Tag Archives: ghana

Guest Post: This is What Male Privilege Looks Like

I just got this post in from Nana Darkoa who asked me to ‘put this man on blast’. Let her experience be a warning. Read, gasp and hide your kids. The rest of you: behave yourselves in public!

 

The plan was to enjoy an Ethiopian buffet at Hush Lounge in Labone. My friends and I were seated comfortably in a far corner of the dimly lit venue, chit chatting. We were 4 adult women, with a 13-year-old girl in our company. Her brother sat adjacent to us. Close enough to be within earshot, yet far away enough to retain his teenage cool.

I was drinking Smirnoff Ice and chatting with one of my friends when this man came and sat right in the corner where we had ensconced ourselves. I groaned inwardly, why did he have to come and sit right next to us when the venue was practically empty. You could tell he was drunk from the way that he lurched into the seat.

 My friends and I continued chatting.

“Excuse me, excuse” we soon heard him say loudly. Sure enough, Mr. Drunk Man was trying to interrupt our conversation. I looked up briefly, then away, and continued to talk to my friend. One of the women in our party must have said something briefly to him, which I didn’t quite catch before returning to our conversation. I couldn’t help but say to my friend,

“Ah, male privilege can be annoying. Can you imagine ever going to a bar, sitting right next to a group of men and then raising your voice at them to get their attention?” We laughed and went back to our conversation.

Mr. Drunk Man tried to interrupt us one more time with no luck and somehow started a conversation with Mr. Cool Teenage Boy whom he had sat right next door to. While I chatted with his mother, she glanced his way intermittently, concerned about whether or not he was okay. He seemed fine, and walked away after a while.

It was then that Mr. Drunk Man started trying to interrupt our party with something to the effect of, “Oi, I’m talking to you”. We ignored him and tried to carry on our convo. But would Mr. Drunk Man take a hint? Oh no. He just got louder. Eventually I said,

“Excuse me, we are trying to have a conversation. Please leave us alone”.

He started to swear at us. “Shut the fuck up.” “Ugly fat black bitches.” “Fuck off!” and even something to the effect of “You’re just looking for black dicks.” My friend said, “Don’t talk to us like that,” but that made no difference to him and he continued to rant and rave.

Just at that moment a male friend who had told us about the regular Ethiopian buffet at that lounge walked to the corner of the restaurant where we were seated. He tried to calm down the situation. “Good evening, Sir,” he said whilst making direct eye contact with Mr. Drunk Man. But oh no, Mr. Drunk Man couldn’t be talked down into civility. Eventually, security led him away.

 

van-lare-dosooThat night, I did some digging, and found out Mr. Drunk Man was called Lionel, and earlier on had taken to bragging about being a former Chairman of Ecobank (and the fancy school his children attend, and that he used to live in the States and had just come back from Brazil). So off to Google I went, where I searched for ‘Lionel + Chairman + Ecobank.’ Indeed, there is a (former?) chairman of the esteemed bank called Lionel. I did a Google images search with the full name I now had. Yup, it looked like the same man. I sent it to my friend. She was with one of the other women who had been with us at Hush lounge that night. They both confirmed it was the same man. Lionel Van Lare Dosoo, next time you’re drunk go home, don’t harass women in bars.

 

 

 

 

Are you Going to #OccupyFlagStaffHouse?

“Chile, I don’t want you mixed up in all dat revolution, y’hear? They gon’ KILL your scrawny ass!”

This phrase was repeated in various forms in Negro homes all across America in the 50s and 60s. Parents who had lived through Jim Crow and whose own parents and grandparents had come out of slavery and Reconstruction knew what a cagey government and ruling class bent on the destruction of a people was capable of. Asking for change was dangerous. They could (and often would) actually kill you – the fed up, ordinary citizen – to maintain the status quo. The fear of these parents whose children were seeking radical change and ‘revolution’ was real and absolutely warranted. They had often witnessed the fiery destruction that comes with change, and thus became apathetic.

That’s why I know for a fact that if I was in Ghana on July 1st, my father would absolutely forbid me from attending #OccupyFlagStaffHouse. It’s too risky, and that is why he would never permit his grown daughter to attend this event. And you know what? Despite the fact that I am a 36 year old woman with four kids of my own, I would have to acquiesce to his wishes or risk the shame of being branded a ‘disobedient daughter’ in the course of attempting to usher in change through civil disobedience. There are thousands of women and men who will have to make that same choice on July 1st.

For the benefit of full disclosure, allow me to state now that I do not live in any part of Ghana. I live abroad with my family and visit Ghana annually. Regular visitors to this blog know this, but for those who are coming here because of this hashtag, I do not want to give the impression that I am championing this cause from the comfort of my climate controlled home sipping imported coffee because I have the luxury to. I will neither condemn anyone who wants to attend this rally nor those who see no use in it. I understand each position equally. People are afraid, and they have every right to be.

For those of us old enough to witness or remember the stories “Rawlings Chain”, firing squad, people disappearing in the night or having your home razed because you had one too many toilets, #OccupyFlagStaffHouse is akin to courting trouble. Why do all that? Why not wait until 2016 and vote these NDC bums out!

The problem is Ghana’s decay is not an NDC or NPP problem. This is a Ghanaian problem. These “leaders” come from among us. My uncle went to school with JJ Rawlings. One of your uncles or aunties went to school with Kuffour and Co. Some of you went to school with Victoria Hammah. These individuals did not sudden garner a new set of mores when they got into political office and acquire power. For example, if a politician does not build a house for his mother within his first 2 years in office, he is insulted mercilessly. The entire family expects “to chop” some of the benefits that come with his position. The rest of us have to wait your turn to put a son in power! The politician then therefore becomes “hope” in himself, rather than working to create hope for the nation. No wonder these guys think they are demigods.

We have a culture of service and respect, but we keep it relegated to the realm of the traditional. You would never go to Nana’s house and drop your waste in his courtyard. But what do you find outside of the chief’s palace in our streets? You find people dropping Fan Ice and Pure Water wrappers in the road, plastic waste everywhere, and hawkers selling dog chains on barren patches of land with a sign commanding “Do Not Walk on the Grass”.

wasteIt’s all very cyclical. Ghanaians do not have the structures in place to allow them to be a better brand of citizen and so they in turn exhibit behaviors of poor citizenship. Our streets would not be so filthy if we had proper, reliable waste management, and the ONLY body sanctioned to provide that right now is the federal government. Give Ghanaians waste baskets and recycling containers on the streets, educate the masses on the hazards of improper waste, dispose of it properly and we will change our habits! But for Heaven’s sake, please stop this practice of moving our metropolitan garbage into the countryside and polluting their landscapes and water bodies. It’s demonic.

This is but one of the many, many issues that Ghanaians are protesting against on July 1st. People are asking for:

  • A commitment to better governance and transparency
  • An end to wanton, indiscriminate corruption
  • A tangible plan to power and provide the whole of Ghana with basic, necessary utilities like electricity and water
  • Access to better education for ALL Ghana’s children
  • An overhaul of the tax code and revenue accumulation practices
  • Ensure a proper functioning health insurance scheme
  • Scrap all policies which inhibit establishment and growth of business
  • A commitment to stop dicking with our progress as a  people

(Okay, okay! I confess. I added that last line item. It is not on the official list.)

 

What is so “revolutionary” about these requests in 2014?

That is why #OccupyFlagStaffHouse is not a “revolution”, although the idea itself is. It’s a peaceful protest asking and providing ordinary citizens a platform to exercise their right to protest the needlessly harsh conditions under which they find themselves. In a country as where the populace is as apathetic and conditioned to accept scraps as ours is, movements like One Simple Step and Occupy Flag Staff are paramount civil disobedience indeed!

Now, they naysayers who say there is no need or benefit in protesting want a “wait and see” approach. They say Ghanaians are lazy and that that they need to “innovate”, rather than demonstrate. But really, who is more innovative than the kindergarten boy who has to make his own toys out of milk tins and flip flops because his dad cannot find a job in Ghana’s abysmal economy? And every day, whether they are seamstresses or event planners, men and women have to get up and go to work doing the same thing: building their enterprises out of milk tins and chale wote. We cannot “innovate” our way to progress when there is only one functioning imaging machine at the harbor and your imported food items for your cold store go rotting in the container for an eternity while the officials scan other boxes that have been sitting there for months. A Ghanaian entrepreneur cannot “innovate” his way to success when he suddenly lands a long awaited deal and upon discovering he needs to renew his passport in order to travel and close said deal, is told that he will have to wait 3-6 months to get it because the passport making machine is broken!

Ah ah!

I get it. I understand people are afraid. They don’t want these Occupiers rocking the boat. Some say Ghanaians are not ‘fearful’ but rather apathetic to their plight. An apathetic population is the biggest gift you could give to a corrupt, inept government, because they no longer have to use bully tactics like firing squad and search and seizure to keep you in check: you’ll keep yourself in check. It’s easier to just shrug, suffer, sleep and repeat.

I think Edward Tagoe summed up the necessity of #OccupyFlagStaffHouse quite nicely:

edward

It’s a fascinating idea, isn’t it? That the Black African who all have said can only be ruled by force and the gun can use his/her wits and civility to change their circumstances? Isn’t that how we got our independence in the first place? And for all those asking “Ehhh…you’ve gone to sit in the sun on the grass and then now what?”

Well, that really depends on the Mahama Administration, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

Famous Americans Who Are (Probably) Ghanaians and Don’t Know It

I have recently become fascinated with doppelgangers and the idea that we, as humanity, are all connected in some way. The post I am about to share with you has been dismissed as far-fetched, but this is the Mind of Malaka, daggonit! If dubiousness can’t find comfort here, where else shall it go?

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while, but that slimy troll – Russell Simmons, someone whom I’ve been content to dismiss for the last 20+ years – took up quite a bit of my keyboard time and gray matter. At the close of this post I’m going to initiate an African Diaspora Draft and propose that the Nigerians take him and deal with him. He is a master of 419, that Simmons guy… peddling his RUSH cards and poor quality clothes at high prices to the sheepish masses for his own fame and gain.

That said; Are you ready for the African Diaspora Draft? It’s time!

vanessaVanessa Williams recently went on a journey to discover what her genetic make-up comprises of and what her ancestral roots are. The results were shocking. She’s 23% Ghanaian and a smattering of other races and ethnicities. You can read about it hereA quick glance at Ms. Williams and you would agree that she doesn’t LOOK Ghanaian, at least not like any Ghanaians I know – but chromosomes don’t lie. She’s majority Ghana fuo. Probably a Fante. You know how they like those brofos3m things.

Of course, this got me to thinking about other visible African Americans and what their roots may be. I look around and see the distinct features of Fulani in some women and undeniable Wolof traits in more than one sagging trouser donning, gold tooth fronting area boy. Sometimes I’m tempted to run up to them and say “Hey! You have a village in Senegal. You probably have a cousin looking for you!” But then, this is Atlanta, and I stand a better chance of being knifed than they do getting on a plane in an attempt to connect with their roots. No matter. I’ve done the work for them and I have claimed the following celebrities for Ghana.

amos-gyekyeJohn Amos & Kwasi Gyekye

I mean, just look at their noses and the look of jocular nonchalance plastered on both their faces. These are men who have faced incredible hardship in one capacity or another but still have the fortitude to find the joy in life. John Amos. If you are reading this, you are from Larteh. Please go and buy some Schnapps and visit your people. A gift of apketeshie is equally appreciated.

kandi_burruss_abena-amoahKhandi Burruss & Abena Amoah

Khandi, I’d like to introduce you to your fifth cousin, Abena. Abena, here’s Khandi. You should both be pleased with each other’s accomplishments. Khandi is an award winning singer and songwriter, and Abena is an accomplished investment banker with an impressive portfolio. You both like money and are good with it. You should get to know each other and build something fantastic for Ghana. I dunno… maybe develop a new currency that sings? I’m just throwing some stuff out there. Khandi has singing vibrators in her sex toy line. Anything is possible!

mala-twinFranchesca Ramsey & Me!!!

This is by all means my favorite kinda-ganger (we’re not really TWINS), but we do share an uncanny resemblance. Plus, we have very similar quirks and facial expressions. Visit Franchesca’s YouTube Channel and you’ll see what I mean. She’s part hilarious, part silly, half serious and all amazing. Kinda like…

Who? Me? Oh, you flatter me!

john_legendI was going to do John Legend and Ashiatey Tei, but the boy has taken all his information off of the internet. I didn’t know you could do that! If there are any Motowners out there in tough with Ashiatey, tell him to stop being a spoiled sport and send me his picture for the Diaspora Draft!

Africans and African Americans: Who do you look like? Have you ever seen someone on the bus or at the grocery store and thought to yourself “Gosh. That person could be my kin!”?

Do you think any of the people above resemble each other, or am I presenting purple squirrels? Oya! My Naija brethren. Please don’t forget to come and collect your Russell Simmons. We don’t want unlearned iiiidiots in our country. Take him to Papa Wole so that he can learn him some small sense.

pic_giant_081613_SM_Russell-Simmons-Rape-Video-Clown

Share! Discuss! ↓

…. 11 hours later…..

john-ashiteyJohn Legend & Ashiatey Tei

Look what we have, courtesy of @a_aboagye and her impeccable stalking  sleuthing skills! Well done girl. John, meet Ashiatey. Ashiatey, you know John, of course. The pair of you have quite a bit in common. Mr. Tei is a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio and you’re a former resident of Springfield, Ohio! Ashiatey works in advertising – and you; well, you make hits and make middle-aged women swoon. What’s uncanny about the pair of you long, lost cousins is that despite time, distance and the horrors of the trans Atlantic slave trade that separated the pair of you, you STILL ended up with the same penchant for a peculiar sort of accessories: grey jackets and skinny black ties.

What? You guys thought I was talking about their dates? Oh grow up! John, if you’re reading this, you’re a Ga. And if you have an unexplainable fondness for canoes and the ocean, now you know why.

Shame on the Ghana Consulate in DC

When Sean Goldman’s father was in the midst of a 5 year international custody battle with his Brazillian ex-wife, his NJ rep stepped in and threatened a multi-million trade embargo with the country. When Laura Ling and Euna Lee were detained in North Korea, Bill Clinton negotiated for their return under international scrutiny. When Eric Frimpong, a university foot ball star and student from Ghana was woefully charged for the crime of rape that many people believe he did not commit, the entire Ghanaian consulate did nothing. They were as a whole, unresponsive and full of excuses, just like many of our officials back in Ghana.

I read an article penned by Joel Engel on http://www.independent.com. Joel is investigating Eric’s case pro bono, and is more than convinced of his innocence after conducting his fact finding mission. I wrote Joel to thank him for his diligence and kindness, and this is what he said in response to my email:

Thank you for the kind words. As a Ghanaian, you should know that the G consulate in Washington D.C. was contacted at least a dozen times for help, financial or otherwise, and did absolutely nothing. Only two of those 12 times did anyone ever take the call, and both times the same gentleman, who wouldn’t give his name, promised to get “right back to” us. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

There’s no question in my mind that an ordinary public defender would have won this case. I’m not sure if Bob Sanger felt like he wasn’t being paid enough, or if he was so arrogant that he believed he was scoring points right and left. In any event, the lawyers and I are committed to righting the wrong.

I was not surprised by the treatment he experienced. A young man is languishing in prison, now going on his third year. As his life is hanging in the balance, the staff of the Ghanaian consulate are telling his supporters and investigators to “go and come”. I am thoroughly disgusted. I pray that no other Ghanaian national finds him/herself in the grips of the American judicial system without just cause, because you can believe that your government WILL NOT BE THERE TO HELP. In my opinion, the entire staff of the consulate are a bunch of stooges, holding their position only because of nepotism rather than merit.

Shame on the lot of you. SHAME!