Author Archives: Malaka

Jerry John Rawlings Just Shaded Alfred Oko Vanderpuije To Hell


Former President JJ Rawlings is a man of many talents and titles, including but not limited to:

  • Coup Maker
  • Benevolent Dictator
  • Boom Speech Giver
  • Democracy Re-Introducer
  • Doctorate Holder
  • Peace Negotiator

Now, he can add a new title to his already impressive litany of appellations: Shaolin Monk. And not just any Shaolin Monk… One who has mastered all 36th chambers of stylistic combat. Because it is only someone who has been tested and weathered by time, intensity and adversity that could wordlessly quash the ambitions of a social climber such the Bearded One. Did you see this?

 

 

It was the block felt around the Continent. From Cape Town to Cairo, people are empathetically wincing from the ultimate shading that Accra Mayor Vanderpujie found himself subject to and eclipsed by. Did you see the way he fell aaaaall the way back? Oko is a man who lived through the 70s, and he knew exactly what time it was. When Shaft gives you that stare, you don’t talk back. You know a roundhouse kick to the head is coming so you take your cue stick and leave the bar if you don’t want trouble. Rawlings is Shaft and Vanderpujie is That Other Guy.

What did this man think was going to happen in the wake of these shenanigans? You just don’t run up on another Black man on the red carpet, like some star struck groupie, and expect to get a lollipop in return. What do you think this is? Carnival? Jerry ‘One Man, One Toilet’ Rawlings didn’t even have to say a word – didn’t even have to look the dude in the eye – before Oko Vanderpujie found his lane and obsequiously stuck to it.

That’s power. With a mere hand gesture, a grown man who has spent his entire career terrorizing Accra’s civilian population and throwing his clout around like an elephant marking its territory was disciplined like a class 6 pupil who dared to speak during the headmaster’s address at assembly.

The universe is full of visual wonders, and not all of us will be blessed to see them in our lifetimes. Aurora Borealis, a full Blood Moon, a volcanic eruption that gives birth to a new land mass are among these wonders. So too is Jerry Rawlings’ snub of Alfred Vanderpujie listed among those impressive natural phenomena. It was a display so dazzling that the ancestors stood and took notice. I can see Dr. Rawlings’ Scottish forefathers – Braveheart included- standing and applauding their son. His name will be mentioned in the halls of Valhalla with awe and trembling, and it is for this reason that for the remainder of our time here, we shall refer to him by his super-villain code name: Dr. Boom.

Some people have expressed their disdain for Dr. Boom’s behavior towards Oko. They say that he should have modeled his behavior after Barack Obama, who although having endured unpardonable insults from Trump and the GOP at large, was able to sit down and speak with either party, as a statesman ought. Barack Obama repeatedly displays magnanimity, they say. Obviously, I haven’t crept into Dr. Boom’s secret lair for his reaction to this criticism, but I would imagine his response to his detractors would go something like this:

Will you kip kwah-yet?!? Will you just sharrap over there? Ok3 mini? Barack Obama is what. Let me ask you a question: Is Barack Obama ME? I have toenails that have seen more adversity than Barack Hussein Obama has. I appreciate that the brother has had a hard time in the White House, but real talk, I’ve taken dumps that have endured more pressure than he has. You know why? Because African politics; that’s why. Obama only has a passing familiarity with the way this continent works. In his 50 years living on the planet he’s been here, what, 5 times? And then has the gall to tell us about how we need to run things. Lemme tell you something: I LIVE here. Do you know what kind of SHYTE I have to listen to from my co-leaders in ECOWAS alone? These people are not serious. But because everyone has an ego, tempered only by an army corps that they have to keep satisfied, there is a way we have to relate to each other. You can’t show fear. You can’t have shook feet. You can’t be too accommodating. Everyone is ready to show that he’s harder than the next guy. So when a nigga like The Bearded One steps outta line, it is incumbent upon me – nay, imperative – to remind him what zone he belongs to. There are levels to this. In the political atmosphere, there are levels, I said! Oko occupies the troposphere. I’m outchea in the thermosphere. Above me are God and the ancestors. So naturally, I reached deep into my spirit man and Mortal Kombatted him with my chakra.

mortal-kombat-9-screens-2

Call me when Barack Obama has flown a fight jet between a 10-foot space and lived to tell the tale. Then we will all have something to vibe about. I’ve set up an entire village for Liberian refuges. Dude can’t even get his government to talk about letting Syrians into the country beyond saying ‘no’. But you want ME to act like OBAMA?

indexBe like Barack Obama indeed. If this were a movie – say “Tropic Thunder’ – I’d be Kirk Lazarus. Obama would be Kenvin Sandusky… really smart, with just enough talent to pass for a decent character actor and grateful for the opportunity. Oko is Jeff Portnoy: just here for his farts. So no…I did not let him walk with me on the red carpet uninvited. If I executed the snub correctly, he should be hearing Ludacris’ Move B*tch from now until 2018.

 

****

I mean seriously. I don’t think Alfred Oko Vaderpujie understood what mindset Dr. Boom had to be in at that moment. The man was there to listen to the final eulogy for the party he founded and has guided for the past 30+ years, and Oko popped out of thin air and into his personal space like Jar Jar Binks at Buckingham Palace at teatime. Why???

Did you call me to come here? No? Well here I am!!!

Did you call me to come here? No? Well here I am!!!

The State of the Nation Address had to be a sobering moment for the former president. The demise of the NDC, for the next 12 years at least, is inevitable. Because if Mahamudu Bawumia decides to run in 2020 and proves himself to be true to who he was on the campaign trail, NPP will be undefeatable. The NDC is going to have to raise up a political rock star of Freddie Mercury proportions to even have a shot at the presidency in the shirt term. Does the NDC have a Queen front man waiting in the wings that we don’t know about? Doubtful. All of this must have been weighing heavily on Dr. Boom’s mind when this jester in a Hawaiian button-down shirt interrupted his thoughts and tried to keep step with him. If you were at a function to bury your vision, wouldn’t you have shut down the miscreant who has dedicated a portion of his energy to making sure that vision met an undignified end? Of course you would. Hence: BLOCKDT.

you-get-a-pjq3u5

May the enemies of your progress be blocked with the strength of the Rawlings Shade-Step-Windmill combo. If you employ this maneuver, your obstacles will have no choice but to fall. Watchaaa now!

Advertisements

Is Sugabelly Sick… Or Are We Just Too Repulsed to Admit That’s She’s Right?

Sugabelly is a personality on Twitter who has gained notoriety through expressing radical views on feminism and her disdain for certain aspects of Nigerian culture, among other things. I followed her for about 24 hours 2 or more years ago, but I found her espoused positions on Abrahamic faiths not just intolerant (which is inconsequential, as we are living in a post-tolerance age), but unnecessarily malevolent. She routinely makes it a point to denigrate people who ascribe to Judeo-Christian beliefs and I personally didn’t require that sort of abuse in my life. Nevertheless, she has a legion of followers and a verified account, which is to say that she may not be astute in all her suppositions, but she certainly has influence. All this is to say that I only hold a vague familiarity with the way her mind works, so I don’t pretend to speak for her. Like Charlie Sheen’s wish wish for 2016 to take Trump instead of the slew of talented people it felled, Sugabelly does take a position many have wrestled with internally, but would never be stupid/courageous enough to assert publicly.

This is one of her most recent contributions to the conversation about gender and oppression in global society.

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-4-50-57-am

I hardly know where to begin. One person described Sugabelly as being that “one chimpanzee who couldn’t wait to begin controversy in the new year.” It’s been pretty quite on the news front – the media’s constant shoveling of Trump’s shyte notwithstanding – and I was really hoping that we’d begin the first conversation of the new year with something more mundane. Something like…oh, I dunno… 10 ways to lose 10 pounds in 10 days, but the Innanet gods would not have it so. So here we are.

Women like Sugabelly are not particularly welcome in nouveau (African) feminists circles because they pose a real threat to the advancement of the African feminist agenda, such as I have casually observed it. She – and the women who ascribe to her values – are seen as extremists, and unrepentant ones at that. The average African feminist is more DuBoisian in her approach to equality, seeking to integrate (and ingratiate) themselves with men, whereas Sugabelly is far more radical; dare I say early Malcolm X in her approach. Her utterances often give the Talented Tenth of Afri-feminist leadership palpitations, but few women are willing to take her on directly. Frequently, they are content to discuss and deride her from the safety of their inboxes or personal Facebook walls, but rarely in her mentions where it truly counts. I see why. Sugabelly is relentless and malicious. She’ll hurt your feelings BAD, and it’s hard to recover from a Sugabelly inflicted injury.

But as to her latest remarks: Does she have a point? It will shock you to hear me say it, but I believe so. In a twisted way, I think she’s right, and the way people interact (or avoid interaction) with Sugabelly herself is testament to that.

Before you misunderstand me; NO, I do not think that women should begin wholesale, systematic murder of men every time they are slighted. That would be to advocate the same fragile masculinity we all universally agree is a juvenile and abhorrent response to a negative experience. I wish – and do hope – that Sugabelly will take the time to express her views in detail, but in the immediate absence of that occurrence, I will attempt to interpret what I think is her eventual conclusion here.

Men see men as human, while men see women as objects. This was the conclusion that one of my favorite bloggers and thinkers came to on a recent thread on Twitter. A woman is something that a man acquires, which is why men comfortably equate their relationship with women to the condition of a car, a timeshare, what have you. Because women are objects to be acquired, possessed, controlled and governed, there is a diminished fear of women, certainly a tapering of respect for the gender. We see this in how relationships with women are pursued, however casual.

Image source: pintrest

Image source: pintrest

Assume a man – your average Joe of average breeding – is looking to expand his social circle of male compatriots. Say he’s looking to play basketball with a new set of friends. What are the chances that he’s going to sit on his stoop and “holla” at every passing guy who looks like he’d be fit enough to engage in a pick up game? Very slim, because men are more likely to respond violently if they feel like they’ve been disrespected.

“Ei, dawg. Ei! You wanna hit the court with me yo? Then maybe we can hit the showers afterwards…. Whatsamatter? You don’t like new friends? I’m just trying to holla atcha, homie!”

He’d get his clock cleaned, for sure. Or even if he didn’t he’s subconsciously aware that engaging with another man in such a manner increases his chances of a series of blows to the face. And yet women are expected to respond favorably to catcalls, whistles and comments from perfect strangers about their bodies or what the verbal assailant would do to that body behind closed doors. Because women aren’t “human”. They are “women”, which is something else entirely in the minds of many men. #NotAllMen

It is unfortunate that the threat of violent retaliation is what motivates people (in this conversation, men) to treat others with respect and dignity. If more men found themselves among these statistics, I’ve no doubt that the conversation – and attitudes – about respecting boundaries where women are concerned. The UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women published the following quick facts on its website:

  • In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
  • In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.
  • In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
  • In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

It is estimated that in America alone, an average of 3 women are killed per day by her intimate partner.This speaks nothing of the women who are assaulted in bars, parks and other public spaces for unforgivable infraction for not speaking back, refusing to provide a working phone number upon request and “not smiling”. Can you imagine a man smashing another man in the face because he didn’t smile in response? If there is violence against another male to be perpetrated, it’s in response to stepping on another man’s new shell toes or bumping into him, causing him to spill his drink. Even then, the threat of violence is quickly deescalated and neutralized with a simple, “My bad, bruh.”

Naturally, I don’t agree that women should have to resort to slapping the taste out of every man who presents himself as a disrespectful figure, but I do acknowledge that that sort of fear has power. The threat of immediate, swift and brutal retaliation is how African slaves were kept in check all over the New World and how African dictators maintain power. The threat of bodily harm, or withholding resources that will eventually lead to the body’s ability to thrive, is an effective tool of oppression. And right now, that tool is employed with regularity by patriarchal men.

Is Sugabelly’s assessment that societies can’t improve until women begin to employ the same oppressive tactics, including killing? Yes; but just as sick is the society/justice that gives a man 3 months in jail for raping a woman behind a dumpster, or one that forces 13 year old girls to marry her rapist. I think that as repugnant as her assertion is, it is even more so that global attitudes about gender relations give it credibility. The grim reality is that she’s not entirely wrong. By and large, our global societies are founded on and governed by the idea that might = right.

If only we could all be more like Iceland…

What Are We Wearing For Serena’s Wedding?

Yesterday I woke to wonderful news. The first pleasant surprise was that no one who defined or impacted my adolescence had died. The second was that Serena Williams had gotten engaged! I greeted the news with the exuberance of a sunflower saluting the sun. I basked in it. I welcomed in it. I reveled in it. And even before I had a chance to go out onto the innanets-at-large to talk about it, I knew folk would be mad about it. Why? Because Queen Serena Ama Williams had announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, a man who happens to be white.

Whooo, they mad.

They big mad.

So mad that my boy David has offered a cape so that anyone offended by the pending union can be Super Mad.

15825831_10154680538856578_7149373770882003316_n

Predictably, the Ankh-Right and their flagella have come forward to call Serena a self-hating ‘bed wench’ and who loathes her blackness to the point that she would wish to cancel it. The same Serena who has dated both Common and Drake, both men who define Black maleness and neither of who saw fit nor reason to put a ring on it. The same Serena who twerked for one of the blackest visual albums of all time. That Serena hates her blackness, eh? Your brain is only firing on one synapse.

There were no Black men serious about marrying this woman. You all only tune into her matches to see what color Spandex she’s wearing and to ogle her posterior. Don’t lie! I have been in the house with a 54-year-old man who could barely get his fingers dialing his keypad fast enough, breathless as he called up his buddies as he heaved one-word sentences.

“Dawg. ESPN. Serena. Black jumpsuit. Dat azz!”

54 years old.

Yet you are the same people who said she looked like a dude, that she was built like a dude, and yet – ironically – have never fought to make sure that she was paid like or recognized for her prowess like a dude. But when Reddit Takes Serena to Rome, you are angry? Please go and find an opera house and have aaaall the seats, balcony included. You did the same thing to Lupita. Called her dark, skinny and ugly but then got angry when it was rumored that she was dating Jared Leto. What would an African Queen want with such a white peasant? You people just want Black women to be miserable for your sport and pleasure, living for your validation and yours alone.

A comment on IG in response to Zoe Saldana, her sisters and their white spouses.

A comment on IG in response to Zoe Saldana, her sisters and their white spouses.

What shall it profit a Black woman to wait for a Black man to make up his mind? Did not Janet stick with Jermaine for a decade to no avail? And now you are angry because she dresses like “a Muslim” as she carries her very Arab, very billionaire hubby’s child.

My sisters! Flourish! Let them talk!

I’m sickened by, but not at surprised by the ill will exhibited towards Serena. Black men have long freed themselves from the unspoken obligation to marry within the race (Notice I didn’t say procreate, which many do with the utmost ease) and pursue committed relationships with women of other ethnicities. As a group, Black women have not yet given themselves permission to do so. The sexual violence meted out against Black women’s bodies at the hands of white men over the centuries does not inspire much confidence on a subconscious level. There is always that question of whether the interests of a man whose race phenotypically differs from yours is the result of exoticism or viewing you as an item to be checked off on his ethno-sexual exploits list. I once went for lunch with a co-worker who coyly (and I think, suggestively) told me that he’d “been with a Black girl once”. The words slid around his beer-moistened lips like melted lard – unctuous and fascinating to behold.

Of course, not all white men think or behave this way, but just like guys have to question if a woman is with them because of their money, we have to wonder if men of other races are trying us on for size because we’re Black. It takes time and effort to discern true interest.

On the other side of the divide, there are Black men who feel vindicated by Serena’s engagement to a nerdy white guy. Now NO Black woman can ever say anything about them dating women outside of the race and have credibility, they cry! You hateful Black women can’t be mad at us for choosing white women any more!

I know it’s hard for these men to understand or believe (because they consider themselves SUCH catches), but the vast majority of Black women greet the sight of an interracial couple with a shrug, if with any reaction at all. We really don’t care. I don’t think Black men dating/marrying white women has been an issue for the community at large since Waiting to Exhale. And when our irritation for your mating/marrying preferences is provoked, it is ONLY because certain men go out of their way to present their selection of a white wife as an improvement over Black womanhood. That’s disrespectful and unnecessary.

Why would we hate white women for marrying Black men and vice versa? White women have birthed and raised some of the most socially conscious and loving men of color of our times. Was it not a white woman who gave us Jesse Williams? Was it not a white woman who carried Barack Obama in her womb? These women are not the problem… the Black men who would seek to make Black women feel inferior solely and simply because they are not white, are. Because the reality is that like violent crime, most marriages will be intra-racial. Neither Black nor white people are going to disappear because Serena decided to marry someone who doesn’t look like her daddy.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-6-01-40-am

Enough about the ill wishers; The rest of us are ecstatic! All around the internet, people are expressing their joy. The tailors are going to be very busy in the coming months. One friend has pledged to sew aso ebi whether she is invited or not. Another said she has been saving a special dress for this day in particular, because she knew it would come. As for me, I am going to the fabric shop to purchase tulle, organza, silk, shweshwe and any other expensive material in stock at Lapland Fabrics to wear on the day. I can’t think of a style elaborate enough to honor the nuptials of Sister Ama Williams, so I may just wrap myself in the cloth and sit on the veranda, staring into the sunset, pretending to be part of the bridal party seated at the high table. I hope she publishes the day of the wedding. I hope she publishes the menu. I hope they make shrimp cocktail. It will be the most elaborate pretend play date of my adult life. Oh Serena! We are so happy for you!

Please make babies. Lots and lots of babies. Talented, tennis playing, Trinitron developing babies! And if you would like to preserve your physique rather than lose it to the rigors of child carrying and birth, I offer my uterus as tribute. I’ve already had 4 babies and after 6 years since my last birth, it’s obvious that I’m not bouncing back from that endeavor. This kangaroo belly is yours, should you desire the services of a surrogate. *Call me…*

Brother Alexis, you are welcome to the family. We know you cannot fix computers, but you work with computers, so we will ask you to look at our ailing Gateways anyway. We expect that you will make our dear Nana Ama Williams very happy. In announcing your intended union, you have provided us with the final act of 2016’s Summer Celebration of Interracial Love. The trilogy started with ‘A United Kingdom’,

uking

continued with ‘Loving’,

loving

and has concluded with ‘Love-Love in Rome: A Serena Williams story.’ Nothing in Nollywood can come close to this splendor!

serena

What a wonderful way to close out this year. Thank you for this gift, because seeing your happiness unfold is indeed a gift to all of us. Now, to Aneres! There is wedding shopping to do!

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

 

 

PSSSTTTT! Now that 2016 is coming to a close, here a PSA for some unhappy people:

As some of you know, the geneses of this blog were as amusing anecdotes and personal observations about my environment and the world at large, posted on Facebook. I was encouraged to bring those thoughts and the writing that accommodated them to a larger audience and ended up on this platform. I was assured that “people will just love what you have to say!” Now that I’m nearly 7 years into the blogging game, I am more confident than ever that sharing your “baby” (your art, talent, money, etc.) for the love of people is a poor decision. In fact, it’s a crappy reason to do anything at all, because people are cruel and fickle.

But that’s neither here nor there. What’s done is done and come February I will renew my subscription for this domain name.

You should know that the thing that’s kept this blog going is my sister. I don’t write for revenue or exposure. I write so that my sister has something to read when she comes into her office during the week, to get her day started with something other than work pressure and mundane emails. I pick topics that I know my sister would find thought-provoking or diverting and write about them. In the process and over the years, I’ve picked up a handful of readers along the way; readers may (and frequently, may not) appreciate or understand my style of writing on this platform, which is informal, often satirical and sprinkled with a good helping of dry wit. That’s because this is how we communicate with each other in my family. We navigate pain and serious issues through our brand of humor. We are what Charlie Murphy refers to as “habitual line steppers”. So if you’ve come here over the previous year – or more – and have found yourself taking exception to anything I’ve written pertaining to jollof rice or John Mahama or jeggings, just understand I am not writing for YOU. I never have, and I never will. I write for my sister and I write for myself.

Here is the blessedness in all of this: Over to the right side of this page, there is a button. It says “Subscribe”. You may have pressed it once. Go and un-press it. There are lots of ways to keep my content from showing up in your reading material, and one of the quickest ways to ensure your peace is to keep my name outcho mouf and away from your fingertips. You found your way to my blog, and you can find your way out of it. Why are you stressing yourself about something I’ve written when you aren’t my audience anyway? Do you go to KKK websites and object to the content therein? No! Because you know it would be futile… or at least, I hope you would know that. God, I hope you know that…

I am what I am and I write what I like, the WAY that I like. That’s never going to change.

So dear dissatisfied reader and faux ally: LEAVE. You don’t pay me to read my posts and I have never begged anyone to stop by here. We will both take pleasure in knowing that Mind of Malaka is one of the things that made your “list of things to leave in 2016” for reasons that don’t require further explanation. There is a blessing in knowing when your participation in a relationship has run its course. This time may be yours. Buh bye.

To the rest of my beloveds, I look forward to seeing you #onhere in 2017! May you conquer your obstacles. May your adversity suffer the same defeat as Rhonda Roussey in her final match of 2016: swift, ferocious, and obliterated in under a minute! Happy New Year!

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-7-22-02-am

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.

48198944-295

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.

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