The Stunning Conclusion to The Chronicle of My Lost Bag

At 7:03 am today, my husband went out to the living room to restart our Internet. I lazily looked out of the window waiting for the sun to peek over the cliffs and provide our house some much needed warmth. We live in the shadow of a mountain, meaning sunrise is a delayed phenomenon. I heard his voice in the distance, and it had taken on a business-like tone, which was odd for this hour. His work calls to America didn’t start until around 2 pm local time.

IMG_4635

“Yes. Yes, it does have some teddy bears in it. Errrm…baby shoes? No, we don’t have a baby. That might not belong to us…”

I sat straight up in the bed. Was he on the phone with the airline about our bag? My heart began to pound fiercely against my rib cage. Just Monday, Lauren Fulford-Andrews from the Virgin Atlantic baggage service wrote me a heartfelt (probably canned_ email response about how sorry he was that my bag was lost and how unusual of an occurrence it was. He hoped that it wouldn’t change my opinion of the airline, but unfortunately there was nothing Virgin Atlantic could do about the lost luggage. It was up to South African Airways, our final carrier for our trip, to either provide reimbursement or locate my bag. In return, South African Airways pointed me back to VA, stating that the bag was NEVER scanned through Johannesburg but that I was welcome to fill out a claim form. I would have to come to Jo-burg (an 8 hour drive) or Port Elizabeth (2.5 hour drive) to do this. We drove the 2.5 hours to Port Elizabeth 2 Saturdays ago, only to discover in a follow-up call days that SAA could have emailed us the form…the woman who picked up our call that day just decided not to give us that option.

After itemizing the contents of my bag, the total to be reimbursed came to R24,000 (about $1500). As all of my Twirra followers know, the previously lost Ghana Must Go bag contained all of my winter boots, my First Lady Hat, my Sutra flat irons, several pairs of heels and an odd assortment of items. I wear a size 10 shoe and have wide calves. It’s difficult for me to source shoes that are both stylish AND a good fit because my feet and legs are not “mainstream”. So when I heard talk of items that sounded familiar to mine, I was filled with indescribable glee!

“Let me let you talk to my wife,” Marshall said, handing me the phone. “She’s the one who packed the bag so she would know.”

“Hello, M’em? This is Cyril from South African Airways in Port Elizabeth.”

“Hi! Hi, Cyril. Good morning!”

Oh my God, y’all. I felt like I was a contestant on The Price is Right.

“Yes. I think we have your bag here. It just came in from Virgin Atlantic in Jo’burg today!” Oh, really! So despite all their claims that SAA had to have the bag, VA had it all along? Cyril was still talking. “There are some teddies…so black and white teddies and a corduroy bag?”

Those didn’t sound familiar, but I HAD just packed up a whole house. Who knows what I’d stuffed in there at the last-minute. “Is there a grey dolphin in there,” I asked. Liya came crying because her Pop Pop had won her that dolphin at the Clark County fair last summer and she REALLY wanted it back!

“Yes! I see a dolphin.”

My heart began racing at a new pace.

“Do you see some boots, Cyril?”

“Yes…Some gum boots. And a big, big men’s shoe.”

That was Marshall’s one pair.

“What about black boots? Do you see any riding boots…err…tall black ladies boots?”

“I see some tekkies. A white one with pink laces…Nike. And also a black one with pink laces.”

My Nikes and New Balances. Oh my GOD! This was my bag!

“Cyril. Do you see a hat? A white hat!”

Cyril, my angel from lost baggage at South African Airways paused. He told me that he’d have to empty the whole bag to see if he could find a hat. He teased me, informing me that was stuffed pretty well. I giggled. I HAD stuffed it. I had stuffed full of my favorite boots and shoes and my sister’s hat.

“Yes. I know.”

Finally, he asked me to describe the bag itself. It is red and yellow and white, made of vinyl.

“Then m’em, this is YOUR bag!”

I squealed. I literally squealed! This luggage has been missing since May 29th. Today is June 30th. I had already resigned myself to reality that it was GONE. That I would never see my First Lady Hat again, and that I’d have to run these uglass Easy Spiritis I’d flown into the country with into the ground until I got back to the States and re-buy everything.

“We will be at your house in an hour. You can expect us at 8, ok? Maybe 8:30. Okay, you make it 9 am. We are coming now now.”

“Sure! I’ll see you then!”

I shot up out of bed and took a shower. I wanted to be clean and presentable when my bag arrived. I waltzed around the house with a smile on my face. NOTHING was going to ruin this wonderful day. The lamb that was lost was finally coming home!

At 11:21 am, the guys from SAA showed up at the door. They laid Ghana Must Go at my feet. That was my bag alright! But why did it look so… thin?

“I need to see if all the items are inside,” I said.

The man with the clipboard told me I ought to. So I did. I dumped the contents of my found bag onto the floor and couldn’t believe my eyes.

Out tumbled all of the kids’ stuffed animals.

Out tumbled two pair of sneakers.

Out came 1 purple Sam Edelman heel and 1 black Pink & Pepper heel. Their mates were NOWHERE to be found.

Out tumbled my beaded Kenyan flip flops and a Guess satchel I’d bought Aya to play dress up with when she was 5.

Out came 1 pair of rain boots.

No leather riding boots.

No suede tall boots.

Nadjah’s Tommy galoshes were a vapor.

My quilted waterproof boots were nowhere to be seen.

The Sutra and BayBliss flat irons? You can just forget that. Those run at $120-150 a piece.

The First Lady Hat?

*Sigh*

This was the last time the hat was seen or worn in public. :(

This was the last time the hat was seen or worn in public.😦

Essentially, they took everything of value…anything with a label, from the bag. I looked at the driver and his mate as though they were bringing me news of Hodor’s death. No…as if they were Brandon Stark trying to explain away their part in Hodor’s death! What a betrayal. What a violation! I felt hollow inside. I still do.

“Some of my things are missing.” My lips curled as though I had just been made to swallow cat urine – a hoax, thinking it was lemonade.

The driver shrugged. “You can call this number and file a claim for the missing items. I’m sure your husband is very familiar with the procedure.”

He impatiently asked me to sign a sheet of paper saying he’d delivered the bag. I refused to sign it. I told my husband he could have that “honor”. I didn’t want my name anywhere near that fraudulent sheet of parchment.

I felt cheated. Like I’d been invited to a banquet, gotten all dressed up, and only been served moldy bread and tepid water. Why would someone DO this? Why would you take SO MANY things that don’t belong to you??? Why, Virgin Atlantic? Why, South African Airways? Why, white Jesus?

So this how the story ends. I have my bag, but I don’t have my stuff.

There is no way I’m getting my stuff back. They can’t be traced. I may get compensated for my stolen belongings, or I may not. Virgin and South African may try to toss me about the same way they’ve been doing for the past 30 days. Even if they do reimburse me for my stolen items, where would I go to shop? Plettenberg Bay is a village….a beautiful village…but they don’t have diverse shops that cater to women of my stature.

I fault Virgin Atlantic for this entire fiasco. They said SAA had the bag in their possession and they never did until today. SAA gets a lot of flack and has a bad reputation in the industry for losing passenger’s items, but this time it wasn’t their fault. There is no version of this that ends with Richard Branson on my door step personally apologizing for hiring sticky fingered goons in his organization. There is no version of this where I spend my first winter in South Africa with warm feet. There is only this lengthy form that I fill out and send back into the ether with hopes that an agent takes the time to give it serious consideration.

But FIRST, I have to fill out a police report and have an officer stamp it with an official seal. Can you believe that? YOU (Mr. Airline) jack ME and I have to swagger into the police office to report you. You know you are a thief. Go and report yourself!

 

PS: I’m aware that there are loads of typos in this post. I don’t care. I can’t go back and revisit this. It’s just too painful.

 

Have you ever been robbed by an airline? Did you get justice? DO you think Richard Branson will come by for tea and tell me how sorry he is that his company mucked up?

Stop Saying “Africans Sold Themselves Into Slavery”. Dig a Little Deeper.

If you happen to find yourself in Savannah, GA during the tourist season, you may also find yourself on one of the many trolley services that offer historic tours of the city. Each tour is unique, as guides pepper important facts with tidbits of information from their own lives or offer their own opinions of the impact of historical events on themselves, the city or the region. On one of our recent visits to Savannah, we decided to try out the Confederate version of these trolley rides. Actors dressed in period garb hop on and off the trolley, portraying Eli Whitney, Mary Telfair and other of the city’s most famous residents.

Our driver that day was a jovial Black man who went by the name ‘Hollywood’ and peppered his monologue with high pitched groans – attempting to imitate the sound of a woman at the peak of a pleasurable (possibly sexual) experiencing. He had his Sambo act down pat, which in itself made me uncomfortable. He was proud of Savannah’s confederate past, replete with its importance as a commercial cotton and slave trading center. But when he went full on Pharrell, I was overtaken by an unsettling desire to leap from the moving bus and my torment at Hollywood’s hands.

“I want to tell all the white folk on here that slavery is not your fault. Oh yeah! Yuh-yuh-yuh see, the Kings and Queens of great African empires sold their own people into slavery. Africans sold themselves into slavery! Slavery was around in Africa long before white people got there. You don’t need to feel no guilt about that.”

It was an awkward moment for all of us, white and Black alike. Inherently, we ALL knew that this was an oversimplification of events, but since Ol’ Hollywood had sold his soul to the Confederacy and its Trolley Service for a pittance, it was his duty to propagate this half baked – and now increasingly accepted – aberration of the truth.

“Africans” didn’t sell each other into slavery. Traders, warlords and snitches from distinct and unrelated tribes did.

I know that in this age of anti-intellectualism and cognitive sloth that it’s easier to lump all of Africa into one massive monolithic society, but we must resist the urge to do that. Africa, its people, its cultures, languages and customs are diverse. And diversity often provokes tension. A part of that tension is a sense of superiority. Superiority feeds tribalism. And so when the Dutch, French, Belgians and British (and everyone else who participated in the Scramble for Africa) decided that they were no longer interested in congenial trading with Africans, desiring instead total control of their resources – slave labor being one of those – they instituted a tactic known as divide and conquer, exploiting ancient tensions between these tribes and ethnic groups. There were no “Africans selling other Africans”. The distinctions among whom we now think of as the homogeneous African were in those days very clear. For instance, there were Fantes allying themselves with the British in exchange for protection from their stronger northern foes in the Ashanti Empire, who found their capital burned and their citizens marched through to forest to waiting dungeons and ships all along the coast as a result of that alliance. Divide and conquer was replicated all over the continent – all over the world! – treaties were made and broken, the tribes who allied themselves with the French/English/Portuguese assimilated to their culture, assisted their allies by feeding, fighting for and procreating with them, and the real work of colonial expansion could begin.

To say that “Africans sold each other into slaver” is about as accurate as saying “Africans invited Europeans to colonize them”. There are as many documented examples of resistance to the never before seen brand of chattel slavery that the French, British and Portuguese had introduced to the continent as there are for support of the venture. Queen Nzinga fought fiercely against the ravages of slavery and all of the fallout that came along with it. She understood how destructive slavery was for her people and her neighboring kingdoms. At the same time, the Kings of Dahomey enriched themselves by inciting wars and trading the human lives of their captors, like flesh at a butcher’s shop, in markets. These people would later be marched and sold down the coast to dungeons likely never seen by these greedy kings.

In 1807, Britain declared all slave trading illegal. The king of Bonny (in what is now the Nigerian delta) was dismayed at the conclusion of the practice. He (in)famously said:

“We think this trade must go on. That is the verdict of our oracle and the priests. They say that your country, however great, can never stop a trade ordained by God himself.” *

 It is important to understand that these slave raiding and trading kings, seduced by the wealth offered to them in guns, butter and whatever other trinkets the Western nations were peddling, did not see their captors as fellow Africans. They were Hausa, Dagaare, Ewe, Wolof, etc. They were others. In the timeline of the African continent’s existence, the concept of the unified, unilateral African is barely 20 seconds old, if that. It’s sexy, but it’s equally damaging to think that Africans have always thought of themselves as African first. It is for the sake of this flawed concept that people think that ‘African’ is a mother tongue, or that Africa is a country, and why American celebrities and philantrpopists can stand in the midst of captivated crowds, extolling the virtues of ‘African culture’ and how it reenergized their spirit. You went bungee jumping at Lake Victoria, then on safari and a Black boy brought you a Grapetizer. What about that particular experience denotes African culture? Eh?

I’m getting off track.

In the coming days – and as these things always do in the summer months when the streets in underserved communities all across America turn into killing fields – Black people everywhere will be asked to look inward, reflect upon their current state and ponder how THEY are to blame for their current condition. Invariably, some sanctimonious genius will piously assert (on Twitter, likely) that the Black man is to blame for his misfortune because we’ve been “selling each other (out) out since Africa”. That this is the curse of the black condition.

The tragedy is that globally – regardless of your race or ancestry – we have all been lured into accepting the idea that Black people are identical in our Blackness. That’s not because this idea supports or furthers our well being, but because it makes the work of white supremacy and/or black disenfranchisement easier. Before the one-drop rule became the standard to determine one’s Blackness – and destiny, by extension – there were about 200 racial classifications to describe blackness based on hue, hair texture and facial bone structure. This caste system and the classifications that accompanied it were replicated all over the New World. In Argenita, people of African heritage were categorized as:

  • Mulatto: Black and White parents.
  • Morisco: Mulatto and White parents, although in the early phase of Spanish colonization the term “morisco” also denoted a Muslim who had converted to Catholicism.
  • Albino: Morisco and White parents.
  • Quadroon: one-quarter Black ancestry/three-quarter White ancestry.
  • Octoroon: one-eighth Black ancestry/seven-eighth White ancestry.
  • Tercerón: White/Mulatto mixed, an octoroon.
  • Quinterón: fifth-generation Black ancestry/one parent who is an octoroon and one White parent.
  • Hexadecaroon: sixth-generation Black ancestry.
  • Zambo: Black/Amerindian mixed.
  • Zambo Prieto: Black/Amerindian mixed with predominant Black.

You can imagine how complicated this was…which is why eventually we were all loped into the category of ‘Negro’, regardless of how mixed ones ancestry may be. Similarly, it requires too much effort and investigation to identify one of our best-known pop performers as a Sisaala singing woman from Funsi in Northern Ghana. To the rest of the world, Wiyaala is an African singer, and it’s just that simple. Because as we’ve stated before, Africa is a country.

What I want people to walk away with is an understanding that 1.111 billion people, the population of this chicken leg shaped continent, though similar in some respects, do not identify universally as one thing. Recognize our diversity and individuality. Recognize that it wasn’t “Africans” who sold each other into slavery, but rather unscrupulous men partnered with other equally morally bankrupt men. There were no Ghanaians selling other Ghanaians. Ghana didn’t exist. Africa as we understand it today didn’t exist, either.

 

This post is dedicated to one of my favorite high school teachers, who always made room for my insanity, Chriss Tay. Thank you for contributing to the woman and thinker I am today. Thank you for making history classes fun and relevant. I hope to make you proud, always!

 

*Source: The Story of African Slavery/bbc.com

A Beginner’s Guide to Steamy Sex in African Literature!

I’ve recently begun getting into podcasts and This Afropolitan Life (TAL) has become an early favorite. TAL is “a blog that inspires Afropolitan women to live stylishly, adventurously, conscientiously, and confidently—by a woman who’s trying to do the same. “ Clarissa Bannor hosts each show (or at least each episode I’ve listened to thus far) where she catches up with influencers in the arts, entertainment and the table. You thought “politics” was going to take the last category eh? No! I think we Africans are probably more invested in what we eat than who runs our respective democracies/dictatorships.  (See the Jollof Wars for reference.)

So as I was saying, I tuned into this week’s episode because Clarrisa was interviewing Zahrah Ahmed, curator of Book Shy Books about what books should be on our beach/summer reads for 2016. @bookshybooks and I recently began following one another on Twirra, and it’s always nice to place a voice with a handle. I listened in with a smile playing about on my lips for the full 28 minutes. ( Click HERE to listen to their amusing conversation.)

Clarissa and Zahrah ran down an impressive list of authors and titles from varying genres; Genres like sci-fi, young adult and horror that don’t readily come to mind when we think of “African literature”. Ben Okri, Chimamanda No-Last-Name-Needed, NoViolet Bulawayo, Nnedi Okorafor and Buchi Emecheta made the list for obvious reasons. These are all brilliant African writers. NONE of these authors write steamy (African) romance, however. When it comes to sex in the African context – or between two African partners particularly – I think the perception that the sex is primarily (and unavoidably) awkward, messy, cumbersome and/or forced or violent in literature still persists.

Perhaps this perception is what prompted Clarissa to ask earnestly:

“African sex scenes…who does that well? I’ve heard Boakyewaa Glover does a good job in The Justice. Do we typically do good sex scenes?”

…to which Zahrah earnestly replied:

“Well, Ben Okri won the bad sex in fiction award.” Then she mentioned Ankara Press.

…which had me screaming at my iPhone:

“Ladies! Sisters!! Africans write loads of steamy, panty sopping, abeg let me get a drink of ice-water before we continue, sex!”

They couldn’t hear me outchea in the ether, so there was only one thing to do: head over to Twirra and take the conversation there. After much playful banter, Zahrah suggested that I put together a list of steamy African literature for beginners. Never one to back down from a challenge, to scooped up the gauntlet and will now introduce to some and present to others

Ten Books to Get you Hyped about African Romance/Sex/Erotica.

 

  • The Justice – Boakyewaa Glover41bL63TB3pL._SY346_
  • TOWGA (The One Who Got Away) – Sharlene Apples41tYggH9tjL._SY346_
  • Destiny Mine – Nana Prah

51b0A7G4v0L._AC_US160_

  • Chancing Faith – Empi Baryeh51L-icIpXKL._SY346_
  • Africa Hot: West African Stories of Sex and Love – Nnenna Marcia514l-iNDhlL
  • The Daughters of Swallows – Malaka Grant
  • malaka-book-ad
  • Keeping Secrets – Kiru Taye (Kiru also writes fantastic period drama/historical romance.)D1BnJK4eu8S._SL250_FMpng_
  • Everything Nana Malone has ever written – Nana Malone (Seriously. It’s hard to pick ONE title!)D1okM2PqbGS._SL250_FMpng_
  • Lover of Her Sole – Malaka.51FPn2KcxsL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_
  • Novellas from Ankara Press – Various AuthorsxQdIUpwY

 

The content in each of these titles is diverse with the heat ranging from PG-13 to R. Read your blurbs and choose books according to your steam tolerance wisely! And don’t worry: there aren’t any doe-eyed women strolling wistfully in meadows contemplatively reflecting on whether their paramour would’ve fought harder for the longevity of the relationship if only she’s pounded her fufu a little harder and made it a little softer. What I like about each of these books is that the heroines are relatable and realistic. This is contemporary African romance!

You’ve probably noticed that few of the names of the authors on this list are “big in the industry”. That’s because African romance – with its themes and scenes and reactions they illicit are enjoyed privately – does not have the benefit of broad-based support publicly. That’s a political discussion for another time. Nevertheless, these authors produce great work filled with rich plots and multi-dimensional characters.

 

Have you read any of the books on this list? Is there a title or an African author who you would recommend to someone who’s curious about the genre? Leave the details in the comments below!

 

 

 

The Upside to Brexit: Britons Disprove Their Presumed Superiority

None of my English friends are actually “English”. They are English men and women of Nigerian/Ghanaian/Jamaican decent. Their ties to England (and to their precious, burgundy UK passports) usually begins with some 419-marriage-for-papers; or with their parents lucking out by getting pregnant and delivering them in the UK whilst in university during the 70s; or by overstaying their student visas and slotting themselves firmly into the cog work of English society. They are English in the same way that I am American: African by birth, Western by chance. And yet despite this cumbersome, shaky relationship with our adopted countries, each of us has taken on the mantle of continuing the old rivalries from the original inhabitants (or invaders). African-English folk refer to us African-Americans as “you Americans”, an appellation that is usually followed by the phrase “are so dumb”.

Among our many crimes as Americans are:

  • Voting George Bush into office twice. (I want to add that that wasn’t the fault of the people. That was the Electoral College.)
  • Failing to enact gun control legislation.
  • Refusing to add an extra vowel in the spelling of words such as ‘color’ and ‘neighborhood’, or reordering the placement of the letter e in words like ‘center’ and ‘meter’.
  • Our insane insistence on driving on the other side of the road.
  • Our inability to control our portions, leading to an epidemic of obesity and heart disease.

You get the picture.

There is a tenuous relationship between Britain and America, one built on admiration won and disgust earned in equal measure. Yet through it all, the English have always maintained their position of racial, cognitive and social superiority. America’s latest offense? Allowing Donald Trump to get this close to the presidency. How stupid can you Americans be?

Well, now thanks to Brexit – a contraction and joining of the words Britain and exit – you Brits can answer that question simply by looking in the mirror. Muahahahahaaa!!!

Can I tell you how delighted I am? This is just fantastic!

As I watched the Pound slide to 30 year lows after the results of the vote were announced, I was met with a sense of awe. This quickly gave way to a perverse sense of pleasure. Yes! All your too-known. All your fear mongering and xenophobia. Here are the fruits of the bitter seeds you’ve planted. Who’s the dummy now?

The English STAY dogging the American education system. But how do you send out legions of people to vote who don’t even know what they are voting for? Eh? Did you see this? Did you see what the British were Googling after they realized what they’d done to themselves?

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 3.55.29 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 3.55.43 AM

And then there was THIS chick, whose regrets apparently represent a fair majority of the voting populace. Look at her face.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Like the guy who found the perfect relationship, couldn’t decide if he wanted to pull out or not, makes a hasty decision, and now he can’t live happily squandering the fruits of Oprah’s hard earned labor. This coulda been YOU, England:

Now, top EU leaders want England to pack its stuff and get out as “quickly as possible”. Hei! Talk about a bitter divorce!

Now, of course these setbacks – the pounds sharp decline, their economy shrinking by 100 billion in ONE DAY, the hysteria and morning after regret – are only temporary. I mean, this is Britain, conqueror of the entire world. They will rebound, because allowing this once great superpower to collapse completely would signal a devastating end to Western superiority as we’ve always known it; And though they may want to punish Britain in the short term, those who believe in the cause of white supremacy will never allow this to happen. Britain can’t become a failed state. It’s not like it’s Ghana where corruption is the norm and patriotism is a myth. This is Britain. The Queen lives there.

Nevertheless, this is a great day for America and Americans. We get to look at England and thumb our noses back, for once. We are finally on equal footing. You Brits, with your cricket and your afternoon tea and your NHIS are no different from us. Our paths our now firmly entwined. Welcome to the future.

FullSizeRender(1)

I’ll Never Be Able to Make My Children Happy in Africa

Not that that’s a problem.

I’ve all but abandoned the quest to guide and ensure my children’s happiness.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t do everything in my power to make sure that they are healthy individuals, equipped with the tools to lead sorta successful lives at some point in the future. But happiness? That’s not something I can do for them. It took going to Shack Church to realize this.

Our family goes to worship at a church in Kwanokuthula (Kwano for short), a township just outside on Plett in the direction of Cape Town. In township hierarchy, Kwano is where Soweto was in the 1980’s before Blacks, now armed with middle class income, moved (back) into the township and gave it an economic shot in the arm. There is another township called Qolweni that is about 2 miles down the road, westward. The folks in Kwano call Qolweni a bad place to live. It’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black, but not really. This pot has some shine to it, ya dig?

Anyway. That’s where we worship.

IMG_4446

Like any township, Kwanokuthula is subject to extensive power outages. These Sunday mornings without electricity don’t bother me. In fact, I prefer going to church without power. EVERYONE has to participate in praise when there it no electricity. There is no competition between the praise leader, her microphone and portable loudspeaker and the children in gumboots stomping their feet with the lights are out. It’s great. I love it. My children don’t.

The two Sundays that we have attended church in Kwano (two weeks ago we were in Port Elizabeth visiting at a colored church) my children have sat sullenly in their seats, their spoiled little faces curled up like sour milk, looking aloof and eager to do nothing else but leave.

They are not used to ‘doing church’ this way. In America, every charismatic church has a similar format: You have praise and worship in the main sanctuary, collect the offering, and send the children back to children’s church where they will be instructed in Biblical half truths and perhaps watch an episode or six of ‘Veggie Tales’. Then they’ll draw a picture of a cross with crayon and present it to their parents. It’s their reasonable service.

Ain’t no children’s church in the township. Ain’t no crayons and TVs. Ain’t no graham crackers in exchange for feigned obedience. Here, you have the word of God, some hymns, and for the next two hours, it’s all done in Afrikaans and/or Xhosa. If you’re lucky there might be a guy who speaks English in the congregation called up to translate a portion of it.

The first time my kids sat frowning and hunched over in their chairs after being so warmly greeted by our new church family, I felt sorry for them. This was new for ALL of us, and my husband was the only one who rushed into service with gusto and authority. I tried to soothe them with promises that it would all be over soon and we’d be home before they knew it; We couldn’t possibly sleep here, right? The guarantees did nothing to console them. They became more and more drear until the final song was sung and the township disappeared from view once we piled into our car. It was only then that the spirit of life filtered into their bodies and their attitudes became bearable again.

IMG_4328(1)

The second time (this Sunday) I was having none of it. They had just eaten a warm breakfast and had plenty of time to laze about until we announced that it was time to leave for church. It began with the youngest caterwauling the moment we pulled up in front of the building, protesting about the length and decibels of worship. I ignored her, but she’s a persistent Muppet. Eventually, she got a reaction from me, although it was not the one she was hoping for. The other three were sitting stone-faced yet again and I began growling under my breath as the spirit of revelation hit me.

“All right y’all,” I snapped. “New rule: When everyone else is standing, YOU stand. When everyone else is clapping, YOU clap.”

Did they like that? Not one bit. Did I care? Even less.

Because in that moment – the moment where everyone else was singing joyfully about stomping Satan under their feet, complete with pantomime – I came to a divine understanding. If you can’t find happiness in a place where you’re within 15 minutes walking distance of a clean beach, have access to a river where you can fish and canoe, a big ol’ field to run around in, cable TV, snacks on demand and internet access (even if it IS sometime-y); and all it costs you is some obedience and/or gratitude? Then there’s nothing I can do to make you happy. That kind of joy is something you’re going to have to invoke from within yourself. In the meantime, you better sit up in this Shack Church and fake praise Him until you make it!

MOM Squad, can I tell you how free I feel now? I anticipate experiencing many moments of this sort of freedom.

IMG_4400

Now that summer break is officially on for everyone is the northern hemisphere, how has it been going for you? Do you feel pressure to keep your kids entertained every moment of the day? Do your children’s cries of “I’m booorrrred!” stir an unsettling emotion within you? Discuss!

Get free, MOM Squad! Get freeeeee!!!!

A rainbow and a sign of God’s covenant. Get free, MOM Squad! Get freeeeee!!!!

Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport Gets A Facelift – But Corruption, Bribery Prevail

There’s ALWAYS some sort of bribery or money bilking scam going on at Kotoka International Airport. Between the yellow fever vaccination booklet scam, the baggage handlers stealing your luggage, and the customs officers’ expectant query about what you have “brought them from America”, it’s always a miracle when the traveler exits the airport’s sliding doors with their wits intact. Kotoka is a den of iniquity. It is a chaotic, incomprehensible hellscape. If you’ve entered Ghana via that airport in the last 20 years, you will attest that this is no exaggeration. Ice Cube got outta Compton with more ease than you will through Kotoka and its parking lot.

But there’s great news! The linear processes aren’t getting any better and the staff are just as arrogant and deceptive, but the airport is getting a facelift! *confetti*

Jemila Abdulai, my sister in blog, recently returned from Germany and had Ghana’s special blend of corruption thrown right into her face as she was trying to Uber home. And since we are storytellers, she did what was only natural: she told the story of how she was subjected to extortion by the airport’s workers. For that ‘crime’, her award-winning blog was hacked. (It’s back up and running now. I personally think the hack was practice for whoever the IGP is going hire on election day, but that’s because I’m a cynic with trust issues.)

With her permission I am re-blogging her account of the ridiculous and heinous events here…because they can’t hack us ALL. And because we’re all tired of them pulling this ish.

Kotoka-branded
By JEMILA ABDULAI

Kotoka International Airport, Ghana’s only international airport, is getting a facelift and it’s beginning to show. From the new “visa on arrival” desk to the expanded arrivals immigration hall and luggage pickup carousels, the much-needed renovation project, which apparently started in 2014, is helping ease some of the congestion travelers experience through the port of entry. As they say however, beauty is only skin-deep. What about the other, more arduous surgery? The one that expunges memories of power plays and solicitation by airport officials and staff, saves the country millions of dollars, and securely establishes Ghana as the gateway to West Africa it claims to be? When does that work begin?

Stepping off the plane around 8:30pm on June 16, 2016, I was tired, but happy to be home. After days of dreary, cold weather in Germany, I didn’t mind that I had walked right into a travel guide or blog post: the balmy, hot Ghanaian air rushing to envelope itself around me while the unmistakable hint of salt danced about. As myself and the other passengers were transported by bus from the aircraft to the arrivals door, I caught a glimpse of bright lights in the distance: the very lights guiding workers through the night as they worked on constructing the new airport terminal. Terminal 3.

Only moments earlier, a KLM crew member had announced over loudspeaker, “Photos and videos on the airport premises are prohibited”. This is a first, I thought to myself, before shrugging it off. Maybe they want to keep things under wraps until the official unveiling, I reckoned – to offer a pleasant surprise to those who have yet to see the renovations.

Having already filled my arrival form, it took me five minutes to get through passport control and make my way over to the carousel. It would take another 30 minutes before my suitcase came into view. While waiting, I checked the Uber app periodically to see whether there were any cars in the vicinity. I finally found one as I placed my luggage on the airport stroller and headed towards the exit: it was five minutes away. After putting in my request, I continued towards customs control, bracing myself for the usual questions: “What did you bring me?” “Where and why did you travel?” “What’s in your bag?” Nothing. Not a single question. Well, that’s different, I thought to myself. Different, but welcome. After 14 hours of total travel time on subway, train and airplane, I was tired and looking forward to taking a shower and going straight to bed. The clock said 9pm, but my body knew better: it was 11pm. Jet lag had me running two hours ahead of time.

Continue reading at Circumspecte.com

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?