Random Thoughts

#18. In loving memory…

Candle-12

To see it, I have to raise my hair and gently trace along my hairline. The scar is very faint and high up on my forehead; but it’s there. It’s there. The last visible reminder of the day I almost died.

Just to be clear, I’m a workaholic. I am a trained broadcast journalist and before I earned my first and second degrees I was working at media houses. The long hours didn’t bother me, the stress, the lack of resources, the pressure cooker environment…all of that I can cope with very well because in the heat of the moment, all I care about is the final product. And there’s nothing more rewarding than when the final product matches the idea I had in my head as closely as possible.

But this lifestyle takes a toll…it took a toll…. and on the 24th of November 2014, it almost took my life.

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I had had a busy morning that day; it started at Atlantis Radio from 6am til 9am and then to TV3 for production on Asanka Delight. I was fasting til noon that day so I was running on remnants of the previous night’s dinner. Normally, I would have broken my fast at midday with fruit or a pastry before following it up with a proper meal.

I did neither; opting to eat plantain chips and sips of Hollandaise strawberry yoghurt as I joined the Asanka Delight crew to pack up the set because it was going to be fumigated and renovated.

After doing this – as well as a myriad of other little things alongside – I took a moment to relax and chat with my friend Lola. But during our conversation I felt nauseous and there was a sharp pain in my lower abdomen. Lola suggested I go and try and vomit. “It may make you feel better,” she said.

I remember walking down the stairs…..feeling increasingly more nauseous, weak and disoriented…..almost holding the wall as I diverted from the newsroom washroom to the reception washroom.

It was definitely the Holy Spirit who prompted me to move to the reception area. I was later told that if I had gone to the newsroom washroom and locked the door behind me, I would have fainted and died because no one would have been around to help me.

But I fainted in the reception area, flat on my face, in front of the receptionists and the security guard and staff members.

I’m told I was out cold for several minutes whilst they sprinkled water on me and tried to shake me out of it.

I remember the confusion around me and the moment the shock and fear set in and the only word I could utter was “Mama”

I remember being carried out and put in a vehicle and rushed to the hospital with a friend, Mr. Ahiatsi, who spoke to me soothingly and calmly when it looked like I was going to burst into tears.

The rest of that day passed with blood tests and sugar level tests and a pregnancy test (which they insisted on although I insisted I wasn’t pregnant).

My mum, a nurse, came and read my chart, sat on my bed and said calmly, “So, with all these big braids on your head, the best place you could faint was on your forehead?”

I remember laughing loudly enough to startle the admitting nurse.

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My chart said I fainted due to low blood pressure and low blood sugar. The nurse told me I was lucky I was not alone when I had fainted; high blood sugar can drive you into a coma you can (possibly) be resuscitated from. Low blood sugar can take you quickly and quietly.

I was sober as I reflected on it.

I should know this; my late Uncle (Daddy John) died from low blood sugar.

I should know this.

But I didn’t really know it til it almost happened to me.

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Telling my siblings abroad and close friends was harder than I thought it would be; with each warning me to slow down and take better care of myself. My best friend broke my heart when he said “You know I can’t do this without you. You know how much we need you.”

Another friend, Whitney, wondered about my absence from work.When I told her, she paused for a bit then said “You deserve a spanking.”

I remember laughing loudly enough to prompt my mother to ask me if everything was okay.

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It’s been three years since that incident and I am doing much better. I mean, I’m not great at this healthy-lifestyle-balance thing but I’m waay better than before. I have handed in my my workaholic platinum card  and work more reasonable hours. I whip up smoothies at least once a week, I bought a yoga mat and use it at least thrice a week, I spend more time with God in prayer, I eat regularly, I sleep better, and most importantly, I don’t let myself get stressed about other people’s bullshit.

The last bit is really important in light of my growing presence on social media – do not get stressed about other people’s bullshit.

That’s why it’s for other people.

Breathe and let it go.

at peace

And in the eternal words of the very wise Elizabeth Gilbert : Eat. Pray. Love. ❤

 

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Random Thoughts

#17. The Principle of Penis Scarcity

But why penis scarcity? you may ask. There’s so much of it around, especially in Accra were it seems fine brothers just seem to emerge from the sidewalks. (I love this city sometimes – Accra is hectic and schizophrenic on a good day but chale! Fine boys dey papa! Lawd have mercy)

Sexy Ghanaian men (Photo credit: Yaw Pare)

But this is 21st century Ghana and women are still conned with the idea that good men are scarce and that they have to put up with men who abuse, lie, disrespect, cheat on them (insert degrading behaviour I have forgotten here) because, if the women leave, they won’t get any man to replace them.

It seems ridiculous but it’s true – it’s well known that women are groomed and conditioned to marry from a very young age whilst boys are groomed to be economic and academic giants. This is a fact and let’s not waste time quibbling over it, ok?

And whilst this grossly uneven education is underway, there’s the indoctrination that all women are in some sort of competition for the rare specimen called Excellentus Masculinitus or in simple English The Good Man.

SEXY MEN

And women will do anything to get and keep The Good Man – there is no limit to how she will reduce herself to be his Mrs. Leave school, dismiss her dreams, sacrifice time and money and dignity, endure infidelity……all for what. For that hallowed title…MRS.

And guess what? The Brothers know this. They know that women are clamouring for The Good Man. They know that the moment they are working, earning good money, speak well, smell good, dress on point…they will have a large swathe of women chasing after them and throwing themselves at them. Because they know the social dynamic that emphasizes on marriage and children as the pinnacle of a woman’s achievements.

Sexy white men

As for The Good Man, he can be a bachelor sowing his wild oats until he passes on to glory secure in the knowledge that he is a Power Source whilst his various girlfriends are Born Ones.

Sticks and stones may break bones….but names can destroy you. Labels can define and decimate your self-esteem if you let them and that’s why too many women are trapped in this insane cycle of competition with their fellow women for the affection and attention of The Good Man.

And the deepest irony is when you decide to step out of the rat race, you are labelled as ‘weird’ ‘a witch’ or ‘a lesbian’. Because clearly you must be crazy if you decide not to buy into the narrative that Good Men Are Scarce and save whatever sanity you have for more productive ventures.

Like making your first million dollars before you’re 40;)

woman-fanning-with-Money

Random Thoughts

#16. Midweek Reflections

I’m thinking about everything that has happened on social media over the past 7 weeks or so. You know, when Pepper Dems Ministries came over and basically forced us all to put up or shut up when it comes to gender issues in Ghanaian society.

I’ve learnt so many lessons from what has occurred on Facebook to diverse personalities. Let me share some of them:

  1. If you have an agenda to push, pray (if you’re a Christian), plan, research, get your core squad, then DO IT. JUST DO IT. Don’t mind anyone, speak your truth, and keep on speaking it until you get your message across.
  2. You are not on this earth to be liked by everyone but to fulfill your purpose. On your way to fulfilling your purpose you will piss A LOT of people off; people you love and admire and people you don’t give a fuck about. It doesn’t matter; keep on speaking it.
  3. Social media keeps receipts. Facebook keeps receipts. This is a very important lesson I learnt by watching certain events unfold in slow motion before my eyes on my news feed. It was like watching a train wreck; horrifying to witness but too compelling to turn away from. If you think you can bully, denigrate, insult, engage in blatant discrimination and spout venomous diatribe and then, when you literally ‘meet your meter,’ you want to play victim, Facebook will remind you that IT HAS NOT FORGOTTEN. People you don’t know from countries you have not heard about will write about you and quote you back the shit you spewed on previous threads. If you want to maintain your peace of mind and some semblance of a brand beyond social media, keep your nose clean and pick your fights wisely. Let me repeat:  FACEBOOK DOES NOT FORGET. FACEBOOK KEEPS RECEIPTS. Ayoooo.
  4. If your driving purpose on this earth is to troll other people’s pages then claim subs/insults as your personal property then take snapshots to gain some sort of sympathy on your personal page…see point 4, pray for forgiveness and amend your ways. REPENT BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE LORD! Facebook judgement day ain’t a joke people! Facebook keeps ALL the receipts.
  5. If you see a movement growing and gaining traction and you don’t agree with it, Google what the issue is about first. For the love of God, Black Jesus and the Sweet Holy Spirit…Google it first.Engage on a level of intellect and decorum. Be original and creative; have goals, a vision, a mission and a unique hashtag that is not a rip-off.
  6. And whilst I’m at it, let me chip in that if you want to argue on ideological differences please, Grammarly App is still free. If you’re an unrepentant grammar snob (like yours truly) then it’s essential to respond to crisp English with crisp English. If you’re comfortable writing in pidgin, go and find another person’s wall to argue on. Unless of course you want your argument to be reduced to having your statements marked and edited. (You know what, forget this point. Stay on the page and argue with your pidgin English. The Petty La Belles will love to have you around so they can correct your grammar with one hand and argue with you on the other hand. Yes, I have seen this happen too. I was hollering after reading a thread like this. Picture me, in my office, hollering and crying. It wasn’t pretty but I didn’t care cos it was so darn funny.)
  7. If you’re on the wrong side of history, don’t be selfish and drag people into it. Really. Just be wrong all be yourself. You’re not Jesus and this is not the Great Commission. Okay? Just chill.

Of course it’s only Wednesday morning in the middle of October 2017 and I’m sure by the end of the week more issues will crop up with more lessons for me to learn. When that happens, trust me, I’ll update y’all 😉

But until then, more love, blessings, rich coffee…and fresh pepper.

 

P.S: The leadership of Pepper Dem Ministries were invited to a meeting with the Information Minister, a Muslim man who identifies as a bold, unapologetic gender activist. When a prominent member of government and a prolific Muslim endorses your movement, you know you must be doing something right. Let me buy a bigger blender; the pepper we grind must be done on a larger scale for a larger audience 😉

PDM MEETS THE MINISTER

 

Footie Femme

#1. Reflections from Match week 8

A disclaimer: If by reading the title you’re expecting some intense, intellectual breakdown of the weekend’s matches, then log off now. These are the thoughts of an EPL fan who listens to the games on radio whilst cooking and cleaning and being an all-round domestic goddess.

Now that that’s settled, let me proceed. 🙂

The big match this week was Liverpool-Manchester United and for goal whores it was a disappointment. King Luka didn’t score! Saha didn’t score! But De Gea was an absolute beast in goal and prevented a cracker of a shot. For Mourinho to go to Anfield and play a high defensive match was pure evil genius.

MANULIV

For Liverpool to not rip open Manchester United even though they had better ball possession and more shots on target tells me one thing – the Reds are going to get their asses handed to them at Old Trafford in a few weeks. I’m no football pundit but I watched that wily Portuguese man manoevere and lead a very young Manchester United team to a UEFA Europa Cup trophy AND a slot at UEFA by neatly pushing out Liverpool from its clean qualification. A man who can earn that slot without being 4 in the top  is the man to watch.

KLOPPJOSE

Tottenham –Bournemouth : was another cracker to all intents and purposes. I didn’t watch it live; but I did catch snippets on radio whilst peeling and slicing plantains. From what I gather, Tottenham played gutsy football to break their Wembley curse and beat Bournemouth by a lone goal. By the way,  Tottentam Hotspurs are my new favourite under dogs to win the EPL (after 10 years of heartbreak, I have left Arsenal. )

TOTBOU

Manchester City- Stoke : ended with City cruising to a 7 goal victory over beleaguered befuddled Stoke. Some people are saying City will win it this year. Those people clearly have forgotten City’s ability to choke at the crucial stage of the competition. Like how they practically ensured the cup …then lost it to Chelsea in the dying embers of last season. When it comes to Manchester City , until they actually hold the trophy aloft, I won’t put money behind them.

MANCITY STOKE

Crystal Palace- Chelsea: was the shock game of the league. Crystal palace beat Chelsea by 2 goals to 1. I started my ‘Hug a Chelsea Fan’ campaign in their honour today. So far, none of them seem willingly to receive my hug. Hmm…strange 😉

CRYSCHE

 

Watford-Arsenal: Dear Arsenal, this game right here; this scoreline right here is why I can’t be your loyal side chick supporter anymore. As much as I love Manchester United, I always…ALWAYS kept a soft spot for you. I nurtured the dream you would eventually win the EPL trophy again. Now….I’m not so sure. To dominate the game then sit back and lose quietly? Duuude…….nu uh. Nu…uh.

WATFORDARSENAL

 

Sunday’s matches: Southampton did a yeoman’s job keeping Newcastle from scoring any more goals and keeping the soreline at a respectable 2 goals a-piece. But I did want Newcastle to win. Come on…didn’t you want Alan Shearer’s former club to win all the three points? And oh joy! Someone clued the TalkSports commentator on how to pronounce Christian Atsu’s surname correctly. They’d been calling him Christian At-SU instead of Christian A-CHU; as if there aren’t Ghanaian journalists working at the BBC who could have corrected them if they had bothered to find out. But a fan tweeted in the correct pronunciation and they said it right for the rest of the game. Victory!

SOUTHNEW

By the time the Brighton-Everton match rolled around I was lying on my bed and snacking on peanut butter sandwiches after doing the laundry and frying up Sunday lunch. It did sounded very exciting though; but I wanted Wazza and the boys to win. The man played for United for 13 years before moving back to his old team; as far as I’m concerned, he’s still my Roonaldo 😉

BRIEVER

 

Well…Match day 9 is only a few days away and the cycle of cooking and cleaning and football commentary on Citi FM and BBC will start all over again 😉

Till the next big set of games……

Eat, sleep, dream football ❤

 

Finding God In Strange Places

#6. “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

Over the weekend, Accra was hit by a terrifying gas explosion at the Atomic junction roundabout which is one of the busiest in the city. There’s a  boys senior high school, several churches, storey buildings, residences and stores in that densely populated area. So when the explosion occurred, there was fear, panic and a sense of desperation from those at the scene and those of us who live in other  neighbourhoods.

ATOMIC EXPLOSION

I was making the terrified calls to make sure my friends were okay (as well as cussing out Mark Zuckerburg for the lack of a safety button for African tragedies) and sitting safe at home. Then a friend of mine decided she was going to help distribute relief items. My immediate reaction? “Sit your butt down. You’re not going anywhere.

I didn’t  tell  her that; I kept my fears to myself, told her to be careful then prayed the night away. Then she went out and  gave as many victims as she could reach,  items  like water and blankets…..and a shoulder to cry on.

Whilst I sat home, snug, safe and dry,

I didn’t give my lack of action a lot of thought that Saturday; I figured I would do more harm than good anyway.

But it did niggle at me on Sunday morning, as I sat in my pew and listened to the sermon. I wondered about the victims of the explosion; I wondered about their children and how they are faring; I wondered if they will get the psychological counselling they need to get past this tragedy.

ATOMIC EXPLOSION 2

I wondered what I was doing in church whilst there were people who had suffered an awful incident and needed my help – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

It was the first time in a long time that I sat in church and wondered whether I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I stayed til the end of mass, then called my friend who told me not to worry about it; that she understood; and that next time, she’ll override my fears and drag me along so I could help out.

And as we spoke I felt a deep calm wash over my fretful soul and I knew my decision to be more of a do-er in times of need was something my Papa God approved of and would hold me to in the near future.

In the restlessness of my spirit I found resolution and courage; where did you find God today?

 

 

Figuring Out Feminism

An introduction and a disclaimer

Everybody’s feminism journey is different. Mine started as a quietly growing unease  that is growing into fully fledged rebellion at situations and scenarios that are unpalatable and in direct conflict with Ghana’s image of itself as a hospitable country that respects its citizens.

Unless, of course, I’ve been wrong about this country all along.

My feminist education has been in leaps and spurts –  20 years of nagging my mother about cultural practices I didn’t understand; followed by one intense semester of Gender 101 with Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo (one of Ghana’s most famous communication experts and a staunch feminist); followed by  fallow periods of nothingness but reading Ms Magazine and asking God why Hilary didn’t win the US elections.

But on a more personal note,  I saw how girls, young women,married and single women and older women are treated in Ghanaian society and it made me pause. There’s something quietly cruel about putting someone down based purely on their gender- and then expecting the woman to swallow it and accept it because…culture.

So to help me understand what feminism is especially within a Ghanaian and African  context and especially as a Catholic woman who has questions about her faith, I’m starting this blog to encourage dialogue between you, dear reader, and myself. All comments are welcome; let’s talk about gender stereotypes,toxic narratives and learn a thing or two about breaking down the walls of patriarchy and inequality one brick at a time.

 

I’m ready when you are.

Finding God In Strange Places

#5. God of the dreaming time……

It is 4am and my eyes fly open suddenly in a manner reminiscent of my students days. Those days were great, long days and shorter nights trying to cram everything in and remain semi-conscious during class the following morning.

Good times.

But I’m not a student right now, now my body is just used to odd waking hours. So in that in-between period were I am still dreaming with my eyes half-open, I thank God silently for all He has done for me.

I relish in the quiet before dawn officially breaks over Teshie, Accra. I distantly hear the voices of enthusiastic church goers gearing up for dawn prayers with raucous calls of “Holy Ghost! Fire! Holy Ghost! Fire!” and annoyance rises within. It’s 4am, I think with mild irritation.

Then I hear the melodious call of the muezzin praying the adhan and calling Muslim faithful to prayer, “Allahu akbar…..”

sleep is beautiful

And I smile, cuddle deeper and sleep well; comforted by the presence of my God through songs and praises from different faiths.