Monday, April 14, 2014

Lazy Black Woman

For those who are fans of Maya Angelou, you will remember the book, "I Know Why the Cagebird Sings." If you have never read this book, well, I just need you to get your life together and add this classic to your summer reading list. But for those of us with refined literary taste, let us reminisce on Angelou's time in Ghana, where she discussed feeling as an outsider.

Now people often ask me, how is it living in Ghana as a non-Ghanaian and I tell them I don't see a difference. Why you may ask? Because, I have one competitive edge over Maya Angelou and other "African-Americans" who move to Ghana, my father is African. As a result, I was already well acclimated to certain areas of the culture. In fact, I swear my Sierra Leonean blood is one of the main reasons that I have yet to get malaria. Therefore, I often forget that many people, who do not know me, may assume I am just simply an African-American.

That is until, I get the friendly reminder that some perceive my place of origination as my place of origin. But what is even more interesting is the perspectives that Ghanaians have about African-Americans. And the other day I learned another interesting perspective, "African-American women are lazy."

That is right, "lazy". Now I feel the need to put this in air quotes because I know how the mouths of African-American women across the globe just fell open. It is true, African-American women are known as many things, including: "sassy", "aggressive", "dominating", "know-it-alls". But lazy?!?!?! I don't think you could find one person who knows an African-American woman to agree. But of course, I had to explore this train of thought to see exactly what was meant. After all, Ghanaians do speak the "Queens" English, which can sometimes differ from "Yankee" or American English, so I didn't want to jump to conclusions.

Upon elaboration, it came out that "many" Ghanaian men don't like to marry African-American women because the men think the woman will not work hard and then be quick to divorce to take 1/2 of their money. So to make it short, it appears there may be some Ghanaian men out there who believe African-American women are marrying with the intention of gaining access to your assets. Isn't that an interesting theory...very interesting in fact. I think its time to write a letter to the television stations and ask them to quickly ban, "Real Housewives of Atlanta," " Basketball Wives" and "Celebrity Starter Wives"; it is killing the reputation of black women in Ghana obviously.

And although, I wanted to quickly dismiss this thought I will say this. It may appear that African-American women are quicker to divorce. Ghanaian women do seem to have an uncanny patience with their men that just isn't found in the Western world. However, let us never confuse patience with laziness. African-American women do work hard, even if they don't work hard on their relationships. But I am not sure if I even believe that. What do you think, do African-American women throw in the towel too early on their relationships?

Until Next Time. Smoohes.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lap of Luxury

You are sitting and watching television and unexpectedly everything goes dark. For a moment, you wonder did you forget to add more money to your pre-pay  electric meter, but then the familiar sounds of "Oh!" fill the air. This is the universal verbal cue for lights off in Ghana. Because undoubtedly the interruption of power has interrupted whatever business or pleasure you were doing and well you have to verbally display your dismay at the same time as your neighbors; I'm sure its some unwritten cultural rule.

So the sound of silence feels the air, and then the waiting begins. Maybe its just two hours today, or perhaps 6, if the power gods have frowned on you prepare for 12-18 hours of darkness, and well those are the most dreaded times. Lying in a dark room, no air moving, musquitoes chewing your body, as you wonder which will kill you first malaria or heatstroke.

How I remember the times and problems of the common Accra man. Le sigh and then I moved up. You see the Jeffersons moved to the upper East Side, the Evans in the end moved out the projects, and I my friends have moved to Roman Ridge. A part of town where the power is always on and the tap is always flowing. It is the promised land in the city of Accra and I have been lucky enough to make it in.......for a quite a reasonable rate might I add.

When I first came to look at the place and they told me the power never goes out and water always runs, I knew it was a hoax. After all, living here for three years has taught me that nothing always works in Ghana. So yes, I was extremely skeptical, but for the price they were calling I decided to give it a try. Plus, it really really is a cute apartments and finding a decent apartment in Accra is probably like finding a decent apartment in New York...almost impossible. So I grit my teeth paid my year's rent and moved in. And much to my surprise...they were right, everything works.

Over the past two months my water has only not ran for 6 days, which is like 10% of the time. A statistical miracle I'm sure for most countries in Africa. And the lights never go out. And when they do. I simply just sit and within 30 minutes they are back, and 30 minutes is actually considered a long time.

Ahhh, the lap of luxury. And yes, I enjoy every moment of it. Now I will admit sometimes when my friends are forced outside of their homes because of lack of power and they invite me out, I do feel bad declining their invites. But moments like this also give me a better understanding of Marie Antoinette. I simply pick up my remote, flip through the channels, plug in my cell phone and turn up the fan and say, "Let them eat cake." I'm in Roman Ridge B******CHES!

Until Next Time Smooches.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Battle of the Cue

When I was a kid lining up for anything was one of my favorite things. A large part of this is due to the fact that my last name begins with A, so as a result, if not first, I was always third or fourth in line. This meant that I was always the first to go and who doesn't like being first. Unless it was one of those unfortunate days where we lined up backwards and those of us with As went to the back. And then, well, I would just be pissed.

So as I grew and lines grew more complicated, I still didn't mind. Especially since I have a knack for choosing the fastest moving line. Then I moved to Ghana. <insert long sigh>. You see the line in Ghana or cue as it is called, does not work the same as it does in the Western world. Hell, I wonder if it even follows the same concept because many days I often find myself lost on how the cue is actually working.

You see in the Western world when you go to the bank and have to stand in line there is one long cue. Everyone comes in and stands in their respective spot. As tellers become available the next person in line moves out and one moves up. Simple. Right?

But in Ghana the bank cue, or any cue for any other service is never that outright. Standing in line in Ghana is like that bad dream you have about missing the bus to school. You come in and realize their is a still calm in the bank,  you would join the line, but everyone sitting down, so you are not quite where to go. Then a security guard motions for you to take a seat in the flock, so you do. You sit there patiently waiting, watching the line move and finally the person in front of you moves to the teller. Now you know you are next, a bank teller becomes available, you stand up from your seated position only to realize someone from the right of you has been called. No big deal you think to yourself, then another is called from the right. After an additional three people go before you, you start to question the security guy, aka line warden, who then tells you these people had started transactions and are now finishing them.

Yeah, I know you are looking puzzled because I used to look that same way. So let me clear it up for you, when people approach a teller and present a check they don't stand their and wait until the teller gives them the money. Instead they present the check and then make their way back to their seats until their money is ready. Weird you may think. I call it insane.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why you cannot stand at the teller window until your transaction is complete. Instead you sit back down only to stand back up two minutes later to collect your money. The bank is not the only offender though. Imagine going to KFC, you see tons of people, but no real line. Instead everyone seems to be leaning on the crowded front counter. Why you ask? Some are waiting for their food and others are just not sure how to stand in line and order; therefore they just look for an open register and approach when they notice the cashier free, even if you have been standing in front of that same register patiently waiting. Obviously when fast food hit Ghana, the memo on line etiquette in fast food restaurants didn't. I can't tell you the amount of times I have wanted to ask someone to remove their derriere from the counter so that I can comfortably order without someone staring into my wallet. What happened to ordering and moving to the side or sitting at the counter with stools until you are called?

And God forbid you don't want to conduct your business while someone is standing at the counter with you. Because then you become the onery one. I once got the look of death at the Registrar General's office for telling a woman I would wait until she moved away from the counter to conduct my business. I just thank God that sweet baby Jesus whispers in my ear or else I might have said, "Bitch, I need five feet of personal space to conduct my business." But instead I just gave her the death stare right back until she moved.

So what is the lesson of this story you may ask? When in Ghana remember cues follow Darwin's theory of evolution: "Only the strongest survive."

Until next time. Smooches.