Change, a myth in the Ghanaian society? 

Sometime in 2010 when I lived in Takoradi, there was this pretty huge house next to my grandparents’ which was a bakery. The lady who owned the bakery had some of her workers stay in the building. They would often wake up at around 4 am in the morning and get to baking and goodness, their sugar and butter breads were amazingly delicious. Getting a loaf of bread fresh out the oven and slathering margarine in and watching it melt upon contact was such a delight. And then pairing it off with a creamy cup of hot chocolate was heaven. On one Saturday afternoon there was an unusual ruckus going on next door so my cousins and I ran to our balcony to find out what was happening. One of the workers had apparently been stealing money from the owner and got caught. Almost all the other men in that building proceeded to beat the culprit with any and everything. He was pleaded with them to let him go and instead call the police but it fell on deaf ears. It was not until he defecated in his pants before they left him because apparently when one is badly beaten and soils himself then he was close to death.  He was then left bleeding on the floor. The closest I had gotten to such cases was tales from my classmates in Classes 2/3 when I lived in Accra who would often describe one thief or other getting lynched. I was so shocked witnessing that.

I am pretty certain we are all aware of the atrocity that was meted out to the late Capt. Maxwell. I personally did not watch the video because I did not need to see evidence of what was done. I was initially pleased to notice everyone was crying out against mob justice but the more people talked about it, the obvious it got that the outrage was because the victim was an innocent and dare I say a member of the upper class hence he garnered more sympathy. I live in a predominantly Ghanaian neighbourhood and the conversation initially was, “Aww nti obi ba na y’aku no yayaaya sei. Galamsey a mopɛsɛ mo yɛ nti mo se ɔyɛ ewi” and swiftly went to “Ye sua no nyinaa, sɛ yɛ kye ewi a yɛbo no na yɛdi tyre ahye no anaa sɛ yɛ sa no coaltar”. For a moment there I was impressed and thought we were changing our attitude towards mob justice only to get disappointed in a hot second. You see, they acknowledged that the late Capt. did not deserve his death but because the perpetrators are guilty they deserved to be lynched and burned to death, missing the point that mob justice is simply wrong.

What will it take for Ghanaians to understand that justice is not theirs to be meted out whether or not they believe the culprit to be guilty? What will it take to simply hand the suspected persons over to law enforcement to do their jobs? There are reasons why we have systems in place to maintain law and order in our societies. What good does it do to anyone to take away the life of others for a crime? Why don’t we strive to help these people reform and potentially be better citizens of our societies. Inciting fear and violence has never deterred others from committing crimes and it is not about to now. Our conversation has to shift from he was innocent and therefore did not deserve this to no one deserves this regardless of their crimes. It is an honest shame what happened and unfortunately will continue to happen unless we make the conscious effort to honour and respect the lives of everyone. May he and all the many others who have lost their lives through mob justice rest in peace. 

…part Ahanta

You may be familiar with my post Part Guan…  where I talked about my Guan heritage. It’s about time I shared my other half too. Here it goes.

Years ago, slave catchers were allegedly directed by the Asantehene to travel further up north to capture people who were sold to the Dutch as slaves. Most of the captured people were from Bonoman. A farming family of eight somewhere in Techiman, five sons and a daughter aged between 22 – 14 years decided that to keep their children from being captured as slaves, they would travel south and live with any family who shared their clan name of Anona with the parrot as their insignia. The parents stayed behind as they were old and the slave catchers were interested in the young. The children walked for days until they came upon an Anona clan along the coast in a town called Ɛkawfo dzidzi/ Kafudi (nothing came up in my Google search but if you know the right spelling for this town let me know) in present day Central Region. This clan was made of fisher-folks which made the children feel out of place as they were from a family of farmers. They were then advised to go towards the west and after days of walking, they happened in a town called Apowa. However, the brothers decided to leave their younger sister behind to rest from their long journey. The chief of Apowa took them in as he was also of the Anona clan and offered to give them a piece of land to farm on. The brothers stayed on the new land for five years, always saying to themselves that they had left a family member behind whom they had to go back for, “Yee ko gya obi wɔ ekyir”. This eventually became the name of the land they lived on as Kegyabir/Kejabir. During their sixth year, the brothers went back to Apowa for their sister only to learn that the chief had given her out to marry as she had turned of age. These brothers are the ancestors of the father of my maternal grandmother’s.

Back in the day in Busua, the order of the day was that if someone happens on a piece of land, the owner and the stranger would have to fight and who ever wins takes custody of the land. A few siblings were on their farm when they heard a group of people approaching. They consulted them and learned that they were of the same clan (also the Anona clan). They came to a consensus that instead of fighting, they would live together and make the original siblings the Safohenes of the land. However, one of the siblings did not like the idea of sharing their land with these new people and moved away to a land called Mpohor (which was initially “3hɔ dzi wɔnkɔ hɔ” because it’s far off from Busua) and became the first settler and subsequently the chief of the land. This was so that his family would have the sole claim to a royal stool. However, my great great great (not sure how many greats that is) grandmother on my maternal side is a descendant of the siblings who remained in Busua.

Badu Bonsu II (chief of Busua) was a descendant of the siblings and other people who settled in Busua. Badu Bonsu II and Kwaku Dua I (chief of Asanteman) were good friends who used to go to war together. Kwaku Dua I gave Badu Bonsu II the nickname “Ahantan” because he was apparently full of pride and thus referred to him and his subjects as “Ahantanfuo” which eventually became Ahanta/Ahantafuo. The land belonging to the Ahantas stretches from Busua to Takoradi (I would name all the towns if I could), but thanks to Edina kokonsafuo who traveled to Takoradi and eventually settled there; they snitched on the inhabitants to the Dutch who would capture them making the natives move further into the hinterlands. Thus now people seem to not know that Takoradi is for the Ahantas and not a Fante land.

I love how our people named towns often with specific messages. I forgot to mention that Takoradi orginates from “3ta dua no ase” which was a huge tree the first settlers lived under. Beats me how it eventually morphed into Takoradi. If you are a fellow Ahanta, I say to you, “wo ho deɛ na?”.

Dear Body 

Hi there, this is your present day 22 year old body with some much needed insight for you. 

Remember when Lydia was taking your measurements to sew that kaba and slit for your after BECE thanksgiving service? You were pretty vain then mostly because Mrs. Rockson had said in class once that you had what clothes makers would call the ideal body type. 

It was by no easy feat you had achieved that body. Your younger pictures disgusted you. You had a big belly which really was not an issue given that you were only a child and had not hit puberty. You would look at them and hear all the times some of your family members called you dɔkon or say that you were as round as a ball.  Gradually feeding the insecurity within which eventually got so intense, you nearly stopped feeding your body. 

You’d sometimes lie that you weren’t hungry and having a bottle of Fanta cocktail with a bit of bread all day was quite enough. Or a bunch of bananas would be your meal for the day when looking for a much healthier option. When pushed, you’d insist on the smallest portion possible just so they would stop calling you fat. But they never really did. 

Anyway, back to when your measurements were being taken. I don’t remember your particular measurements but I do recall your excitement at having a tiny waist finally. She actually said to you then, “ei atwe papa”.  So you weighed yourself and you were 53kg! But that wasn’t quite good. Surely you could lose 3kg, you mused. However, you looked great in the kaba and slit she made for you. 

Just when you had gotten comfortable with your body, you experienced your first heartbreak. You thoroughly hated boys in your fit of pain and fed that with food. What were three plates of jollof from Aunty Ɔkɔ? You’d wolf them down at a go and still want more! Your life basically revolved around books and food then. A few comments were passed about your weight but you weren’t bothered. You thought to yourself that it would be a repellent to guys anyway so that was a win. 

Until Ma’s wedding. When she said with a bit of shock that you’d gotten fat and doubted you’d fit into the dress she got for you. So you took to the scales and you were pushing 88kg. Then it dawned on you how much you had let yourself go. If ever you had had body issues, hoo boy, it returned tenfold. 

You wallowed in self pity for a while then decided to work out which you hardly did much of. Your old eating habits saved the day. Lost 23kg and maintained your weight till date. 

There are still moments when you wish you could go back to being 53kg, but you’re gradually learning to love the body you’re in. I wish you had not been so hard on yourself as a prebuscent girl. That you had not let others commentary on your body get to you. In all these years, not once has your body failed you. No matter how much you weighed. I wish you had appreciated and loved yourself unreservedly. We’re almost there now. Hopefully we’ve got a good number of years ahead and I promise to be better to you. Fat or not, you’ve served me well and I love and appreciate you. 

Hey Lover

It is more than difficult expressing how they feel. Mostly because they’re shrouded in shame. Thinking to themselves that they’re nothing more than a burden to you. That you will never experience true happiness with them. So they’ll push you away… Albeit unwillingly. It’s with your best interest at heart. That is if you don’t show signs of understanding and supporting them. Pay particular attention to their behaviour patterns. Uncharacteristically silent? Angry over irrelevant issues? Complains of lack of sleep? Feeling hopeless? Stressed? Financial situations not great? Don’t sum it up to “seeking attention” and carry on with regular programming. Chances of them being suicidal will be very high during such episodes and you won’t even know it. Be patient. Don’t take offence at their actions. It could be they’re crying out for help by acting out. You getting angry will only make things worse. It takes a little trigger to push them completely and you would have lost them forever. If your partner suffers from depression, just be better. 

Baka ano

“Nokwar no nye dɛ na ɔnndɔ boy no”
“Ah ntsi ɔbaa no dɛn na boy no se w’atsew n’akoma no?”
“Wɔse me nyim mpo a? Ame dze ma me tsee nye dɛ na basiaba no ne abrantie bi hyehye hɔ dadaw ehu.”
“Mmm na abadze si?”
“Na abrantie no yɛ dem boy yi no yanko nanso na no suban nyɛ.”
“Ɔno ntsi na basiaba no gyaa abrantie no a?”
“Biribi dɛm. Dɛm boy yi a ɔwɔdɛ ɔyɛ abrantie no no yɔnkɔ no kɔsɛe abrantie no pɔtɔɔ ma basiaba no.”
“Ei iyi yɛ yanko a? Dɛ ma Kwabena Kwabena kãe – ɔnyɔnko a me ne no bɔ nkosua tafer. Hmm!”
“Onua kã na kã no biom oh! Saana boy no n’anua wɔ mu ntsi na ɔyɛ dɛm.”
“Ebei oh! Brother man annyɛ adze koraa.”
“Ɔkɔ yɛ dɛ boy no eyi basiaba no efi ɔhaw mu ntsi ohu no mɔbɔ na ɔma boy no gye dzii dɛ ɔdɔ no.”
“Ɔyɛ asɛm oh. Na sɛ ehu no dɛ w’aboa a ɔno nnkyerɛ dɛ daada boy no dɛ ɛpɛ no.”
“Nkyɛ boy no nso ɔfata no. Ekyir yi dze basiaba no hwɛ a onntum nnye boy no nnyɛ bibiara nti ogyaa no.”
“Ɔtwea”
“Boy no suu dɛmaa. Ɔkãe mpo dɛ onntum ndɔ basia biara biom.”
“Iyi dze akohwesɛm a!”
“Na ɛkã no dɛm. W’anndzi bosom ebien mpo yɛ nkɔtse a, boy yi re bɛ war basia bi!”
“Nkyɛ me kãe!”
“Sisiara mpo dze, ɔne ne basia fofor no awo.”
“W’amma ne sisiw annda kakra mpo.”
“Gyae rough no.”
“Ntsi sister no asem no haw no a?”
“Ooh aha. W’anya sikani bi awar no wɔ nkran sesiara.”
“Nedze yie paa.”
“Papa. Awo dze yɛ nyɛ no ntsɛm nkɔ fie. Adze resa.”
“Boa’m na munsua bokitii no na yɛnkɔ.”

Sore Thumb

Being painfully shy and introverted, finding twitter was such a joy for me. I had made an account when I was in high school in Ghana but suddenly I was in Amsterdam with no idea how to assimilate and make new friends.
But then I connected with a number of Blacks in the US on twitter. I reasoned, who better to understand my plight as a black girl in a white society than them? I felt I pretty much experienced the same things they did albeit continents apart.
Gradually, I realised I just didn’t and couldn’t “fit in” with them. As similar as our experiences may be, we are different. I am African. Simple. They are African Americans. And our histories may be somewhat intertwined. I may share their pain and anger and frustration at a lot of things. But I don’t necessarily have the right to comment on their issues.
On the flip side, I was getting hit with “You’re not Ghanaian anymore”. I was being shut out of my circle. I only had to observe from afar.
It made me so mad.
Now I often feel I don’t have a community and that I’ll probably never have one. My best shot may be distant affiliations but never really belong.
I’m Ghanaian, I’m African, I’m black and I’ll always stick out like a sore thumb even amongst people like me.

Sea

I had seen pictures of myself at the beach when I was a toddler but I had no real memory of ever going to one.
I would travel to Takoradi every now and then and feel drawn to the stretch of ocean along the Elmina Road.
But when I was an adolescent, my sister and I decided to go to the beach.
We lived with our grandparents but we didn’t tell them where we were going to.
I can’t describe how excited I was. For the longest time I have felt attracted to the sea.
Getting into this vast body of water with no swimming knowledge.
What lay beneath it apart from the fishes? How far did it reach?
The waves were rough and hit hard against my body. But I loved it.
We got home and my grandma was upset.
“Wɔ nam hen ma mana wɔreba fie?”
“Yɛ kɔ po ano”
“Mma wɔnnkɔ hɔ biom! Ɛpo no nnyim wɔn. Obotum dze wɔn akɔ”
But where will it take us to? I wondered. She was fretting over nothing.
Or maybe she wasn’t.
Maybe she had inherited the trauma of losing family who were transported over the sea to lands unknown. Branded with hot irons, their freedom taken from them. Forever detached from home.
Maybe all that had been passed down over time was to not go near the sea because it would take you away forever.
Maybe I shouldn’t trust the sea because it can easily seize my freedom.
Or maybe it’s the only way I can stay connected to cries of mothers, children and men.

Under the Udala Trees

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(Because I’m participating in the 2016 Africa Reading Challenge. Do check it out!)

If there’s a book I’d love to see a movie adaptation of, it’s this!
This book points out the injustice the LGBTQ society in Nigeria face with the hatred shrouded in religion.
I also love how it touches on the gender roles we’ve created in our society that a woman’s duty is to marry and bear children. With a preference for sons, of course. Because what use is a daughter who cannot pass on the family name?

Although Ijeoma’s father seemed like a liberal, progressive thinker, he lost his life during the Biafra war. Her mother didn’t deal well with news of her daughter being a lesbian and proceeded to pray the devil out of her daughter because that was not what God had intended when creating man and woman.
But as Ijeoma mused towards the end of the book,

The Bible itself is an endorsement of change. Even biblical covenants change: in the New Testament, no longer the need for animal sacrifices. Change. No longer the covenant of law, but rather the covenant of grace. Change.

Everything changes. People change. We can’t forever force our belief down onto others. Everyone has to live their truth. Maybe soon there will be a change. Where ones sexual orientation won’t have to be hidden. Where people won’t have to endure domestic abuse because they can’t be with the ones they love. Where people can make their choices and no one will blink an eye.
Homosexuals are not abominations. They are simply people who love. And it’s way past time we let them love in peace.

Randoms

Just because I can’t sleep and I haven’t posted in a while…
I absolutely hate “how are you?” messages as soon as I wake up. More often than not I have a shitty night. Struggle to fall asleep, wake up intermittently and what not. An honest reply will be I feel shitty but of course I have to be polite so you’ll just annoy me.
  I have a beauty spot on the inside of my right index finger which I thought was a burn when I was a kid because I didn’t know what beauty spots were.
I like making acquaintances online to the extent that I think of people as friends in my head and we have such ridiculous, awesome conversations but we meet up in person or move to IM and I suddenly do not have words.
I have always hated my nails cos they’re really short so I bite them because whatever, a decorated monkey is still a monkey, which only made them worse but I can’t seem to stop. Epp me.
I honestly feel I can’t work in the corporate world, like I panic when I think of it so I’d like to be a stay at home mom…with allowance from my husband of course.
There was a time I could read a book a day. Back when I had no worries. Sigh.
At some point during puberty, I got so obsessed with my weight because my family had always called me obolo or say I’m as round as a ball of kenkey. It got so bad I’d eat nothing all day save for a banana at lunch and a bottle of Fanta cocktail in the evening if I couldn’t get a bottle of Malta Guinness. Gave me all the calories I needed.
I’m such a nervous flier. I won’t get air sick but I have this fear of crashing and it’s worse over open seas because I can’t swim. I literally plan my funeral each time I’m travelling by air.

This is my reality

I have hardly felt safe all my life. From the fear of being raped to the fear of being abducted and used for rituals by Dr. Beckley. I hated being sent on errands. Day or night. During the day I’d play cool but double my steps when I hear footsteps behind me. At night, I would run to and back home. Even at home I feared going into dark rooms when everyone else was in the hall watching TV. My mum would get annoyed and ask “w’atwa wo papa ne tsir ato hɔ a?” And although I knew my dad’s head didn’t lay there decapitated, it’d just make me panic the more.
There was a point I swear I could a dog sort of panting and growling under my bed or just outside my bedroom window almost every single night. My aunt said it was a demon trying to possess me and asked her pastor to pray for me. It didn’t stop.
In boarding school I started getting panic attacks often at night. I couldn’t tell exactly what my triggers were. I would barely sleep yet had to keep up with the routine. It was stressful and I was depressed.
The panic attacks hardly stopped but they’re less frequent now. I fear going to take a piss when everyone is asleep and all the lights are out. When I’m alone at home, I feel like eyes are watching my every move and I think something is out to get me so I’ll hide under the covers or play music real loud but it doesn’t go away.
I fear flying now after I lost a friend on MH370. Maybe next time I’ll be hit with a missile and I’ll die even before I know it.
There are times I get home after visiting my niece and I’ll cry because I fear I won’t ever have kids given I have PCOS. I know it’s just a few number of women with PCOS who end up infertile yet I can’t help but mourn the child I don’t know if I will or won’t have.
I hardly socialise because I think others don’t like me. Which has always been the case. I may seem to be reserved but really I feel like the ugly duckling did. Like I’ll never fit in anywhere. People are going to be polite to me but turn around and make fun of me. Now I worry about my safety not just as a woman but just the fact that someone might decide one day to murder me to make a point or whatever.
And I know it may not be the case but that’s the truth in my head. So yes it is all in my head but it’s terrifying. Over thinking every thing. Feeling like I’m in danger every second. Knowing there’s so much I can do to keep myself safe. It terrifies me so much and all I can do is cry and shake and struggle to breathe and feel my heart beat strangely and squeeze tightly so I think I’m about dying. But then it stops eventually. Then I feel terribly sad for myself and think I’m a burden to others. So I don’t talk about it and try to fit in knowing very well that I’m such a sore thumb. As irrational as it may sound, it’s my reality.
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