably lift with 3 sets and 12-13 sets. Ugo’s not with that. He says: “You are stronger than you think you are!”

Let me be clear, I’m stronger than the average woman… I’ve always been…I was stronger that the average girl when I was growing up and that’s never changed. I used to challenge and often beat boys in arm wrestling from elementary to junior high. At that point the boys started getting bigger and stronger and I retired my arm wrestling ways!
As a martial artist for most of my life, I can do push-ups. ( Real ones…not girly ones. I can even do them on my knuckles.) As a golfer (I went to college on a golf scholarship) I hit the long ball!! If I play from the ladies tee box, I can easily out-drive most guys. When I play from the men’s tee box, I’m right there with them.

Needless to say, Ugo knows these things about me, and really knows me better than anybody. So he knows when I’m taking it easy, even when I don’t realize that I am. So, whatever I tell him what I want to lift, he adds 5lbs to it.

I groan, he ignores my protests, and makes me at least try to lift it, if I can lift it at least 5-6 times, he spots me until I get to 8-10. Only when I can barely lift it once or twice, does he remove some of the weight.

It pushes me to try harder and to try and lift more. He values my physical strength and loves it, wants to see my muscle definition again, and is not intimidated by it! He sees my muscles as sexy.

Funmi’s current weights:

115 lbs squats
40 lb barbell bicep curls
70 lb incline press
70 lb wide chest press
30 lb triceps pull-downs

So now, when I’m by myself, I walk into the weight area with more confidence. The big dudes and ladies in there don’t intimate me. I have a clearer idea of what to do and how to do it.

We won’t necessarily get a chance to work out together consistently, but I love it when we do. He’s my stud and I love seeing his chest pump out when he does his curls, and his triceps flex when does pull-downs. He’s strong and I like it!


There are so many lessons to be gleaned from Funmi, Ugo and their fitness journey. For me, it’s important to note two things: 1) They did not start out on the same page as for as their health goals but they eventually got into sync. 2) In a time where women are competing in sports that require intense strength like MMA or Cross Fit, but are still having their body images policed, it’s refreshing to hear a woman say that she knows her man is not intimidated by her muscles.

Swoop into the comments and tell me all the reasons you adore them too! :)




A Week in Belize, Where it’s Always Sunny with a Chance of Beautiful

It requires a fair amount of hubris and cheek to go on vacation and assume that anyone anywhere would care to have you share the gritty details of how you idled endless hours in a hammock munching on fresh fruit and being lulled to sleep by the ocean’s waves…so allow me to express my gratitude to the many people who have sent messages expressing their anticipation of my doing just that. That you would want to participate in my experience, albeit it vicariously, means a lot!

Me and my hammock were like *this*!

Me and my hammock were like *this*!

MOM Squad. Man. There’s just so much to tell. I could write and vlog for weeks and still not properly convey the mix of sounds, smells, sights and emotions I experienced on this short trip. Still I must try so, I will begin by sharing my most immediate reactions and observations. Also, it is incumbent on me to advise that if you ever have the opportunity to visit Belize (or Placencia, to be precise), seize it! There’s no way you’ll regret it.

Marshall and I visited the country in order to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We had originally planned to visit Greece, but changed our minds when Belize literally dropped in our spirits.

“Let’s go somewhere super exotic. Like Ibiza or Las Trampas (not a real place),” I said.

Marshall was Googling the earth and said, “What about Belize?”

And that’s how we ended up on its sunny shores instead of Greece’s debt-ridden coast.

The entire trip was fraught with excitement. After we landed at the international airport in Belize City, we took a much smaller aircraft to the peninsula of Placencia. The 10 seater plane, about the size of matchbox, was piloted by a handsome West Indian chap who handled the craft like it was a Hyundai taxi. Our landing strip at the Placencia airport – which was constructed to look like someone’s house – was the size of a postage stamp. A dog jogged onto the runway as we offloaded our bags. A shuttle driven by a stocky Mayan man named Cirilo took us to Robert’s Grove where we would spend the week.




The first thing we both noticed about Belizeans is how friendly they are – and not in that trained, tourist tolerating way that you become accustomed to when you walk into a Hilton hotel or Five Guys hamburger chain. Belizeans connect with you on a human level. It’s amazing. Marshall and I spent the first 36 hours trying to ascertain whether they were putting on or if this was their demeanor as a culture until I finally put an end to the query.

“Let’s not question this anymore! This is the problem with Americans….always so suspicious! This is just the way life is here, babe.”

Poor Marshall. All he could do was nod and agree with his wife.

To be honest, this aspect of Belizean culture has proven to make my re-entry to the United States most difficult. Since I have been back, I have had to make a conscious effort to “unlook” passersby and people with whom I share public space. When I first came from Ghana to the US, I would offer a greeting or at least nod in deference if I happened to make eye contact with a stranger. I was greeted with hostile stares in return. Then I moved to the South (Atlanta) and continued with the practice. True Southerners will nod and greet in response. But since there has been an influx of Northerners to this part of the country, that culture has quickly died as well. Now, I have learned to stand my ground, continue walking in a straight line and coldly refuse to look anyone in the face in passing. The person coming in the opposite direction does the same. But in Belize? My word… I couldn’t say “hello” enough! Every who walked by offered a hearty “Good day!” or “Good afternoon!” with a smile. A real, honest from the soul smile. I looked forward to making my way to the street just so I could interact with people in this way.

The second thing that has been hard about returning to the US has been that you can’t see the stars at night. Do you know how devastating it is to look up at the night sky and KNOW the stars are there, but be unable to see them? All the night pollution and artificial light blocks their view. I’ve been back two days and still haven’t adjusted.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the food. It’s absolutely incredible. We eat crap – actual, verifiable CRAP – in this country. Rafi, our tour guide told us as much. On our way to Nim Li Punit, we passed several cashew, orange and banana plantations. There were bright, blue plastic bags covering the hanging fruit of the banana trees. Marshall enquired about them.

“Oh that?” said Rafi. “That’s so that the pesticides that they spray from the airplane don’t get on the banana fruit itself.”

“Oh. Ok.”

“We don’t eat dat sh*t,” he continued. “That’s they stuff we ship to you all in de US. Our food is organic.”


No apologies, no remorse. And why should he be remorseful? The FDA and grocery chains are the ones who request and approve the chemical covered and infused swill that we stuff into our bodies and call “food”. It’s not Rafi or Belize’s fault. They are just giving the customer what they asked for. But by God, you haven’t tasted a mango or a pineapple until you’ve had one in Belize, one grown in “good ground” as they call it. Rafi gifted us a mango from his yard which we ate on the morning of our departure. I had just gorged on fresh coconut and don’t particularly care for mango, but Marshall didn’t care. With a wide-eyed stare, he commanded me to eat this.

It wasn’t just a mango. It tasted like honey, nutmeg cinnamon and fleshy joy. It felt like pleasure sliding down my throat. It was divine. I never want to eat another mango after that. Every other mango will fall short.


In my next post, I will tell you about the sea. In Ghana, to ocean makes me very sad. Apart from the fact that it is absolutely filthy and fetid, the ocean holds a particularly melancholy place in my heart. It’s deep and spiritual. I didn’t feel that when I looked over the beach in Placencia at all… and I was shocked (and pleased) when I unearthed why that was.



*Check out my IG @ malakagrant if you want to see a few pictures! My iPhone was acting up, so there aren’t that many.  :( Boo. I know!

Did 90s R&B Ruin Marriage for an Entire Generation?

I recently had the occasion to take a 10 hour road trip with my four children. Let that sink in: 4 kids – all aged 10 and younger. Obviously it went well enough. I’m back at my computer and have lived to tell the tale.

My musical choices for road trips of this length usually vary between hip-life and heavy metal. I find that submerging my psyche in guitar riffs and subtle misogynist lyrics is a comforting alternative to road rage. But on this particular trip something peculiar happened: on a whim, I decided to shake up my playlist and added a new channel on Pandora. That channel was Boyz II Men. That’s when the trouble began.

If you’re age 34 and over, you will remember that Boyz II Men, Shai, Jodeci and Joe (and who could forget Silk!) defined 90s R&B – and romantic relationships by extension – for legions of impressionable teenagers who suddenly found a rise in hormone levels coincide with the introduction of this new style of music. We were spellbound and with our senses led astray; utterly powerless. “Let me lick you up and down?” Ebei. Okay…sure! Who could resist such an invitation, nasty as it may have seemed at first. You people reading know what manner of salivary bathing rituals you subjected yourselves to at Silk’s suggestion.

The first song that debuted on my playlist was Boyz II Men’s End of the Road. Spiritually, I was transported back to that era I spoke of earlier: that 16 year old crush-giddy-gnashingness that many a girl experienced in those days. Here were four men in various shapes and octave ranges promising to make your evening a long and unforgettable one. For those of us who lost our virginities to clumsy, inexperienced age mates who were eager to cross organism’s finish line, this was only something we could dream of. *Sigh*…

The 37 year old woman listening to these lyrics – the one who was now married with children – was horrified. Lies! So many lies! I suddenly understood why so many modern relationships that began with the promise of “forever” had crashed and burned and disintegrated into a million pieces. These musical groups were feeding us the Oxfam version of a romantic utopia, never taking into account that there are not enough men alive (then or now) who could deliver on the sort of sexual, financial or spiritual fulfilment they were promising hordes of young women and girls looking forward to eventual marriage. In just 4 short years, we were all deceived into thinking that the man of our eventual choice would do whatever it took to keep our relationship intact no matter what the transgression, perceived or real. We were that special.

Look at this:

Girl, I know you really love me,

You just don’t realize

You’ve never been there before

It’s only your first time

Maybe I’ll forgive you, hmm

Maybe you’ll try

We should be happy together

Forever, you and I


You know the story. The girl(s) in this story had cheated and were being implored to come back and work on making the relationship a success with promises of being made love to all through the night in later songs. Jodeci only made matters worse by declaring in Feenin’ that we could:

Take my money

My house and my cars

For one hit of you

You can have it all, baby

Cause makin’ love

Every time we do

Girls it’s worse than drugs

Cause I’m an addict over you

And you know that I (can’t leave you alone…etc)

Open your eyes and stop lying to me!!

Open your eyes and stop lying to me!!

So what did we do? Like fools, we traipsed into marriage and long term relationships built on clouds. Jodeci and co would have done us all a better service if they had told us the truth about unprotected sex, STDs, abortions, side chicks, and broke dudes who hole up in your house eating up the last of the gari and using all the hot water. Then of course there’s THIS line of thinking that is the final destination at the other end of the bridge of the “typical African marriage”.


You want your wife to treat you like a baby in the bedroom? What does that even mean? You want her to dress you in a bonnet, wipe your butt, dust your body with lavender scented powder and breastfeed you at 3 am? This is not what 90s R&B promised, but that’s exactly what this president/king/baby is expecting out of his wife.

What else is there to do but divorce? The blame lays at the feet of Jon B and Babyface, guys who promised to work, cook, draw bubble baths and pay bills for the object of their amorous feelings. We each imagined ourselves to be the quality of woman worthy of this level of attentiveness. But what did the 50% of people who decided to terminate their marriages in the last decade get instead? Some chap who wants to know why his underwear hasn’t been washed or why dinner wasn’t placed on the table as soon as he got home from. All this after his wife has usually put in 9 hours of work herself.

Oh ho.

These days, there is no R&B to cloud anyone’s judgment. Many young couples don’t even bother with the farce of aspiring for a fairy-tale marriage. It’s unattainable. They are wiser than we were. Nowadays, music is much more realistic. Men are honest. They want to make truffle butter and cheat on you and have no qualms about admitting it in song. In return, women are delaying or eliminating the prospect of marriage. More people are winning.

In the meantime, I’ve gone back to putting Van Halen and Timaya on blast for long road trips. Unlike K-Ci and Jojo, they are honest gentlemen.

Singing about Love in the Black Community: From Barbershop Quartets to Making ‘Truffle Butter’

Warning: This post contains images and descriptions that you will not be able to mentally unsee. Please continue with caution…or not at all.

I had the ‘opportunity’ to watch a rerun of the 2015 BET Awards this week. It would be more accurate to say I was obliged to watch it, since my cousin provided me with the option of watching “Black Sparrow”, “Black Poison” or “Black Scorpion” On Demand. I stared at the title choices in disbelief, so she decided for us.

“BET it is!”

She wanted to watch Diddy take that infamous swan dive through the bowels of the stage. I never tire of seeing it, so I didn’t object. I’ll grudgingly admit that I was glad we watched it. Smokey Robinson was being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and it gave me the opportunity to revisit some of his greatest hits, including Tracks of My Tears and Tears of a Clown. I came up in an era when Motown’s power was just beginning to wane after defining not just Black music, but pop music for decades. It was nice to see a face and hear a voice that I associated with happier childhood times. In that segment, I discovered that Smokey Robinson was credited with writing over 4,000 songs, many of which form the basis of a hip hop hook or two or have been remastered by prolific R&B crooner such as D’Angelo. Cruisin’, Ain’t No Woman Like the One I Got, Baby Come Close to Me, Get Ready, My Girl…the list is endless.

Dudes that set a thousand hearts aflutter!

Dudes that set a thousand hearts aflutter!

It was a beautiful tribute, but it got me to thinking about themes in popular music. Above all, Smokey wrote about love. Love –either in the religious, erotic or filial sense – has always been a strong theme in Black singing, but I sense a shift…a change in the tide if you will. There are no more “love songs”. There are only porn anthems. How did this happen?

Let’s be honest: All music about love has at its core the end goal of getting to sex, but there was a certain beauty in the dance. When the Four Tops sang baby I need your lovin’, got(s) to have all your lovin’, it was implied that at some point, there would be a meeting between the sheets after the proper protocol had been executed. A woman and her beaux might go for a walk, talk about this n’ that, dare to tell her how stunningly beautiful she was, and enquire if he could call on her again.

R&B and pop music have its roots in Barbershop Quartets. Allegedly, Black men who would find themselves spending a leisurely afternoon waiting to get their hair cut would entertain themselves by singing and harmonizing in groups in the barbershop while they waited for their turn for service. This culture was then bastardized by white entertainers who used the technique and its elements during minstrel shows. From Barbershop, doo wop and singing under street lamps was born. Rock was just emerging as a force. Barry Gordy seized the opportunity to bring some order (and to profit off of) to the chaos when he created Motown Records. For the first time, Black artists had more control over their craft than they had previously under white owned labels and management. The foundation and formula for making pop culture hits (and profit) was solidified. There hasn’t been any looking back sense. The only thing that has changed is the heart of the music. In less than 100 years, we’ve gone from expressing hopeful, wistful love with the desire to be together forever to the expectation that one’s encounter with the object of the song’s lyrics will last no more than 10 minutes in the back of the club…or at best, all night long.

Ooooo… All NIGHT long, you say?! How’s that for longevity? Please; people have had yeast infections that have lasted longer. Oh, speaking of crotch yoghurt… The lyrical concoctions in today’s most popular urban music (as they relate to relationships and love) range from amusing to flat out disgusting. They describe sexual acts and/or fantasies that the singer has either played out in real life, or expresses a desire to inflict upon his/her sexual partner for the duration of the encounter. If you’re unfamiliar with these terms I am about to share, please know that there’s no easy way to serve this up to you, Dear Reader, and for that you have my most sincere apologies.

  • Superman Dat Hoe: The act of pulling out at the point of climax while in the lower mammalian procreative position, spraying the female participant with one’s semen whilst laying a sheet upon her back, thus creating the appearance of a “Superman cape”.
  • Strawberry shortcake: After performing fellatio, the female participant in the act will eagerly and unsuspectedly look up at the recipient after he has discharged in her mouth. He will then punch her in the face, as hard as possible. The mixture of blood and semen will create a crimson and cream mix, known as a “strawberry shortcake”.
  • Bucking Bronco: Two “dedicated” lovers must find themselves in the act of sexual pleasure, again in the lower mammalian procreative position. As they near their romantic peak, the male will grab his partner by the waist while purposefully call out the name of another (unknown) woman, much to her irritation. In the moments after, she will undoubtedly twitch and attempt to wriggle away from his grasp, but he must hold firm and continue to “plow”. Bucking bronco.
  • Making Truffle Butter: While in the midst of anal sex, the person in possession of a penis (or a replica thereof) will withdraw from the anal cavity and re-penetrate his partner through the vagina. The tan, buttery substance created in the aftermath is known as “truffle butter”.
  • Spiderman Dat Hoe: Are you still reading? Gosh, you’re a trooper! This one’s not so bad. A man merely gratifies himself, ejaculates into his palm, and flings the stringy substance into his partner’s face…like Spiderman blinding the Goblin, I assume. Who knows? I’m just waiting for someone to create series of maneuvers named after all the Marvel comic heroes and destroy my adolescent memories forever.


I admit I have a certain level of nostalgia for olden days and the music that defined my parent’s era. In a time when men were not ashamed to plead with a woman to not take away her affection after he’d committed some egregious act or when crooners sang of forgiving their lovers even though “s/he done did me wrong”. That there would be an intimate make up session to follow thereafter was always implied, but never explicitly explained. There has been freaky sex in private and public spaces for as long as human beings have procreated – but there has also always been a certain mystery to it. You could speculate, but never say conclusively what two people were doing in their private pleasure time; but now folk will just walk up to you and tell you what they cooked up on their 300 thread count sheets. Mmmm mmm! Truffle butter!

I am most forlorn because there is so much emphasis on sex  – and culminating that act in violence towards women – and hardly on love at all. Like, there are 15 year old girls and 20-something men who equate being given gonorrhea or a vaginal rash with “love”. They’ll never experience the wistful longing of waiting for love to bud and blossom, of cultivating a lasting relationship, because they’ll have been too busy sitting in the gynecologist’s office getting that buttery butt seepage checked out…and that’s a tragedy. That’s not love. That’s a UTI.