Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Traditions...


We all have them. We like some, and are not particularly fond of others. We had some thrust upon us with centuries, decades or years of history behind them; and we create others. And there are certain traditions we never notice becoming traditions until circumstance or forgetfulness hinders us from doing them and we go through the rest of the day feeling like something is missing.

One such 'tradition' for me is getting a caramel frappachino from Starbucks every time I’m at an airport. I never noticed this sneaking up on me because I was formerly of the rigid stance that I would never succumb to the Starbucks craze. In all honesty, I am of the genre of coffee drinkers who will never notice if you gave them the finest of brews today and switched it tomorrow. Unless it has an unusual smell or is too acidic for my poor stomach, it is coffee like all the others.

I had to be coerced and have my drink paid for to try my first caramel frap. And yet, today, I find myself going great lengths to a find Starbucks every time I’m in an airport. I rationalize the calories away with the insignificant number of times I travel per annum. And there’s no way to describe how the first sip feels, nor the warmth I feel enjoying my frappachino (although I usually get it cold).

It’s become my very own tradition. Wherever I find myself, it’s a little piece of familiarity that I can count on. It’s like that familiar face in the midst of a strange crowd. No matter how big, busy, or labyrinthic an airport is, in my cup of caramel frappachino, I find the comfort of familiarity. And it makes me feel at home.
Do you have any such tradition? I’d like to hear about it.


Monday, November 28, 2011

"Guard your heart above all else, for out of it flows the issues of life"

How many times have I heard this verse (Proverbs 4:23) and rolled my eyes? I've heard it so many times that I complete the sentence when it's started and we all know that means I'm not listening or taking that in, I'm just acknowledging it's there.

Today, that verse took on a whole new meaning for me. A friend recounted a story that left a bitter taste in my mouth; her neighbor was murdered by her husband when she asked for a separation after years of abuse.

The man insisted on dropping her off at her mother's because she was going with his children and he wanted to make sure they were safe. He stopped in the middle of nowhere and said the car had a problem and that he needed her help changing something in the back. It was a two hour drive to her mother's place and the children had fallen asleep in the back. When she got out, he knocked her unconscious, tied her up, and placed her on a pile of corn stalks that had been gathered in preparation to be burnt. He then set fire to the pile and left her for dead.

After that, he dropped the children off about a block from his wife's mother's place knowing that the nosiness of village neighbours would ensure they got to their grandma's. The children were still asleep (they were three and five years old).

Long story short, the woman was found when the smoke from the fire alerted neighbours. The corn stalks were not completely dry and so smoked a lot. She died after a week at the hospital. She told her story before dying.

Her children made it to their grandma's and the old lady's search for her daughter led to her finding out about the fire.

The man went to his family and told them he came home from work to find out the woman had run away with the children and that the woman had threatened suicide several times so he was worried and wanted them(his mum and sisters) to go check with his in-laws if his wife had come home.

The police followed his mom and sisters back and arrested him. Sadly, nothing they do to him will bring her back.

Some people make wrong choices about whom to entrust their hearts to and suffer heartache, etc. Some pay with their lives and/or souls.

Whom you decide to love and/or marry is not about who makes your friends the most envious of your good fortune or who can make your toes curl in bed. It's also a choice of how good the rest of your life will be, and sometimes as we've seen, how long that rest of your life will be.

As the New Living Translation puts it, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life".

Monday, November 14, 2011

Risky Business (A Mother's Pain)

 Everyone’s heard about the pain of motherhood, but the tales from the delivery room don’t begin to cover it. As I held my daughter who was trying with herculean effort to contain her racking sobs, I understood more than ever the utter pain and despair of a mother who would give anything to take her child’s pain away and yet couldn't.

I think back to a happier day, the day my husband, by custom, slaughtered a fattened ram to celebrate the birth of our tenth born. I remember the smiles of my own mother, and the pride I felt at having nine children dressed in white, seated at my feet with the tenth in my arms, contentedly suckling at my breast, validating my womanhood.

Today, I had buried six out of the ten, and my husband had taken the lead into the afterworld. And as I sat in the sterile room consoling my daughter as my grand-daughter fought what was by all indication, a losing battle against cancer, I knew the exact measure of that pain.

My daughter was an insurance expert; risk management was right up there in her alley. And yet when it came to the greatest risk of all, she was just as unprotected as the rest of the world. I remember when her husband was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan days after her daughter was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. My broken daughter looked up to me in despair and asked. “Why is there no insurance against such pain when you can insure your fingernails if you so desired?”

I’d had no answer for her then. And I didn't have any for myself now. I too had been dealt no better cards in the gamble that is motherhood. I always believed the greatest gamble we took with our hearts was falling in love. Now I realize that while it’s true, it’s not the love that drives us to the altar, but the love that wells up when we’re handed that new-born baby that was the costliest chip.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Will we be able to feed 9 billion people in 2050?

Ever since Rev. Malthus's theory of population failed to produce the projected results, it has become mighty hard for people to be moved by 'The sky is falling' prophecies. It's amazing how many current surveys of society's perception of climate change, show that most people just don't believe it's an issue. 

Perhaps they are right. Most people in the field of energy will never suggest that the world is going to run out of energy. Energy economists, for instance, will stand by the theory of price. There are many energy sources available to us which are not viable today because of the costs of extraction and processing. When oil becomes scarce enough driving up it's price, alternatives like wind, solar, nuclear and wave energy which are just not being exploited their fullest potential in many places, will step in. Oil trapped in the tar sands of Canada (the largest reserve of petroleum in the world outside of Saudi Arabia) will be extracted. Crisis Averted.

So why should they listen when it comes to food? Well, because there are no known substitutes for food. And whilst we can give up our second cars, air-conditioning, etc. We just cannot give up food. We would die. Given my preamble, I guess it makes sense that I focus on not whether we can feed 9 billion people in 2050, but how. Whilst a lot of the measures require government action, I will focus on what you and I can do to help food security, and the environment.


  • Cut down on beef
I live in the desert. Water is an issue we are constantly grappling with. And yet 70% of consumptive water is used in cattle rearing. Previously, I would have balked at the statistic "It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger". Today, I am more than willing to believe. Between cultivating hundreds of thousands of acres to feed them, cleaning them and cleaning up after them, processing them, etc. Cattle take up a lot of water. Keep your consumption of beef to the minimum. Substitute with chicken, fish (and surprisingly better on the environment), even pork. The resources spent on feeding them alone; water, land, time, etc. can all go towards growing food for humans; you and me. Eat fewer animal products. Grain and soya beans should be saved for people, and animals should only be kept on land which is too poor for crops.

  • Minimize waste
Accorging to Herv√© Guyomard of INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), food amounting to 800 calories is lost per person per day as waste in richer nations. Save leftovers for the next day, eat bread crusts, stalks of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

  • Buy Local
Apart from the organic benefits of farmers' markets, etc., cosmetic requirements for food sold in supermarkets lead to a lot of farm produce going waste because they are too small, too big, oddly shaped, etc. for 'commercial' purposes. Make a walk of it. Meet your local farmers, haggle prices, your food will taste twice as nice knowing you did the environment and yourself some good.

Why not start with these and see how it goes? The truth is, we will probably not have 9 billion people to feed in 2050 if we all continue living like we are. If we did, we probably won't be able to feed them if they had our current dietary preferences or worse. (i.e. given ecological and technological constraints). The impact of 9 billion people on resources depends a lot on what we eat, now and then. Are you going to do something about YOUR contribution?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unintentional Suicide...

When she said no, she meant no! But the terror in her eyes excited him. 'Today, you'll pay for every blue-ball episode' He said. A look of confusion washed across the terror on the screen of emotions that was her face.

He saw it and said 'Let me remind you'. As he described her honest-to-God I'm scared of guys look as a come-hither look, her modest dressing as seductive veiling of her voluptuous body, she lost all desire to protect him.

Let him rape her as her AIDS-ridden neighbour had done when she was but a wee lass of eight. Since her fear excited him, she kept the look of terror on her face, veiling the venomous hate she felt.

Let him enjoy her terror, get high on her cries and pain. Then let him die slowly, as she was.
He hadn't even batted an eyelid when she'd told him it was that time of the month...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Would you rather insure... or invest?

Earlier this week I watched a video that reminded me of something I've been thinking a lot about lately... This video by Charlie Chaplin had a lot of salient points and although I may not have understood or agreed 100% with all of it, the one thing that struck me was our human-ness and how helping another soul in need is integral to who we are as humans.

In today's evolving society and with the ever-increasing depths of evil the human mind can conceive and get the rest of the body to co-operate in carrying out,  it's easy to make excuses to NOT help those in need. Family does not look out for you anymore, friends let you down, and as for lovers (whether at the dating or marriage level), the less said about them, the better.

However, as I walked to class today, I thought about how reaching out to another in need is like an investment and how many of us choose to buy insurance instead. I am not a finance person so my analogy is quite basic here. Don't think too far if that is your field.

When we help another, we invest and a lot could happen to our investment. The financial markets may crash, a corrupt board of directors may squander our hard earned cash, or we could realize our investment was a scam, pure and simple. On the other hand, we could strike oil and make it big. If the person you help decides to bite the finger that fed it, it's a bad investment. Otherwise, you get your dividends, in cash and in kind(get your minds out of the gutter).

When we do NOT help, we could liken it to buying insurance in that we get to keep and safeguard what belongs to us against uncertainty. Definitely, insurance isn't 100% safe because claims could be denied, etc. but for the most part, we keep and protect what we have.

It seems sometimes that we are all buying insurance. I am guilty. Everyone is protecting what they have and not paying any forward. Whilst wealth may be preserved this way, none is created.

I pray that for the rest of the year and onward, we will all have the grace needed to make prudent investments with our time, our voice, our talents and capabilities, our support, encouragement, and material possessions when need be.

It's not easy, given how treacherous humans (remember this includes ourselves) can be. However it is easy when we think about the fact that we will carry none of these to the other side. When we die, our talents, money, etc. wont go with us. But the good we did with them may be paid forward into what awaits us in the afterlife. And I believe if we truly look hard enough, we'll find that more often than not, investments pay off in this life as well.


Friday, August 26, 2011

A Dream Deferred...(more like abandoned)


What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore– And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over– like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
~ Langston Hughes

Yesterday was a bitter-sweet day. A number of my friends and classmates from High school graduated from the Ghana Law school. 
I have mentioned on this blog (I think) that growing up, I probably went through crushes on all the professions there were. 
Law was my longest-lasting crush...
So yesterday, I congratulated my friends and then sat to re-evaluate my life, a tad wistful. 
I never gave law a chance. It held my fancy the longest out of all my professional crushes and yet I never even went out for drinks with it.

You know that cute guy/girl you fancied and never dated but will always smile wistfully whenever you see them with another? 
No matter how happy you are with your partner?
I love what I'm studying now and given the chance to do it again, I probably still wont choose law. 
I'm excited to finish school and get my hands on impacting the world with all I am learning.
But for me, law will probably always remain, that cute boy/girl you see or remember and wonder,
'What if?' even if you don't want them anymore...

Do you have a 'What if'?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Favourite Time of the Day is...

image source: totaltranslucency.wordpress.com
Just before Sunrise...
The moon is still there but is grudgingly conceding defeat and going down slowly
The sun is not yet out but it’s brighter than it’s been all night so I know that it is just around the corner
And as the sun lazily rises and bursts brightness onto the mellow scene, it’s the gift of a new day, to do with as I choose
It’s another day! Yesterday doesn’t matter so much anymore, unless I want it to and refuse (consciously or unconsciously) to move on. 
Today, I can take a step closer to my dream, or a step further away from it.
I can read a book, write, have intelligent discussions and advance my existing knowledge
I could discover the cure for cancer or AIDS
I could also do nothing, add no value whatsoever to my life or the world.
Or even subtract…
And that’s why I love this time of day; the endless possibilities…
And knowing that if I get to see this time of day tomorrow, I’ll want to be wiser and stronger. 
I'll want to feel good about my use of yesterday, which is today...
And so I am inspired to go out and make something of today


What is your favourite time of the day?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Anything but Usual...

Today is Saturday
The Sun is shining
It's 11am 
People are;
doing laundry
having brunch
getting ready to go to the mall
The usual?
Well, Sarah is being buried 
today
at 25...


She was my mate in High School. Bunked next to me in Form One. My mum never ceased asking of her especially after my cousin passed from sickle cell because Sarah had it too.
She fought valiantly and had a smile even in her pain that re-assured you when she was the one in pain.
Against the odds, 
She finished high school
finished Uni
seemed to be getting stronger each day
took ill
gone
at 25...

She has probably been buried already, time difference and all
I’m sitting here looking out my window, beautiful day. People going about their usual business. And yet it’s anything but usual for the people who have to bury or lose their loves ones today.
More importantly, It’s anything but usual for those who never got to see today. RIP Sarah!

Friday, August 12, 2011

How low shall we sink?

(What I think about when I should be sleeping...)

Perhaps I'm being paranoid but every time I take stock,it seems society is sinking deeper and deeper into an abyss of depravity. And what is worse is that the deeper we sink, the more we accept the depths as the norm and shun the 'light', calling it idealistic and unattainable.

Pertinent examples
1) Anyone over the age of 18(being very optimistic here) who claims virginity must be a liar or a closeted freak who is fighting a losing battle against her 'true' self/nature.
2) Anyone who expects faithfulness in a committed relationship or even marriage is an idealist, has his/her head in the clouds and is asking for the impossible.
3) Anyone who does not take alcohol, smoke cigarettes or do drugs is an A+ liar or a frustrated human who is allowing their 'true self' to be oppressed and suppressed by societal or religious expectations. No negotiations.
4) Anyone who expects honesty from others and is honest is just too naive for his/her own good and is asking to be taken advantage of.

These are off the top of my head, but I'm sure you can help me name more. Do share similar ideologies you may have encountered or heard of...

Number two is very interesting to me. We have 'psychologists' coming up with studies to show that poly-amorous relationships are the way to go and anyone who denies or resists this is asking for a lifetime of deception or heartache. And people are buying into this. I'm sure as alarming as divorce rates are, they have fallen in some places because people are just not bothering to get married any more. Why bother?

Question is, if we are discovering our 'true natures' as all these findings and forward ways of thinking are suggesting, why is society in a greater mess than it's ever been, with a forecast of a continued downhill ride?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Vacation...

Hello Blogsville,

I must say that I enjoy blogsville during the summer. The frustrated and stressed academic and employment posts greatly reduce and the sunshine generally has a positive addition to the blogposts that are posted.

Most of my summer was taken up by examinations which are thankfully over *phew!* However, I spent the last week visiting with a friend and I must say that I am getting the whole concept of vacationing.

I did not have an all-expenses paid, first-class and five-star holiday or anything but just the little time spent in fellowship with like-minded people, without the stress of schoolwork or employment pressure worked wonders. Little wonder some people do not joke with their leave days even if it is three working days.

During this mini-vacay, I decided to face one of my greatest fears - heights. And what better way than to go on amusement park rides?

My gosh! I certainly bit off more than I can chew. It didn't help that the children before me on the three rides I dared to try were all excited and hands in the air. I gripped the handles so hard I'm surprised I didn't break any and screamed louder than a colic baby. Thoughts? I can cross that off my bucket list but it will take a lot of motivation ;) to get me on one of those again.

Just as we were about to exit, my friend saw the acrophobia ride and decided we had to try that. I don't know what I was thinking but before I knew it, I was on the ride (if it can be called that). This 'ride' is designed to help you face and conquer your fear of heights by lifting you slowly to a height of 200 feet and dropping you at a speed of about 62 miles per hour. The drop takes at most 5 seconds, but it's like the longest five seconds of your life.

I was so scared that I prayed like six times going up. The drop was so bad that when I started to scream, the scream got stuck in my throat. When I got down, 'all the animals on my body had run away (na mi ho mboa nyinaa ayira). You know my post Adrenalin Junkies ? Forget it, I am no Adrenalin Junkie. It's been nearly a week and I have to keep myself from screaming every time the bus takes a bend.

What exciting things have you been doing with your summer? Have you been, and do you enjoy roller coaster and other amusement park rides? Which is your favourite?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Human Banking?

Why is it so difficult to let great people go when you KNOW you do not love them the way they deserve to be loved, the way they love you?

Is it perhaps because in our minds, we have created human banks where we can keep relationship prospects until we have need of them? Prospects who have all we should ideally seek in a partner, but do not inspire in us, the grand passion every great love story, from sleeping beauty to Romeo and Juliet, swears is the sign of true love?

So we say 'sorry, let's stay friends' to these gems we do not want and administer a tricky combination of just enough sweetness to keep hope alive, and just enough distance to remind them we're not theirs. And just when that begins to sink in, add that spicy tang that says 'well, I'm not yours, but I could be... sometime  never in the future' *insert horned devil emoticon*

We service this relationship like we would a savings account or investment. We make timely deposits of phone calls, text messages, tweets, wall posts, etc. We make the expected rare withdrawals here and there. And basically, expect the people to lie there like our cash does, waiting for the day we decide we do want them after all, or that we'd settle for them.

And when we hear of a wedding, we reluctantly sell our shares in that investment, unless we're into the married man/woman booty-call scene...

Has any of this sounded familiar at all?

I was blasting a certain guy for toying with my friend's emotions, by putting her in a bank and not letting her move on, when I let the words sink in and realized, we all probably do this on some level - keep people we are not particularly fond of close just in case we ever need them.

What do you think of 'human banking'? When does it cross that line between prudent investment and toying with another's emotions? Any stories?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's good to look back and see how far you've come once in a while...

In my first year of University, I was painfully shy and would cross the road to avoid passing a group of guys if I saw them coming early enough to avoid it looking really awkward and suspicious. Spotting them early enough was kind of hard to do though because I insisted on walking with all my attention on the pavement as if it was the most interesting thing I’d ever seen.
I was scared of even my own shadow back then. I didn’t dare look in their direction if I had to swallow the bitter pill of passing them. What was I scared of? 
1) that someone may like what he saw and endeavour to make me a target for his ‘lustful desires’. I had heard stories of how third and final years pounced on unassuming, naive girls like myself. I was aware how vulnerable I was because of how little I knew and had been exposed to. And it scared me… and made me afraid.
2) I was scared that someone wouldn’t like what he saw and make a remark or comment that would mar my self-esteem which was perpetually on life-support back then.
Today, my self-esteem is off life-support, not because I think of myself any highly than I used to back then, sadly. It’s because I have recognized that even if I bumped into twenty people in one day who all hated how I looked, spoke, or everything I am, they are only twenty out of over six billion people.
I walk comfortably past a group of guys now. I even check them out to see if there’s any eye candy to feast my eyes upon for a few seconds. I am not the girl I used to be… and I am glad.
So, what personal change are you grateful for?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Fathers Day!!!

I was recently talking to a friend who likes to call himself a 'reformed player'. I wanted tips to give to the young ladies I was speaking to later in the day. I was to talk to them about things we do and say as ladies, and vibes we give off, consciously or unconsciously that make us prime target for hit and run bad boys, players, etc. Who better to ask than a 'reformed player'?

I asked him what he thought was the greatest common denominator for all the 'prey' he was successful with. He promptly replied "Daddy issues". Fathers who were not there, fathers who did not care, fathers who made home such a living hell that their daughter could break every rule with you and not care so long as you kept her from the harsh reality that was home a little longer.

Fathers! Some of them seem so oblivious to their God-given roles and mandates in the lives of their children, sons and daughters alike. Today is fathers day and to quote Bishop T. D. Jakes, good men need appreciation... the othere need encouragement. So I will like to encourage those fathers who need encouragement,fatherhood is more than a sperm and some money.

I understand that sometimes, society does not help you out, making it seem like all you 'owe' your children is food, shelter, clothing and some form of training. And even then, it's an 'attempt all' not 'answer all' exam so you can choose which obligations you want to fufil, especially where there is no strict law enforcement to compel you.

Fatherhood is more, however. The man your son becomes and the husband your daughter takes are dependent on the man you are. They will be looking for same or exact opposite of you; and thus your legacy affects the next generation. Your approval makes a world of difference to their sense of self-worth and the heights they attain in life. You wield a lot of power over their lives, so please tread carefully.

I will also like to encourage all those who have been wronged in one way or another by their fathers, and those who have never had a father. Remember that the greatest father of all is God and He is always there for you even when your father and/or mother forsake you (Psalm 27:10)

To those who have strained relationships with their fathers, today is a great opportunity to reconnect if they are still alive. As much as is safe and humanly possible, it is a good idea to relate with your father knowing him may help you understand you. Ask for the grace to give a perfect love to an imperfect man. 

That said, I will like to thank and pray for continued grace for all GOOD fathers, step-fathers, spiritual fathers, mentors and all other father figures. Thank you for being here on earth, a representation of our heavenly father. We LOVE you all. 

To the up and coming ones, I pray for the grace to be good fathers when the time comes.

And to the single fathers and mothers who are both mum and dad to their children, Happy Fathers Day, and God bless you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Snapshots of Human Nature: An Unusual Glimpse at Mental Illness...

There are moments in life that are just frozen in your memory, as clear as if it had been printed as a photograph and stored in a physical album. One of these is this glimpse at mental illness I got one Christmas...

I loved Christmas growing up. My uncles, aunties and cousins from Kumasi would come down to Accra and we'd all be merry together. Christmas day would meet the house filled with assorted aromas to suit the peculiar tastes present. 

On one such day, dinner was being served when we heard a knock at the gate. It was a homeless, mentally ill woman. A wave of sadness went around the house as it's always sad to see lack, suffering and loneliness when surrounded by abundant food, family and happiness.

My Aunt went to get some money and offered it to the lady. She refused saying that she just wanted to eat a home-cooked meal and that she could not remember the last time she had a home-cooked meal. The nostalgia in her voice was heart-breaking.

As a portion was dished out to her, she washed her hands and began to eat with a delight that was heart-warming to watch. She began to talk of her children and husband and her life before she 'lost it'. It was a perfectly sane woman that spoke. 

When she was done, she offered profuse thanks and went her way with a spring in her step. When offered money, she refused, saying that by the food and the company, we'd done more than enough...

This is a snapshot of human nature. When stripped bare of everything, our true needs and desires manifest; all we really need is sustenance and some love (and compassion)... the rest is dessert.

Feel free to share a story, or situation that gave you snapshot of human nature, good or bad. I'd love to hear them. :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Today, I decided to love you

Today, I decided to love you
Cos love is a verb and not a noun
It's what I do day after day
Not what I say or feel today

Today, I decided to love you
Not cos there was no one else to love
Not cos you're the most perfect I found
But cos I chose you, above all the others

Today, I decided to love you
Not cos I've closed my eyes to your faults
But cos I've seen some, know there may be more
And love you anyway, maybe more

Today, I decided to love you
Not cos love is an easy thing to do
Nor cos I expect the same measure of love from you
But cos I want to, in fact, I already do

Today, I decided to love you
Not cos I expect you'll never do me wrong
But cos love forgives and keeps no record of wrongs
And though I hope I wont have to,
I pray I'll be able to

I decided to love you today,
Cos love is patient and kind and faithful
Cos love is not self-seeking or all me,me,me
Cos love doesn't ask- "what's in it for me"

Cos love is giving & giving and giving
And even when you're not getting any back 
Still giving some more till u can give no more
Today, I decided to love you

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Natural Hair Revolution???

I read a blog the other day that convicted me. This lady had just completed school in the UK and a lot of people were asking her what she intended to do next. Scratch that, actually, they were just asking her what school she intended to go to for graduate school. Since she graduated second in her class, everyone just took for granted that her next step was going to be graduate school. In her blog, however, she explained that all she really wants to do is get married and have kids and that all her life, she's just wanted to be a wife and a mother. 

As I read this, I fumed about how she was erasing all the hardwork feminists all over the world had wrought over the years and that this was exactly why women are still where we are. I thought, in the two steps forward, one step back dance, she was one of the steps taken back. And then I got to her next paragraph and bowed my head in shame. 

She said she knew 'feminists' and women's rights whatevers would jump on her back for this, but she had one question; isn't our cause the right to choice? Isn't all the advocacy to give women a choice in what they wanted to do instead of what society dictates for them from history? Why then would we take those chains off only to put a new set on? Why claim we are fighting for choice and yet she is not free to choose? 

She went to University and beat all the guys in her class to graduate second in her class in a science programme; the first was a lady too. Surely, this is enough proof that she believes a woman can do what a man can do too (or even better). She just chooses to be a housewife because that's what she's dreamed of all her life. Isn't that another goal, to free and empower women to pursue their dreams? We are fighting for a little girl in Africa's dream to become a doctor and condemning her dreams, calling her a sellout, because she does not dream the dreams we want her to dream... 

I feel like this is a little like what the natural hair community is becoming. I understand the passion behind the 'freedom from the slave mentality' cause and all. However, I believe we are allowing something that should bring us together to drive us apart because of our approach. We are not going to get people to wear their natural hair by calling them mentally enslaved, self-hating, etc. We cannot blame slavery for creating a divide, and turn around and do the same. 

We claim racism made us very aware of the different shades of 'chocolate', from coffee chocolate to milk chocolate, and also made us all too aware of how kinks and coils got tighter with darkening skin tones, causing us to reject our skin and hair, leading to self-hate, etc. So now once we get rid of our last relaxer, we turn around and hate on those who have not seen 'the light' and are still perming their hair.  

Correct me if I'm wrong, I feel like we are on the verge of the hair version of reverse racism. I thought the whole idea was to educate people about the historical reasons why they are conditioned to think their hair is not good hair and encourage them that kinks, naps, coils and curls are beautiful too so they should wear their own hair out. When did it become about forcing them, by calling them names, trying to make them feel inferior, etc. to conform to what you believe is right? I've heard folks call others victims, slaves, unenlightened, etc. because they choose to wear their hair permed. Isn't this exactly what went on in the past? Haven't we just changed the team doing the name calling? 

I truly believe that the natural community would serve the cause they are advocating better by educating the 'unconverted' , and leaving them well-alone to choose what they want to do with their hair. Yes, o, now it is comparable to religion. I asked someone why she fought others so hard and she asked me whether when I accepted Christ, I didn't go around convincing my friends they were wrong and that Christ was the only answer. 

I told her, yes, I shared. However, it's the Holy Spirit that convicts and so in the understanding that sometimes, Paul sows the seed, Apollo waters and someone else harvests, I share and if they do not accept, leave them alone, pray for them and continue working on myself in the hope that my life would be a good letter of recommendation and draw them to God. Maybe she could do the same? She scoffed.

You can encourage them to come-over to your side by rocking your hair so hard she'll want to rock hers too because really, just like  hellfire and damnation sermons are not as effective (in the long-term) as the message of love, all the name-calling isn't going to get us very far. I for one was drawn to natural hair by someone's hair. She didn't have to say a word. I went and asked all the questions and she patiently explained her whys and hows. If my hair is completely natural the next time you see me, it's because of her.

I honestly don't think any race has time for us, to figure out who is self-hating, etc. and laugh at us without our help. Most of them do not know enough about us and our features to do so. We are the ones using what should bring us together, to drive us apart. 

*natural hair here has been used to refer to hair that is not permed.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Are we losing focus?

I've seen and heard of countless girls and on the lower side guys get broken hearts and weep their eyes out and even sometimes go mad or commit suicide as a result of failed human relationships.


However, I have never seen anyone & I've heard of very few become that broken about losing their relationship with God.


We claim we want the best when it comes to love but very often turn our backs on the best love of all.


We value the valueless & disregard the invaluable


Are we not losing focus?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

For God and Country...

Today is memorial day and there's this story that wont give me rest until I write it. It was inspired by a 19 year old boy who wanted to become an army surgeon and died on his first assignment, the summer before he was to start college. Here goes...

Scott Smith Snr. shoveled the first bit of earth onto Scott Smith Jnr.'s coffin as the minister continued to recite a passage from the book of prayer. He wiped his sleeve over his brow as if to get rid of sweat but everybody saw it for the camouflage it was, for it was barely 30 degrees Fahrenheit and many who had been deceived by the early morning sun and had not dressed warmly were visibly shivering.

Everybody pretended not to notice, though. When an ex-marine, who had forgotten more gruesome deaths than the most ardent horror movie aficionado can see in a lifetime, cries at death, you let him be because it is a pain you can never begin to imagine.

So we all watched in deafening silence as his 6 ft 5 inches brawny frame heaved with the racking sobs he was trying rather unsuccessfully to suppress. After an uncomfortably long minute, he gave up all semblance of being in control and sat on the edge of the dug grave, thanking his stars he had not opted to be in uniform that day. 

He picked up the high school diploma that had been placed on the coffin and said... "Class valedictorian, 4.0 GPA, so many dreams, bright future ahead, today, I bury my son. And as saddened as I am that I have lost a son, what is choking my words with sobs is pride. I'm proud of the young man who did not look at all the promises and possibilities of a life spent pursuing personal gain, but was prepared to, and indeed gave it all up, for God and country. God bless you, son. And God bless America"

I promise you couldn't have picked my jaw from the ground with a heavy duty crane. To say I was stunned is the understatement of understatements. Patriotism and duty took on new meaning for me. And as someone broke into the American National anthem, I closed my eyes and began to pray... thanking God for the men and women who risk it all for God and country; so that the rest of us could have the freedom to pursue whatever dream we desire... in freedom.

My mind came home to Ghana and I thought how I never really valued the armed forces, especially since the most exposed I got to them was on my television set during the Independence Day Parade. Oh, and during UN peace keeping missions. However, the fact that today (God forbid), should our country be attacked by land, air or sea, they would place themselves in a position to die to protect the rest of us, is commendable.

So as the US remembers it's valiant fallen heroes, I'm thinking of patriotism and duty. I remember this famous quote "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country" (Nathan Hale) and the anecdote about a woman who lost a husband and both sons to the war and yet when interviewed said she only regretted she did not have more sons to give to the cause of the war.  

Can you make that sacrifice, can you give up yourself or loved ones up, or God and country?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We run to fight another day...

You can run fast, run far, jump hurdles and leap over holes. However, when a fight is yours, you run to fight another day. No matter how fast you can run, life is a marathon and so you're bound to get tired along the way. And then whatever you were running from in the first place, will catch up with you, stronger and wiser from that boot camp training you took it through, running away from it. 


photo credit: www.dalje.com


My own don turn Usain Bolt o (or Dayron Robles, the guy in the picture) ! and there couldn't have been a wronger time... God dey though... Watch this place for a testimony. How is everyone's summer going?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tough love (Saying it like it is... or not)


"My friends are my "estate." Forgive me then the avarice to hoard them"  Emily Dickinson

I love my family and friends. I have a well-diversified portfolio of them. They range from those who pamper and support when necessary to those whose names can be written in the dictionary as a definition for brutal honesty, or as a synonym for tough love. I wouldn't trade any of them for all the tea in China nor all the rubies in India. And yes, one of them taught me that.

I know who to go to when I need the truth served with love, when I need love because the truth is glaring and when I just need cold, hard facts and difficult-to-give advice. There are some I love because I love the me I am when I'm with them and others I adore because they appreciate the me I am but wont settle for that and push me to become the me I could be if I gave it my all.Yes, I am blessed and hope they are too :) 

Take my little younger brother, I was talking to my mum one time and she was giving me the usual be careful of boys because they can break your heart and destroy your life talk. He walks in on us and says 'Nah, this is not fair! My sister doesn't need this unfair advantage. It's rather the boys out there who need to be warned 'Beware!'  I asked why and he said, 'look at you, who can break your heart?'  I knew he wasn't talking looks. So I said, 'I'm human o, Kwabena.' 'Nah, you're my sister' he said.

I took it to be a really sweet 'brotherly' compliment until some time later when I was caught crying by my mum. She asked me what was wrong and I said' you'll insult me if I told you' She then gave me this heartwarming speech about how as my mother anything I care about enough to make me cry was important to her to and... 'I have a broken heart' I said. She stopped in mid-sentence, shook her head and walked out of the room, resuming her search for whatever she was looking for when she discovered me weeping. I looked after her, stunned, about to ask if she no longer cared about my tears; but the tears had been shocked into stopping. Apparently, she had taken notes from my brother

When my brother came in, she told him I was crying of a broken heart in the room and that I appeared to have nothing better to do. He came in, and said 'You have a broken what?' 'It's true, Kwabena...' I started. He nodded and I took a deep breath, tears welling in my eyes at the story I was about to recount. I started to speak and realized he had his earphones in. He had been nodding to the music, not my words. 

The tears disappeared and suffice it to say that I never had a broken heart at home again. Whenever I was hurt, I'd remember my mum and brother in whose opinions no one was worth my tears and be strong. It's worked 80% of the time. After all, that saying that no one is worth your tears because anyone truly worthy of them wouldn't make you cry has some truth in it, 80% of the time in my case.

When it comes to friends, I remember telling a friend how worried I was about a project I was going to travel for and how I feared a lose-lose situation because I felt the project was going to flop and the time I was going to lose whilst at the project site would also cost me in my upcoming exam. He looked at me, seemingly unconcerned and I asked if he wasn't going to say anything. He mentioned my name and asked 'Who sent you to sign up for this project? Did you ask my opinion before taking on the responsibility? You got involved because you liked it. You've made your bed, lie in it!' All true... What could I say? I lay in my bed and enjoyed it. I was given no choice, remember?

The latest such experience with a friend was just last two weeks when I was telling one of my best female friends about one of my regrets that haunt me. I had run away from someone because I was scared  and never stopped asking myself what if... I told her about it and she asked how far back it was, etc.; all the right questions. 

She then pointed out how silly I was being. How many relationships that began then that I knew about were still going strong? We've both evolved with time and even if I hadn't run and we'd been together? For how long would we have been together? I had to defer to her wisdom. I was pretty young then. I had no idea what I wanted back then. I guess it's a classic case of the 'cheri rat√©' syndrome. So I took an objective look at the two of us and that regret has all but disappeared. We probably wouldn't have lasted anyway.

So yeah, surrounded by such people, I understand and agree that sometimes, the best helping hand you can give a loved one, is a firm kick in the backside. However, to qualify as tough love and not verbal/emotional abuse, revenge, malice, etc. Such gestures have to be motivated by the sincerest of loves.

Lately, though, I have heard some things being said and wondered if there was any love behind the 'toughness'. Friends don't enjoy tearing each other down in the name of love and there are somethings you should not be able to say or do to someone if you truly loved the person, no matter the context. There are some things 'I'm telling you this for your own good' wont make okay.
  
As Mignon McLaughlin said; 'Nobody wants constructive criticism. It's all we can do to put up with constructive praise'. So before you launch 'so-called' constructive criticism at your loved one (or at least someone who you are supposed to love), question your motive, and check your excitement level. If you're enjoying it and it's more about showing how right and smart you are than helping the person, please, do us all a favour and keep it to yourself. And no, it's not your fault how sensitive the person is to what you say because they care more about you than you ever did or will about them*yes, sarcasm*; just remember that sticks and stones may break bones, but words will never hurt them (only crush their dreams).

I'm not saying baby your friends. Many would not grow otherwise. I'm just saying what was best illustrated by Dr. Mensa Otabil with this picture; corn is food for chickens. It's good for them and it helps them grow. But if I walk into a chicken coop and start throwing corn at them, they will run away from it and will not venture to eat it, seeing it as something bad. (paraphrase mine). 


Friday, April 29, 2011

Letter to my Sister (2) :Naomi’s Response...


Dearest Eunice,

You’re right. The most important thing to remember is that it’s for God. I’m proud of you and glad you love God so much. I pray you remain steadfast in Him. About your prayer, the bible says;

‘Ask and it shall be given to you…’ Matthew 7:7a

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.’ Psalms 34:10

‘For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him’ 2 Chronicles 16:9a

‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart’ Psalms 37:4

Hence, I do not believe God has a problem with giving you someone special to marry, or with you asking. Just remember that at the end of the day, it is His will not yours that you should seek to be established. So ask away and in the manner of our Lord, say ‘But Your will, not mine, Father.’ And mean it.

Whenever I think how unfair it seems when people wait on God and then end up marrying people who treat them so wrong, I remember that God never took your hand and placed it  in another’s. <We choose and our choices determine the outcomes of our lives and as Christians, it is our duty to learn how to make the right choices> (Mensah Otabil, paraphrase, mine). I pray we both do.

But if it appears God’s will was done and yet there is a mismatch, I remember Hosea who by all indications, God was pleased with and yet God made him marry a prostitute. Not a reformed one oh! This one continued prostituting herself even after she was married to the man of God. But it was all in God’s will, to illustrate His relationship between the church and Him. And I believe Hosea has the most striking portrait of that relationship between the church and God.

So if we are absolutely sure it was God’s leading, He will show us exactly why and how He intends to use it to His glory if we ask Him in prayer. But we must be careful not to attribute decisions of our flesh to God.

When I get home, we can search the scriptures more on this issue…

Your Sister,
Naomi