Category Archives: Marriage

How Trying to Avoid “Gold Diggers” is Blocking Your Own Career Advancement and Personal Development

It always starts with a meme, doesn’t it? Memes are easily digestible. Men, who on average use 13,000 fewer words a day than women, find their brevity delightful… even instructive at times. Some think a meme tells the whole picture. (*whispers* It doesn’t.) Meme-based manhood is going to render a lot of dudes frustrated in their singleness, ashy and simultaneously living under their parent’s roof and potential until they wise up and snap out of it. And there is no topic more memed than those exhorting impressionable young men to be wary of the gold digging Delilah.

I generally ignore these memes and leave them for the under 30 crowd to battle out their virtues and demerits, but THIS one I could not let go without comment:


This is just plain FOOLISHNESS.

First of all, you need money for anything…and that includes dating. Until men and women begin coupling by diffusion, you are going to need money, bruh. Not just to impress a woman, but so that you can live YOUR best life. It doesn’t matter if you met her at the club or the library, some kind of way money fits into the equation. You will need money to enter the club. You will need money to buy your own drink(s). You will need money for bus fare to the library, or to put gas in your car. You need money to live.

If you are going to stop the pursuit of earning money because you are afraid that someone who also needs this element to live is going to take it from you unwarrantedly, then you have no business entering the dating pool. Your attitudes about money are too infantile…which means your attitude in general may be infantile as well.

You ain’t ready.

Second, you have to be a goldmine in order for the woman you are interested in to be classified a “gold digger”. Bruh. You Georgia red clay. You Saudi Arabian sand. You Land o’ Lakes butter. All of which are very useful in the right applications, but a gold digger can’t possibly hope to unearth what isn’t there. In other words, if you’re making $8.50/hr on a job with no benefits and you are lucky enough to have a woman give you the weather report, consider yourself blessed. Your parents raised you well. Your edginess does not lie in material wealth. The tragedy is when these guys making slightly more than the federal minimum wage confuse their value and net worth with the Jadakisses and Michael Baisdens of the world who have made their money. (And who curiously are usually responsible for circulating the cracked crockpot memes.)

Third, why are you so worried about money anyway? If you’ve read a book (which would be a far better use of your time than spending the day reading memes), you’d know that the ONE thing the uber wealthy have in common is that at some point, they’ve lost it all. But then they’ve made it back. Why? Because money making is a system. And instead of you to sit down and investigate what this system is, you are concerning yourself about the proclivities of a potential mate who just wants to go out and have a good time…with you? And so what if it’s on your dime. If you’re an intelligent man, you’ll understand that the value of your relationship is not in the kobos or pesewas spent, but how you are both being transformed into better versions of yourself because of your interactions with one another.

Fourth, there is GREAT news. Ever since the 80’s, when women’s lib put on its high top sneakers and shoulder padded power suits, there has been less pressure on men to be the exclusive providers in their homes or their relationship. Going Dutch on a date is far from peculiar anymore. And if the evening goes “really well”, your date may invite you up to her apartment to sit on her couch and watch Netflix and chill. Doesn’t this make you happy? See how feminism has helped you? See how she also needed money to get you on her sofa? It works both ways!

Lastly, if you are a guy and you read this meme and nodded your head in agreement, chances are you are broke, boring and not dating anyway. You don’t want to go anywhere because you don’t want to spend money. You don’t want to dress up for the Renaissance Fair because you don’t want to spend money. You don’t, you don’t, you don’t, because, because, because. And while you are gliding across your crunchy carpeted floor, cursing all these “gold digging” women in the world for failing to see the gem in you they are passing up on, you have failed to examine yourself. You are stingy. You are dull. You have no vision beyond the next $100. NO ONE wants to spend their life with someone like that.


In conclusion: there is no one out there for you.


Is Akumaa Mama Zimbi a Dangerous Woman?

Akumaa Mama Zimbi describes herself as a women’s rights leader, an actress and radio and TV show host. She is a prolific tweeter with over 11K followers who hang on to her every word…words that generally admonish (and shame) women for having sex outside of marriage. And I look forward to her tweets.

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Don’t get me wrong: I don’t follow Akumaa because I agree with half of what she says. I follow her because I find her fascinating… i.e. fascinating in the way one finds wonder in the mechanics of a woodland flea. How can something so small manage to suck that much blood and not explode? How could a creature this tiny bring an entire continent to its knees? Such is the power of Akumaa Mama Zimbi’s 140 character proclamations. Just as the debates about the pros and cons about the bubonic plague that thinned out Europe’s human population rages on, so do Mama Zimbi’s views on pre-marital sex cause us to ask some very important questions about the dangers these pose to Ghanaian society.

Opinions about the importance and impact of Mama Zimbi’s voice largely depends on who you ask. Whether you take her seriously or not, there is no ignoring her. Everything about her is outlandish – from the prophetic intonation she uses to command women to get up from their post-coital positions, to the massive head wrap she crowns herself with for every public appearance. A self-aggrandizing woman, she approaches her quarry with a slew of humblebrag hashtags that include #IAmTheSexDoctor #IAmTheBestEver #Medaase (Twi for ‘thank you’). You look at her smiling face and brightly colored clothing and you see your mother or auntie. Your instinct is to trust her. You do so at your own peril.


People like Akumaa Mama Zimbi are the reason that Nana Darkoa and I started Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women. Her brand of sexual advice is by no means new. The “no sex before marriage” mantra is a throwback to the 17th century missionary era and imposed biblical standards that Ghanaians are expected to adhere to today…even if they are not Christians. For the record, I agree that people (meaning men and women) ought to wait until marriage to have sex and definitely before they have kids. In hindsight, it might have made things in my life less complicated. However, I respect other people’s choices not to do so. Not everyone can/does live their lives by biblical standards…not even Christians themselves. Every pastor has some view about what constitutes “holy sexual behavior” in the marriage bed, and most of it is pretty dull. I do my best to avoid sexual advice from my bishop when he distributes it. I enjoy my orgasms, and his oatmeal brand of sexual advice can only lead to slumber.

There are different ways and situations in which people – and women in particular since that’s Zimbi’s target audience – enjoy sex and that should be respected. Fact is, there are some people who want to enjoy the pleasure of sex without the politics and vexations of marriage. In Ghana (and in many other parts of Africa), we behave as if marriage is the last piece of the puzzle to complete a woman’s existence. But what can a woman really expect to look forward to in the typical Ghanaian marriage?

  • A man who will eventually and inevitably cheat on her because ‘it’s just the nature of men’.
  • To be prevented from striving to be her very personal best because she must never out-earn or outshine her husband.
  • Financial dependence and total deference to the whims of her spouse.
  • The (un)expected appearance of the 4-9 children he’s fathered out of wedlock at his funeral.

No one is happy in their marriage in Ghana. But THIS brand of paradise is what Ghanaian women are to sexually preserve themselves for.

I personally believe that Akumaa Zimbi’s approach to sexual purity is particularly dangerous to Ghanaian women, despite her mission to make them safe. For one, it reinforces the notion that a woman’s sexual purity is something that is for purchase (i.e. with the bride price or at the altar with a ring), and not a gift that she is free to give at the time of her choosing. It reinforces the idea that women are objects during the act of sex, and not willing participants in the encounter – again – at the time of a mutual encounter. And by targeting women as the singular gatekeepers for mattress morality, it leaves men to be as promiscuous as their gonads would allow them to be. This does nothing to keep women safe.

According to sociologists Betty Akumatey and Akosua Adarkwah who conducted a study commissioned by the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre (GSHRDC), marriage is actually a breeding ground for HIV/AIDS transmission, with married women being at greatest risk. Because women are expected to stay faithful in their marriages and men are not, men feel less inhibited to explore sex outside of the home with numerous sexual partners, who of course have numerous sexual partners themselves. Instead of women’s advocates like Zimbi to preach about safe sex in general, they chose to circle around women’s rights and dispositions and peck away at them like vultures. Let’s never forget Dag Heward-Mills sermon wherein he compared women who have had several sexual partners as half-eaten, rotten apples. These philosophies paint women’s bodies as something to be used by men, and strip women of their agency. It’s repugnant and disrespectful.

I think Akumaa Mama Zimbi’s heart is in the right place, but her logic (and I’m being generous here) leaves much to be desired. It’s not well thought out in the least. And of course many men love it, because it absolves them of all responsibility as long as she targets women as being the ultimate and singular responsible party. There are several men who have already come out en force to support her proclamations because they believe that because the burden of pregnancy falls on women, she and she alone must carry the burden of morality, conveniently forgetting that a girl/woman cannot get pregnant on her own.


And of course, nothing in Zimbi’s doctrine makes room for lesbian women who cannot legally marry in Ghana anyway. Are they not also women? Is their pursuit of sexual pleasure invalid because it does not fall under hetero-normative Judeo-Christian practices?

Look, the fact is “no sex before marriage” isn’t even ‘African’ in the Ghanaian context. In many of our cultures, as long as a maiden had gone through dipo/initiation rights, she could have a lover. If she had not undergone rights and it was discovered she had engaged in sex with a man both of them would be excommunicated from the village/town. I’m not making this up. Ask your great-grandmother, and tell her to be honest.

Ghanaians are largely ignorant where sex is concerned, even in the city. We have dudes that think they are supposed to masturbate with liquid soap. There have been condom drives in certain areas of the country that have resulted in an increase in the spread of STDs because the natives believe the seed of a man belongs in a woman, not in a bag, so they remove the condom mid-coitus. There are people who think they can divine the HIV/AIDS status of another person merely by looking at them. When you add the opinions of Mama Zimbi and your friendly neighborhood trotro preacher to this powder keg, an explosion is bound to happen and it is women who will inevitably bear the brunt of its force. People need educating, not fertilizer for their warped views on the way women – exclusively -ought to conduct themselves.

I think Akumaa Zimbi truly cares about the welfare of women, and I’m certain her personal experiences have colored her view. The problem is that these views are imbalanced and she is perpetuating an already pervasive attitude that is fiercely anti-woman and anti-choice… and she’s doing it in kaba and slit! There is neither enough information, nor willingness to receive any concept that flies in direct opposition to the privileges that patriarchy brings in our society in general to check this manner of thinking…and that makes it dangerous.

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!