Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wo kunu wo he?

I realized today that I have not put up the original post that was the source of my blog's name. A thousand apologies ( mind-your-language style). Okay, so this is the story behind my blog's name. I set up my blog in OCTOBER 2009. However, my first post is dated May this year. I thought blogging was something difficult and was venting out my creativity on facebook (notes).

My friends kept suggesting I start a blog and I gave it some serious thought and decided to give it a try after carefully weighing my options. I wanted my first post to be this article. 'Wo kunu wo he?' It means 'Where is your husband' in Twi (a Ghanaian Language). So I typed this title in the Blog title column thinking blog meant post. I wasn't able to upload it then though. After coaching from a few blogger friends, I was able to set up my first post - 'Throwing out the baby with the dishwater - Literally' and I decided to let the name stay until I found a better one. Today, I present to you - original 'Wo kunu wo he?' Here goes...


You know you’ve gotten to that stage when your mum starts asking in every convo you have with her, “So, is there someone new and exciting in your life that I need to know about?” and she sighs disappointedly when you say no. That’s about as subtle as a politician showing up at a grand durbar in his hometown weeks before the elections. She might as well say: Sweetheart, you aren’t getting any younger; your biological clock is ticking; I want to see my grandchildren before I die; or any one of those tired old clichés – you know the ones I’m talking about.

If you haven’t figured out which stage I’m talking about, it’s the stage where you KNOW you have to start taking this love, dating and marriage thing seriously. It never ceases to amaze me how parents, mothers especially, make that sudden transformation from “Concentrate on your books!” to “You know, I went to my friend’s daughter’s wedding over the weekend. Wait a minute, you should know her. Wasn’t Nyameke your junior in high school emphasis on the word (JUNIOR)? Her mom was so happy. One would think it was her wedding” Then it’s there in the pause. Unspoken but so loud you can’t miss it – “I want to be that happy soon”

You’re in even more trouble when she starts going for naming ceremonies. That was the cause of the lecture I was getting that afternoon during a visit to my mom’s. “Anowa, did I already mention going for Nyameke’s outdooring of her baby last week? (Yes mom, this would be about the twentieth time) She continues “Akos, my schoolmate who I’m way older than, was such a proud grandmother it brought tears to my eyes “(sniff!). The she turns and asks me how work is as if she had never said anything.

Aaargh mom, I wish you could hear yourself! Wasn’t it just a few years ago that you were drumming into my head the essence of concentrating on getting me educated and building a career? Wasn’t it just yesterday you encouraged me to break it off with Kojo, my level 100 sweetheart because we were way too young? What happened to you?

You said to finish school, make it big and the guys would come trooping to my door. Why are you panicking all of a sudden because I’m turning thirty next week? The way you’re going on. One would think I was turning fifty. Jeez mom, would you give me a break already?

As I sat in my car to go back to my apartment, I paused, took a deep breath and turned on the radio. Hoping some soothing music could calm me down. No such luck. As if in conspiracy with my mom, my favourite radio station was playing ‘wo kunu wo he?’ right at that time. And the first words I heard were those of the chorus “Aw aw aw aw aw – Wo kunuwo he? Obaa besia, wo’enimonyam wo he?”

I said and blushed almost immediately in shame at the four letter word I’d uncharacteristically just used. But it made me think. I am 29 years old, with a BA. Econs from the University of Ghana, a Masters in Economics from the University of Oslo in Norway and a Chartered Financial Analyst. I am a senior partner at an audit firm, drive the latest edition Lexus and have an apartment in Trasaaco Valley. I send my mom every month, more than she could spend in a lifetime and have bought her a house in East Legon. What more could a mother want or hope for?

I’m pretty, 5’ 7”, weigh 65 kilos and am very well proportioned. I have never lacked suitors (although quite frankly I must admit my picking has been getting thinner over the years) but I’ve always preferred staying single to getting married.

No, I am not a lesbian and No, I do not go home to vibrators and dildos every night. No, I do not cry myself to sleep every night and I do not have a gigolo to ‘take care of me’ regularly. I don’t hate men. I just think my life is fulfilled enough without them. I have never really had children or wanted to have some of my own. I guess I must be a bit like Robin in ‘How I met your mother’. I enjoy buying gifts for my nieces and nephews but I’ glad I’m not the one who has to take them home at night.

Why is it so hard for everyone to believe I am single, saturated and satisfied? Or that I’m turning thirty with no fiancé or husband in sight and looking forward to my party?

Just then, a hottie in a 2008 Nissan Murano drove up beside me and shot me an electric smile that sent tingles down my spine. Ok, so I lied. I’m not a sexless career woman who neither needs nor wants a man and children. I’d like to go home to something like that at night – legitimately, that is. Plus, if my husband is really convincing, I guess I could have a baby or two – (no more!) but why does society have to measure my success on marriage and call my husband my glory? Am I not glorified in myself?

Just then I heard Mister Hottie-playing-gospel-in-the-Murano scream excitedly into the phone “Mom, I think I’ve just met the woman I’m going to marry!” With that, he got out of the car, brought me his phone and said; “Here, my mom wants to talk to my future wife” I nearly fainted! As I took the phone with trembling fingers, I took one shot at his presumptuousness and said – “I could be married, you know?” “Nope! Already checked. There is no ring on your ring finger and you don’t strike me as someone who wouldn’t wear her ring. At least I hope you’ll wear mine forever.

I know right? Sounds too good to be true. I thought I was daydreaming too – until the lights turned green and the cars behind started honking at us... and then I knew that this was my very own fairytale.

And that is how I met the groom. Cheers!

As I watched my family and friends drink to my happiness. A tear run down my cheek and before it reached my chin, Kay kissed it off and gave me a squeeze, mouthing the word – I love you. I smiled and sighed dreamily. My mom nodded approvingly. I guess mothers know best and perhaps society is right. I know for sure that no business deal had ever brought me this much joy.

Now, it’s been very nice chatting with you all. But if you don’t mind, I have a wedding night to prepare for... and a husband to make very VERY happy. ;) ;) ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010


I remember a few months back, I wrote a facebook status message extolling the virtue of fresh corn on the cob. My status went something like this – ‘Forget Mars, Snickers and M & M’s – I’d rather have boiled Corn-on-the-cob and coconut any day. You see, I was comparing the snack culture we had in Ghana before colonization and the one we have now and their respective effects on our waistlines. Did I hear you ask if we had a snack culture? Sure we did. Now, we’d call them finger food but roasted plantains, boiled/roasted corn-on-the-cob with coconut, roasted cocoyam/yam with salted fish or palm oil are all snacks – and healthy ones at that.

Feeling rather snug at having re-affirmed my Ghanaian pride on the World Wide Web for all to see; I walked about puffed with pride the whole day until I spoke with a friend of mine later in the day. Mr. X was taking me to church that very evening. Corn was in season and as usual, there was no shortage of street vendors selling the boiled version of this delicacy. The roasted version was not so popular with street vendors because they had to be hot and soft to be enjoyed and they cooled rapidly and became hard when taken from the heat source. I asked him if he enjoyed eating this and I got an insight that had never occurred to me.

Apparently Mr. X was very passionate about the sale of corn-on-the-cob when corn was in season. You see, every cob of corn contains hundreds of corn kernels – seeds that could have produced more corn if planted. Every year, we boil and roast possibly millions of these cobs (you do the math) and then, we turn around and worry about food security. Ask yourself this – even in America (one of, if not the largest corn producers in the world), how often do you see people eating fresh corn? Personally, I cannot speak much about this, never actually having been there before. However, if what I see on TV is anything to go by, it’s served only at thanksgiving and special occasions like that.

He said if he had money, he would buy tons of corn when they were in season and store them in a silo for re-sale when they were out of season. Apparently, the price of a bag of maize in-season and out-of-season differed by as much as GHC70 (about 45 dollars). Imagine that! And we gaily eat corn-on-the cob without a thought to food security. And we enjoy this delicacy without thinking of going into farming ourselves. He said he had started working on a farm and I realized how far we have to go.

Next time you eat corn-on-the cob, think what you are doing or can do to help improve food security in Ghana, and Africa for that matter. Apparently, for a nation which has over half of its people employed by agriculture, our food security situation is nothing to write home about. I am writing this because corn is in season. Think about it. It sure tastes good. What are we doing to make sure it will always be there?

Think Food Security is irrelevant? Check out these stats

Hunger Stats
Every year, authors, journalists, teachers, researchers, schoolchildren and students ask us for statistics about hunger and malnutrition. To help answer these questions, we've compiled a database of useful facts and figures on world hunger.

• 1.02 billion people do not have enough to eat - more than the populations of USA, Canada and the European Union;
(Source: FAO news release, 19 June 2009)
• 907 million people in developing countries alone are hungry;
(Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008)
• Asia and the Pacific region is home to over half the world’s population and nearly two thirds of the world’s hungry people;
(Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008)
• More than 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women;
(Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2006)
• 65 percent of the world's hungry live in only seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia.
(Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008)

• More than 70 percent of the world's 146 million underweight children under age five years live in just 10 countries, with more than 50 per cent located in South Asia alone;
(Source: Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition, UNICEF, 2006)
• 10.9 million children under five die in developing countries each year. Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases cause 60 percent of the deaths;
(Source: The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 2007)
• The cost of undernutrition to national economic development is estimated at US$20-30 billion per annum;
(Source: Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition, UNICEF, 2006)
• One out of four children - roughly 146 million - in developing countries are underweight;
(Source: The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 2007)
• Every year WFP feeds more than 20 million children in school feeding programmes in some 70 countries. In 2008, WFP fed a record 23 million children.
(Source: WFP School Feeding Unit)


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Choosing Right... My difficult Decision

Today is my late cousin's birthday. She would have turned twenty today. She died from complications arising from her sickle cell condition five years ago. This post is dedicated to her and everyone who has to, in one way or another, deal with sickle cell - Parents, family, friends, spouses and children of people living with Sickle Cell. It is also for the unmarried, to encourage them to consider this factor in their choice of life partners.

For those wondering what I am talking about, Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. People with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain mostly hemoglobin* S, an abnormal type of hemoglobin. Sometimes these red blood cells become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels.

When sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels, less blood can reach that part of the body. Tissue that does not receive a normal blood flow eventually becomes damaged. This is what causes the complications of sickle cell disease. There is currently no universal cure for sickle cell disease

This is a story I wrote after her demise... Read, and more importantly, choose right.

-Mummy, please can I go out to play?
-Sure dear, right after you put on your sweater.
-But mum! It’s not that cold and none of the other kids are wearing sweaters.
-I know dear, but mummy does not want you to get sick
-Does it mean all the other kids’ mums are not worried about them getting sick?
-No dear, but you are different, you are special and so why don’t you go right on, put on your sweater, come give mummy a kiss?
-Okay mummy.

-Mummy, can I go out and play in the rain?
-No dear, it’s too cold
-But mum! All the other kids are doing it. Besides, I have not taken my bath so I can do so in the rain like everyone else. I’m not feeling cold mum. Please! Please say yes!
-My dear, you may not go. Your hot water is ready. Why don’t you go have your bath and mummy will read you a nice story?
-But mum!
-Shhh! Mummy loves you and knows what is best for you. I’ve told you…
-Yea, I know – I’m different, special but it sure doesn’t feel like it! I really wish I was ordinary so I could play in the rain like all the others

-Mum, I’m ready for the party!
-Sweetheart, you’re not planning to go in that are you?
-Why not mum?
-It’s the rainy season and mosquitoes abound. Can’t have you catching malaria - you know.
-But mum, miniskirts and halter necks are the craze of the season. I can’t go in that jeans trouser and long sleeves you picked out for me, I’d look so odd.
-I’ve told you dear; odd is a synonym for special.
-Special is also a synonym for weird mum. Why can’t I be normal like everyone else? Oh well, I’ll just not go, which probably what you wanted anyway.
-Sweetheart, it’s not like that. You don’t understand…
-Yes, you’re right. I don’t understand and I’m not sure I want to because you don’t seem in any hurry to explain it to me
All my life, all I’ve heard is - Don’t go out in the rain, wear your pullover, Take your drugs, Let’s go for check-up, Beware of mosquitoes.
What I’d like s for someone, anyone to tell me why. Why do I have to be special? I never requested that I be special. Why can’t I do normal stuff like everyone else?
Why do I have to take drugs even when I’m not sick? Why do I have to take so many precautions not to get sick and why do I get sick all the same? Why do I have to go for check-ups all the time? Why mum, why?
Why me? All I want is some fun like all the kids at school. All I want is to be normal. Why do I have to be different, odd, special, weird? … She broke into sobs.

My eyes mist over and as I take my hanky, I heard my name being mentioned. ‘Are you alright?’ the groom-to-be asks. ‘Yes, yes I’m fine’ I lie but I am anything but fine. That walk down memory lane had not been pleasant in the least. I feel myself about to burst into tears again as I remember Nana Ama, my little sister who had lived to be all but fifteen years old. Fifteen years of take your drugs, wear your sweater, where is your hospital card? Let’s go for check up. Fifteen years of having to catch up on activities and lessons she missed on ‘sick days’. Fifteen years of knowing she was different, special, odd. Fifteen years of knowing we all have to die sometime but she is more likely to die younger than her other classmates who are not special like her. Fifteen years of following statistics – like how long on the average she can expect to live and learning that on the average, it is generally not expected for special people like her to live past forty years?

How do you explain to a child who was brought into the world through no fault of hers and definitely did not choose her parents that Her parents through no fault of theirs have each donated an S or C and so she has what is known as sickle sell and will have to be on medication for the rest of her life and miss out on a lot of the joys of life if she wants to live to see her eighteenth birthday? It beat my mind then… and it still does.
Oh Nana Ama, may her soul rest in perfect peace. I make the sign of the cross.

My Fiancé Kay cups my chin gently in his hand and lifts my head. He searches my tear-streaked face and asks ‘Honey, are you alright?’ ‘Am I alright?’ I laugh hysterically ‘Oh yes I’m alright. The one you should be asking if she’s alright is Nana Ama.’ ‘But Honey, Nana Ama died years ago.’ ‘Yes! She did’ I reply. ‘She sure did. But has she ever been able to come to terms with her life and death? Why she had to be special? Why she never got to marry, have a child of her own, and build that fashion empire she dreamed of and…’ I broke off into sobs.
Kay holds me and strokes my hair whilst I cry for what seems like an eternity. The marriage counsellor has discreetly disappeared. When I finally lift my head, Kay asks ‘Is it better now? Is it okay?’ ‘No, it is not’ I say grimly but with a quiet resolution. ‘It can never be okay. I’m sorry Kay but I hope you understand why I can’t marry you anymore.’

Kay takes me into his arms with understanding in his eyes and I do not think I could have loved him anymore than I did in that moment. He cries with me for what seems like hours.

After a while, I lift my head and ask ‘Can we go home now?’
Whoever said that doing the right thing was easy lied. Even though my head told me I was doing the right thing, my heart kept saying ‘you traitor’
There were times when I wondered if I was doing the right thing at all and there were other times when I felt like being selfish and going right on to marry Kay.
Kay was a world of comfort to me in those times. He was struggling to come to terms with what was happening himself but he saw my anguish and turmoil and did his best not to add to my confusion.

It was only once He asked me to marry him all the same saying we could decide not to have kids and adopt. I was sorely tempted to say yes for a while, I must admit, but only for a while. I remembered the six children Kay had always dreamt of having and how he even had their names picked out already and I looked at the pain in his eyes and how much it was costing him to make this suggestion and I found the strength to say no, I could not let him make so great a sacrifice.

Watching Nana Ama grow up had been no fun and I did not want to risk having to go through the same experience with my own child. I did not want my child to suffer.
Neither did I want to adopt. I wanted kids of my own and Kay did too.

Since these were the only two choices available to me were I to stay with Kay, I decided to let him go. Believing I was doing the right thing, making the right choice, the right decision.

Today, looking at my four healthy children and doting father, and looking at how happy Kay is with his own six children and loving wife, I’m sure I did.

Friday, July 2, 2010

30 Day Letter Challenge

I have decided to see how I will do on the 30 Day Letter Challenge. It is a fad going round in Blogsville and as the name suggests, the challenge is to write a letter a day to specific people. It sounds like fun – and a lot of work. Let’s see how I fare.

If you want to do it too, I have listed the letters & days below.

*Unless I ask you to come to my blog & read a letter, please don't assume that a letter is to you..just ask or sit back && wonder..your choice :)

Day 1 — Your Best Friend
Day 2 — Your Crush
Day 3 — Your parents
Day 4 — Your sibling (or closest relative)
Day 5 — Your dreams
Day 6 — A stranger
Day 7 — Your Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/love/crush
Day 8 — Your favorite internet friend
Day 9 — Someone you wish you could meet
Day 10 — Someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to
Day 11 — A Deceased person you wish you could talk to
Day 12 — The person you hate most/caused you a lot of pain
Day 13 — Someone you wish could forgive you
Day 14 — Someone you’ve drifted away from
Day 15 — The person you miss the most
Day 16 — Someone that’s not in your state/country
Day 17 — Someone from your childhood
Day 18 — The person that you wish you could be
Day 19 — Someone that pesters your mind—good or bad
Day 20 — The one that broke your heart the hardest
Day 21 — Someone you judged by their first impression
Day 22 — Someone you want to give a second chance to
Day 23 — The last person you kissed
Day 24 — The person that gave you your favorite memory
Day 25 — The person you know that is going through the worst of times
Day 26 — The last person you made a pinky promise to
Day 27 — The friendliest person you knew for only one day
Day 28 — Someone that changed your life
Day 29 — The person that you want tell everything to, but too afraid to
Day 30 — Your reflection in the mirror

DAY 1 – My Best Friend

Dear Best Friend(s),

I have begun this letter without even knowing exactly who you are. The question running through my head as I pen these first few sentences is… Who is my best friend? I think the issue is that I don’t have a circle of two. My innermost circle is not a circle of two, but a bigger one. I have closest friends – friends who know me better than anyone else in this world. They are about three or four or five or six.   At any point in time, one of these may be more up-to-date on what is going on with me. But at no point in time can I point one out and say that’s my best friend. I am for the most part equally attached to these wonderful inner circle friends of mine. So I guess my letter today will be to my Best FriendS.

Every time I pray, and every time I count my blessings, I remember my friends and smile. I think friendship is one of the wonders of the world and one of the most valuable assets one could have. And I think when it comes to friendships, I would easily make Forbes list of wealthiest people. It is not that I am such a great person. I am not. It’s just that I am blessed when it comes to my friends. I am blessed when it comes to you – all of you.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this… But every time I am with you, I keep checking the top of your head and your backs for your halos and wings. And every time I don’t find them, I wonder what I have missed because I find it hard to believe you are not angels. I also wonder how long heaven can do without you and what I ever did to deserve such a magnanimous loan from Heaven. I also worry about the interest payments. You guys have been with me for so long and through so much… Would I ever be out of debt if God decided to collect?

I don’t think I’m the easiest person to love. Neither am I the world’s best communicator and yet you love me without reservation. I love you too. I want you to know. And I pray I am as wonderful a friend to you as you are to me. It’s the least I could do.