Burglars and the Single Woman

Me looking serious

Home invasions are a terrifying – and frequent – occurrence in any metropolitan area. Accra is no exception. As a child, our home was burgled on several occasions, with the thieves making off with appliances, clothing or VHS tapes. The specificity of the items stolen indicated that that the burglar(s) had been in our home before, possibly as a guest or a worker. In fact, most victims or burglaries are familiar with the thief and vice versa. A thief studies the habits of his his target, familiarizes himself with their home and executes his attack when he has gathered enough information.

This is a frightful thought for anyone…but what about when you live alone and the thief turns out to be someone paid to protect you? Nana Darkoa shares her story. Please watch and share, and more importantly, stay vigilant!

Ghana: A Haven for Sociopaths and (Child) Rapists

I asked a question recently with regards to a certain rape case and a certain ace broadcaster. Yes, I know you guys are tired of hearing me talk about it. I don’t care. Log off. There are wider implications from the behavior exhibited and the outcomes that affect us all, and we need to talk about them. The question was:

How many years and abortions did it take before this 50 year old male “celebrity” switched his MO to carrying around and dispensing the morning after pill to his partners (or victims)?

I don’t have the hour or so needed to write about these issues, but I certainly will delve deeper into it when I have the time. For now, watch this and lets answer why/how we let a man who, according to doctors, needs psychological help walk the streets without treatment, a proven history of sexual violence against minors, and easy access to Postinor-2.

That’s not okay. Roll film!

 

Are They Sellin’ Tickets to Negrotown? Get me 6!

Blogging rules dictate the I say something witty and pithy prior to advising you to click on the video below, but I don’t want to rob you of the opportunity of discovering the magic of Negrotown for yourself.

I will tell you that I’d love to move to Negrotown for the following reasons:

  • So I can welcome Spring without the fear (and foreknowledge) that the warm weather will invariably usher the violent death of an unarmed Black teen at the hands of police and cop wannabes
  • So we can wear a hoodie or bright colors without worry
  • No longer having to grapple with the scourge of colorism as a feeder into white supremacy!
  • Everyone looks so happy. ALL the time. I want to be in a place where everyone is happy – and more importantly – just human, and not a problem that the world has convinced itself it needs to fix.

CAUTION: Intermittent strong language. Hilarity will ensue.

Patriarchal Entitlement and the Delusions it Breeds

I wasn’t going to tell this story because it didn’t become relevant until I got hit on by a crackhead in Midtown last night.

samjack-gator

I met my boo Obaa Boni for a farewell dinner last night. Yes, my fair atheist, feminist maiden is leaving the Georgia’s hinterland for other shores and I wanted to fete her properly. We had a great (pricey) dinner and fabulous conversation which lingered on until the staff began to sweep and mop up around us. We talked until the restaurant shut down. It was like a scene from a 90’s romantic comedy.

After we apologized to the restaurant workers for forgetting the time, we took our conversation to the parking lot and talked for another 30 minutes where we obnoxiously let our voices carry as though it were noon, when it was in fact close to midnight. Piedmont Avenue is an interesting place. The process of gentrification has completed its metamorphosis, so there is an eclectic – and troubling – mix of Sperry sporting yuppies, the insane, and the drug addicted. The yuppies ignored us buxom African women whose conversation was sprinkled with phrases including “activism” and “liberation theology”. (Black) Men who had either fallen upon hard times or had always lived in this condition nodded politely at us, hesitating to interrupt our conversation beyond the acknowledging of our presence. I am always mindful to nod back in recognition of theirs. And then HE showed up.

The crackhead. Or meth addict. Or wino. Or whatever substance he was on that made him think he had the right to insert himself into our discourse in such a vile manner. I was captivated by the number of missing teeth behind his cracked lips, and aware of the shaking of his right hand. I never broke contact with his eyes though. You can’t be scared in these streets. His voice was low and raspy when he spoke. He interrupted Obaa in mid sentence.

“Good evening ladies, how y’all doin’?”

“Fine, how about yourself?”

“Yeah, yeah. I ain’t wanna trouble you. I just wanna (something unintelligible) and could you help a brotha out?”

Was this dude asking for money? That wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Atlanta is overrun with panhandler. I looked at Obaa. She did not look at me. Like I said, we had just spent a small fortune in the restaurant that was our backdrop. I wasn’t in a generous mood in the least.

I answered his incomprehensible query with “We’re talking now, so you have a blessed evening now, okay bruh?”

Then he looked at me, right hand now shaking violently and responded with:

“Yeah…ok. Thank you. Bless too…I know (muttering something) and I think you’ll feel much better if you let me put this d*ck in you.”

Cool as a cucumber. No stammering, no stuttering. Surely I misheard him.

As I stood there trying to work out the words, their meaning and desperately attempting to banish the mental image of this 6’2” crackhead adorned with a painter’s cap putting his d*ck in me, I heard Obaa snap:

“Okay. That’s it! It’s time to go.”

Her lips were curled in distain.

We headed for our respective vehicles and just before I got into my car, I heard Obaa scream “Do NOT follow me!” and saw the lanky crackhead bolt down the street.

It’s okay to laugh at this point if you are. We laughed about it before we said our final goodbyes to each other. The cheek of it! This isn’t just a problem with crackheads though. This is a problem with daily interactions between men and women of a certain stature. What I am about to say may sound classist/elitist, but there’s the rub. There is no escaping it.

I am rarely out on the town without my kids, but on the rare days that I am, I prepare myself for a pass or inappropriate remark from men. It’s always been that way. I’ve accepted my truth. My kids are harassment repellent, however, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when they grow up and leave me. I’d hope that by the time I’m 50, I would no longer be subject to this reality, but a friend of mine in her late 50’s just shared how she was harangued by some dude who tried to swindle her for money while simultaneously confessing that she was a “glittering orb” or some such BS.

Anyway.

Last week I had the opportunity to get my brows done and my car washed. As I approached the salon, a dark skinned man sporting starter dreads, a faded striped Polo shirt, tinted sunglasses and 3 missing teeth asked me if I would support his artist by taking a mix-tape for a donation. Hustling mix-tapes from the trunk of the car only happens in “the hood”, and I was excited to be a part of hood culture up in Roswell. We’re finally getting some diversity! I gave him a dollar as he gabbed on about support, and making it, and blah blah blah.

“Hey sistah. You kinda beautiful. You married?”

“Yes,” I smiled. “With FOUR kids.”

(I always make it a point to emphasis the number of children I have, after some guy told me that he didn’t care that I was married. He wasn’t looking to get with my husband, after all.)

The man with the missing teeth then whooped his surprise, peppered me with more personal questions about my hair and nail regimen, called me an African Queen and let me go on my way. When I got to the car wash, the attendant took my money, complimented my hair, and followed my “thank you” with:

“So what do you do in your spare time?”

I guffaw, sending spit flying all over the dashboard. “I have no spare time. I have FOUR kids.”

Deflated, the attendant drops his shoulders and hands me back my card, telling me he hopes to see me around again.

“I’m sure you will. I have been coming here for 5 years.”

I enter the car wash tunnel and chuckle in amusement.

These people. Aba. How do you think you are qualified to talk to me in this manner? How do you see me? Haram!

Imagine if I go to Google today-today for a job. I don’t have an appointment. I have never sent my resume. I have just showed up at the door, wearing my Wednesday Worst. Somehow, I make it past the gatekeepers and score a 2 minute audience with Sergei Brin and Larry Page.

“Sergei! Larry! I have come to apply!” I shout.

“Okay…never heard of you before, but it’s cool. Can you code?”

“No.”

“Can you write an algorithm?”

“No.”

“Can you repair or design hardware?”

“No.”

“Any sales experience maybe? Good at admin work perhaps?”

“I sold shoes part time once, but no. No high level sales.”

“Did you go to a top flight school? We only accept applicants from top flight schools…”

“Well, I went to community college for a year. Got kicked out for possession though. But yeah, I been to school.”

Sergei, Larry and I all stare at each other in silence. I break the silence with:

“Look, all I know is, I want this job, and you’ll feel much better if you let me put this d*ck in you.”

 

Sergey and Larry be like "What? What she say??"

Sergey and Larry be like “What? What she say??”

Should I be surprised when they have security roughly escort me out? Men have been told their whole lives that they have to “hunt” for women. Even that’s true (and it’s garbage), you can’t show up to the chase with toothpicks and napkins. You didn’t put in the work to chop some of the spoils. You are not qualified. Why are you here?

So please, gentlemen. Advise yourselves. Despite what patriarchal customs and norms have informed you, you are not all qualified to enter. Look at the woman/girl you are approaching and then look at yourself. Evaluate the data. Face the facts. Don’t let chauvinism delude you oooo! You are not automatically entitled to a woman’s time, attention or a response.

Google!
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, John Dumelo-ites!

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

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

The Problem:

photo 1(4)

 

The Promise(s):

The Influential Defenders of Incompetence:

jmelo

 The Outrage/Grief/Disbelief:

The “Unofficial” Official Government Response:

photo 2

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

photo(1)

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

Because Rome.

My Daughter Spoke to Me in a Tone That Nearly Sent Me into a Rage

I was once a child, and it seems like it wasn’t that long ago. I remember ages 5, 10 and 13 quite vividly, in fact. Because those emotions and memories of childhood are so intense…nearly tangible… I find that I have a great deal of empathy for my own children as they navigate this phase of their existence. I know what they are thinking and what they are feeling when faced with scenarios that most –if not all – children must go through:

  • The disappointment of being sent to bed before your favorite show is over.
  • Being compelled to eat your broccoli/spinach/tomatoes before you can have a cookie.
  • Controlling your impulse to talk back to your parents after they’ve informed you that you smell and must re-take a shower, when they don’t smell quite so rosy themselves.

I get all of that, and I have tried to demonstrate that I understand their plight and that I commiserate with it. That is why I CANNOT understand why my eldest daughter came into the room and spoke to me in the manner in which she did last night.

My body was aching from a morning spent dropping freight at my part time job. I also had some errands I had to run, a task which is stressful enough on the body when that course is the maze that is North Fulton. By the time I picked up the kids, I was battered, exhausted, hungry and irritated. By bedtime, I was completely undone. It was at this point that Nadjah, freshly showered and clothed for bed came into the room and nestled her long body next to mine. She sighed.

“Mommy?” she squeaked. “I was just thinking to back to when I was a kid and well…I…uhhh…squeak squeak mumble mumble…”

I sat up.

“Heh? What did you say? I didn’t understand what you said!”

SpeakHer voice was barely a whisper as she repeated herself and continued to masticate her words. Somewhere in the midst of that auditory mess, I deciphered that she was reminiscing about when she was a little girl and pining for the days when we visited the bookstore and played at the YMCA. She wondered if we could revisit those days again…maybe in the summer?

I was confounded. Not so much by her request, but by the manner in which she was asking it. Ah, ah. Does she not know who I am?

“Nadjah. When you are talking to me and asking about these things, talk to me from your CHEST, you hear?”

She giggled…nervously.

“No! I’m dead serious! Have I not spent nights working so that I could spend our days taking you guys to the pool, or send you to summer camp, or all of the activities you’ve named?”

“Yes, Mommy.”

“You know you will go, don’t you?”

“Yes, Mommy.”

“Then ask me from your CHEST! What is this squeaking, mumbling noise you’ve come to bring to my ears? Eh? Talking as if you don’t have confidence! Now, here’s what you need to focus on NOW. For the next 8 days, what needs to be your focus?”

She thought about it a little before answering, “The Georgia Milestones tests.”

“And when those are completed and you’ve passed, you can ask me about summer activities. But when you do, how will you ask me?”

“From my chest.”

I kissed her goodnight with a scowl on my face and sent her to bed with a terse “Love you.”

 

This girl. These children! Behaving as if she is not the daughter of Abena Owusua Malaka Gyekye; sliding into my room like a phantom, as though I have not spent her whole life conjuring ways for her to enjoy it. My children cannot name a single thing that they’ve ever needed that we haven’t provided. They can’t name a single attraction in this city that I haven’t taken them to. How many of their friends can say that their parents have taken them to the other side of the world? And then you want to mumble-mumble squeak-squeak to me about the YMCA? Herh! The disrespect! I was livid!

Did you ever watch those old movies starring the likes of Peter O’Toole or Richard Harris set in medieval England? The King would always have a son who was a valiant daredevil, and then there’d be the other son who was quiet and cowardly? The King could never stand the sight of the soft, unobtrusive son and the Queen would always have to protect him from the King’s wrath. I never understood why a monarch would revile his own offspring in such a way, but I halfway get it now. You are a prince. The son of a King. Act like it.

Speak with authority! Communicate with clarity and confidence! Rest assured that when you take bold steps, your mother/father will be there to catch you when you fall! What is mumble-mumble squeak-squeak? You think Oprah got where she is today with mumble-mumble squeak-squeak? You think Toni Morrison became Toni Morrison with mumble-mumble squeak-squeak? You think Serena Williams conquered the world with mumble-mumble squeak-squeak? Or are you saying that the daughter of Abena Gyekye is so low that she must only speak in mumble-mumble squeak-squeak? What an insult to me!

Yes, I know. When Black women speak up for themselves and make no compromises on their positions, they are labelled as “angry”, “aggressive” and “bitter”. Better that my daughter should be labelled as any of those things over “invisible”, “insignificant”, and “expendable”. I am not raising little brown doormats.

Ah. What do I look like?

 

What Happens When You Trap Death in a Basket?

Yaa Traps Death Cover

Greetings MOM Squad, Random Readers and Lurkers!

You are shocked by this question, isn’t it? After all, who would so something as foolhardy as to trap Death in a basket? No one you or I know… but once upon a time, a fearless girl named Yaa did just that.

Yaa Traps Death in a Basket is my latest children’s book – although you adults seem to love them too – and it’s available to pre-order internationally now when you click this link!

Want to save a little bit of money? Enter D4S35P6H at check out to save 20% on the list price of the book. I know, I know! It’s all so thrilling. Check out this video for a peek at the fabulous illustrations done by Poka Arts.

Yaa Traps Death in a Basket from Malaka Grant on Vimeo.

Yaa Traps Death in a Basket will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks in May. It will also be available from the trunk of my car if you’re in Atlanta, and Writers Project in Ghana will have some copies on hand in June  if you’re in Accra and want to scoop up a few. Contact them on twitter @writersPG or on their website at writersprojectghana.com

I ain’t gon’ lie. The book is pretty dope. This is one of those rare times when you guys will call/inbox/email/drum beat me to tell me how great it is, and I won’t reply with a humble “Oh, eheh eheh. Thank you. Na God ooo…”

I will simply reply with “Yes. I know!” :)

Peace!