Archive for February, 2014

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As fictional as it might sound, this is actual a true story.

I had a Shawarma Date at Basilissa in Tema, Community 5; quite a distance from where I live, and didn’t plan draining all my energy in about that 45minutes walk only for two loaves of Shawarma, so I boarded the taxi to the place. Well, it was actually a walking distance from where I had to alight to the date venue. It was a lazy day.

This is where the story is told…

So, as I was walking, a driver in a blue Toyota Hilux with unexpectedly huge heavy tyres stops me and asks for directions to the Tema Senior High School.

This is the interesting part;

I blanked out instantly but sustained a smile that lasted about 3 seconds. First words that came out of my mouth, “you’re not from Tema, right?”

Silly. Dumb. Double dumb! Certainly they’re strangers. Oh yes, they. There was a lady in the back seat who stretched her head to watch my gestures and listen to me.

Here was where I failed…

“Umm… After the traffic light, turn right and go down. First turn on your left, keep going until the next 2 turns on your right. Don’t take the first, but the second turn. Then the next sharp turn on your left… Keep going until you reach the only turn on your right, then turn left again and you’re the Tema High School ‘Small Gate’. Yeah, that’s the other entrance.”

Oh wait…

I never really mentioned the interesting part and where I actually failed with the bodily gestures. Thing is, all the while I was giving out the directions, my hands were beside me. Interesting, isn’t it?

I felt fascinated when I later realized I never showed gestures with my hands. That was unusual of me. But hey, I wasn’t entirely to blame, was I? They could’ve used a GPS or actually got directions before setting off. Well…

“oh ok… Thank you very much. I’m sure we can ask around if we get lost or something”, the woman said, with a fake smile. I recognized that smile probably because I felt guilty, more appropriately ashamed of what I’d just done. Or maybe I was just being unnecessarily defensive.

The traffic light was still Red, but I couldn’t keep standing with my feet tightly gripped in shame.

“Ok, have a nice day”.

I could’ve cursed that traffic light for not showing the green light within the conversation.

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[Photo Credit : Akua Boatenmaa Adjei of Akiboat Impressions https://m.facebook.com/AkiboatImpressions ]

Don’t expect the black woman to figure out that same flavored ice cream tastes so special because you placed a ring in it. If there be any surprise, it would be;

“oh!! But I just swallowed it. How was I to know there was a ring in there?!”

Or in aggressive personality situations,

“abah!! You wanted to choke me to death?? What if I’d gotten hurt? We would’ve wasted money on medical attention…”

But then Black Love understands that life is not a Soap Opera.

Don’t get her flowers on special occasions; she doesn’t keep vases at home. Flowers die. Recharge her airtime credits or invest into something realistically valuable and longterm; she’ll call you a keeper, even a provider.

In a continent where ‘refined superstition’ still plays a major role in the love life of the people, there’s no need eloping to some beautiful Island to get married when one side or both families are not in agreement to the union. How far and long can you run anyway? There’s nowhere to hide from the art of superstition on the face of this earth.

You can never impress a Black Woman with pick up lines like ‘I can’t live without you’, unless you were dead before meeting her. “Black woman no want live with dead man oo”. You can try ‘I would be telling a lie if I say I can’t live without you. I can, I only wouldn’t want to, that’s why I’m choosing you’ Hah!! Now I’m beginning to think I’m a romantic. Wasn’t that line cool??

Ladies, one key reminder, never stretch the man too long while receiving his gifts and leading him on. Just like the elastic rubber band, when he loosens, you will lose him.

Black Love is a lot of attention, but not entirely. In the early stages, he’ll speak for hours on the phone as if he works with the Communication’s Network. Try not to see it as a phase because it all fades at a point, c’est la vie. There’s almost nothing more to talk about when everything else is exhausted, except for the regular day to day activities which is shared on whatsapp.

Black is enduring. Just as one gets impressed when he sees a blind man going about his activities as though he has sight, Black Love endures.

Black is beautiful, you should see us in love.

Black is black; grey doesn’t come close. Even in the midst of uncertainty, he is certain of his uncertainty.

At the end of the day, our stories don’t end with Happily Ever After because we aren’t fictional. Flowers don’t gloom till they disappear… Exactly.

He understands her kind of love.

She understands he’s just being black.

Anything besides this is coloured love in black skin.

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Sweat pours from my body and evaporates so fast so that I cannot tell when it starts and stops. There was no other rational way to make the trip to Jamestown in the Accra capital of Ghana but the trotro, in today’s economic crisis; I kept reminding myself why that was the best and adventurous option I could have for my first travel writing expedition. I felt prickly sandwiched between two huge women unfortunately suffering from the same misery. The sun was overhead, literally.

I was unhappy with how I was feeling, certainly couldn’t complain about the weather. I got sadder each time the bus stopped to lay off passengers and take in more to fill the empty seats; I wondered if any of the huge women missed their stop -let’s save all that drama for the expedition. I finally escaped at my stop.

If there was any vivid description of this travel, one would be the immediate wind that blew my neatly combed fro in disarray. The breeze accompanied with it was a familiar one. I knew I was in my hometown. Straight ahead were the little children at the shore, walking, running, playing barefoot, most of them being naked and free enough to throw their light weights carelessly into the sea. As if the waves didn’t make enough noise, the older men fishing, and women dressing the seafood, kept with their deafening screams as though they were fighting. The natives of this town are known for that -their aggressive and earsplitting tongue.

After capturing a few Ga moments, I decided to pay my father’s relatives a short visit. I remembered the route to my paternal great grandmother’s home, strangely. The overpopulation in this town was intensely disturbing, particularly where I found myself. Just when I thought I’d passed through one house, I enter another; there were no walls or gates to separate the houses. There were at least 3 to 6 people, mostly women sitting together having loud conversations while chewing their traditional sponges and spitting out saliva sheepishly.

Finally I’d arrived ‘home’. I’d foretold the literate residents of the house about my short visit so they were able to make me out. Besides Ghanaians being hospitable, they seem camera-shy with random photographs and street photographers. The buildings fascinated me. Their kitchens built with clay and utensils so old that seemed like they could never be replaced. They all looked vintage and old fashioned. There were certain fabrics I saw my distant relatives in which I wish I had. I bet if I’d sewn a modern style with such fabric and worn it in the city, I’d get the envious stares. Every woman loves the envious stares. So, I coaxed them into carrying on with their chores and natural discussions while I took some shots. It was beautiful, the scenes.

At dusk, I requested to take my leave since I didn’t intend spending the night there. One peculiar aspect of the Ga people is their love for food. One of my cousins managed to get me on a wooden stool while I was playing modest about eating. ‘Ganyo ji bo’, she said, meaning ‘you are Ga’, insinuating that I naturally love food. She insinuated right. Hah!

I could’ve sworn that crab was saved for me. It was so huge I had to reconsider the number of balls of kenkey to consume with it. But the shrimps, just the way I like it; countless in my meal. It was a good one -the meal. After telling them how much I enjoyed the meal and my love for shrimps and octopus, they thought it generous to pack up some fresh octopus and shrimps with some red-fish for my journey back home.

Choosing my hometown for my first travel journey wasn’t a bad idea afterall. In actual fact, I felt reconnected to my people and their way of life. Yes, the food played a major role, but it’s just natural of me, I am Ga.

One word that kept wandering in my mind on my way back was FREE. Back at Jamestown, everyone seems free as if nothing is at stake. They don’t get bothered with power outages, they’ve learned not to rely on it. When the taps don’t run, they’re aware the sea doesn’t run dry. Never was there a moment I saw a child alone by himself. They are as free as the waves of the sea, undisturbed. Freedom can never be overrated. Everyone enjoys freedom, yet we find ourselves bound in so many ways we equally find ourselves free of.

Unlike the natives of Jamestown, I’m not used to living without electricity or processed water for days, well, not just yet.

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[Photo Credit : Amfo Connolly https://www.behance.net/amfoconnolly

I am not depressed
I think I am a lot of fun
I am happy
Yet I don’t feel joyous either

There are just days I want to be wanted but other days, I don’t want to be bothered. Again, I’m not depressed. Fine, so I don’t know what I want because I can’t tell exactly how I feel, but wouldn’t it be sad to know you’re going through the same ordeal?

Single? Yes.
Lonely? No.
Happy? Yes.
So what’s it? I don’t know…

…wait! I do know. Mother always said, “you need not rush it, they’ll come in their numbers and all you will have to do is make a choice; focus on God, your education and make enough money for yourself first”. As for Father, he kept matching me with his friends’ sons. There was Kwabena who bailed out after 6mths of counselling; he gave the silly excuse of having cold feet. I bet he’s frozen by now.

Some years back, Nii Kwotey moved in with me but that was short-lived when he told me I was self centred and not humble, because, “you think you have it all and you need no one. Let me be a man, Maame, I have my ego”. Of cause I told him I had mine too. That got him packing. I was sad and disappointed but, should I have chased after him? Mother said there would be many.

I kept waiting, even lost track of time, and work became a routine. I love what I do. I’m best at it. I was ok with my life’s routine until this dream.

I shouldn’t have woken up. Now I can only stare at the darkness before me; not the evil scary darkness, far from that, it’s the darkness that begins to linger in the absence of light fading to permit silhouette to dominate the greys. Uhmm… That sounded a bit sinister.

Forget the poetic descriptions.

Last night, Mother gave me a scare that threatened my heart to the core. She said, “you can never be so sure of the man you choose. A man is always a man. He has the higher tendency to cheat on you even if he claims to love you. He will say sorry and do it again, so brace yourself. See your father, did you not grow up with the same situation? Not to scare you, my daughter…” everything else that followed was a distant echo to my ears. Then it struck me, Nii Kotei cheated on me sometime with his ex and still remains friends with her. He said it was because I seem… [stutters] I… Ohh forget it! [sighs]

But he proposed. If that part of me he claims is an issue, why does he want to live the rest of his life with me? And there’s Owuraku who isn’t financially settled but asked me to be his wife too; I love him, but Nii Kotei has it all, and he’s someone I can easily grow on. I like him enough. But Owuraku knows me inside out! Mother wouldn’t want him. Father would say he isn’t qualified. But i’m not the only on marrying him, at the end of the day, both families are uniting.

I shouldn’t be depressed. Some women don’t even have choices. Aaarrgghhhh!!

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So, I had an encounter this evening in a trotro. Long story though, but I remember my SUMMARY Lessons from High School so let’s shorten it.

[He could’ve waited for me to adjust my butt in my seat but then I guess impatience was the first trait he intended displaying]

Mr. Man: I like your phone. Touch screen ehn?

Miz Akwele: Yes, thank you.

[I greeted him; it was the right thing to do, he seemed in his late 30s or early 40s. He responded]

Mr. Man: Ei and you are whatsapping. Oh nice… Nice. So you wouldn’t mind giving me your number so I whatsapp you too? I like the way you’re typing.

[At this point, you could just guess the look on my face]

Miz Akwele: No [smiling]

Mr. Man: No, as in you would like me to give my number or NO as in you don’t want it.

Miz Akwele: [smiling] No as in I wouldn’t want to give you my number.

Mr. Man: Oh ok.

[Pfft!! Later on the journey, I’d wanted to buy Plantain Chips from one of the street hawkers, but it struck me that the chips could cause another discussion. What if he asks why I didn’t invite him, because I never intended to…?? What if I start chewing it and he says he likes the way I’m chewing it, just like he liked the way I was typing?? Dayum!! Had to watch that seller go, and all the other chips sellers on the road. I figured there was nothing he would’ve said next; I’d faced the window for fresh air because his colon was disturbingly awful]

Mr. Man: I’ll get down at some place called KFC, you know there?

Miz Akwele: Yes, you won’t get lost, it’s by the streets.

[I had to answer all the follow up questions before he asked. Well, I thought I did]

Mr. Man: Oh ok. Thank God oo. If I knew about the traffic, I would’ve set off early, don’t you think so too? But where are you going?

Bus Conductor (Mate): [asks passengers] Kotobabi??

Miz Akwele: [sigh!] Kotobabi.

[Bus stops and I smile]

Mr. Man: Ei you are going to see him ehn? He should take good care of you oo… Else I will take you away.

[Finally, I was out of the car]

I promised to summarise this story, and I did. The other details were just appalling and about the same acts. And oh yes, I just remembered him spitting out his gum in the car.

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03:30am and I just realized that being under the shawl simply denotes PRIVACY; the shawl, NOT being transparent, blocks all other item and activity in the prayer environment.

It’s not about secrecy, it’s respect… It’s humility. Even a shawl being just cloth, unclean, is used to cover the hair (one’s glory) in simply saying, ‘at this moment, I don’t matter and it’s all about you’.
Not forgetting the warmth and embrace of the cloth reminding us that God is always with us, holding us close in his warm embrace whenever we come to him privately.

During this act of intimacy and privacy, say anything you want to, express your sentiments however you want to, but let no one here; need I remind you you blocked every item and activity in your environment?