A Reflection on 2017
I should have done this days ago but my brain was in a creative logjam. A combination of grief and nerves does have its side effects…but that is a tale for another day. Today, the first day of 2018, is a great day to reflect on the just ended 2017 – the highs and lows and all the blessings and lessons. So let’s begin, shall we?
Special Shout outs (or as KOA puts it – shallouts):
My (Ghanaian and Norwegian) families came through for me in a ‘bigly’ way in 2017. Encouragement when life went sideways, financial support when the sideways movement was getting too extreme and all the love, chastising and laughter from inside jokes that families share. To the Akuamoahs and the Holst/Eliassens, medaase and tusen hjertlig takk ❤
And a special thanks to Inga Marie and her partner Petter who took a year off work to sail around the world in their boat, Miti. Thank you for showing me that there is no dream that is impossible to accomplish. ❤
Biggest mixed blessing :
Moving from being a broadcast journalist to the head of the Research Development and Donor Relations department at Friends of Mental Health, an NGO that focuses on mental health advocacy. At MGL, the broadcast and print journalism aspect of my MA in Communications was used. At Friends of Mental Health everything I learnt is coming into play – PR, advertising, data journalism, development communication, qualitative and quantitative research methods….the whole enchilada is in play. And I must admit, I’m enjoying the new challenges.
Best Gift the Internet has given me:
Pepper Dem Ministries! Easily! Everyday! All day! Close friends don’t really understand why I’ve thrown myself so passionately into the ‘pepperish’ brand of feminism (where we pit common sense and sarcasm against age-old toxic mindsets). And inevitably they ask me to be careful because “after all, they are women; and women can only get along for so long before the in-fighting starts and you get caught in the crossfires.”
To these friends I say…..we (PDM) actually fight all the time. Yes we do. We argue, we debate, we take extreme positions and we don’t back down. But when we agree on a cause of action, or on a topic we want to flip scripts with, honey – you ain’t got a snowballs chance in hell against us. We will stick together and execute flawlessly. And you know why? Because we are women who respect each other enough to argue and debate on principle and then execute with the bigger picture in mind. Women are their own enemies, right? Tweaaaa……
But one other very important reason why PDM has made such a huge impact on me and so many other women and men – we are saying what we all have been thinking but haven’t been pushed to say out loud. We are asking why things as basic as cooking shito are used to classify whether a woman is worthy of marriage or not. We are challenging the notion that women are their own enemies. We are demanding justice for rape victims and an end to the entitlement mentality that creates the insidious rape culture in this country and beyond. We are demanding that our ministers in charge of gender and social protection do better about protecting the rights of young people from rapists and paedophiles. We are shutting down ignoramuses who say a woman’s jewelry is a mark of her professional caliber. We are demanding that the churches who have dedicated time to women’s dressing should also dedicate equal time to educate men on consent.
Moreover, we are providing a voice for the marginalized in society who have been suffering in silence for far too long for fear of negative repercussions on their lives and livelihoods.
Of course, some people are mad; and to them I advise that they take matches and go and burn the sea. No seriously. Please help yourself to these matches; Accra is on the coastline so as for the sea di3333, you will definitely get a square meter to burn up. So, in 2018, please be bigly mad and write all you want; we’re not going anywhere.
That educated people, people with multiple degrees from prestigious schools, can be the most intractable. They can have one philosophy and they will not budge. You can talk to them until you are deep purple with stripes but they won’t listen. Not necessarily because what you’re saying is bullshit but because it’s not said in a language they can process and understand on their level. No joke. Let me use two examples, both are men and both were anti-feminists (one more than the other was) One of them did not understand what all the fuss was about and asked me via a thread on Facebook. The other knew the benefits of feminism but had his doubts about whether it was still relevant. The first one, I sent an article on why black women choose feminism; he read it and I haven’t heard disputing anything about feminism on my page again (this is remarkable because he used to do it very often) The second saw the light after I posted about how feminists are called prostitutes. To which he asked “but they say you people don’t like sex; how can someone who allegedly doesn’t like sex be accused of prostitution?” I told him that he was in the spirit and we haven’t argued about feminism again. Poof! Gone! All his anti-feminism spite went up in smoke.
Before you ask, no, none of my friends or family members died this year.
But this year I lost the respect I had for some close friends and acquaintances. I took strong exception to the level of hypocrisy, cyber-bullying, pig-headedness and patronizing manner in which they treated me, PDM and my beliefs and I had to cut them out. Understand – I kept them on my friends list on Facebook (except that one friend who unfriended me) but I no longer hold them in high regard. It took me a while to understand that it wasn’t me, it was them and there was nothing I could do to change that.
Elikplim Ama Nego
Your stories are not mine to share with the world; but what you have shared with me is enough to keep me in awe of your Amazon warrior queen spirits. I love you all.
Best Gift the Internet has given me (Part II) : The Pepper Dem Ministries Men
These guys are absolute stars! Whaaaaat! Oh my word! I read some of their posts on Facebook and they literally blow my mind – Kwabena OA, Kwabena AB, Yaw, Umar, Nana Kwame, Ekow, Kojo……but a few of the PDM Men. They throw shade with careless abandon, they are salty AF, they roast misogynists for breakfast then eat waakye for lunch. They are witty, caustic and they are not here for your likes or approval. They got our backs 100% of the time. A typical example : PDM admin will post an issue at hand on Facebook then the misogynists and the generally clueless will swoop in and start with their inane statements. I will read the comments after an hour or two has passed and my heart will sink at the level of ignorance. Then one of the PDM Men will join the conversation, sometimes posing a rebuttal to the ignoramus, then something along this line occurs:
Ignoramus: Chale, these PDM whatevers are destroying the youth following them.
PDM Man: how do you mean?
Ig: Oh, I can’t say it here. PDM women are around.
PDM Man: I’m also part of PDM so relax and say what you have to say.
Then there’s that moment; we can all feel it, when we can actually sense the Ig pause briefly at his keyboard and contemplate whether or not he is prepared for an online discourse with a male feminist.
And when I get that feeling, I pause and relax and start smiling. Cos nothing is on this planet is quite as uh….interesting as watching a male feminist roast a misogynist.
Best Gift the Internet has given me (Part III)
Interaction with the atheist and humanist community in Accra has been the third best gift; they are a fantastic bunch. They don’t have horns, tails or cloven hooves (which I found a bit disappointing after reading all the hyper religious vitriol about them online) but the conversation is always rich, diverse, amusing and enlightening. And instead of making me less Catholic, interacting with them has made me more aware that there is a huge difference between religion and spirituality. And that I’ve got a lot of work to do on myself if I want to be truly spiritual.
And the biggie that has been a real joy….I’m actually within striking distance of my target weight. I know it’s annoying to hear but this is a big deal for me. Unlike most of my friends who are fighting to lose weight, I have the opposite problem; I’m underweight for my height so putting an extra 8 kgs has been my personal struggle. (Take my word for it, putting on weight is not as easy as it looks 😉
So that’s been my 2017……it was an amazing adventure and I am so excited at what the next 365 days will bring.