An Open Letter to Ms. Naa aka Naa Adzorkor aka My ‘Cousin’

Ehhh, yes. Naa Adzokor. I sent you a tweet telling you how grateful or proud (I can’t remember which) I am that you have always stayed true to yourself. Ah yes, here it is.


I wish I could say that my favorable estimations concerning your down-ness were borne from daydreams about you as a individual, but the truth is they came from a more sinister place – that place being my disdain for the homogenous appearance of the female Ghanaian celebrity populace. My appreciation for your appearance and demeanor was a derivative of much less pleasant thoughts. I know that as my cousin, this doesn’t bother you at all. This the way it’s been between us since 1988, when we conferred cousinship between us. I take shots at you, you take shots at me, and we guffaw about it publicly later. Women of our impressive girth and stature don’t ‘giggle’, after all.

If you can believe it, I was bored yesterday afternoon and went in search of some celebrity fashion. It turns out Ghana, unlike Nigeria, does not have a cohesive go-to online resource for lifestyle and fashion, which vexed me at first. Those damned Nigerians are always two steps ahead of us! Nollywood, oil drilling, azonto… now fashion blogs. We are always playing second fiddle to the Nigerians. Ah!

I’m digressing. Sorry.

So anyway, I did some random searches on Ghana fashion and people from our socialite/celebrity  show up in the results. After a quick scan through, I feel my blood turn to ice. Not even something cool like dry ice ooo… At least with dry ice you can make cool movie effects like fog and so forth. It was more like that  slushy 7 Eleven summer mix. Not pleasant at all.

Every single woman looks exactly the same:

  • A 6 lb shoulder length weave.
  • Four pounds of caked on make-up.
  • Lips slathered with red or pink frosting.
  • A ridiculously figure hugging dress. I mean dresses that were hugging curves tighter than Mandela embraced the end of Apartheid.

The first two times one sees this uniform it’s pretty cool. After the second 200, it comes pretty mundane. By the time we get to a thousand of the same Black woman doing a 3-point stance, staring dead on in the camera with a cascade of some Malaysian woman’s cast-off locks framing her face, you begin to wonder if this whole Ghanaian celebrity thing is a social experiment gone awry. Like, didn’t Mao Tse Tung force the entire nation of China to wear the same dress/uniform every day? Is Ghana now suddenly under some form of fashion communist rule and no one told me?

I mean seriously. We’re Black women. We can do anything (and I mean that in every sense of the word) with our hair. I mean anything. We can texturize it, straighten it, lock it, thread it, cornrow it, two- strand twist it, bantu knot it, and yes, even weave it. So why all this fascination with one aspect of the many wonderful things our hair can do? Why is every celebrity or aspiring celebrity running around the streets of Accra in a color blocked dress, wedge heels and a weave?!? Why is there so little diversity on the social scene?

This is why I appreciate YOU so much, and why I wish you were more visible. (I know, I know. You do radio for a reason. I’ve never asked you what that reason is. You can tell me later.)

You represent an aspect of Ghanaian beauty that is not often celebrated or even acknowledged.

msnaaNow, I’m only going to say this once, so savor the moment: I think you’re beautiful.

God that felt weird. Anyway.

You have deep ebony skin and eyes that dance and pierce when you talk. I have always been more than a little jealous of that impressively large head of yours that is filled with groundbreaking choreography and has a waterfall of carefully tended-to locks adorning it. I WISH I was brave enough to commit to locks. I can’t.

I think that’s what it all comes down to. My admiration for your look stems from your bravery to stay true to it. Sure, if you wanted your career to blow up you could lighten your skin, cut your hair and wear a sew-in… maybe even show a little tittie and leg for the camera every once in a while. But that’s not your thing. You have your own style which is a zany mix of eclectic, cool, and of course above all else, comfortable.

I am convinced that there are dozens of Ghanaian celebrities (and wannabe celebrities) who have bowed to the pressure to look a certain way if they want to command a certain level of respect. But they will never earn the type respect that you have garnered for yourself, and that’s a class of sexiness that many of these women will never know or experience. How sad.

In conclusion: Your face, okay? Being this nice to you is making my head hurt.

–          Malaka.