Friday, June 25, 2010

Totally a Blog-Worthy Day

Totally a blog-worthy day…

When I was young… who am I kidding? I’m still young. Okay. When I was young-er, I was told when u speak of an absent person and the person does not materialize or at least get in touch with you, there was either something seriously wrong with the person or the person had passed on. Growing up, I realized how this worked too well to be false. Often when I reminisced about a friend or loved one or even referred to the person in passing, I was sure to hear from or see the person that day. Otherwise, the person had either passed on or experienced harrowing times around the same time.

Now the amazing thing was that this applied even to inanimate things. Call it the law of attraction, fate or what you may. Whenever something came into my mind unbidden, or I talked over an issue with a friend, things rarely remained the status quo. So, when my mentor and friend Kofi asked me on Thursday when next I was going to update my blog, and I told him I hadn’t updated it because I had nothing to say; it was only meet that Friday turn out to be the kind of day it was.
It started out as an OK day. Until 9:00am, my morning was pretty much uneventful and I had resigned myself to a quiet day. I had an 11:00am appointment with the European commission to go for a Schengen visa to enable me undertake a very important assignment. Yes, you guessed right. Richard Quest of CNN’s ‘Quest means Business’ had finally spotted my fan mail among the zillions he must receive and was so impressed he called to offer me a summer internship with him as he covers the wave of economic events unfolding in Europe. We were to visit Greece, France, Belgium, Poland, you name it… I was going to have my very own Euro Trip, all in a day’s work. Thank you, Richard Quest. (Lol! And if you’re perchance reading this, please holler at your number one fan and make my dream come true)

My appointment at the commission was at mid-day and living a mere forty-five minutes drive from the office, I thought I had left the house in good time when I left home at 10:00am. Hailing a taxi and agreeing on the fare, I got in, settled down and got out my book to read, expecting a calm uneventful ride. It did not take very long for me to realize it was not going to be a calm uneventful ride. I had apparently hired a taxi driver whose driving skills depicted he was only fit to drive a monster truck in ROAD RAGE. I am not overly superstitious or anything but I began to suspect he was a hired assassin hired to ensure I don’t get to that visa. After my ghost left me several times due to his driving, we finally fell into traffic and I don’t think I’ve ever been that happy to see traffic.

My relief was short-lived though. It appears the taxi driver, realizing he had failed in his assassination attempt, decided to resort to delay tactics and make me miss my appointment. Seriously! I mean – who chooses graphic road over circle traffic at 10:00am on a weekday? The traffic was bumper to bumper and moving at a rate of 50m/hr. At this point, I could hold my peace no longer and asked the hired assassin if he had some brilliant plan I wasn’t aware of to calm me about the traffic. He didn’t. He told me he had been plying that road for fifteen years and knew what he was doing. Apparently, he didn’t because even he started to get frustrated at a point in time. I got to the Commission at 12:03 hrs. He barely escaped having me murder him. I even thought what I’d plead in court – temporal insanity. That guy almost drove me crazy!

After going through the requisite procedure, I walked out of the commission with a stride in my step and a song in my heart. If it wasn’t drizzling, I would have brandished my passport as I walked out of the place. I decided to go and take pictures at Pictorialist Studio at Danquah Circle to commemorate the day and give to my pals so they could have pictures of me before I got famous. Don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with flexing or showing off. I was actually doing it for them. I want them to be able to auction those pictures when they fell on hard times in the future. Yeah baby, I am going to be THAT famous. Lol. Lemme fantasize a bit. Most great successes began as dreams everyone laughed at.

After taking the pictures and talking football for about thirty minutes, (I know, I know but cute studio photographers have this way of making you lose track of time) I decided to stroll down the street to avoid football traffic. It is only during the World Cup that Ghanaian tro-tro drivers have a backward bending labour supply curve. They park their cars on the streets and leave to watch the matches causing acute shortage of cars and traffic. You should have seen the fleet of cars parked on the Odorkor-Kaneshie Road during the Ghana-Germany match. And they were not even for Alhaji ‘For Sale’ (Ghanaian Joke).

So where was I? Ah, yes, the stroll. Basking in the euphoria of my Visa Acquisition, (It took a plea by Richard Quest to have me not scan the visa and put it in this blog) I walked merrily down Oxford street and lo and behold, I felt a tug at my hand. Seeing how Ghanaian hawkers have turned that into a marketing strategy, I ignored it but it was insistent and I turned to see whose hand it was. I glanced cursorily at the person and did not immediately recognize the face. Then he mentioned my name and removed all thoughts of my walking away. He obviously knew me. He was talking on the phone. He quickly wrapped the conversation up and said 'hi, we were bantering all day yesterday on facebook and you could not make me out'.

I opened my mouth. Until that time, I had never thought of my Ghanaian friends on facebook as being people walking on the street I could bump into at any time‘t’. I don’t know what I thought… perhaps that they lived in the computer? It was pleasant bumping into one though. I will not share the rest on our conversation- I am not that generous. But I left feeling better than I felt when I met him. Thanks P.

That was the beginning of my meeting people I had not met in ages. Barely three steps after we parted, I met a friend from my first year at University. It had been over four years and it was great seeing him. I also met my teacher and Mentor Mr. Ocloo who I hadn’t seen since JSS 2 when he left the school. He encouraged me to write and even published my first poem in the ‘Omorde’ magazine. I always remember him when my writing gets complimented. I should have taken his number but we were at Makola and could barely get standing ground to exchange pleasantries. Next, I met Miss Zaney, a literature teacher whilst I was at Gey Hey. She had this exotic accent and made me want to be exotic too whilst I was in school. I spoke to her and she made me out! Yay! Next, I met a friend from SSS 1 who I hadn’t seen in eight years. He is also someone who encourages my writing and a fellow writer.

Now, after Kofi asks me when my next blog will be, I meet my e-pal who, did I forget to mention, writes too; my first writing mentor, my literature teacher and another writer friend – all in one day – the very following day. I definitely couldn’t say I had nothing to write about. XOXO

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On being Feminist - Part Two

This is the continuation of my previous post - On being Feminist... EnjoY!

Perhaps masculine conceit leads men to believe, when women ask for equal rights and freedoms, that women want to be equal to them. I believe, correct me if I am wrong, that all the fighting for equal rights, really, is to enable us be the best we can be. Perhaps, men are scared about us obtaining this because they fear (again, correct me if I am wrong) that if the grounds were leveled, we would prove better than them in so many ways. Well, let me assure you guys, your fears are completely founded! (Hey, I’m feminist I’m allowed.)

That said, I just have to say here that I did not agree with the rationale behind asking for a 50-50 representation in parliament. Margaret Thatcher and Sir Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did not need legislation to make it. I don’t believe incompetent women should be put in parliament because they are women. That would seriously backfire. Let the women be given the level ground upon which they would stand against their male counterparts. And if she proves more competent or worthy than the guy, let her not be put aside because she is a woman.

Putting an incompetent woman in power will only ensure we revert back to the time where there were no women in parliament. Hawa Yakubu did not need legislation to make it and she made us all proud. Granted, if more women were given the chance, they would shine like her. However, let them get that chance because they have both proven and potential competence and not because their gender and legislation gave them an upper hand. Obaa Hemaa got to be SRC president of the University of Ghana, to an extent, through sympathy votes. Sure, she had a message, the requisite charisma, etc. but she was not hired on level ground as her male counterparts. She put in some effort and people probably thought – awww, that is so cute. A woman who wants to be SRC president and she can talk too. Let’s give the women a chance and let’s see. It’s about time. And she won! Women were happy. Some men were happy. Feminists and Gender advocates in Ghana lauded what a great victory for women it was.

We all hoped and prayed she would prove that what a man could do, a woman could do as well, or even better. Well, she did prove that, but only not in the positive ways we expected. Now she has ensured that no woman will have the chance to be SRC president for a long time. For a lady to achieve this within ten years of her tenure of office, (it’s already been four, right?) that lady would have to prove herself at least three times as much as her male counterparts. And this is me being optimistic. If we put incompetent women in parliament just because they are women, I see a similar situation arising. I think you’ve had more than the daily recommended dose of feminism for now.

DISCLAIMER: I do not hate men. I find them rather useful around the house – for fetching stuff, carrying heavy stuff, massaging you when you are tired or pregnant or have a back ache, keeping you warm, providing warm sperms for baby making, etc. etc. Gotcha! Just kidding!!!

But I seriously don’t hate men. I realized early on that I don’t have to hate men to be pro women. My point? We are not equal. We will probably never be. But we can complement each other. Why should you stand on me when we can stand side by side? When I am willing to reduce my swag and stand with you? Lol. Sorry, I just HAD to chip that one in. Hehehe!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On being Feminist...

On being feminist...

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute. ~Rebecca West, "Mr Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice," The Clarion, 14 Nov 1913, reprinted in The Young Rebecca, 1982

It never ceases to amuse me when my friends refer to me as a feminist. Initially, it bothered me. I tried to defend my stance whenever I made a statement, remark or suggestion that was branded feminist. Over time, I grew tired of all that defense. I really thought, felt and believed those things I said and if my thoughts, feelings and if my thoughts, beliefs and feelings branded me a feminist, why resist? If not being a feminist meant renouncing any of those things, then it also meant renouncing who I was and I’d rather be who I am, feminist and all, than waste time failing at the alternative (i.e. pretending to be otherwise)

One might think I accepted the brand feminist too readily. Not really. I began to enjoy the name even, shortly after acceptance, when I realized what the general Ghanaian (read Ghanaian men I have debated gender issues with) definition for feminism is. I may not be able to give you a strict definition, but it is very close to what my starting quote says. Now, I will answer readily to the name feminist, sometimes thanking you for the compliment, and sometimes exaggerate my stance to poke a bit of fun at those brave enough to debate me on gender issues. The frustrating thing about this is that most at times, my interlocutors do not get my joke and I laugh alone.

I think I remember my debut ‘single’ which launched me into the feminist industry. I was one fine Saturday, overhearing a conversation between two guys (I refuse to call them gentlemen) and a lady when I got the inspiration for this ‘single’ It was around that time when some women’s rights advocates were agitating for 50-50 representation in parliament and I was in a tro-tro (bus) headed for the central business district of Accra from Legon campus.

The subject was being discussed on radio and immediately the topic was broached, these two guys, having out-numbered this young lady, proceeded to give all the reasons why women will never be equal to men (as if that was the point of the radio discussion!). The lady tried – I must give her some credit for that – but these two guys bullied her both conversationally and physically. She was of a slight frame and she was sitting between the guys… what chance did she stand? Again, they talked over her whenever she started to talk. In the end, she laughed and conceded defeat saying she was all talked out.

I, who had been sitting behind them all this while doing my best to keep my thoughts to myself, tapped her lightly on the shoulder and said “Sweetheart, don’t worry your head over them. Who says we want to be equal to them anyway? Why would we? When we are superior to them in so many ways? Becoming equal to them would mean a demotion from our superior place. And we certainly wouldn’t want that would we?” With that, I smiled sweetly at the trio. The guys were shocked into silence and I was able to enjoy the rest of the ride in peace. I’m sure they restarted the discussion after I got off; but my point had been made.

Recounting this to a friend that evening, he said; “Herr, Feminist paa dis!” I thought I had been stating the obvious. Men and women will never be equal. Equal rights will not make us equal. Giving an apple the same rights as an orange will never make the two equal.

He's just not THAT into YOU

I recently watched “He’s just not that into you”. It’s a wonderful movie and I think everyone should watch it. A lot that’s said in there is true. Believe me, I know. Don’t ask how.

Most of us on one level or another believe we are the exception to rules we don’t want to believe are true. A girl who finds herself in love with a ‘playa’ believes she is the one who will make him realize the error of his ways and change; become monogamous all for her.

It’s been said that guys like a good challenge but in a different way, I think we girls like challenges too. Why else will a quiet, shy and God-fearing young lady believe she can change an errant twenty-something year old guy and make him the kind of man all the ladies will envy her for? Why else will a girl continue trying to find the good in a bad guy when even his mom has given up on him?

I believe if a guy really wants to be with you, he will make it happen. Seriously, at least he will try. Most of the excuses they give all point to one thing…you are not the ‘ying’ to his ‘yang’.

One classic scenario is when a guy says “I’m not ready.” Sweetheart, let him go. Guys, at least be original here. That used to be the typical Ghanaian female response and we all know most of the time, what it meant was that she just wasn’t that into you. When she was genuinely confused, she gave you reason to hang around.

There is an Akan Proverb that says “If you feel you are too smart, you might end up greeting a goat.” The bible also says in Proverbs that there is more hope for a fool than a man who is wise in his own eyes. I am talking about me.

I met a certain guy, a wonderful guy. I think he was the first guy I genuinely loved. You know sometimes you get hurt and convince yourself you’ve stopped believing in Happily-ever-afters? That was the state I was in when I met him. I convinced myself I didn’t want any committed relationship with any guy and so in the beginning acted all non-chalant about our ‘relationship’ I kept telling myself I could walk away from him at anytime I chose(The lies we tell ourselves in order to sleep easy!).

Well, yes you guessed right. I woke up one day wanting more. And from then on, anytime he did something I’d easily had brushed off in the past, my heart broke a little.

In the end, my heart broke a lot. I cried over a guy for the first time in my life. I avoided places I might meet him for a very long time and I must say, the healing process is still on-going.

He says he is not ready; he won’t be able to make me as happy as I deserve. He says he’ll hurt me, that I deserve better and ended it with a ‘coup de grace’-Any guy who ends up with me is one heck of a lucky guy because I’m pretty special.

You know what? That ‘Lucky guy’, it could have been him. If I’m so darn special, where is he off to? Why won’t he stay? How does he know that I deserve better than I do? It beat my mind then and it still does.

Don’t sweat it trying to figure out how much of this truth and how much is fiction. That is not the point. There are a few points I noted

#1.-If a guy tells you he’s not ready, don’t wait around for him. There’s a very good chance that he will never be ready for a committed relationship-so long as it’s with you.

#2.-Any guy who tells you that you deserve better is right-After all he should know himself better than anyone, when a guy feels unworthy of you, he will act unworthy of you.

#3.-How you act in the beginning stages of any relationship determines how you’ll be treated later on. Ask all the tough questions at the start. Don’t pretend or playact. Don’t try to be too smart. It will only backfire.

#4.-People tend to grow on you. No matter how evil a guy may be, he will have good sides and if you hang around long enough, you may fall in love with the good side and get hurt by the evil side.

#5.-If you don’t know what you want, you will never get it. Why? Because you won’t recognize it even if it walked right up to you and introduced itself.

So be honest, love yourself, love with all your heart and if you find that ‘Happily-ever-after’, let me know. I’d be elated to write your love story.