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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.

This article has 13 comments

  1. sena ampah

    this is actually cute

  2. Abena

    Miss Naa is your ‘personal person?’
    My auntie told me that…Abena if u aint got nothing remotely nice to say,just zip it!
    So I would move on.
    However Malaka the celebs you saw don’t represent what the larger populace look like.
    From my office to my neighborhood to the market,there’s still a huge percentage who stay true to themselves.
    Thankfully,we haven’t embraced the celebrity pop culture in totality…YET!

    • NaaAdzorkor Addo

      What is a personal person Abena? I’d love to hear your comments. I like to think I’ve heard it all. You can’t begin to imagine the sort of nastiness that I’ve had to deal with from people who have never met me, never will, but feel qualified enough to comment on who I am as a person. I find it very interesting and a lot of times hilarious….not including the death threats…so please share ; )

  3. Malaka

    Your auntie sounds like a smart woman and you are to be commended for zipping it.

  4. AM

    All this Western beauty adoration is irking, seriously. Seeing women with mismatched shades of black, like I’m talking, cornmeal yellow face, soot colored legs, whose skin is peeled halfway to expose some more cornmeal yellow, half ebony, half cornmeal thighs, is not the business. Colonization and media standards of beauty aside, are mirrors not being utilized?

    • Malaka

      I’m sorry. Did you say “cornmeal”??? Gagagaa!!!

      I’ve come to make my peace with skin bleaching. (Okay. That’s a lie. I never will.) But I have an even bigger problem with black people who have a problem with other people’s blackness. I mean, how can I come to/live in Africa and be castigated for being too dark? Where the hell else am I supposed to be black, if not in Africa?? Thank God for the Gambians and Senegalese, who have given us many gifts including couscous, twists and black skin that is black for black’s sake.

      But to your point: I don’t have a problem with adopting Western styles, just as I don’t have a problem with some Wisconsin farm girl dressed in batik. The weirdness comes when EVERY farm girl starts wearing batik. It’s the wholesale adoption I am disgusted with. Surely we’re more creative than this?

  5. Ebenezer Mr Scrooge

    Herh, Malaka are you trying to imply that squad demma head die and as such “Chew & Pour” is still in play long after class tests??? That people have sworn off using free, God given gray matter to find out what best suits them and applying it accordingly??? Yooooo, e be you wey talk oooo!!!

    (singing to fade) Zombie ooo, Zombie…….

    Oh and MsNaa, a Personal Person is your BuddyBuddy, Wo Nipa, your TakeTheLastWeyleyOnMyWaakye person (ok, that’s stretching it a tad too far).

    P.S: Malaka, your Avatar is spoooky….. First, I see you, then I see YOU!!! :p

    • Malaka

      You Ebenezer. You have caused mattah for me before. Me? I won’t mind you ooo!

      As for my avi, that’s my 50 years carbon copy :p

  6. Nana Darkoa (@nas009)

    I heart MsNaa. #That’sAll

  7. Abena

    Malaaakaaaaa!u didn’t post my comment*sad face*.
    U taking sides already?u know I mean no harm,MissNaa really looks and sounds like a tough skin so please allow.
    And Ebenezer thanks for explaining personal person,very thoughtful of u.
    And Malaka please POST!warris that?

    • Malaka

      Ei? What comment? Let me go and check the spam. One sec.

      Aaand I’m back.

      Look girl, I don’t know what you did after you typed your response, but it certainly wasn’t hit “comment”. There’s nothing in the spam or trash folders. *shrugs*

  8. Ekuba

    aww, I really LOVE Ms Naa. I used to tune into her program all the time when I was in Ghana. wish i could get the web address to her fashion blog (i checked it out & didnt find it). I really enjoyed this post

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