Author Archives: Malaka

What If Rashida ‘Black Beauty’ Is Exactly What Her Parents Raised Her To Be?

The topic of Rashida’s sudden and meteoric rise to Internet fame is not something I’d planned to discuss, but a handful of people reached out to me and asked me for my thoughts privately and asked when I’d share those thoughts publicly, so here it is. I beg you not to take this as the final word on the issue, as there are 1001 ways to discuss Rashida’s rise (some people think that it will be her eventual demise) and it’s good that we listen to all points of view….Or at least to those views coming from persons who honestly have Rashida’s best interest at heart.

For those unfamiliar with the 15-year-old Internet sensation, she’s a junior high school graduate who made a diss video dedicated to her ex-boyfriend, Kushman. She describes – in graphic detail – how she got him open, as Kushman was apparently a sexual novice, while she served as his skillful tutor for however long they were dating. As fate would have it, he took that newfound skill and began to apply it to his latest paramour, Abigail.

imagesArmed with only her cellphone and a data bundle, Rashida responded in one of the myriad ways that the gender does when faced with heartbreak. Clad in all black and a pair of blinged out flip-flops, Rashida stood in a compound with her camera raised above her head so that Kushman – and anyone else watching – could get a glimpse of what he had stupidly let go of. Judging from the number of kwasia’s (translation: foolish/idiot/stupid) dropped during her tirade, Rashida surmised Kushman to be the worst deadhead dolt she’d ever met indeed. After all, she is THE Rashida ‘Black Beauty’.

Let me remind you, she’s 15 and only has the equivalent of a 7th grade education.

Her videos were so widely watched that some area boys seized on the momentum and sampled a portion of her tirade, turning it into the background for a new song called “Malafaka.” (Yes, I’m aware of the close resemblance it bears to my name, thank you very much.) It’s a mispronunciation of the English words “mother” and “shut yo’ mouth.” In fact, Rashida’s videos were viewed so many times they earned her a Jigwe Award… which is equivalent to The Onion handing out plaques to those who made their most outrageous headlines possible.

For that, Ghanaians – specifically the Moral Middle Class – are furious. That’s right: The very people responsible for her rise to fame are incensed that she is being recognized for the very same fame they facilitated. The working poor – who vastly outnumber this class – can’t afford the apparatus needed to stream these videos, so it’s down to the offended ones to look to themselves for making Rashida relevant. But they have yet to.

“Why don’t we reward true artists who spend time, effort and energy to honing their craft with these awards?” they wonder.

Why indeed. Obviously, there is a limited appetite for whatever form of art and enlightenment this group seeks to peddle to their peers, and that’s not Rashida’s fault: That’s society’s.

You might be reading this thinking that this is an African issue. Not so. Even if you don’t know our Rashida personally, you’ve known a Rashida at some point of your life. If you live within 3 miles of Any Hood, you’ve seen her getting on the bus, meandering down the grocery aisle in the top ramen section, or talking too loudly on the phone on a corner. Rashida has served you a cool drink at a local dive. There are millions of Black Beauties all over America, the UK and Africa. The problem with Rashida’s rise to fame isn’t with Rashida: It’s with the millions of other people who found so much glee in a young girl’s visible pain that their fingers couldn’t wait to hit the share button. The problem is that the communities that churn out one Rashida after another go ignored and unaffected by focused investment until an outlier shines the spotlight on the community. In this case, that spotlight was Rashida’s video diary. She put on a brave face, but any girl or woman who has been unceremoniously dumped by a guy they truly cared for or felt betrayed by recognizes that tinge to her voice, colored by disappointment and fury. Whether you’re familiar with the language she speaks or not, you get the spirit of what she’s experienced, and it connects us all.

One of the favorite pastimes of the Moral Middle Class (MMC), populated with its patriarchal princesses and ethical earls, is pretending. This group of people loves to pretend that the world and everyone else in it operates by the same rules that govern their existence. They think all children ought to be raised the same way, all women need to dress a certain way, there’s ONE way to achieve success in this world and all behavior ought to be guided by the mores of this class. These are generally the people who begin sentences with “It is unAfrican to….” before denouncing whatever behavior they find intolerable in the moment. To them, Rashida is a disgrace who ought to be silenced before she pollutes the mind of a vulnerable youth who may find themselves seduced into emulating her behavior.

The Moral Middle Class preaches responsibility, but manages to eschew it where they are concerned. There is no greater influence on a child’s life than that of their parents and family nucleus. If you abdicate responsibility for raising and inspiring your child, then you have cause to worry. Only THEN does a Rashida become “dangerous”. If not, your children will understand that like the Wallaba You?! girl, Rashida is a fad and a passing fancy.

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The MMC does not understand the types of environments girls like Rashida come from. I lived but a five-minute walk from the hood, and I barely understand it. The things my neighbors confided in me were unimaginable. The things that children – girls in particular – have to do to survive and cope will make your head spin; be that getting a meal, affording school fees or navigating matters of a broken heart. We who are privileged have our blogs and our forums and international conferences to discuss and make sense of these things. We get to hit the club a pair of expensive heels with the girls to get over a painful breakup. All these moments will be documented on Instagram under #NewLifeNewMe #LiveItUp #150lbLighter #HeThoughtHeCouldBuryMe #YASSSS. This is an acceptable, “classy” way to mourn. You’ll earn no mockery there. But a girl from a humble background speaking undiluted Twi is a novelty and one too good not to make fun of. Even the recently heartbroken socialite can’t pass up the opportunity to watch Rashida and laugh.

About that background: With this level of sexual experience and confidence, you have to wonder with whom and under what circumstances Rashida was introduced to sex. There’s no way that she’s having sex in a vacuum, and this should raise a red flag to the people who work in public health. But again, no one thinks about these communities until a girl like Black Beauty ends up with a viral video that betrays “good Ghanaian morals”. The folk wringing their hands are too concerned with the symptom (Rashida) rather than the causes (failed communal sex/health education).

Given that her parents could only afford a JSS education, I don’t doubt that they’ve laid out what her future might look like for her. She is likely destined to become a petty trader turning tricks for a few extra cedis on weekends. This is not uncommon in the class she comes from. Of the thousands of Rashidas that populate the nation, how many become the Minister of Finance? None. If they’re really lucky, one of the two major parties will bankroll them in the position of a serial radio caller whose sole job is to hurl insults at the ruling government. THIS is the world she comes from. This is the world her mother, father, and everyone she’s grown up with come from. To them, Rashida – and her rant – is probably quite normal. I’m sure she’s seen her fair share of women chasing philandering men down the street, calling them every name in the book. Is anyone willing to consider that Rashida is the way she is because this is the way she was raised?

So when I hear people saying things like “She’ll regret it in 10-20 years time because it will preclude her from future opportunities”, I have to laugh. What opportunities has a country like Ghana provided for a girl like Rashida that should cause her to worry about the effects of social shame? Very few, if any at all. There is no Harvard ending for Rashida, unless Aseshi or some charitable organization comes calling first. And even if they do, so what? What about all the other Rashidas we walk by on a daily basis?

I think Rashida’s parents have raised her to be tough. Given how fierce her tongue is, I don’t think she’s been instructed to hold it. I imagine she’s respectful to her elders, but fierce with her peers. She would have to be in order to navigate her world, which is not genteel and comfortable. You’ll get eaten alive if you’re soft.

There are some people who have said privately that they want to fund her education, since she’s expressed an interest in completing high school. They want to “mentor” her. That’s wonderful. However, mentorship can’t be done over the phone. If you want to change a person’s life, you have to take them OUT of the environment that shaped them. Your once a week chats – when you remember to call – are not going to be effective. This is not some grand experiment, like My Fair Lady. This is a young girl’s life. Anyone with designs of “saving” Rashida will also have to bear in mind that this is a girl whose sexual appetite has been awakened quite early, which presents itself with a whole host of challenges that extend beyond the cessation of making diss videos and rap tracks.

As we do in such cases, we implore people to be guided by empathy with hopes that doing so will persuade the empathizer to support our view of an issue. I’m not asking you to support my position on the matter, which is that everyone needs to let Rashida and her family alone. They didn’t beg anyone to watch her videos.

I have a daughter who just turned 12 and has started to develop little crushes and who also likes to publish YouTube videos, so if we were truly a ratchet family, I could see this happening in my house, unpleasant as it is. If Rashida were my kid, I’d say:

My dear. My beautiful little girl. I’m sorry that this boy hurt you. I hate to say it, but he’s not going to be the last man to break your heart. At 15, you still have two more heartbreaks to go before you learn to guard that thing beating in your chest. You will continue to trust men until you learn that trust is something to be earned, not offered freely.

It is unfortunate that you didn’t feel like you could come and talk to me about this, but I understand that too. Sometimes, young people forget that we older ones were once young too. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget the days of our youth and the wild things that we did.

There are going to be those that claim that this video is going to signal the end of you. Don’t listen. In a year, no one will remember. Wisa whipped out his penis on stage and no one thinks about the event with any real angst anymore. It’s sad, but it’s fortunate for you. You have a chance to build your life on a new foundation. People are offering to help you. Take that help, but take it on your own terms. Don’t let your poverty and lack shame you into doing anything that you’re not comfortable with or that betrays your true self.

Image source: Viasat 1

Image source: Viasat 1

Above all else, I want you to live a healthy and happy life. Define success for yourself and enjoy these fleeting moments. I see you have a Jigwe Award? We’ll treat it like it’s a MOBO until you earn one.

Now… come and help me pound this fufu. We still gotta eat.

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2016’s Final Abomination: The Desolation of Jollof Rice

I’m getting pretty tired of writing about how awful 2016 has been and continues to be. My fatigue has compelled me to ignore several events that have transpired in pop culture and favor silence instead of comment. It’s not everything that requires a verbal (or written) reaction, abi? But dear brothers and sisters, there is something that took place on December 23, 2016 – an event so seismic that is has shaken the core and foundation of all who have witnessed it. I speak of course of the utter destruction of Jollof Rice. And as for this one, I will talk. I will shout. I will scream for butchery of our precious jollof!

As you are reading this, you may be tempted to lose hope in the honor of humanity. It’s hard for me to encourage you not to in this dark hour. I mean, what manner of evil soul would violate jollof in this manner? And Essence magazine: why would you allow yourself to be used of the deh-vol in this way? How could you publish this thing and expect the world to go on as usual? Why would you allow yourself to be used as an instrument of Beelzebub’s dark plans? There are so many questions, and I’m not really interested in the answers. After all, how do you answer the query, “WHY?!?!?!”

There’s no response you can give that can satisfy and rectify the gravity of this heinousness.giphy

Let’s dispense with the pleasantries, shall we? In a now deleted post on Essence.com, the culinary assassin who conjured this weaponized version of West Africa’s favorite meal dubbed it a “jollof rice remix that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.” Well, we the West African delegation have news for this misguided individual. We polled the brethren, and 20/10 West Africans disagree with that assessment. We disagree for ourselves and we disagree on behalf of our future generations.

You have not earned our respect, only our scorn.

You have not earned our respect, only our scorn.

Either the author – or the chef doubling as one – called the recipe a “remix” in the article. Are you P. Diddy? Are you Kirk Franklin? Who sent you to be remixing things? Hein? Answer the question! My friend, why are you answering the question? Will you just keep quiet? Ah! Nonsense.

Let’s examine the ingredients in this punishment you would have us believe qualifies as a meal. It is jollof rice, but your first ingredient is beans. As the post has been taken down, I cannot share with you the precise details, but here are the steps for making Jollof Remix as I recall them:

1 cup of black-eyed peas, soaked overnight.

1 cup of rice

1 can crushed tomatoes

salt and pepper

Some carrots and some green beans

Some chicken

 

Take the water that you soaked the beans in overnight and used that to cook the rice…

Honestly, it was at this point that I stopped reading. My blood pressure had reached unmanageable levels and I began to fear an apoplexy would overtake and finish me. Holy Ghost FIYAH burn this person. What do you think you are doing? Is your dish suffering an identity crisis?

As my sister aptly put it, “It’s like the chef began making red-red (plantain and beans), was knocked unconscious; woke up to make rice, fell asleep; mistook their location for India and therefore threw in some curry; was roused from brief slumber and decided that because Essence Fest is typically held in Louisiana, a helping of gumbo stirred into the mess was appropriate.”

And then they had the audacity to call the monstrosity a ‘Jollof Remix’. Mighty God. This is not any kind of jollof at all. This dish has a name that is uttered in the spiritual realm, and we must cast it down as we would any other principality and/or power that must submit itself to the name of Jesus. osidhoshohdhosdhsbsaiuhsihdoshodhs!!!

This is serious. This means we have to go and find Jamie ‘Lemon Wedge’  Oliver and apologize to him. Because as devastating as his jollof “interpretation” was on our psyche, at least that British man had the decency not to put BEANS in jollof. Chei! How you mix beans and carrots together? Have you seen ANY PLACE in the world where they do this? Even whypipo don’t do this, and you know how we love to mock them for the funniness and blandness of their food. You this Remix Chef: You are an enemy of progress, an agent of destruction, a force for evil. You mean us evil and not good, and we will not take this sitting down.

You have to understand: Jollof Wars is not an actual war ooo. No one has to die. We were all playing nicely in our Jollof Wars and then you came and did this. We were gently ribbing one another. It was all fun and games until you brought this canon to the tournament. And then you opened fire and hit us all with your canon balls. And then you picked up the canon and rolled it over our lifeless corpses. Was this really necessary? What were you trying to accomplish by doing this?

imagesI don’t think you understand the damage you’ve done. We are trying to further and heal fractured Diasporani-Continental relations (wherever possible) this year. Blitz the Ambassador has released an album that is supposed to fuse us spiritually. For the first time in a long while, Africans on the Continent are standing in solidarity with African Americans’ fight for social justice in greater numbers. We’re beginning to look for ways to work together and rebuff the suspicion and resentment that has separated us for so long. My dear Brother/Sister Remix Chef: your food is not helping things. You have killed us all.

Look, we understand. Jollof is a magical thing and everyone enjoys a bit of magic from time to time. We look forward to magic. We want it to touch our lives. What you have to get is that not everyone is a magician. Okay? You have not been trained in the fine arts of spell weaving, and because you are untrained, you have unleashed a curse. In these Jollof Wars, everyone has a part to play. Your job is to consume and appreciate, not to charge into battle unfocused and unequipped.

I don’t know how, but we will have to fight our way back from this one. There’s one good thing to come of this, however. Nigerians and Ghanaians are united against this foe. We are looking to each other for consolation. I don’t think anything has forged us together this powerfully since Luis Suárez crushed the dreams of millions of Africans in 2010 with his foolish Uruguay fist. Essence.com, do you remember that pain? Please don’t do anything to revisit that sort of agony upon us in the future by publishing this trickery. We beg you.

 Dear Jollof: RIP.

I’m sorry this was done to you.

Return If Possible.

We need you.

Image Source: Styloquence

Image Source: Styloquence

I’m Supposed to be Writing about Frederick Douglas, But Here’s My Audio Book Instead.

I’m not doing a year end review this year. 2016 SUCKED, and there’s nothing more to add. I don’t understand how one year – not even 365 days as yet – could harvest the souls (and minds, in some cases) of so many favored creatives, artists, thinkers and healers. I mean, really. Take Mos Def, for instance. Mos Def ain’t dead, but 2016 decided to sacrifice his craft on its bloody, brazen altar for no apparent reason at all. Lets just be DONE with 2016, already.

Now that that’s out of the way…

I just finished reading Frederick Douglas’ Narrative of an American Slave 4 days ago. It was phenomenal. Have you read it? Douglas’ Narrative was not required reading for me in school, and it was one of those books that slipped through my bibliographic net after I aged out of the classroom. There are so many parallels between the world he describes and the one we inhabit today – few of them good –  and my hope is to finish writing the piece and to publish it on this side of 2016. However if I don’t, there is something else I had on my to-do list (read: overdue) that I am pleased to announce that has been crossed off the itinerary at long last.

TADAAA!!!

After a long struggle, I have finally put my second children’s book on video format! This is great for several reasons; reasons which I am sure that a handful of people will allude to in the comments section. *strong hint*

‘Close to Home’ was released in print earlier this year, and if you have early readers who need a guide to read along with/to them, the book-on-video provides an amazing companion for that purpose. It’s available on Amazon.com. *strong hint part 2*

'Close to Home' is available on Amazon

‘Close to Home’ is available on Amazon today!

No, but seriously: I hope you, your little ones or someone else’s little ones you’ve co-opted enjoy the images and identify with the story. ‘Close to Home’ is about finding courage and I pray that it inspires compassion for children who are adventurous in spirit but may be a little more timid in person.

Reviews are welcome, likes are appreciated. 🙂

Oooooooooh Johnny Mahama. Ah!

Dear Soon-To-Be-Formerly-Known-As- President Mahama:

I trust you are well. Me? Oh…I’m all right. I just returned from an arduous (but fruitful) trek to Cape Town and I’m resting up. I had limited access to Wi-Fi during my road trip, but I caught bits and snippets of the news where I could. As you may well imagine, I caught wind of your intended (now cancelled) ‘Farewell Tour’ that you were planning on embarking on in advance of Inauguration Day.

Image source: The Lead

Image source: The Lead

Sir. Sir! I cannot tell you how much it grieves me to be writing yet another letter to you for the very same faux pas you and I (Okay, fine. I) have been dissecting for the previous 3+ years . My last letter to you concerning such matters was meant to be just that: My last letter. But, here we are again…

My dear Brodda Johnny. Ah! Who do you have advising you? Is it the Oye Lithurs? Sack them ooo. Sack them! They are costing your legacy dear with these amateurish predilections. Farewell Tour for what? It’s like all the talking that pundits and lay people alike have done these 24 months has fallen on deaf ears. Certain Ghanaians are not happy, and announcing half-baked ventures like final self-congratulatory laps around the country on the government dime only plays into their hands. You said you would leave it to history to judge your accomplishments, but you are a media man. You were once known as a communications guru. Don’t let your present title lull you into a false sense of security. Know your audience! They are going to crucify you with every keystroke, every chance they get. Who is ‘they’, you ask? The Douchebags Once Merely Known as the Elite: the NPP and their affiliates who care more about perceptions about the country than the actual advancement of the country.

You may have caught that ridiculous hashtag #CNNGetItRight last week? Yeah. I saw that ish too. What a joke. #CNNGetItRight, but pregnant women are still sharing hospital beds and Ghana is still the world’s 7th dirtiest country. You should have seen them congratulating themselves over controlling/changing the narrative in the international media. “Hoorah! We got CNN to issue an apology! Now no one will ever truly know how polluted our rivers are or that we give our celebrity rapists the honor due a prophet!”

It was laughable.

And pathetic.

Yet these are the people you are trusting to write objectively about your single term as president of the Fourth Republic? My advice to you is to get working on your memoires quick as you can, get on the offensive and dispel all myths before they have a chance to germinate. Why? Because other than hateful redneck Republicans post-Trump victory, I have never seen a more miserable group of people than NPP supporters and party members. They have won the prize and yet can’t bring themselves to enjoy it without utterly denigrating the opposition in the process. You should see the way they talk about you on my newsfeed. You’d think you had spent your 6 years in the function of the president performing botched abortions and selling harvested fetuses to the Chinese at Kotoka for juju. Mind you, these are the same people who will descend you on like a hoard of blood-sucking bedbugs if you say pi about their precious Nana.

The behavior is stomach turning on its own merits, but considering these Notoriously Pompous Piss-takers (save a handful who have demonstrated laudable decorum) paraded themselves as the more refined – and therefore morally superior – alternative to NDC’s kubolor bend, it makes their actions even more insufferable. I am already looking forward to the end of the NPP regime.

This is where you come in, Dramani. Please listen carefully.

NPP is already setting itself up to stay in power forever. They’ve got charlatans out here ‘prophesying’ that the party will rule Ghana for the next 40 years. My guess is that this 40-year time frame is supposed to inspire awe in the mind and spirit of the hearer as it happens to be the exact number of years the children of Israel spent wandering in the wilderness. 40 is a divine number, abi? My Father. It’s so easy to see through these smoke and mirror “men of God”.

That’s not the point.

The point IS none of this is good for Ghana’s democracy. Your political rivals are going to paint NDC as perpetually and patently unfit to govern the nation and will do everything they can to discredit you personally and your party as a whole. If you truly love Ghana and you truly believe in the ideals of democracy, do all you can to stop this from happening. Don’t allow them to plant this root in the minds of the citizenry. The days of a one-party state are over for us. The idea may have served its purpose at a time, but no longer.

Here’s the rub. You can’t be announcing ‘Farewell Tours’ to tout your success for one reason only: Although some people benefitted from your policies and infrastructure implementations, the right people didn’t benefit. Those people are the middle class at large. See how nobody was minding you until the cedi fell sharply against the dollar? Nothing provokes the merchant class’ dander like messing with their money. Not street kids washing windshields for a few pesewas; not the choked drains in front of their palatial houses; not even the fact that the price of kenkey is 20 times more expensive today than it was in 1993. Nah. You mess with that foreign exchange, and you’ve got a real problem on your hands. Now suddenly everyone wants to Occupy Something. Have you ever seen the middle class organize themselves to demand federal funding into SITO schools on behalf of the poor?

Nyuggaaaa…

I get so frustrated with you sometimes, because you conduct yourself like you don’t know whom you are dealing with! I mean, this is a cabal of super villains masquerading as the Avengers led by that lamb from Zootopia. These are the very same people who held the country hostage after the 2012 elections because they felt they had a right to the presidency. They threw a massive hissy fit, the consequence of which was stymied investment into the country. Bruh, you were there! Instead of commissioning factories every second week, what you ought to have done was hold a series of open forums to explain your vision for the nation, for that current year and beyond, while also detailing how those first two years of the NPP’s veritable coup d’état interfered with your timeline and set in motion a series of setbacks leading to hurried social works projects. What happens when you hire someone to do something at the last minute? You have to pay a premium. We all know this, but it was down to you to put it into words that the people could understand and that the opposition could not deny.

I know these people are your friends, but bruh…they ain’t treating you like a friend. They will eat fufu with you behind closed doors and treat you like a leper on the playground. Playing nice with these folks is like punching yourself in your own face.

Here’s my advice.

After everything is settled and Nana Addo has gotten comfortable and well acquainted with the A/C units at Flagstaff House, you embark on a series of tours around the country. Go to the places that politicians rarely go to, beyond Cape Coast and Akosombo and the like. I mean deep into the hinterland where no one knows your face. Listen to the people…I mean truly listen. Take some rising stars within the NDC with you; men and women with passion and talent who have new ideas and are not afraid of doing the gritty work required of civic duty. Don’t take Stan Dogbe with you. Ask the people what plans they have for their future and what kind of Ghana they want to live in. Ask them how government and/or private institutions can partner with them to make those goals a reality. Spend a year or more in true dialogue with the people. You will find that the goals of the city-dwelling Ghanaian usually differ sharply provincial counterparts. Use that.

Take that information and build a Dream Team of political activists of good character. Groom them to think before they speak, so that they won’t make threats and use idle words like “I will release your nude pictures”, “Ghanaian women are cheap,” “Lydia Forson is a voice from the brothel” and “Show us your wife” when they are presented with a political challenge. Create a new culture in Ghana politics and elevate the discourse. Document everything, bruh. As in put it on film, hire a professional editor and commission screenings around the country when that dialogue complete. Call the documentary something snazzy like Whispers from Ghana’s Heartland… or something. You ain’t hired me to be coming up with docu titles.

Again: DON’T TAKE STAN DOGBE.

You’ve got 4 years to re-brand the NDC. Make sure your ministers show up for work and go over each piece of legislation with a fine toothed comb before it passes. It’s important that they are present and can hold the ruling party accountable. I don’t tell you any of this because I like your party. I really don’t…but I recognize that having a strong opposition is integral to a healthy political environment and critical to a functioning democracy. Unless some other third party springs up out of the woodwork in 2018, you guys are it. Just because you are not in majority rule does not mean that Ghana does not depend upon you.

All right, dude. I just needed to get that off my chest. I don’t want to hear about you making these sloppy political mistakes again, okay? Merry Christmas and fire those who have been giving you bad advice.

With someway love bi,

Malaka

 

Dear Mzbel, No One Else Will Say It, So I Will: I’m So Sorry

Mzbel:

I am not one of your fans. I can’t name a single song you’ve performed and up until yesterday I have been mispronouncing your name, referring to you as “Mmm-zee-bell” instead of “Mizz Bell”. I only have a passing familiarity with your person and your brand.

I only mention all this to let you know that what I am about to write does not come from a place of bias or fealty, but from compassion as a woman and fellow Ghanaian. And because I am a woman and a Ghanaian, I hurt for you. As a mother of 4 myself, I hurt WITH you. What I’ve seen you endure these previous days has been unconscionable. It is beneath the dignity of our humanity and every Ghanaian who condones this behavior must hang their head in shame and ask whatever deity they serve to cleanse and forgive them.

A friend sent me the audio clip of an interview you did after a mob showed up at your house and camped out for one hour, shouting for you to come out. It immediately triggered images of the Ku Klux Klan assembling outside of the homes and businesses of their quarry, hell-bent on a lynching that evening. I imagine the very “tough” men who stood outside of your wall would have been proud and satisfied with their display of ruthless violence. Like Klanners who collected bones and body parts of the lynched as trophies, they too will surely sit around with their friends over beers and gleefully admit that they too were there.

“I went to Mzbel’s house and shook her! Hahahahaa! God is good.”

Fine group of men. What valor they displayed. Surely their ancestors and all of Heaven are clapping for them for this display. Surely the people who have maligned you online for showing vulnerability in the face of this intimidation are equally proud of their viciousness.

The people responsible for these atrocities will never say it, so it’s left to me to stand in the gap: I am sorry. I am so sorry that you had to go through such terrifying intimidation and that your children were present as it happened. That your precious kids had to witness this beastly behavior in their countrymen, to whom they are supposed to show respect and deference after this.

I’m sorry that the voices of women’s groups and advocates are eerily silent in the face of this assault. One can only guess why the women who were scrambling behind the scenes formulating hashtags like #TheyThreatenedRapeAndMurder to defend one women are quiet when a woman who was actually sexually assaulted and robbed finds herself barricaded behind her doors years later. The cynic in me believes that this is their partisan bias fueling their silence, and my inner cynic is rarely wrong.

I’m sorry that we both come from a country where some women’s lives and right to safety are worth more than others because of age, political affiliation, class and ethnicity…

I’m sorry we come from a country where women are not believed about their assaults unless they are the perfect victim. Why would anyone believe YOU, Mzbel? You’re brash, sexually liberated and an unwed mother. You are not worthy in the eyes of our average pious citizen.

I’m sorry that your chosen profession – an entertainer – automatically makes you a celebrity, and therefore precludes you from participating in the political process by campaigning for the candidate you believed in.

I’m sorry scientists are not considered celebrities in Ghana and that the burden to excite the populace about the political engagement falls on artists alone.

I’m sorry Ghanaians in opposition are not mature enough to allow you the freedom to campaign for a candidate you believe(d) in without threatening physical harm in the wake of their fresh victory.

mahama-and-mzbel1-e1474017691406

I’m sorry that Ghanaian politics is so immature that you felt like you had to say and do the things you said in order to connect with the voting population.

I’m sorry you didn’t feel like you could elevate the discourse and still be heard, because honestly, our people’s frequency isn’t tuned into Reason, and the only pitch they seem to understand is Insults. If we are not shouting at, insulting and now assaulting each other, our voices are deemed to somehow lack strength. And as MPs and pastors show us every day, there is no better way to demonstrate your strength than my intimidating, denigrating and beating women.

I’m sorry that the same party that ousted the one you support – who called NDC hooligans and thugs – have exhibited the same hooliganism and thuggery both online and off. I’m sickened by their hypocrisy.

I’m sorry our people have lost compassion and decency. I don’t know how a person could listen to your narration and still find it within their spirit to call you an ashawo who deserves everything she’s getting because you made a parody of their preferred candidate.

I’m sorry Ghanaians are not mature enough to understand the use of parody.

I’m sorry Ghanaians can’t discern between fake news and real media outlets, and that real media outlets accept soli and end up distributing fake news. I hear some factions are expelling you to Burkina Faso based on a satirical fabrication.

I’m sorry satire – indigestible by our poorly educated population – has poisoned reason and killed the ability to engage in discourse.

But most of all, I’m sorry that in this new era, we are not Ghanaians first. That as this new dawn rises, it becomes clearer that Ghana is for some and not for all.

I’m sorry you had to find out this way.

mzbel-otanfo

 

The Chicken Connoisseur – On The Exploitation of Black Creativity

Excellent read. The trend of colonizing Black culture shows no signs of abating.

everlivingroots

Elijah Quashie, the 23-year-old sensation known as the Chicken Connoisseur, has created waves on the internet with his brilliant reviews of chicken shops at several different spots across London [link to his YouTube Channel]. With each episode of The Pengest Munch, Quashie visits a new shop. Before he even begins his review, he undertakes his compulsory crep check to reassure the viewers that he’s looking fresh. He then proceeds to analyse several aspects of the shop, from its pricing structure and standard of customer service, to the breadcrumbs on the wings and the assembly and presentation of its burgers. Everything he says is executed with light-hearted rigour along with a fantastic comical twist.

His take on the quality of breaded wings and fries resonated with many; rating the standard of an establishment’s food, as well as noting down which bossman will nice you with an extra…

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Farewell, President Mahama

John.

Dude.

Chale!

How are you feeling right now? My spidey senses tell me you are relieved, but certain elements on Twirra swear you are despondent, based on the tone of the concession speech you gave last night. They forget that I know you better than they do, so we won’t mind them okay? I know you were playing it up for the cameras. I know you are happy not to have to deal with these Team D players you’ve picked up like cat fur on Scotch tape.

I mean, how would it look to all those who worked so tirelessly for your re-election (and 4 more years milking the cash cow that is the country’s coffers) for you to be smiling in the face of such a sound shellacking? You were convincingly contrite and it was one of your finest performances. I didn’t think you had these sort of acting chops within you. When they want to film your biography, don’t let Idris Elba steal your shine. Play yourself.

It seems the pair of us underestimated Ghanaians, my dear Brother John. You for your confidence in the brevity of their memories, and I for believing that there is/was no tipping point for Ghanaian discontentment. You were the Ike Turner to their Tina, the Mister. to their Celie; and like the female protagonists in both diegeses, Ghana walked away from you, your party and everything the NDC has come to represent, head high and heels on. No abuser ever really thinks his victim has the power to walk away until it happens, but here we are today on December 10th, 2016, with reality’s foot shoved way up several people’s jacksies.

You and I both know you never really wanted to be president. You are a fantastic Number 2 guy, and from many accounts, I hear are a genuinely nice person. But you were uniquely unqualified for the job to lead the nation, and that’s what’s gotten us to the myriad of quagmires Ghana is experiencing today. Your response to every quandary was to set up a task force. You appointed people who did not respect you, your office or their personal call of duty. You rewarded impunity and ineptitude on one too many occasions. All these proclivities constitute the old school ways of running a West African nation. If they weren’t, we’d be much further advanced socially than we are now. The fatal error for your party was that the old heads in charge failed to recognize that this is a new century, with new expectations and new technology. Ghanaians can never again have ‘short memories’ because the internet never forgets….and we all have access to data. Someone always has a clip of something you said saved in a file entitled “Mahama Receipts”.

Wow, man. You lost. I still can’t believe it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that certain people (*cough* Stan Dogbe *cough*!) will be out of a job and nowhere near a policy making position, but I can’t actually believe YOU lost. You were supposed to have it all: youth, good looks, and intelligence. But you got too comfortable, bruh. You treated your campaign – and the country, by extension – like it was a part of a line up for a low budget circus or reruns for Saturday morning cartoons. It was too unserious. You pandered to the lowest denominator of guy-guyness with such gems as “I can’t t’ink madness” and posing as an overfed, Ankara clad Usain Bolt on Facebook. Now look at us. I’m sitting here writing about the first single term president in recent Ghanaian history and you’ve got to live with people forever trolling you for that fact. This is patently unfair to both of us.

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There are two things you said in your concession speech – which I thought was pretty good despite what your tireless detractors say – that I found extremely poignant. You said that you have done your bit as president and that you would leave it to history to judge your contributions.

You were probably thinking of the interchanges you borrowed against and factories you commissioned and oversized sandals that you placed on the feet of impoverished school children when you uttered these words, but your contribution goes beyond that. You, sir, serve as a living example of a right way and an absolutely terrible way of doing things, and that’s not a bad position to be in. We can all glean lessons from your tenure, and those lessons are applicable in business, love, faith, etc.

  • Don’t wait to do things at the last minute. Don’t promise more than you can deliver.
  • Don’t take people for granted.
  • Don’t invoke God’s name in vain, unless you are absolutely sure the Almighty would hang himself on the cross all over again to bring it to pass.
  • Watch your words, because you never know who is listening.

The list of “don’ts” you enacted is endless. Nevertheless, these are valuable lessons, wherein you and your team instructed us with the domino of failures in policy and performance that we witnessed month after month. If your bootlickers and hangers-on had merely spaced out the scandals, you might have been forgiven and survived this lashing…but you didn’t listen to me. I told you after (and long before) Montie 3 that you would be left holding the bag, but you didn’t listen, John!

Arghh! Why do my eyes burn?!?!

Arghh! Why do my eyes burn?!?!

I am hurt. Your behavior in that regard is akin to my children jumping into our freshly chlorinated pool and screaming because their eyes are now burning. Didn’t I tell you the pool was not safe to be diving into? Didn’t I TELL you not to pardon those three dolts? But it was as if you didn’t want to receive wisdom!

All in all, you are a decent guy. Truly. You did the right thing by stepping aside. The nation needs to feel like there’s going to be shift in its course, even though for every clown in your cabinet, Nana Addo has his own variety. Dela Coffie is a douche bag, but Ken Agyapong is a b3ntwa nozzle. And there are just as many people preparing to get paid for their loyalty to Nana Addo’s campaign as there were when you came to chop. It’s Ghana politics. People have staked their last meals on this outcome. I grew up attending elite schools in Ghana, and we all know who the usual players are on either side of the aisle who are first in line for the biggest slices of pie.

As for the voting irregularities you mentioned, we know…we know. People are acting like the nation didn’t just use imported Indian indigo and recycled paper for balloting in this election. People were baying for results as if they forgot the process of voting and counting was not the colossal manual affair that it was. People are also acting like voting in Ghana is a completely linear process…as in we put our thumbs down, the votes get counted, a winner is declared, presto! Those who are honest know that there are many more moving parts and external influences behind the scenes, and that is why you did the right thing by just letting Nana Addo live out his dreams of following in his daddy footsteps before he dies. You made an old man happy, and God will bless you for that. But also, let’s not forget that NDC played dirty game by declaring yourselves the winner ahead of the official results in 2012 and the opposition played it back. Perhaps you could work secretly to be a vector for change for this sort of tit for tat politics? Perhaps not. It’s your prerogative how you live out the rest of your days.

Who couldn't love a face like this?

Who couldn’t love a face like this?

I’m going to miss you, John. I really am. I’m going to miss your infectious giggle, your denim tuxedos and the subversive art that you inspired. Making fun of Nana Addo when he screws up (and he absolutely will, because his last name ain’t Christ) will be seen as ageist and unfair. You know how we venerate our elderly, even (or especially) when they don’t deserve it. I can’t say with confidence that Ghana’s media elite will hold him to the same unwavering standard with which they held you.

But don’t you worry! Nana Addo and his team will never get a pass from me. I will be here to troll them on every broken promise; every time one of their MPs says something disgusting about women; every time a child goes hungry or homeless because of a policy they’ve failed to enact. Because they promised us better and now they must deliver.

Go gently into the night, my Deceased Ruminant. May the grass on the other side of the presidency be sweet, now that you’ve been sent out to pasture. Adieu.