I didn’t set out with sexual harassment on my mind, but it’s one of those unfortunate consequences of giving an individual like me access to a keyboard, a smartphone, a podium…pretty much any vehicle that allows one to communicate with humanity.
You see, sometime last week, I got a tweet from Gyedu Blay Ambolley. He said he had been interviewed and suggested I check out the story…so I did.
He looked great – very handsome and distinguished – in every picture from this article, and I had no qualms telling him as much. I tweeted a reply along the lines of the following:
“Nice body of work. And your music is pretty good too.”
I can’t say for certain what I said. I am unwilling to go back and review my timeline for accuracy.
Unless you’ve grown up on Mars – or somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line – you’ve probably heard of Gyedu Ambolley. He is a titan of Ghana’s music industry in its heyday. If there were a Mount Olympus for African Musicians, the dwellers therein in would comprise of Fela Kuti, Mac Tontoh, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Asaabea and Ambolley. So you see, the fact that this gentleman is following me on twitter is a pretty significant deal.
And here was I, treating him like a frozen Poki tube trapped in the grips of a thirsty primary school girl.
I didn’t get a response from him for hours after I’d sent that tweet. Well daggone it! If I was going to objectify (and possibly offend) one of the greatest musical talents of my father’s generation, I wish I had done it with much more flair. It really should have looked (or sounded) something like this:
I don’t know how I managed it, but I had gotten a one-on-one interview with Gyedu Blay Ambolley. I squealed when I heard a fist pound lightly on the private dining room where we’d be having our chat. I had arranged the seating for optimum comfort. I grinned and shook his hand enthusiastically.
“Gyedu! Mr. Ambolley…Brah Blay – what would you like me to call you?”
“Gyedu would do just fine,” he boomed cordially. “No need for so much formality. We are all brothers and sisters under God.”
“Then I think I’ll call you Brah Blay,” I insisted. “I like alliteration. I bet you didn’t know that about me. But why would you? We’re here to interview you – the great Gyedu Blay Ambolley!”
I take a seat and invite him to do the same.
“But there’s only one chair Miss…Mrs…?” he let his voice trail off.
“Malaka. I’m just Malaka,” I reply. “And by all means, feel free to warble a few verses from that one song. I won’t mind a bit.”
Brah Blay raised his brow quizzically. He promised he might sing for me after the interview was over. He asked if he might call one of the wait staff for a chair.
“I won’t hear of it!” I squawked. “Not when I’ve saved you the best seat in the house!”
I patted my lap with my left hand and motioned for him to come hither with my right. After patting and “come hithering” for an eternity, Brah Blay finally acquiesced and sat on my ample lap.
I wrapped my arms around his waist and took a long, deep breath.
The man smelled like aftershave, fresh coconut milk and music. He actually carried the fragrance of music. After inhaling to my heart’s content, I felt ready to begin the interview.
“Mi mi mi miiiiii!!!!”
My sudden throaty outburst caused the music icon to jump in fright.
“Eiii! What’s wrong with you!”
“There’s no need to be afraid. I was just clearing my throat.”
“Let’s begin shall we?” I asked him, giddy with the prospect of all that we had to discuss. I had so many questions!
“With pleasure, Malaka,” replied Brah Blay. “Only, I wish you’d let me stand at least. You seem very uncomfortable under my weight.”
“Oh…how!” I said, vehemently dismissing his claim, as well as the fact that my thighs had gone numb. “Why, I’m as happy as a whore in church.”
“Did you know that your initials spell the word “gba?”
“I’m sure someone has pointed that out to me at some point.”
I giggled, but when he didn’t join me in my short fit of laughter I turned serious. I told him I respected his time and that we should probably forge ahead with the interview. He probably had a jingle for a mackerel product to get to soon or something.
“So, Brah Blay. Tell me. What was the sweetest mango you’ve ever eaten, and when?”
“I’m sorry…what?” he asked in genuine surprise.
“Well it’s a standard question whenever an artiste finds their way on Mind of Malaka,” I said, conveying equal and genuine distress. Hadn’t he read my blog?
“I – I – I don’t know. I guess a few years ago, maybe? I used to live in Cali. They have excellent mangos.”
“So you think Cali mangos are better than Ghana mangos?” I challenged.
“I didn’t say that,” he countered. “You asked me where the best mango I had had was. I said it might have been in Cali.”
“That’s a little unpatriotic, don’t you think?”
Brah Blay soon became hostile.
“Are you going to ask me a question about my music?” he practically begged.
“Why on earth would I do that? You’re in this daydream so that I can objectify you…not ask you silly, industry standard questions.”
The idea of being treated like something less than a demi-god did not appeal to Brah Blah. He leapt off my lap and called for security.
“They’re not coming,” I warned darkly.
“What? Why ever not?” he asked, those deep brown intelligent eyes widening in panic.
“Because you’re in MY world now…”
At that moment, I got an alert on my iPhone. It was Gyedu Blay Ambolley! He had responded to my tweet.
Well then. He wasn’t offended at all. That just took the wind out of little plastic sails. I guess it’s harder to e-objectify a man who has lived through the free love and LSD era than I thought.