Category Archives: Marriage

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’,

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continued with ‘Loving’,

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

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

4-512

 

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! 🙂