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

 

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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.

 

 

Random Thoughts

#15. All hail the #PepperDemMinistries!

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I want you to pepper dem for me.”

The words of a friend of mine who had just told me of her horrific experience of being raped at the hands of a youth pastor. For the first twenty minutes, our conversation had swung between the extremes of shock, anger, then stifling back tears of rage. (That was me, trying not to break down over the phone as she shared her ordeal. I’m my mother’s daughter; I don’t believe in crying more than the bereaved)

After promising to help her with a psychologist and a lawyer, I asked her what I could do for her and she said “I want you to pepper dem for me.”

I was stunned briefly, then I chuckled hoarsely and promised I would do just that.

A month ago, who would have thought that the #PepperDemMinistries, a group of feisty young women who were fed up with the toxic patriarchal gender narratives in Ghanaian society and decided to advocate for its change in the most innovative way possible – would succeed? But they did, they ARE and it’s creating an avenue for very honest conversations about gender stereotypes in Ghana.

First, they hilariously #FlippedTheScript and replaced the word ‘men’ with some of the inane comments uttered about women. For example – women are their own enemies. When one renowned broadcaster intentionally unintentionally threw shade at his male counterpart on Facebook, the offended party took advantage of the editorial segment of the TV show he hosts to rant about his colleagues’ actions. (I didn’t watch the episode myself but from descriptions, Paul Adom-Otchere bitched worse than I do on day 3 of my period.)

PAO

#PepperDemMinistries had a field day; with the hashtag #menaretheirownenemies flooding newsfeeds. And when that died down, then Afia Schwarzenegger and her husband (or was he ex at the time?) and their marital woes spilled out of their house and into the streets of Facebook. And #PepperDemMinistries came to the fore again with truly witty pieces that reflected the shallow way Ghanaian society regards women by putting men as the subject matter.

They did this for two weeks whilst I had an internal dialogue as to whether to fully commit to the movement or not. Hey, this was a big decision for me; I’ve always believed in human rights but to decide that I am a fearless, shameless, fierce AF, arrogant, God-fearing feminist wasn’t a decision I could make lightly.

But eventually I did. And why? Because I saw the cracks in the facade of the ‘happy, hospitable Ghanaian culture.’ Because I had felt the sting of being treated as less than because I am a woman. Because I have been pulled into hugs by men I’d rather not touch but I’ve always given in to …what? Appease him because an instinctive part of me is afraid of his reaction if I reject him. Because my mother has warned me on countless occasions that “I can’t speak to a man like that.” I’ve always been resentful of that statement but when I paid attention to the domestic violence narratives, I realised she was trying to protect me : don’t speak to a man like that otherwise you’ll give him grounds to hit you and use your voice as an excuse.

And it’s an excuse that will bat nary an eye. “Oh, she provoked you eh? Don’t mind her, it’s her fault; she should have known better.”

When I opened my eyes wider and saw rural women in Ga East of the Greater Accra region who would only be allowed to buy land if they had their husband or male relative in tow…or how too many pastors and laymen manipulate Ephesians 5 to maintain that the woman should be submissive aka the doormat of the marriage. And even how the sermon at the weddings go – 90% of “woman do this to keep your man happy” and 10% of “my son, call her sweetheart and darling.”

So wifey carries the weight and people will still call her the weaker sex.Seriously?

The hypocrisy was just a bit much and all the lessons Prof. Gadzepko exposed my Gender 101 class to shifted from theory to glaring reality :  the ways adverts, language, politics, movies, songs and the media (among many others)demean women; and how toxic masculine hegemony truly is to both sexes.

Because every script #PDM was flipping was uncomfortably, painfully, annoying true.

The most important negative stereotype  #PDM broke during their first 2 weeks was that of The Ugly, Barren, Single, Lesbian, Bitter, Man-hating Feminist. When I saw their picture the first time I was like…”Wait a damn minute. They look nothing like what people have been describing them!” All of them young, early to mid-30s, some married, some with kids, all career women, and with the craziest sharpest sense of humour I had ever seen. And this I gleaned without having met them yet 🙂 Then when I met them in person during the first Meet-and-Greet, they totally smashed that misconception into the ground.

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That’s when I decided to join, decided to write,  flip scripts,  play with words, join the movement and do my part to change the narrative.

And a month in I have to say…thank you.

Thank you ladies behind #PepperDemMinistries for being  loud, bold, fierce, intelligent, well-read women on social media and beyond. (#WhoHumbleEpp?) Thank you for creating a space for men and women to debate gender issues candidly and passionately. Thank you for accepting everybody – men and women, Christian, Muslim, Atheist and Still-Trying-To-Figure-It-Out. Thank you for honouring the rage behind the stories. Thank you for not judging. Thank you for collecting all the receipts and not leaving any woman or man behind. Thank you for laughing out loud at people who don’t understand and who won’t learn. Thank you for being Flat-Out Fabulous. Thank you for accepting me into your tribe; as a baby feminist I think #PepperDemsMinistries is the perfect incubator 🙂

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In a month you’ve gotten recognition from famous feminists and gender advocates, Ministers have applauded you and movie directors and actresses are hailing you.

And most importantly – thank you for giving my friend (and countless others like her who would have suffered in silence), the strength to fight on, knowing there’s a whole army of women and men who have her back.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I promised my friend to #Pepper that arsehole and his organisation so I gotta get started whilst the pepper is still fresh.

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Random Thoughts

#14. Corrective rape doesn’t correct anything….and other myths about rape that need to be destroyed for the good of humanity (and my sanity)

There’s a story running on Myjoyonline.com about a young lesbian who was raped by a policeman in Mataheko. Now this is the thing that made me realise it was corrective rape – he’s stationed in the community and everyone there knows she’s a lesbian. And yet he still stalked her out and raped her. And getting justice for rape victims in this country is so scarce it would be depressing if it wasn’t so damn pathetic.

Another vignette:

An eight year old girl won the TV3 Talented Kids contest and on Facebook, a man who claims to be a doctor but who describes himself as a comedian wrote that someone ought to get her a boyfriend; that looking at the way she’s dressed, she’s become a tomboy if care is not taken. The worst part is that he had people liking and laughing at his comment. But the comment section – he was murdered for his insensitivity. But he refused to take it down. And later, after being talked to on several occasions, he issued a half apology. I followed that conversation and later told a friend of his that I wasn’t impressed with his two-bit apology which didn’t spell out what he did wrong. Basically he could crack suggestive dangerous jokes about an eight year old’s body but didn’t have the balls to say so plainly and apologise. Luckily, the internet will never let a man forget his abject foolishness.

Another example for the road folks – one very close friend of mine who is a take-no-prisoners feminist atheist in real life and on social media went to cover an assignment and was approached by a stranger. This Napoleon-looking dude (according to her, guy was short AF) came up to her, asked for her name then told her he’d been following her on Facebook and said she was a feminist because she hadn’t had good dick and one day he would catch her alone and serve her some. Then he walked away swiftly before she could slap the bejeesuz out of him.

Later she told me and I swear I felt chills up and down my body. This guy basically threatened to stalk my friend down and rape her and then he swaggered away. And the first words that came out of my mouth was “did that guy threaten to corrective rape you?”

The look on her face when I said it…..it’s the look  you have when the name of the horrible disease is on the tip of your tongue but you don’t want to say it because it’s so horrible, but then your friend says it and you know that’s the word.

Corrective rape, like the words say, is one using rape as a tool of correction.

Oh sweet Jesus, I think I lost brain cells writing that sentence it sounds so stupid.

Like how can destroying somebody’s life and giving them a life of trauma be correcting anything? What’s so corrective about a penis that the only way it can correct is if it’s used as an object of violence? How does it cure a lesbian if she’s sexually and brutally violated? How does it cure tomboyishness in a pre-teen girl? How does it make an out-spoken feminist shut her mouth?

How? How? How?

A corrective tool that breaks if you sit on it wrong – that one too, is it a corrective tool?

Ewuradze begye steer nu.

But for the paedophiles, rapists, sadists and butt-hurt angry men who have been rejected and who’s masculinity feels slighted and threatened by the rising class of energetic and intelligent, vociferous and bold women who are taking over every damn space; the only thing they feel they have left to threaten women is to violate them sexually then turn their pain into fodder for scorn in the society. Or even worse, rape them, then plea out of an arrest by appealing to the victim’s family to drop the case and settle it within the family.

In Ghana, there are communities where people know where the neighbourhood rapist lives but he never gets arrested because he always sorts the family out.

So yes, I as a woman with a brain that doesn’t reside between her legs 75% of the day can see that a penis is not a magic stick that can magically change a lesbian into a heterosexual or a tomboy into a girly-girl. Or turn an independent woman into a doormat, or a ‘too- known’ girl who refused the sexual advances of the neighbourhood boys into a pliant minx.

And by that same logic, corrective rape doesn’t correct the problem it ended to – ahem – fix – it rather inflames it.

So, instead of being a society that empowers rapists and shames rape victims, can we rather channel our latent rage into jailing rapists and giving victims a chance to recover and rebuild their lives after the trauma?