When Marriage Becomes Idolatry

Idolatry: extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone. A fetishism. 

 

It’s a widely held belief that the wedding industry is the only viable, locally sustained industry in the Ghana. Oil and gas is still somewhat nascent and has yet to yield all of the promised gains that were dangled in front of the nation once drilling began. To boot, the oil-producing Western Region, despite all of the natural wealth and resources it provides, is one of the poorest and least developed of all 10 regions. Major industries that include mining, lumbering and light manufacturing have had to scale back production and in many cases lay off stay due to the protracted energy crisis.

The only “industry” that has been able to withstand fluctuations and pitfalls in the market is the wedding industry. No matter how bad (or good) things get in Ghana, someone will always be getting married…and they will source and spend excessive amounts of money to do so.

Can you believe that this is a cake?

On average, a couple from a middle class background can expect to spend anywhere between $10,000 – $30,000 on a wedding, depending on how ostentatious the bride’s (or in many cases, the groom’s) family wants the occasion to be. The costs rack up over time to include, custom made gowns, several changes of clothes for the reception, the tuxedos, the engagement, gifts for guests, food, event planners, reception venue, the cake, the Moet… There is always something “required” to have a “proper” wedding for the up-and-coming cosmopolitan couple. No attention to detail – or expense – is spared for our weddings. The shame of not having a wedding that was not the talk of the town at its conclusion is a burden many are unwilling to bear. It’s unfathomable! And the sobering reality in Ghana is that more attention is paid to the particulars of the wedding day than to the marriage between two people.

And yet, marriage is probably the most important goal a person can attain in modern Ghanaian culture. Not education. Not entrepreneurship. Not creating intellectual property. Marriage.

Whether one is happy in their marriage or not in Ghana is of little consequence. All that matters is that all persons of a suitable age (25, ideally) find a mate, go into debt in a desperate attempt to impress rarely-seen friends and extended family, a fulfill their social obligation to go and marry. The need to develop the attitude that makes marriage a successful institution is often overlooked. This is evident right from the knocking phase of the typical Ghanaian union.

In this phase, a man expressing a desire to wed his paramour will approach the potential bride’s family. He comes with drinks, cloth and whatever other trinkets that would denote him as a suitable suitor. If the prospective bride’s family accepts his offering, a wedding date will be set. Sometimes, the family will present a list of required items to be brought in exchange for the girl. Sometimes there is a haggling over that list. Historically, a traditional wedding on its own merits served as a legally binding union.  In some communities, a bride wouldn’t even have to be present in order to be married. (This has its pros and cons.) But now that Ghanaians have by-and-large adopted a hybrid of Western/traditional/manic approach to marriage, these rules no longer apply. There is an increasing number of “relationship experts” who tout the idea that a couple married in a traditional ceremony are not really married until they stand before a priest and do a white wedding…and of course pay the requisite fees that accompany such a venture. It is because of this pervasive view and the undue pressure that it brings many young couples (and their parents) that the wedding industry has become the money making monster that it is. Furthermore, now armed with the knowledge that he has footed the bill and bought his bride, the industrious male has no inclination to consult her on issues that will affect the pair of them once their union is sealed. He can make major decisions without her input or consultation, because he’s the “provider” of the house. (Note: A man is always “the” provider, whether his wife is gainfully employed and possibly out earns him or not.)

This is not common sense.

This is idolatry.

It is bowing to unreasonable phantom idea of what marriage is supposed to look like.

Pursuant to this (unnecessarily) expensive venture comes the barrage of marriage conferences – usually headed by men – promising women that their failed marriages can be saved if only they would further submit to their husbands. These women and their dissatisfied husbands are still in wedding mode, never fully graduating to the level of mature, selfless individuals who assess the problems in their marriage or plan goals around its success.

It is essential that perceptions about marriage change if we are to build strong families and raise productive individuals. It’s high time we review and revise what marriage means to us culturally, before it is rendered obsolete in this new century. The first notion that has to go out of the window is that a commitment between a sentient man and a woman joined in a traditional environment is inferior to a white wedding.

The second is a rabid need to push personal ledgers into the red when everyone is going to forget the particulars of your wedding by the time they attend the next event on the following Saturday.

The third is to remove the stigma around being single. Being single is not a punishment for a failure to submit to and comply with traditional gender norms, and being married is not necessarily a reward. In either state, you will create your own heaven or hell. Your life will be a success depending on your attitude and what you determine satisfies you personally.

If we do not cease this blind worship of an institution – and all that trappings therein (that has a 50% +/- chance of failure, might I add) – it will only yield catastrophic results.

Inquire of the ancient Israelites if idol worship ever yielded positive results. Selah.

 

 

 

Patriarchal Princesses Don’t Bother Me. Here’s Why.

In just four short months I will turn 40. I mention the coming of this milestone with pride and eagerly await its coming. Like 16 and 25, 40 is a one of those benchmark birthdays that heralds a shift in a woman’s life. For one thing, I will have achieved authentic ‘Auntie’ status owing to may age. (Some rogue elements began referring to me as ‘auntie’ at 37, but I let that slide because I am the embodiment of magnanimity.) As I understand it, fewer things begin to bother you at 40, ostensibly owing to the fact that one has spent one’s 30s pruning, plucking and scoring undesirable people and circumstances from one’s life. For me, those items include – but are not limited to – 1) Phone calls from unknown numbers. 2) People who go 20 in a 45/mph lane. 3) Women who cape for their own suppression, informally known as Patriarchal Princesses.

If I had to wager, I’d say that you are pretty impressed with my list. They are all pretty repugnant, aren’t they? But I’m here to declare with pride that they no longer cause me disquiet or trouble my soul! This is growth, especially with regard to the lattermost item. Patriarchal Princesses have perplexed me for years, but even though I don’t understand them (or their causeless cause), I accept that they are a part of our social ecosystem.

Why am I talking about this?

A few days ago, a post was shared on my wall from a woman I shall not name nor share the entirety of the contents of her publication. I wouldn’t want to embarrass her further because God is doing a new work in my life and I am submitted to His will. What she said really doesn’t matter. My reaction to what she said however does. I share the post and invited my friends (and the world) to laugh with me because as far as I (and history books and current events) was concerned, it was astonishingly inaccurate, woefully misleading, and hilarious that it was presented with all sincerity. As the African American proverb says: She was just loud and wrong.

Naturally, she got wind of my addendum to her post, and naturally my comments section morphed into Chernobyl.

Chernobyl. It was all fun and games until it wasn’t.

She was talking about methods that women ought to employ to get a stool at the table, and made some almost convincing points about why women ought to embrace their place as second-class, binary functioning citizens, but she goofed in two specific areas: the examples she presented to support her position and the language she used to describe their efforts. One of the few (but most effective) tools of the patriarchal princess is to bleach and re-write women’s history and achievements in order to suit their agenda. And so she asserted that women like Margaret Thatcher, Yaa Asantewaa and Michelle Obama did not make advancements in their careers or for society by being brash or assertive, but rather by ‘cajoling’ men to join their cause.

I confess, that this is what caused me to burst into a fit of laughter, because words and language matter to me. To cajole, by definition is to “persuade someone to do something by sustained coaxing or flattery, to deceive with soothing words or false promises.” (Merriam-Webster) Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister did not bear the hallmarks of a cajoling woman. This is a woman who literally said, “If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”

No right thinking person would interpret Yaa Asantewaa’s speech to the gathered chiefs who had been insulted by then-governor Hogdson as an exercise in flattery. She basically punked the men in her company and said women would fight if they were too afraid to.

Keep in mind, Asante women did accompany their men to war in those days, but it was to provide auxiliary support in the form of singing and taunting the enemy. These men were taunted into action, not cajoled. And as nice as Michelle Obama is, she has been dubbed Marie Antoinette and the Queen of Mean by her detractors.

This particular woman belongs to a Facebook ministry that wants to “restore narratives” about what they deem as a woman’s proper place in her home and society. I hadn’t heard about their concerted efforts in that area until a friend of mine shared something from their wall with me that caused me no small amount of consternation. I’m going to share it with you, unedited, with my thoughts in parenthesis.

23 THINGS TO DO TO KEEP YOUR HUSBAND UNDER THE CONTROL OF YOUR LOVE

 

  1. Call him by a pet name (Naturally. Because any lapdog you ‘control’ needs a pet name.)
  2. Allow him exercise his authority as the head of the family. (What does that even mean?)
  3. DO not challenge him when he is hurt. (Who hurt him? How do you define ‘challenge’? Are we allowed to ask questions?)
  4. Be silent when he is angry. You can go back to him in his sober moment with apology n explain why you behave that way that annoyed him. (Sure. I agree in taking time out to cool off, but if my man is sulking, he doesn’t just get to be surly without engaging in an exchange to come to a conclusion about how we BOTH might have handled things better in the situation. Is he a two-year-old or a MAN?)
  5. Be quick to say “I’m sorry dear” when ever you offend him, insist on his forgiveness,appreciate and kiss him when he does. (He does me no favors by forgiving me. Forgiveness is a poison he must release from his heart for his own benefit.)
  6. Speak good of him before his Friends and siblings. (When he does good, trust me they will all know. Men excel at bragging.)
  7. Honor his mother. (The bible says to honor THY mother. Each of us will do our own honoring.)
  8. Insist that he buys gift for his parents and so be sure that he will do same for your parents (Why is the burden of buying gifts on him alone? What kind of unnecessary pressure is this?)
  9. Surprise him with his favorite dish especially when he has no money at hand and never delay his food. (Now he’s suddenly broke? Okay…but you JUST said he needs to go gift shopping, so how am I supposed to magically afford the ingredients for his favorite meal? Nambia?)
  10. Do not allow the maid to serve him food when you are at home. Because u may lose him to her. (This one has always intrigued me. I assume my husband would be tempted by the waakye seller and the waitress. He should respect himself and his vows and leave the maid to do her work.)
  11. Give him a warm reception with an embrace when he returns, collect his luggage and help undress him. (I used to do this for my son when get got off the school bus. I suppose it’s alright. I’ll make sure to put a big next to his bowl of Spaghetti O’s too.)
  12. Smile when you look at him and give him occasional pecks when you are out socially. (I have no quarrel with this. PDA is lit.)
  13. Praise him before your children sometimes. (Why just sometimes?)
  14. Wash his back while he is in the tub or shower. (If he asks me to, I will. But no one wants you rushing into the bathroom while you’re trying to enjoy the steam.)
  15. Put love note in his lunch box or briefcase. (Who is love note?)
  16. Phone and tell him that you miss him. (If he’s out of town sure. But we can’t be raising a generation of needy chicks who can’t function whenever their men go so far as the sidewalk.)
  17. Dial his number and on hearing “hello” just tell him I love you. (Because Stevie Wonder.)
  18. If he is a public figure or a politician, gently wake him at the early hours of the morning and romance him to the point of demand. He will not be entice by any other woman that day. (LOLOLOL!!!! You clearly don’t know our politicians.)
  19. Tell him how lucky you are to have him as your husband. (If I have to undress, bathe and travel to Nambia to buy a grown man’s food to prove my devotion, that’s not a ‘lucky’ circumstance to be in.)
  20. Give him a hug for no reason. (Touch is a love language. This is sound advise.)
  21. Appreciate God for the Adam of your life. (Yeah. He sounds like Adam. That same dude who abdicated his responsibilities and blamed God for giving him a woman to mislead him. Yes! Thank you Lord for this wotless man!)
  22. Always remember to pray for him. (The bible says we must pray for one another. No quarrels here!)
  23. Pray together and also pray together before going to bed in the evening… (Oh. You just repeated what… Never mind.)

May God bless your marriages. (May the Lord help you with your life.)

Keep your husband under the control of your love…

I told you language is important to me, and if I were a man, I would be offended to know that my wife was using manipulating tactics to ‘control’ me, based on the supposition that a man is a kid! One ought to show their spouse genuine affection. There’s nothing wrong with that. But to advance the idea that a woman’s husband is a flighty, barely functioning being who can be led astray by another woman with a plate is insulting to his intelligence, his ability, his whole being. And here’s the kicker: Women who do all this and MORE still lose their husbands to the stripper. Why? Because you never allowed him space to cultivate his manhood. You insisted on taking on the role of sexual partner AND mother, coddling him into the co-dependent man-baby that he is now. What’s more, this is the picture of marriage you present to your children. To them, this is normal and so find themselves in conflict with a segment of the world that says that men and women share equal responsibility for the sustaining of their marriage. It takes two to say ‘I do.’

But if that WORKS for the pair of you, that’s fine. If as a woman, you feel compelled and fulfilled only when you run yourself into the ground with overexertion, have at it! If you feel it is God’s calling in your life finish raising your husband because his mother failed to complete her work, who are we to interfere with God’s will for your life?! And if you have to scheme, flatter and manipulate your man into fidelity, girl… I have no words. You are free to give free advice, however do us all a favor and refrain from presenting this as any form of ultimate truth. God has given us all free will. This list is 23 points of witchcraft.

Substance.

We all have to feed off of something. We are human, but we are still a diverse race of beings. Entomologically speaking, a fly and a butterfly both have wings, but only one is attracted to excrement. To the fly, shit tastes like sugar. There is nothing wrong with the symbiotic relationship between the fly and the cast offs of another animal. Coprophilous organisms are a part of our ecosystem, no matter how abhorrent. In fact, they are vital to its sustainment. The truth is, there are hoards of men who are the products of a failed upbringing and require such manipulating tactics from their wives/girlfriends in order to exist in a sense of normalcy. As a butterfly, I cannot abide with such a man. The substance of the narrative that is being presented here is therefore toxic and detrimental to me. But to the excrement-ingesting insect, this substance is life and more importantly, life more abundantly.

There have always been women against the advancement of other women. Some of the strongest anti-suffrage campaigns were lead by women. There are women today who believe that education is wasted on girls. There are women who believe that men (or at least laws created by men) should control their reproductive organs and that they can’t be trusted to know what’s best for their own bodies. They would never come out and say this blatantly, of course. They’ll couch their damaging views in saccharine tones and serve their poison with tea and soup, and many will lap it up because it feels good to sleep deeply before you die so slowly.

But we see you. Though many will be deceived, you will eventually be unmasked. And that’s why the Stepford Wives reloaded don’t bother me.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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!

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The Penguin Home Wrecker Video Touched a Raw Nerve and Provoked Raw Feelings Everywhere

The kids are not allowed to watch TV during the week, but sometimes, when the noise level is more than I can bear and the constant bleating of the words “But we’re so boooooored….!” is more than I can abide, I allow them one small indulgence.

“Y’all can watch NatGeo Wild for a bit. But nothing else! NatGeo is eddi-kay-shun-al. Y’all gon’ learn something if you watch NatGeo Wild, ‘stead of cartoons all the time!”

The children readily agree and rush up the stairs. For an hour, the only sounds I hear are “eewww!” and the occasional, incredulous “what?!” followed by a loud gasp. These noises satisfy me. They assure me that my children are being educated – or informed, at least – about the scientific world in ways that I am ill-equipped to do. But after watching this Maury-esque NatGeo Gone Wild video, I’m not sure that this is the best diversion for my offspring at this tender age. I don’t know if they are ready for this sort of mature material!

Holmaighat. Did you see that? This is just brutal. Just absolutely horrible. To quote the Blue Lives Matter corps, we can’t rush to judgment because we “don’t know all the facts”. As the Internet has pointed out, perhaps the cuckolded penguin was actually a poor provider or was abusing his wife in some way. Maybe he even had a second family in some other burrow that she found out about. Maybe – as the fight between her betrothed and her new boo revealed – she sniffed out a long time ago that he was too weak to be a model of strong, prime penguindom for the children she has to raise. All we know if is that the man went out to make some bacon and when he got home, some other guy was porking his wife.

Tragic.

2 weeks ago, we travelled to Oudtshorns and visited the Highgate Ostrich farm. We learned about how ostriches choose their partners. Instead of forcing a pair of ostriches on each other, breeders will release a male ostrich into a pen of five females and let him choose his mate from among them. If she precedes him in death, he will never mate with another ostrich again. However if HE dies, she immediately begins the process of looking for a new mate. Penguins are reported to share similar family values, where couples remain monogamous and committed, sharing responsibility for hatching and raising their young in a manner very much like ostriches do. I had this elaborate piece made up in my mind about how a (human) woman ought to choose her mate based on the qualities of the ostrich: One who is caring, committed for life, equally shoulders the burden of raising young, able to protect and provide…

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This male ostrich stands guard over his clutch while his mate feeds in the distance.

I had this elaborate, unwritten piece in my head where is marinated for days, forgetting one fundamental fact: Some chicks don’t want a sensitive dude. Some chicks see a man who respects them as an equal as weaklings. Some chicks are just evil hoes.  Ohhhh, and make no mistake: Mrs. Penguin is. An. Evil. Hoe. She has to be.

“Pick me, Penguina! Pick me!”

Did you see how the two embattled males stood there crying out for her to choose between them, and how she waddled over there, inspected the reproductive plantain of the penguin she was cheating with, ROLLED HER NECK AT HER HUSBAND, and nudged Rico the Home Wrecker with her beak in the direction of their den of iniquity before waddling back to the crib? This she-penguin has no decorum, whatsoever! She could’ve let her husband down gently. She could have let him leave their marital home with some dignity, but no! She not only robbed him of his burrow, and his children, she robbed him of his pride. She ain’t have to do that. But honestly, the way she finessed her husband with such nonchalance and savagery, I don’t know whether to slap her or shake her hand. Is she heartless or brilliant?

This was more than he could take, and in a valiant effort to reclaim his self-respect, he chased after the man who’d broken up his home – the man whom his kids had been calling ‘Daddy’ for only God knows how long – to launch one final brutal attack in order to prove that SHE had made a fatal error in rejecting him.

And man, was it brutal. Mr. Penguin left bloodied and half dead, while Rico Penguin lunged his massive body deeper into the burrow his sweat and bare beak built.

Holy Ghost Fiya!!  Why did he have to trip over the tree branch after he caught hands from Rico the Rival Penguin? I blame 2016 for this. Only 2016 is capable of something this cruel. 2016 stuck out its malignant, twisted foot and tripped Mr. Penguin as he prepared to take his walk of shame.

The sad part is, there is nothing Mr. Penguin could’ve done to prevent this outcome. Furthermore, his reputation as a punk is sealed in the community. Everyone saw this…everyone. He will never mate again – at least not in that community of penguins. He’ll be lucky if he makes it to another colony, bleeding the way he was. Predators – like rogue police in communities of color – will view him in this weakened state and see it as an opportunity to rob him of his civil liberties and right to life. It’s inevitable. And then it will be incumbent upon us to start a penguin lives matter movement to honor this unjustly slain life. It’s the decent thing to do as co-citizens of the earth. RIP in advance, Mr. Penguin. I’m sure you were a decent bloke.

shark-stalking-a-penguin-114942

Herh. Lemme tell you something. If you’re human and male and reading this, be grateful that more women do not conduct themselves like birds. Now might be a good time to make sure everything is alright in your mammalian relationship. You don’t know when the spirit of Penguina will overtake your wife.

President Buhari’s Comments About His Wife Kind of Matter…But Really Don’t

Ordinarily I would react to President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments about his wife with irritation and rancor, but a weekend trip to Johannesburg helped me see the situation with new clarity. Here’s why.

At best, we are all 5 degrees of separation from a couple like the Buharis – possibly fewer if you happen to be a person of African heritage born into privilege. Aisha Buhari is the second wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, who at 47 years old wed her at age 18. Only the two of them and their family know what attraction led these two into matrimony – whether for convenience or true love – but relationships between powerful elderly men and inexperienced young women is quite common.

Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari arrives with his wife Aisha, before taking oath of office at the Eagles Square in Abuja, on May 29, 2015. Buhari, 72, defeated Goodluck Jonathan in March 28 elections -- the first time in Nigeria's history that an opposition candidate had beaten a sitting president. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari arrives with his wife Aisha, before taking oath of office at the Eagles Square in Abuja, on May 29, 2015. Buhari, 72, defeated Goodluck Jonathan in March 28 elections — the first time in Nigeria’s history that an opposition candidate had beaten a sitting president. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Everyone has their own notions about why a man who is so far advanced in years would take up a relationship with a woman barely legal enough to qualify for the demarcation, but those notions are rarely noble. Typically, these men are looking for a mate they can control, guide and groom, rather than a partner in every sense of the term. What’s unfortunate is that these sorts of men fail to understand that a woman is not a car; you can’t just add and take away features and still maintain the same product, essentially. A woman is a more like a tree. She will grow in many directions and in time, turn into something entirely different from the seed that was planted into the ground. I suspect this is what’s happening in the Buharis marriage, and we are all being treated to a front row seat to the show.

Last week, you may have heard that President Buhari made some pretty unsavory remarks about his wife while sharing a stage with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. In response to comments made by his wife in a BBC interview wherein she said that she might not back him in the next election unless he shakes up his government, he said: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”

Mrs. Buhari said in the same interview that she is very vested in protecting her husband’s legacy, a passionate cause which likely led her to speak in a way more candidly than Nigerians are accustomed to.

The reality is that Aisha Buhari publicly spoke to a lot of frustrations that ordinary Nigerians talk about every day. President Buhari’s government has been deemed to move too slow, has ushered in a weaker economy, and appears to lack cohesiveness. As a Nigerian citizen who – like her husband – “belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody”, she has the right to voice her thoughts on the politics of the day. The fact that she married a man who aspired to the office of president and was only successful on the fourth attempt does not preclude her from that right. There has been much talk online (and probably more off) that her role as First Lady – a title she has rejected – is to support her husband no matter what. On the other side of the spectrum and in response to her husband’s reflexive sexism, there have been some who have called for Mrs. Buhari to end her marriage to a man who clearly has bias against her for the sake of her gender and her inferior position as his wife. Whether that bias is unconscious or not, only President Buhari can say…but rest assured Mrs. Buhari knows her husband is and always has been. Like Donald Trump and his comfort with saying the offensive and preposterous, this is not the first time President Buhari as said something outdated, sexist and subversionary to his wife and/or about women.

You may recall Governor Oshiomhole’s crass comments about his wife’s virginity on their wedding day while a room full of guests looked on…. guests that included President Buhari. These are the types of “jokes” that men of this stature are used to making about women, our bodies, our place in politics, etc. None of this is actually funny, but their hubris hinders them from recognizing that they are the only ones laughing.

oshiomhole-wedding

It’s tempting to believe that comments like these are the mindless ramblings made by men from an era gone by, because we desperately want to believe that humanity is getting smarter…better…more cognitively aware. We must resist that urge to deflect and deny the everyday sexism that women face, particularly from those closest to them. It very much exists.

Just this week I was at dinner with a group of friends where the discussion turned to children and work-life balance. The couples there were of mixed race and heritage, among which was a Ghanaian couple. The husband says, “My wife’s children love to play tennis…”

She stops him with an incredulous laugh and says, “What do you mean ‘your wife’s children’? They’re your children too!”

He retorts, “Ho! How do I know that these are my children? I have no way of knowing!”

The table reacts with stunned silence. He goes on to repeat a Fante proverb about children not belonging to their fathers – without explaining the context – as justification for the offensive thing he’s just implied about his WIFE in front a group of friends and strangers. Clearly, he’s heard this type of “joke” before and grew comfortable enough with this type of jest that he thought he’d try it on for size. He should’ve resisted the temptation, because at 40 years old and with access to education and incredible, wealth, he knows exactly how a DNA test works. That comment was unfair, inappropriate and unwarranted. Furthermore, the proverb was coined before the proliferation of LabCorps. His wife’s response to the gaffe? Silence, as you would expect. Men can be as offensive as they want in public, but women have been conditioned to defend themselves in private.

But in that weekend – which coincided with President Buhari’s belittling comments about his wife – I was reminded that there is little you can do to alter the behavior of a sexist. All you can do is respond to it; and that’s why feminism is essential. To the degree that patriarchy excludes and denies equality is the degree to which feminism is necessary. And the best response to sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination systems is the acquisition of power. That is why President Buhari’s comments matter, but at the end of the day, really don’t.

I am pleased to see that Aisha Buhari has not backed down from her position and her advice that her husband get his political house in order. Her speaking out may not signal the end of their marriage, but it has certainly signaled the end as they have both previously known it.

Folks have reacted with shock to her extroversion, precisely because they expect her to retreat to the symbolic kitchen where she smiles for the camera and disappears in her husband’s shadow. Instead, she has doubled down on her earlier utterances and is on her way to Brussels to talk about women’s role in global security. How could she confidently talk about courage and security while displaying political timidity? And for the sake of “culture”? No! What we are seeing is a 45 year old Aisha Buhari discovering and demonstrating her earned independence. She is slowly (re)crafting an identity apart from “Mr. Buhari’s wife”.

aisha-buhari

It would shock people to know that women married into power and privilege have a long history of “defying” their husbands, often in the defense of the disadvantaged. Lady Godiva is a favorite figure of mine. Godiva was aarried to Leofric, the tyrannical Earl of Mercia. After the Danish invasion of Coventry in 1040, Leofric ruled with an iron fist, squeezing the population of its livelihood through taxes and levies. His wife, however, was a compassionate who visited the poor and shared of her abundance with them. When Leofric announced that he was to introduce a new tax that would fiscally cripple the population, she begged her husband to reconsider. He said that the only way that he would ever do that is if she rode through the streets naked on a horse… a great dishonor for a woman of her stature.

4e19cfc7a573a3f8c50560840cd665af

But on market day, Lady Godiva, robed only with her cascading blond hair, went on the ultimate Slut Walk for her constituents. Upon hearing of his wife’s courageous deed, Leofric was compelled to revoke the tax, and the rest became history. She used her privileged position to bring about the outcome she wanted and gained power to affect change in the process.

So while sexism is a vile state of mind and even worse to contend with, I believe we would make better use of our time by changing our reaction to it. Does sexism need to be dismantled? Without question; but we do that with owning our own spaces, resources and enterprises, not appealing to the kindness and sweetness of the oppressor. It’s never worked. Power is the only thing a sexist (or racists, or ablest, etc.) understands, proving Prophetess Beyoncé right in this one regard: Your best revenge in your paper.

 

MX5: Are you reading this? What would you do if FX5 got on international TV and said “my wife belongs in MY kitchen”? Call me later girl!

Should You Keep Secrets From Your Spouse?

Should there be secrets in marriage? This dilemma has provided the plot for daytime soap dramas since Guiding Light was on the radio. Sunset Beach took the theme to another level. Remember with Olivia was cuckolding Greg and then got pregnant with what she thought was Cole’s baby, who Annie stole and gave to Caitlin who was married to Cole but pretending to be pregnant with his baby? (If it sounds confusing and FUBAR’d, it’s because it is.) So many secrets! I think Meg was the only honest character on that show, but she was dull and susceptible to emotional injury because of her sincerity. It annoyed me to no end that she got her happily-ever-after when the show ended.

See her honest, vulnerable face.
See her honest, vulnerable face.

I’m getting off track. This ain’t about Meg. This post is about Marshall and Malaka.

Yesterday, I called a good friend to catch up and caterwaul about life. In female relationships, there is a dance that we do to establish trust. I tell you a tidbit of information and wait a few weeks (in some cases, days) to see if it comes back to me. You in turn may do the same. If nothing comes back, I tell you a bit more. This cycle repeats itself over the course of many months until eventually we’re discussing bedroom theatrics and/or revealing the secret ingredient in Big Mama’s sweet potato pie. That’s the real mark of a trust relationship; that sweet potato pie.

So anyway, this friend told me something and said she would only reveal it on one condition: “You BET not tell anyone…not even your husband!”

And I, hungry for filla (the 411), agreed.

Ohhh…and it was good. Spine tingling good. I’ve been mulling over it for days and am amused and horrified in equal measure whenever I think about it. I am also plagued with guilt, because I have willingly accepted the charge of withholding information from my husband. But you know what the worst part is…what the most annoying thing is? My husband probably already knows about this “secret”, and has simply forgotten to tell me!

I don’t know how or where Marshall gathers his intel, but the man has already heard it all. It’s difficult to quantify the number of times I’ve excitedly burst into the house with news, only to be countered with a placid “Yeah. I heard that last week.”

Me: Hey babe! Did you know Felicia’s daughter just discovered the secret formula for Coke?

Him: Yeah. I helped her crack it at a student-led conference. Amazing, eh?

Me: Babe! Have you heard this new underground trap song? It’s called Booty, Booty, Booty Cake. Isn’t that CRAZY?

Him: Yes. God revealed it to me in the spirit. We were at prayer last night praying against its affect on this generation.

Marshall’s ‘I know’ response to everything led me to the false belief that he has also been keeping secrets from me; so I asked him about it.

Me: Dude! You aren’t going to believe this. They ACTUALLY have Pumpkin Spice Oreos. Isn’t that gross?

Him: Ugh! I know. In 2012, I was invited to taste test them before they put them on the market. What? I didn’t tell you about that? Must’ve slipped my mind….

And that’s how it’s been for most of our marriage – most of our relationship, really. He’ll become privy to juicy or interesting information and then

JUST

FORGET

TO

TELL

ME

 

I’m looking at him as I type this. Look at him over there on his iPhone…scratchin’ his head and gathering information. Just swallowing all of the mysteries and secrets of the universe with his eyes. Humph.

IMG_5053

It’s hard to be in this position because of the generation I was born into. The previous century was an era defined by secrecy. Secrecy was currency. There was a direct relationship between clandestineness and trust. The 20th century was the James Bond and Cold War age, where no one was who they appeared to be and everyone was just fine living next door to the Russian spy masquerading as a soccer coach next door as long as he brought beer to the Memorial Day picnic. Why? Because secrets! Today, you can’t even take a dump without attempting to turn it into front-page news. The 21st century is all about performance, exhibitionism and vanity. Nothing is a secret anymore, and the person who gabs the most is seen as the more trustworthy individual.

TMZ has proven this.

Can you imagine if TMZ had been around in the age of Martin Luther King? They would have destroyed his image, publishing audio of him groaning in bed with a woman who was not his wife and so forth. We would still be riding at the back of the bus, all because TMZ had to go run tell that. But who do we go to to verify if a political/celeb scandal has any merit?

TMZ.

Dear friend:

If you’re reading this today, have no fear. The 70’s baby in me is strong. I can keep this not-secret secret from my husband. I’m gonna cloak and dagger this thing so hard, you’d think this was a scene from a medieval martial arts play. And in December, when the topic somehow finds its way into our discourse, I will be fully prepared for its natural conclusion.

“Oh. Yeah…I already knew that. In fact, I was seated at the right hand of Nostradamus when he predicted it.”

On a serious note, I don’t think that there should be certain types of secrets between spouses. There are topics that are absolutely each others’ business. These topics include – but are not limited to – issues with fiscal and physical health, anything pertaining to the children and the wifi password. Withholding details surrounding particular events breeds mistrust, and you can’t have a successful relationship where doubt forms cracks in the foundation.

 

Do you tell your spouse everything? Should you tell your spouse everything? Discuss! You’ve got 24 hours before the comments close. 🙂

Do Ghanaian Men Have a ‘Renters Mentality When It Comes to Marriage?

“Now you are married to somebody… and you’ve put your name on her, she’s called ‘Mrs your name’. That’s a serious responsibility when somebody is called ‘your name’. You’ve overthrown her father, and you’ve taken her father’s place, so, you got to behave seriously. I mean somebody’s life investment has been put in your hands. Don’t take it easily. Don’t just say: ‘You are my wife’. Do you know what it means? It means you are going to share your money”. – Dr. Mensa Otabil

 

Dr. Mensa Otabil is a theologian, philanthropist and founder of International Central Gospel Church (ICGC). I have never attended his church, but snippets from his leaked sermons online are generally well received by the general public, including me. He is a fair-minded man and politically non-partisan, if the re-shares on Facebook are to be believed. His expressed opinions on gender roles in the African and/or Judeo-Christian context constitute a revival of outlooks that were far more egalitarian two centuries ago than they are today. (I’ve written previously about the myriad and diverse freedoms and opportunities that our female ancestors enjoyed prior to contact with and domination by the Europeans. If you can’t find the post here, look for that evidence in a book or two.) So when I saw this quote attributed to him, I was understandably unsettled, as were many women who believe in the cause of social equality between the sexes.

I have struggled in vain to gain access to the entirety of this speech so that it can be put into context. I do not believe Dr. Otabil to same sort of backward woman-bashing, slam-you-over-the-head-with-a-Bible misogynist as Dag Heward-Mills or his spiritual father, Duncan Williams are. I expect this sort of talk from that pair and all whole harken to their insidious views. Dr. Otabil, however, has earned the benefit of further scrutiny, and I am eager to find out exactly WHAT he means by “you have overthrown her father and have taken her father’s place…”

To the casual male observer, there’s nothing wrong with this Otabil quote, even without context. According to the comments I’ve been privy to, this is just about a woman taking a man’s name after marriage and therefore no fuss is required. Feminists are just angry feminizing once again!

But as a WOMAN, a CHRISTIAN and a HUMAN BEING, I find this postulation quite disturbing. Dr. Otabil – who is clearly addressing men either in mixed company or exclusively, we don’t know – talks about the union between man and wife as an “investment”.

  • A woman is another man’s life investment and has been “put into your hands.”: This strips women – adults who have chosen their life partners – of their agency. They are objects to be handed over from man to the next.
  • You’ve overthrown her father and taken her father’s place: Again presenting the idea that a woman’s body is something captured and possessed, like some ancient city in the Middle East.
  • Don’t just say: ‘You are my wife’. Do you know what it means? It means you are going to share your money.: I want to believe that Dr. Otabil did not just equate the spiritual union between man and woman witnessed before God and man as a pyramid scheme!

“You are my wife” means you are going to share your money? Like a director in an Amway tier? Yesu the Messiah just come now on a cloud and take us all out of here!

It’s obvious why any (perceptive) woman would take umbrage with these utterances. Once again, we’ve been reduced to chattel, or jewels, or whatever inanimate object men must equate us to in order to assess value. You know, because our humanity is never enough. But for the sake of the metaphor and nothing else, therein lies my question to men:

Do you take a renter’s mentality when approaching the foundation of your marriage?

Mensa Otabil exhorts men to act more responsibly towards their wives because they have taken their surnames. She is no longer identified as herself – as an individual -or her father’s child, now that she has YOUR name. If she were a city, she’d be Kofi Town (or whatever).

There are several studies that show a stark difference in human behavior when people are given charge over something rented or worked to gain ownership of. The behavior is entirely different.

When you rent a tux for an event, you’re not concerned about if you spill tartar sauce on the lapels because you can get it dry cleaned, send it back to the rental company, and let the next guy deal with the stains you unsuccessfully tried to have washed out. But when that’s your ONLY tux that you bought and paid for, that you’ve worn on one happy occasion after another, you’re more observant about how you handle food around it. Because at the end of the day, it’s coming back home with you to hang in your closet. Same thing goes with car and home rentals. Many people are less concerned about the damage caused to the property because it’s someone else’s possession and in the long run, the damage done is not really their problem.

This is the renter’s mentality that allows certain Ghanaian men to banish their wives back to their father’s house when he’s done using her up because of *insert nonsensical culturally irrelevant reason here*

But, let’s be honest. Didn’t merely reading those scenarios make you feel slimy? Would you want anyone to describe you as a car, or a two-bedroom house, or a Jeep or any of the tired metaphors employed to determine what a woman reminds you of? Why does it take any of that to see Akosua/Patricia/Your Wife’s Name for who she is?

Do you have to own your wife to honor her and take responsibility in and for your marriage?

 

Patriarchal African Men: Learn to Cook Your Own Food and Fulfill God’s Will for Your Life

source: somalispot.com
source: somalispot.com

When my family moved to our long-term rental in Labone, the area provided all of the creature comforts that a girl of nine would need. There was a shady tree under which to shoot the breeze, a kiosk across the street that sold toffee and Malta when you could afford it and there were nice, and wide tarred roads on which to ride your bike if a girl was fortunate to own one. My sister and I were such fortunate girls.

Funny thing about bicycles: their tires always seem to go flat at the most inconvenient moments. Fortunately for us, there was a pair of enterprising young men who operated a tire repair “shop” of the corner down the street from our house. Peter and his brother What’s His Name would happily patch the punctures in our tubes for a few cedis very two weeks. In time, I began to see a pattern: Our tires would be stout and good as new for about 5 days, after which they would develop a slow leak which would then require the two brothers’ attention in addition to what was racking up to be a fair amount of our money in exchange. Finally, somebody in our house had had enough of those particular shenanigans.

  • A tire repair kit was brought from America.
  • My father showed us how to remove the bolts and separate the wheels from the frame.
  • Superior patches were applied.
  • The three of us learned to inflate tires with our new pump, and in teaching us these skills in basic mechanics, our parents saved themselves dozens of cedis in the long term and planted a seed about the perception of our abilities as girls and the realities concerning gender roles, by extension.

If you haven’t gathered by now, the rudimentary lesson is that ability and skill have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with training.

You can’t train a man to grow and uterus and give birth, but you CAN train him wash his own clothes. Likewise, you can’t train a woman to impregnate another living being, but she can certainly learn to engineer some new software or solve complex equations. (Not too long ago, it was a firmly held belief that math and science were “boy subjects”, because girls did not posses the intelligence to allow them to excel or operate in these areas.) Really, the only thing that differentiates a man from a woman is the tools required for human reproduction. Neither sex is holier, smarter or more/less compassionate than the other. Feminism tells us this. Common sense tells us this. Even the bible that patriarchal African men delight to thump the population with tells us this. And yet; I don’t know what it is about the typical African male that makes him so obdurate when confronted with this basic premise.

source: whisper.com
source: whisper.com

There’s just this ONE idea that this breed of men remain completely moored to, and it’s that cooking is the exclusive domain of women. Married women in particular. In fact, it is vehemently asserted by pastors and playboys alike (who can forget Dag Heward-Mill’s lament and brain-itching church camp chant about Ghana Girls’ inability to fry an egg) that if a woman doesn’t/won’t/can’t cook for a man, she is no “real woman” at all. And she must be a feminist. And feminism is of the devil.

Yesu Cristo. You don’t spend your days planning meals, boiling rice or pounding yam and suddenly you are a Satan worshiper… Because toiling in the kitchen is the only way to exhibit “submission” and harmony in the (faux) Judeo-Christian African home. If you are such a man using the bible to shame, antagonize and needle women into adhering to something that is contrary to her nature or core beliefs, I am here to help us all. I believe you will be blessed when you, Patriarchal African Man, not only can but SHOULD be cooking for yourself and your family. The one thing standing between you and your destiny may be a coal pot, a spatula and a word from God. That said, I bring you:

 

GREAT CHEFS OF THE BIBLE

 

There were once two brothers: Jacob and Esau. They were twins. Jacob was favored by his mother and kept close by her. Esau was a hunter and a gruff man, beloved by his father. As you might recall from your children’s bible studies, Esau was the older twin and was therefore the rightful heir to his father’s legacy (and fortune). Well, things didn’t work out for ol’ Esau because his hunger got the best of him and he didn’t have the patience to cook his own food. You pastor is always telling you not to sell your birthright for a pot of soup but what he neglects to tell you is that your manifest destiny is in learning to cook your own beans in the first place.

Genesis 25:29-33

29 One day Jacob was boiling a pot of vegetable soup. Esau came in from hunting in the fields, weak from hunger. 30 So Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red soup, because I am weak with hunger.” (That is why people call him Edom.)

31 But Jacob said, “You must sell me your rights as the firstborn son.”

32 Esau said, “I am almost dead from hunger. If I die, all of my father’s wealth will not help me.”

33 But Jacob said, “First, promise me that you will give it to me.” So Esau made a promise to Jacob and sold his part of their father’s wealth to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and vegetable soup, and he ate and drank, and then left. So Esau showed how little he cared about his rights as the firstborn son.

The story ends with a prophesy that Esau will become Jacob’s, Jacob becomes Israel and his people prosper in the land for a time.

 

See? If you learn how to cook your own beans, you can get a new identity and become the father of a whole nation of filmmakers, jewelers, bankers and high end fashion designers to boot.

If that doesn’t convince you, consider the Levitical priests of the Old Testament, or as I like to call them, the OGMs: Original Grill Masters.

The Old Testament is full of burnt offerings: rams, bulls, turtledoves, goats, and sheep without speckle. They would make a great sacrifice of flesh, sprinkle some blood on the altar and the presence of the Lord would fill the temple. Don’t you, Patriarchal African Man also want to be a bringer of the presence of the Lord? Don’t you want to bring comfort to those you presume to lead and call yourself head of? Learn to dress and grill meat!

Finally, you know who else was a great chef? Jesus. You heard me right: Jesus H. Christ used to cook for those he loved. And I’m not talking about that one time when he blessed a small boy’s lunch box and feed 5,000 people with a few morsels of bread and koobi. I’m talking about how he prepared food for his loved ones.

John 21: 7-14

The follower whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Peter heard him say this, he wrapped his coat around himself. (Peter had taken his clothes off.) Then he jumped into the water. The other followers went to shore in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. They were not very far from shore, only about a hundred yards. When the followers stepped out of the boat and onto the shore, they saw a fire of hot coals. There were fish on the fire, and there was bread.

10 Then Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”

11 Simon Peter went into the boat and pulled the net to the shore. It was full of big fish, one hundred fifty-three in all, but even though there were so many, the net did not tear. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat.” None of the followers dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, along with the fish.

14 This was now the third time Jesus showed himself to his followers after he was raised from the dead.

Christian African Patriarchal Man: Are you better than Jesus? If Christ could grill fish and serve bread, what law prevents you from doing the same? Or you are not a disciple? See your life.

The bible says in Ephesians 5 that:

28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. The man who loves his wife loves himself. 29 No one ever hates his own body, but feeds and takes care of it. And that is what Christ does for the church, 30 because we are parts of his body. 31 The Scripture says, “So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body.”

Why are you so averse to taking care of your own body? You want the body to take care of itself while you do what…watch Man Utd all evening? My dear fellow, take up your cross AND your spatula and stop this behavior. Your unwillingness to learn to cook and leaving the task exclusively to women to cook is ungodly, plain and simple. If you don’t care enough to explore her feelings on the matter, at least be selfish enough to consider how your brutish laziness looks like sloth and rebellion in the eyes of God. And then repent.

Selah.

 

 

 

What I Learned About Marriage on the Morning of 11th Wedding Anniversary

Before I went to bed last night I drank 32oz of blueberry cider, a treat I had scored while on sojourn to Southern Belle Farms in McDonough, GA. Liya and her kindergarten class were on a field study during which it was incumbent on all in attendance to pick strawberries and warble a country-fried rendition of Old McDonald at the behest of a sun-burnt man with a white beard and bowed legs. Naturally, Liya had to use the bathroom in the middle of this fest and naturally the toilet was on the other side of the field…about a 15-minute walk.

Okay. Okay! FINE. It was more like 5.5 minutes away, but considering my weight and the intensity of the sun’s beams, it increased the time and distance to the location by a factor of 3.

So as I was saying, I’m drinking this massive cup blueberry cider because I’m in no mood to share. No else one in my house deserves it. I sipped the child juice and recalled what I was made to endure that Thursday afternoon. Have you any idea how humiliating it is to watch a wagon full of five and six year olds scream, “Come on, Liya’s Mom! Don’t give up! We won’t leave you!” as you gingerly lumber through rows and rows of ripened strawberries? Doubtful. So I drank MY well-earned juice and I went to sleep.

Blueberry cider must be a natural laxative.

I just Googled it. It IS a natural laxative. This is important. Just wait!

Today marks Marshall and my 11th wedding anniversary. 2016 also marks 20 years spent adoring and annoying one another. After 11 years of marriage and 20 years of fairly intimate acquaintance with someone, there are certain pretenses that you abandon…like farting in front of your spouse.

The sky was still dark and the birds had not yet begun to chant their morning song. My husband filled up the emptiness when whispered sweetly in my ear, “Happy anniversary, babe….”

I responded with a long, silent, violent fart.

“Happy anniversary!” I giggled.

He flailed about helplessly, gasping for fresh air before informing me that I stank. I guffawed at his nerve.

“Well, your breath smells like my butt.”

That was unfair. Morning breath IS unpleasant, but blueberry fart is far more noxious. But I wasn’t going to admit that to him.How dare his mock his wife’s inner essence.

Instead, over the course of the next 20 minutes I continued to simultaneously blow gas from my ass and giggle about how much I loved being married to him until the entire circus became too much for my husband to handle. He leapt from the bed, wheezing and calling on the name of the Lord, scrambling to the bathroom in search of something. Eventually, he came back (just as all men do) and declared that he was unable to find his desired item: some air freshener. I shrugged and told him he didn’t need it anyway. (Essence, remember?)

“I did find this, though.”

“What is it?”

I groped in the darkness, unable to ascertain what nature of item he had placed in my hand.

“It’s a crudely wrapped anniversary gift,” he replied.

“I thought we weren’t giving anniversary gifts this year!”

“Who said?”

I sucked my teeth and turned on my phone to see what this man had surprised me with this year. Marshall gives me the most wonderful gifts. I’ve gotten diamonds and pearls, a Kate Spade bag (when it really mattered), trips to the spa….

I fumbled with the bag awkwardly. Its contents revealed this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 8.25.14 AM

“Is this a pimple lancer?”

“Happy anniversary!”

“And..are these…tweezers?”

“Not just ANY tweezers. Professional tweezers. Top of the line tweezers!”

He couldn’t see me glaring at him in the darkness, so I suppose he mistook my silence for pleased shock and awe, when really I was in a state of incredulity. Just unbelievable! I just…He would choose our anniversary as the moment to highlight my facial hair and blemishes? I subconsciously began to rub my face.

“It’s our steel anniversary, and I figured I’d get you something that you’d actually use and that you could easily take on the plane.”

“Ah. I see. Thank you.”

I mean, it’s a gift, right? And he was right – it IS a very useful gift. Not romantic, but useful. And that’s where we are as a couple, I suppose. Man, I can’t wait to run to CVS and pick out HIS anniversary gift.

So often we are advised to keep spice in our marriages in order to preserve their longevity. For some folks that means jet setting off to Bucharest at a moment’s notice. For others, it means sacrificing a few packs of Coors and actually paying the electricity bill on time so that you can have lights for dinner this month. And for the Grants…well, you’ve seen for yourself.

I haven’t necessarily “learned” anything new about marriage this morning. I suppose the events that transpired at 5:30 am were more of a reminder that marriage is unpredictable; people even more so. You think you know everything there is to know about your spouse and after this many years of co-habiting and co-sleeping, this person still has the ability to surprise you. It’s an amazing thing.

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That last line was meant to be my conclusion, but I’ve just been wished a “Happy Stink-A-Versary” by my husband.

Let me get on over to this drug store so that I can retaliate.

Happy anniversary to everyone celebrating a May wedding! How long have you been married? Have things changed drastically since you said “I do?” What’s the strangest gift your spouse has ever given you? Discuss! 🙂

…And Tiwa Savage Chose Life, and Chose it More Abundantly

As we come to the conclusion of this series, it’s my fervent hope that the narratives that these women have shared will motivate each of us to do some serious introspection and become more contemplative about our personal choices. Not just in the realm of romance and marriage, but in other areas of our lives as well. I hope it will cause us to think about what we ought to tolerate.

During our dinner conversation, the Night Nurse expressed the notion her ‘cup was full’. Exasperated, she would repeat the phrase again and again as she recounted how she was made to sit on her own front porch like vermin, or how her son becomes sullen every time he is left in the care of his emotionally attached father. She interprets a full cup as the inability (and unwillingness) to take any more of what she has been dished out in here marriage. Yet curiously, her religious convictions preclude her from leaving this fruitless endeavor. Some people would say this is foolish, but as the Night Nurse said, this is her choice.

We began this saga because Tiwa Savage made a series of choices and was savaged (insert quip about puns) for them. Like the Night Nurse and the other women profiled, she examined her cup and ascertained what volume it could accommodate. Her course was to end her tender marriage and to admit that it was a mistake to marry TeeBillz in the first place. Either instance provides an important lesson about choices: It’s okay to admit your mistake in choosing an incompatible life partner. And since it takes two to marry, it will take a commitment from both parties (not just a ‘praying wife’, who so many Africans tend to fault for the collapse of a marriage) to ensure its success. It is obvious in Tiwa’s case that her husband is not interested in preserving their union or its sanctity, or else he never would have placed his wife and their child in harm’s way by borrowing 45 million naira from a ruthless mafia and/or potentially expose Tiwa to a buffet of venereal diseases, courtesy of Edible Catering.

That Tiwa was able to speak so dispassionately about her situation in a society that is not only male dominated, but absolves men from even the most basic of responsibilities is to be applauded and congratulated. The tragedy of the existence of the African male is that he has been made to believe that the sum of his worth is tied to how much money he earns. His manhood is inextricably linked to a paycheck. It has become the ONLY marker he can use as the measure of his success. And when he finds himself wed or dating a woman whose career allows her to eclipse his earning potential, he is unable to cope. Instead of collaborating with his wife, the African male finds himself in competition with her. And in order to keep the peace, women find themselves compelled to dim their light in order for their spouses to shine – or worse – not shine at all. Encouraging silence about this convoluted arrangement plays a big factor in obscuring the accomplishments of women all over the continent.

 

Culture of silence

In a spirited Facebook exchange earlier in the week, a now former friend of mine spitefully castigated Tiwa for speaking out about the litany of insane things TeeBillz has done during their marriage, determining in her sage opinion that Tiwa should have spoken up and left long before. Oh really? When would have been the ideal time?

“When she had the miscarriage and he didn’t pick up her calls,” she said smugly. “That should have been the last straw.”

But why? Why not when Tiwa found him doing cocaine in the kitchen in the early months of their marriage? Why not when she discovered that he had a third baby outside of the two he had already declared? Why did the miscarriage HAVE to be the point when she decided her cup was full? What gives anyone the right to determine when a man/woman choses the day of their liberation?

The fact is, we never would have known any of these salacious details because Tiwa – like so many other celebrities in her league – fight very hard to keep incidences like these out of the press. It’s damaging to their brand. This is not just a celebrity quirk. Most, if not all Africans are concerned about their brand…except we call it the “family name”.

The visceral need to protect the family name has done irrevocable harm to communities all over Ghana, for instance. I’m fairly certain this phenomenon is not peculiar to our West African nation. If a girl is raped by her father, what do we do? Shuttle her away (but not before she’s received a good beating and shaming for allowing herself to be raped) in order to protect the family name. Visit the comments section on GhanaWeb if you doubt it. If a member of one’s family is mentally ill or physically deformed, what do we do? We lock them away or chain them in a hidden room in order to protect the family name. Even something as mundane as a career choice has consequences for one’s family name/brand. I know of a man who became a white man’s whore and lives with his mother in a beautiful house the white man built for him. She knows that her son is essentially a prostitute, but it’s never spoken of. After all, she has a place to lay her head at night. The stories that she tells people about her son are outrageous because they are so opposite from the truth, all in an effort to protect her brand.

This culture of silence through concealment and lying seeps into every aspect of our society. It is why UN Peacekeepers in CAR felt/feel comfortable raping women and girls, because it’s easier for the latter to keep quiet and try to forget. It’s why no one really talks about corruption except in broad, vague terms. And it’s why Tiwa and the Sunday School Teacher and the Analyst have been silent about their duress until now. It’s not good for the brand, so to speak. No one wants to look like they are weak in the wake of a foe the seems unconquerable.

 

Patriarchal Princesses

We talk a lot about male dominated society, patriarchy and how men protect this system to protect their privileges, but certain women have a huge part to play in the stagnation and regression of women’s rights too. These are the patriarchal princesses: women who have positioned themselves to directly benefit from the norms of a male dominated society at the expense of other women. They are essentially “Stephen the House Negroes”, but working on the side of chauvinism as opposed to suppressing Black people. Patriarchal princesses hate women. They hate the idea of gender quality and they are the most victim-blaming trolls you will ever encounter. It is the fear and dread of running into a patriarchal princess that keeps other women silent about their plight(s). These women are our mothers, aunties and hairdressers. They are everywhere.

A patriarchal princess preaches that husbands are our “sons and fathers” and therefore must simultaneously treated as both baby and lord.

A patriarchal princess assumes that if a man is cheating (even when she may the other half of the cheating equation), it must be because his wife is failing to keep up her “responsibilities” at home. She believes that it is a woman’s duty to give a man sex on demand; whether a woman is inspired to or whether he deserves the privilege of making love to her or not.

A patriarchal princess believes that a woman is a lesser being, and even though deep down this belief causes severe cognitive dissonance, she will go out of her way to shame and upbraid any woman who dares to live on her own terms. As was mentioned before, she hates the idea of women being free. She will tell you to watch War Room and insist that you submit to your husband’s insufferableness and then eventually blame you for not getting out sooner “if it was so bad in the beginning.”

Like Stephen the House Negro, these women are worse than white supremacists. They are the ultimate traitors. And like the indoctrination of white supremacy that is rooted in every Black person, all women have to fight the patriarchal princess buried within them if they want to live free.

 

The “African Context”

But why do the Patriarchal Princess and the culture of silence prevail in our societies? I believe it all boils down to a misinterpretation of what it means to be African: servile, superstitious and simple minded.

This is what we’ve been taught.

At his core, the African male does not believe he is equal (and certainly never superior) to white men, where ‘white’ is a euphemism for ‘not of Africa’. It’s the reason that we give all of our contracts to the Chinese and the Brazilians, though the buildings they erect and roads they design continue to crumble around us. For centuries, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that foreign is better that it is encoded in our DNA. Foreign gods, foreign wine, foreign furniture. We can’t shake loose.

And yet it is the nature of men to want to dominate something…anything! And rather than dominate industry or enterprise, they have chosen to target women. The problem is, it is not in a woman’s nature to desire domination. We are conquerors by nature. Once upon a time, women were allowed to experience a much fuller human existence in Africa. We managed kingdoms and empires, we led armies, we built homes, we have always existed simultaneously with softness and strength. We did all of this while pregnant, on our periods, or in the throes of menopause. The sad reality is that a woman in 15th century Africa probably had a wider array of choices made available to her than her 21st century counterpart. (She certainly had better reproductive healthcare facilities.)

We have no sense of what it means to be truly African or have pride in our culture. We are living a phantom existence of archaic, frequently harmful, imported Western cultural norms that we’ve sprinkled shitor on and re-branded as “African”. For instance, rape was once a crime punishable by death. Now we anoint rapists as pastors in houses of worship in Accra.

Wrapped up in this sordid mix is the idea that to be corrupt and stupid is what it means to be “African”. This is the perfect environment for subjugation to thrive, naturally. That’s why Tiwa’s choice to speak up in this type of environment is an act of bravery. I hope it will be replicated.

 

In closing, congratulations to Tiwa. Congratulations to all the women who have decided to take their lives back and have re-charted the course of their destiny. Whether that means dispensing with a career or partner that was a hindrance – or whatever that personal thing was precluding you from living life more abundantly – hats off to you for choosing your day to live. And if you ain’t free yet, we’ll be here waiting to cheer you. It’s never too late.