Christmas Greetings!

Wow, it has been a while hasn't it? I guess we have been all wrapped up in Christmas madness. I for one, have been totally unavailable,working all hours God sends down, all the while sending off a million and one applications in search for another job, looking for Christmas presents for loved ones, and being generally exhausted to do anything else.
You have probably been as busy as I have, spinning around in circles and getting yourself all wound up. But while you get sucked in by all the superficial, commercial nonsense that the Christmas holidays have become, make sure you remember the real meaning of Christmas and the reason why you are celebrating it.
The true meaning of Christmas is an issue people like to throw around and debate about, each and every Christmas, merely talking about it to satisfy their conscience(I confess I am ,at times, one of those people) without really exerting much energy to ensure the real reason for the season is honoured.
We talk about it being a time for sharing with family and loved ones, when its very essence is a Saviour being born to the world to save humanity, God Himself coming into the world to live the human experience.
I am well aware of the fact that not everyone is christian, but whether you're an atheist or a Buddhist, if you are going to celebrate Christmas, at least take the time to know what exactly you are celebrating.
John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York likens society's treatment of Christmas to attending a birthday party with no gift for the birthday boy/girl, but instead a million pressies for all the other guests.
Wow! Now I feel like I'm preaching! Well, before I get carried away, I want to sincerely wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. Thank you for your support this year, and I hope you stick with us in 2010.
God richly bless you all.

The Danger of a Single Story

Who here is sick and tired of other people's ignorant and misinformed ideas of Africa? Well, you are not the only one.

In the weeks leading up to my holiday in Ghana, I was hit by Ghana-fever and I couldn't stop talking about it. I drove everyone crazy with Ghana this and Ghana that. After ten years since my last holiday in the Land of Gold, a trip back to the motherland was well over due. So you can imagine my excitement once I had actually paid for my ticket. I remember a few weeks before my holiday in Ghana, I was at work when a dress in the stock room, waiting to be marked down and placed on the sale rack, caught my eye.

Mmm, I thought. This dress is not actually that bad. In fact, it will go down nicely in Ghana. It's a good price too, and if you take away the staff this time I was grinning from ear to ear.

So after my shift, I took the dress to my manager so I could buy it. Needless to say, she wasn't as enthusiastic about my decision to buy the dress. "Why are you buying this god-awful dress?" she asked.
"Cos, I like it", I was determined to stand my ground. "Plus, it will be perfect for clubbing in Ghana". She responded by giving me a puzzled look and saying "are there clubs in Ghana? I thought it was just mud huts and fig leaves".

Now, think about all the times someone has said something to piss you off, all the times someone has treated you like rubbish, and all the times you were enraged by something you saw. How did you feel? Well, that was exactly how I felt at that moment.

I knew there and then that what I really wanted to say to her could cost me my job, so instead, I took a deep breath and said, "why don't you educate yourself, so you don't say something like that again". Then it occurred to me, that all the images had seen and all the stories she had ever heard about Africa were of poverty, corruption, war and death. She had probably never been told that Africa was the richest land in natural resources, or that the world's oldest university is in Egypt. The story she had heard of Africa was the one not told by its own people. But the one that she had been told by the history books and by the media. "Anyway, it's not your fault", I muttered under my breath.

That is the danger of a single story. When somebody tells your story for you, and you have no say in how it is told, the truth becomes distorted. Let me leave you a clip of Chimamanda Adichie , the author of Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun. In it, she explains the danger of a single story in a more elaborate way. It's a bit long, but please click on the title of this post, which will lead you to the clip, and watch it to the end. There is a lot to be learnt.

Love thy neighbour?

This past week, just as I was feeling jealous that our American friends were enjoying yet another Thanksgiving without me, I was informed that Ghana, too , would be having a long weekend break. Alas initial enquiries on why Friday was a holiday only provided vague mutterings of "some kind of Muslim holiday". I eventually found out that we had a day off so Muslims could celebrate Eid al-Adha, otherwise known as "Festival of Sacrifice". The only Eid I'd heard of was Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan so this was new to me. My aunt and I were invited to spend the day at her Muslim cousin's house where we ate and drank far too much. Friends and relatives were in and out of the house the whole day wishing everybody a happy Eid (and to get some cash) and there was enough food to even satisfy Boris Bogtrotter.

On the surface, there's nothing special about this. However, I had never been in the company of Christians and Muslims with so little tension. Everywhere I went on Friday, people seemed happy and there was a festive air in general. Now I can probably chalk that up to people being happy at the prospect of a three-day weekend but it was cool nonetheless. I can't possibly imagine this happening in a "multicultural" city like London where we're constantly reminded everyday just how much Christians and Muslims don't  get along. My university was in East London, the heart of a predominantly South-Asian Muslim community, and to say tensions ran high would be a gross understatement. I only have to cast my mind back to the all the wahala the Danish cartoons of Mohammed caused. Therefore, since being in Ghana, I've really loved the way people seem to generally live and let live when it comes to religion.

Now I know us Christians can come in the overzealous types, determined to convert anybody and everybody, but I'm liking the way Muslims and Christians seem to get along side-by-side with minimal drama. Don't worry, I'm not living in fairy-land and I know it's not all roses and bunnies but a little tolerance goes a loooong way- on both sides. It'd be cool if I could dash some of that across the Atlantic.

(Also tried tubani for the first time. One word- delish! I think I could definitely give up meat and live the pescatorian life in GH. Lol)

Image translation: The picture is entitled "Eid's Paranoia". White sheep- "What do you think will happen to us this holiday?"Black sheep- "I hope, for God's sake, that we can run away and survive." (Very loose translation)

Image source


love letter

I received a letter today from a man who NEVER writes letters, (trust me I've asked him for about two years to write me one!) It was so sweet, and in French and just..lovely!

Now, it's been hard going with this man, what was meant to be an island fling was forcibly converted into a lifelong commitment (through no fault of my own...I blame the baby lol) and there were times when I just couldn't wait to get away, imagine this I felt trapped by the baby and not him! Well there have been many terse words and intense silences between us but we decided to talk a few weeks ago and be clear about what we each wanted, he talked more than me but I managed to make myself clear that:
a) I'm NOT moving to a certain francophone Caribbean island as I will probably end up stuck at home with no career prospects OR in jail having killed his mother...kidding,
b) I want to finish my million masters' before I settle down because otherwise I might never do them,
c) We need a girl.
A very productive conversation that was, and so I was full of hope for our reunion in Paris, and apart from the ususal uselessness of men (calling me from sleep to change a nappy...are you Dumb? and no I did NOT do it!) it was all really ok, better than ok actually, GREAT! We laughed at the same stuff that nobody else found funny, we went out and saw the sights, we talked about our memories together and the things to come, it was just lovely! The baby took a bit of time getting used to daddy but I wasn't itching to get away, I enjoyed myself and it felt natural...AnD he bought lovely pressies (including a few designer garms!) AnD he has begun a change in personality that I thought would never happen - GOD IS GOOD!

Do good things always come to those who wait? With men, I don't think so , but sometimes you just have to have patience (and pray!) and for now I'm just happy happy happy - I say for now because I have never been one to fool myself that I'll get what I think I deserve -but as I said, I've seen some changes and for now (there it is again!) All is right with the world.

P.S while in Paris I watched the French X factor ( pronounced ix facteurrrr) and a blond rockky-chick sang a song called "Ca, C'est Vraiment Toi" about a wo/man and his/her quirks and their effect on the wo/man and how with all that it couldn't really be anyone else, and how that suited them fine and I really like that so here it is::::

Bonkers Banking in the Land of Gold

Whilst at the Accra Mall last week, I decided to open an account at the Barclay's bank there. I have a Barclay's account in London too so it just seemed like common sense. Unfortunately, I didn't have all my relevant information I needed to finish opening my account there and then so the bank employee made me fill out the application form and I promised to return in a few days with all my supporting documents. The gentleman assured me that this would be no problem at all and that he was looking forward to seeing me in a few days. I really didn't want to be one of those people who's constantly comparing Ghana with what I've come to know but DAMN! I just had to share some of the different banking practices between my home country and my adopted country(ies).

When I returned two days later in order to finish opening the account, I went into the bank looking for a "personal banker" kiosk or office of some sort. Instead, there was a man and a woman sitting side by side in front of their computers right next to the long line for the telllers. Fortunately for me, there was no queue for the "personal bankers" when I entered so the man immediately summoned me over. Now this was a different man from the one I had seen previously and after searching for my application for fifteen minutes, he told me to start filling out another one whilst he continued to look for the one I had filled out earlier. "Why continue to search for it if you're still going to make me fill out another form?" was the thought that immediately popped into my head, however, I chose not to verbalise that thought and dutifully began to fill in the form.

So while I was filling out the form which asks personal questions like my name, address, telephone number, income, etc. etc., a man and woman sat on either side of me. They were close, like shoulder-to-shoulder close, and the woman happily began to read over my shoulder. I stopped writing and stared at her with a bemused look on my face. She merely grinned at me and continued to peruse my application like she was checking for spelling mistakes. She then asked the banker to check her account balance for her and he did so within plain view of myself.

While the banker was "processing" my new application form, he stopped to deal with at least 6 other customers, with no semblance of privacy,  so it took exactly 47 minutes (I checked) for my account to be opened. I was then told that I would get a whopping 10 free cashpoint withdrawals with the opening of my account (!). The process took even longer because the banker insisted on flirting heavily with every woman that approached the desk- myself included.

So it was a great relief when I finally left the bank clutching my brand new ATM card, vowing never to return until absolutely necessary. Fastforward to the next day and I receive a call on my phone from a number I don't recognise. I tentatively answer the call:

Banker: "Good afternoon Sankofa. How are you today?"
Sankofa: "Fine thank you.Um who is this please?"
Banker: "It's me from the bank! Have you forgotten me already?"
Sankofa: "Erm... is there any trouble with my account?"
Banker: "Oh not at all, I just wanted to call and say hello. Since you seemed to be in a rush yesterday, I thought we could talk today."
Sankofa: ".........."
Banker: "Hello? Are you there?"
Sankofa: "You know what? I'm a little busy at the moment so I'm going to have to talk to you later" (CLICK!)

I could hardly believe my ears. This man essentially steals my telephone number from a "confidential" application form and he expects me to be happy to hear from him? This was compounded by the fact that this was the second time in a week this had happened to me. A worker at MTN also decided it would be okay to "steal" my number whilst apparently "fixing" my phone for me. And to rub salt in the wound, the damn phone still wouldn't connect to the internet! Is telephone number theft the norm nowadays?

Image source

The Pain Of My Love For You

I have walked to the ends of the earth

For you.
I have run marathons
And climbed mountains.
I swam oceans,
'Til my arms ached.
I can't catch my breath
My knuckles bleed
And my feet are blistered.
My eyes swim with tears
But always
I will push on
To be with you.

Give Thanks

I understand why you may be less than perky. I can't say I blame you. With all the doom and gloom, the ever increasingly short days and crappy weather and all the news on the vast amount of soldiers dying in the war, you may feel justified for feeling a bit miserable.


Shouldn't we be grateful for life? The fact that the cold is enough to make us want to lock ourselves indoors with the heater on full blast not proof that God has preserved our lives up until now?

Today, you may have observed the two minute silence, in respect of those who have lost their lives in battle (may their souls rest in perfect peace, and may their loved ones find the strength to carry on), but I also spent the day being thankful for the gift of life.

A beloved church sister lost her battle with cancer yesterday, and she is no longer with us. This has made me realise that no matter the issues I am dealing with, it is important to live each day to the fullest.

Reader, remember this, you may be struggling to find a job, you may have just broken up with your boyfriend/ girlfriend or dealing with a multitude of other problems, but REMEMBER to be thankful for your life!

R.I.P Maame Jones. I know you are in a better place.

When will we remember them?

Ever since I first stepped foot on English soil, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the whole country falls into a two-minute silence in order to honour the British men and women who have died for their country since the First World War. The build-up to Remembrance day is inescapable and on Remembrance Sunday, chapel services are held all over the country in order to give due to all those who have died in the name of Britain and the Commonwealth.

I remember being barely out of primary school when I discovered that other brown faces, aside from South-Asian ones, were also part of the First and Second World War effort. Imagine my shock when I discovered that West Africans, East Africans, Southern Africans, and men and women from the Caribbean had also joined the allied powers and laid down their lives for the good  of the "Great British Empire". Some colonial soldiers voluntary joined the British forces because they genuinely believed they were British and needed to protect their mother country. Others were forced to join via conscription. Whatever their reasons for joining, these men and women fought just as hard as white Brits in the quest to defend Britain and her allies. However, although South-Asian contribution to the wars has been well-documented, with support for Nepalese veterans from famous faces, I feel that African and Caribbean contributions to the two World Wars have been chronically ignored. The number of Africans that were part of the war effort is truly astounding:

The accompanying article from the BBC does a far better job than me in illustrating just how much Africa did for the allied forces and it's definitely worth a read. All I'm asking is that tomorrow, when your hand is below your red poppy in that two-minute silence, spare a thought for the hundreds of thousands of Africans whom the British would like to gently erase from the history books.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Poem from For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon (Ode of Remembrance), 1914

Flashback of the Day: Bell Biv Devoe - Poison

Are you in good mood today? I am! So I decided to flashback to this good old fashioned 1990's new jack swing jam. You best be dancing along!

All together now, 'That girl is pooooisoooooooooooooooooooooooon....'

Attack of the LAFA!

You know, it's one thing to hear about a phenomenon, but nothing beats experiencing the real thing. Friends who had recently returned from Ghana had complained incessantly about the rise and rise of the LAFA. Huh? That was my initial reaction too. It stands for "Locally Acquired Foreign Accent". You see, as part of some Ghanaians' haste to embrace anything and everything foreign, the beautiful Ghanaian accent has fallen victim to tragic butchering. As a linguist (3 years of uni is worth it just to be able to say that. Yay me! Lol), I'm well aware of the fluidity of accents and how easy they adapt and merge. However, there is a patent difference between somebody who has lived in a different culture and has therefore adopted (consciously or unconsciously) the local accent, and a person who has never stepped foot outside the country for any length of time.

I remember when we we in our teens, Friday's Afro and I would call this an "Aferican" accent and it's sad to see the phenomenon has not died out but seems to be under going some kind of revival. Originally the property of the Ashanti "bogas", the LAFA is thriving everywhere. In my experience, most Ghanaians speak excellent English but I can't count the amount of times I've heard people apologising for their English merely because they don't possess some kind of foreign accent. What is so special about a foreign accent? What are the thought processes that lead a person to think it's normal to fake an accent? Can anybody out there enlighten me?

On the flipside, since my arrival in Ghana, I've become a victim of what I call "accent-ism". I've been introduced to people who are perfectly pleasant until I open my mouth. The English accent provokes a total and complete shut down in pleasantries. Often the person will adopt a look suggesting they have just smelled something bad (it's not my armpits, I checked...) and even Stevie Wonder can see the "wo ye too-known" look that passes across the face. I'm by no means suggesting that everybody has been like this but I'm beginning to see that the accent war goes both ways. Now what kind of fuckeries is that?

To see a fantastic LAFA at work, check out the link below. You have been warned...

Now what experiences of the LAFA or accent-ism have you experienced?

Book Review: 'La Femme sans Sepulture' by Assia Djebar

I did a French with Linguistics degree at King's College, London and this was one of the books on the reading list for a course on Maghrebi (French North African) writing.

This tale of memory and searching is written by Assia Djebar, a veritable G in francophone African literature from Algeria. Djebar, real name Fatima-Zohra Imalayen, writes mostly about the struggles of women especially in relation to Islam, the effects of war on the woman's mind and artfully deals with the clashes and harmonies between old and new, tradition and progress.
Assia Djebar was born in Cherchell, a small coastal town near Algiers, the capital of Algeria. Her father was a french teacher and the culmination of this and her study of classic arabic gave her the linguistic flexibilty to manipulate the french language giving it Arabic sounds and rhythms.
Her feminist stance, use of French and often dissident voice has led to much international praise, but also to hostility from nationalistic critics in Algeria.

In this novel Djebar portrays herself as a journalist and returning daughter to Cherchell, once called Césarée, home to research the story and find the bones of a legendary female Mujahddin (fighter/warrior) Zoulikha Oudai who helped the nationalistic rebels resist the French during the Algerian civil war in 1976.
As is commonplace in the work of Djebar, she portrays herself as an outsider, named only l'invitee, la visiteuse or l'etrangere*, and she delves, rather like a anthropological archaeologist into the past of the whole region through the recollections of the daughters, friends and acquaintances of Zoulikha.
For those who know Djebar's work this novel finds itself a stepping-stone in a path of writing begun with 'Women of Algiers in their apartments' (1980) and 'So Vast the Prison' (1995) and thus continues in the literary traditions of these two novels, this is perhaps the reason why Djebar installs an aura of déjà vu in the prelude to the book.

Djebar manages to interweave reality and fiction in this work, using her real conversations with the 'women of Césarée' with her own imagined scenes from that heated time in the 70s when Zoulikha was alive and the war raged. Through the visiting of the ruins of the ancient town, the whole war as experienced by the little towns of Algeria is portrayed and revisited.

The title of the book means The Woman without a Grave and this talks of Zoulikha's unknown final resting place, a result of her assumed murder by the french military and the consequent eradication of her name in history.

This book is laden with imagery and has an intensity which is thick almost to the point of viscosity, drawing the reader fully into the stories within the story and into the humid, heady atmosphere of post and pre-independence Algeria.

I must admit that this book is rather heavy-going but can be read quickly if focused on, I could not really write a synopsis, evaluation book review on this one because there are many intertwining synopses and undercurrents of history and feminism.

Djebar does not find the real bones of Zoulikha, and to my mind there is the suggestion that she will never be laid to rest in even a metaphorical grave. The stories surrounding her are often fantastical, but sometimes mundane, embittered (such as the tale of one daughter who felt abandoned) but also laudatory (as shown in another daughter's heroine-view of her mother) and therefore the many contradictions ensure that her story is always being 'exhumed'.

All in all this is a powerful testament to the ongoing strength of storytelling and especially of female remembrance even in the most paternalistic societies. Although Djebar writes pessimistically about the ability of women to shine in an overbearing patriarchy, here she fairly paints Zoulikha as a real heroine, even if she does not have a day to remember her. the honesty of the accompanying portrayals of this normal abnormal woman illustrate the human side to the ghostly figure of the grave-less heroine.

*the invited, the visitor, the stranger (All translations my own )

Flashback to the 90s:1998

This is the latest Sankofa/Nsoromma flashback to the 90's long time in coming I know (sorry-oo!). So here we go in no particular order...

1. Be Careful- Sparkle ft. R. Kelly
Here's the first if many that year that had me screaming, 'that's my jam!', and it really was. Honest to goodness I knew all the words (I know, I know, saddo, right?). So all together now.... 'Two years ago promises is all I heardddddddddddd...WAIT A MINUTE! Let me finish!...'

2. Sweet Lady- Tyrese
Introducing that fine black dude from the Diet Coke adds, a.k.a. Tyrese Gibson, my 1990's (and beyond) celebrity crush. Sings like an angel, looks like....dang! Dude is fiiiine!

3. Westside- TQ
Now I'm not afraid to admit (though truthful I am slightly ashamed) that I was a TQ fan and I own the album that spawned this mega hit. That still gets me when I'm in a chillaxing mood...

4. Boy You Knock Me Out- Tatyana Ali
Awww, when Ashley from Fresh Prince decided to have a music career, this is what resulted. Here's her biggest song to date, and I'm only aware of one more godawful song after this one. But hey, you never know, bad music is in at the moment so she might make a comeback. And BTW, the dance moves in this vid are SPECTACULAR!!! Wowzers.

5. Teardrops- Lovestation
I think this song is a 1990's classic dance track. Love it to death and I still listen to it today. 'Whenever I hear goodbyes, reminds me baby of you...'

6. Are You That Somebody- Aaliyah
Wow, another one that throws me back in time. I knew all Timbaland's ad-libs to this song ('dirty south, uh huh, can you feel this, baby girl, east coast feel this, uh huh, west coast feel this, say what,...' yes there are more!). Oh saddo that I am! So much so that in a school dance this song was used and I came on at the beginning, dressed as Timbaland, to 'perform'...*cringes at the memory*. Anyhoo, the vid is much better than my caterwauling so enjoy!

7. Who Am I- Beenie Man
This was the dancehall jam of the time and if you do not that, where were you? If you don't know gets to know mehn! Jeheez!

8. (Doo Wop) That Thing- Lauryn Hill
This song is so great, nothing I have do say could do it justice. It was just about the biggest anthem around at the time and Lauryn 'gorgeous' Hill was off the chain!
Lyric of the song for me...'the second verse is dedicated to the men, more concerned with his rims and his Tims than his women...'...chick was not just a singer but a Hip Hop great.

9. Cheers To You- Playa
Maaaaaaaaan, I love the 1990's! This song reminds me why and it is still a banger. 'Ohhhh! If I had a wish, baby, I wish...'

10. They Don't Know- Jon B
This is pure beautiful 1990's R&B. The white boy of R'n'B. Why can't they make them like this anymore? *sigh*

1998 honourable mentions for the following songs:

1. Be Alone No More- Another Level
2. Heads High - Mr Vegas

3. The Boy Is Mine - Monica ft. Brandy

4. How Deep Is Your Love - Dru Hill

5. Love Like This- Faith Evans

6. End of the Line- The Honeyz
Shout out to the second UK honourable mention, awww, the Honeyz. Anyone else remember them?

7. Make It Hot- Nicole Wray ft. Missy Elliott & Mocha
Missy - 'Me with no Timbaland is like Puff with no Ma$e!' LYRIC!!!!

8. Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) - The Offspring
9. Ghetto Superstar- Pras ft. Mya & ODB

10. Save Tonight- Eagle Eye Cherry

We got you wanting a 1998 party, alie?

xXx Nsoromma & Sankofa

Laugh of the Day

THIS gave me a good chuckle this morning. You have to wonder at the thought processes that were put into place before this endeavour....

Book Review: 'Changes' by Ama Ata Aidoo

In the relative boredom of my life at the moment I've been scouring through my mate Afrocentric's extensive book shelves...after all what are friends for? Anyhoo, knowing me she recommended Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo since I've never read it, so here's my review....

Title: Changes: A Love Story

Author: Ama Ata Aidoo

First published: 1991

Story: The book follows the married life of Esi, who is an independent and educated woman frustrated with what she considers the drudgery of her life. She finds it hard to balance a demanding job with the demands of being a mother, wife and home maker. In Esi's world it is almost impossible for these two sides of her life to happily co-exist. Her husband, Oko, is also frustrated in their marriage and they are each trying to discover a balance in which they can both be happy. She finds her husband affections cloying while he finds her job a threat to their marriage and feels disgraced that he should be vying with her job for her attention. One morning Oko, decides to seduce Esi in a last ditch attempt to revitalise their marriage. Esi is unimpressed and what ensues is Oko raping his wife. From then on their marriage implodes and eventually the two divorce. Drawing ridicule for Esi from her in-laws and confusing her own family as to why she wants to divorce such a good man.

Around this time Esi meets the handsome Ali and following her divorce, they become involved. Ali is a well educated Muslim man, with a well educated wife who was forced to leave her education behind to raise their family. Despite her recent divorce, Ali's wife, and warnings for Esi from her nana and best friend Opokuya; Esi becomes his second wife. Married bliss does not last long and eventually Esi realises she is no longer happy. Ali feels his home is with his first wife and Esi get's only snippets of his life. And these snippets decrease the longer they remain married, soon he is giving her the excuses he was giving his first wife when Esi first met him. The book ends with Esi coming to terms with her new married situation.

Review: Sometimes when I read a book I have a silent little moment at the end when I love it. I had that with this book. I find it so sad. At times throughout the book, Esi annoys me because I feel she is a selfish character yet I can't help but support her attempts to truly acquire happiness instead of giving up and giving in like all the other females in the story. However, she does give in—in the end—to a situation which even she seems to realise is worse than that she started in. In some ways this book can be seen as an affirmation that African woman cannot have it all, in terms of a happy marriage, happy kids and a fulfilling career. But rather than that, this book feels like a subtle warning to be aware of what you hold and to cherish it. Esi should have been a little less self absorbed and realised her blessings in the first place, and even though I admired her courage to look for her happiness in the end I pitied the life she ends up with. Oh mobo! I really did enjoy this book. I'm impressed that it touches on marital rape in Africa, the martial destruction it can cause, the honest and innocent (?!) ways in which it can occur and the way society views it all; yet this is all done without detracting from the main story and becoming a crusade thinly veiled in a story. The peripheral characters such as Esi's mother and her nana; the side story of Ali's wife's personal struggles between education and family; and the interaction between Opokuya, Esi and Opokuya's husband all add a bit of positivity to Esi's sad story making you aware that her life does not exist in a vacuum of other factors. It was also brave that Esi left her daughter with Oko's mother and the author does not paint this act as evil merely the actions of a conflicted and honest character that she simultaneously loves and fears her daughter's presence in her life. Most of all I like this book because it all seems very real. A thoroughly good read, and not long winded in the least at under 200 pages!

Ratings: I give this book four little nsoromma's out of five! 4/5 stars

Mind the Gap: Some General Observations About London Travel

I was having a conversation recently with Afrocentric and Nsoromma about travel in London and it was interesting to say the least. Travel in London has the potential to be soul-destroying or life-affirming. Hopefully, it'll lean towards the latter if you take note of some of these general observations. Now place your tongue firmly in cheek and remember these the next time you venture out with your (increasingly expensive) travelcard!

1. If there are empty seats available anywhere on the bus/ tube/ train, DO NOT SIT NEXT TO ME! You have just given your thanks to God above when you get on a half-empty tube/ train carriage or bus when a leering man decides to park himself right next to you. Never mind the 15 other empty seats available. It's Boris Johnson's law that somebody must sit uncomfortably close to you, stinking of stale cigarettes, whilst trying to rub himself against you. With that goes your 27 minutes of thinking up what excuse you're going to give work about why you're late (again), instead, begins the game of how far away you can edge away from the person whilst they're trying to physically sit on your lap....

2. It is not proper transport etiquette to stare at your fellow passengers during the daily rush hour. Yes we're a city of people watchers but one must be subtle with it. So when the 6"3 man wearing a tartan dress, bovver boots, and sporting acid pink hair steps onto the Northern line at Camden, feel free to stare at him all you like but only via the reflection of the windows! I can't vouch for your safety once the words that strike fear into every Londoner's heart are uttered: "What you looking at?!"

3. One must remember that the South Londoner is a different breed of Londoner, in particular those that hail from the South Eastern region. Eye contact is seen in one of two ways: a declaration of war, or an indication of willingness to marry a person. A personal music player and an engrossing book are your only friends in this part of town.

4. There's no point running for the bus. Really. Most bus drivers take malicious pleasure in watching you frantically waving at them to stop via their side mirrors. 171 bus drivers in particular take great enjoyment in waiting until you're a a mere metre away from the stop and then zooming away into traffic with enough skills to rival Jenson Button. If you're lucky and a driver takes pity on you, by the time you pant and heave your way onto the bus winded by the whole 20 metres you had to run, the hostile stares of your fellow passengers will be enough to ruin your morning. They'll have to wait a whole 36 seconds as you simultaneously hunt for your Oyster card (you probably left it on the kitchen table) whilst trying not to display just how unfit you really are.

These are just some of the few recurring travel observations we made. How's travel different where you live?

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Body Issues

This blog post is mainly an extension of Sankofa's post on her own blog, Altius Tendo, entitled 'You have such a pretty face...'. In her post, Sankofa describes the awkward manner in which people approach the issue of her weight and certain individuals' failed attempts to compliment her in spite of her size.

Unfortunately, Sankofa is not the only FAT girl who has had to deal with back handed compliments and snide remarks with regards to her weight. As a child, I grew up with my cousin. (For the purpose of this blog, we'll call her Amina). Amina is only five days older than me and our mothers are very close. We were therefore treated like sisters and often compared to one another. Me and Amina spent the majority playing (and fighting) with each other. We had the same interests, wore the same clothes (sometimes against our will!) and the same dislikes. In fact, there were a lot of similarities between us except:

1. Amina was (and still is) slimmer than me.

2. Amina is shades lighter than me.

3.Amina's hair was longer and not as tough as mine.

Now, in a Ghanaian family, you know exactly what that means. Amina was considered the beautiful one and we often heard comments like this: Amina is soooooo pretty and Oh! Amina is a nice girl. (You know what is intended by the word 'nice'). Whoever was making the comments at the time, would look at Amina with so much adoration in their eyes, then would turn to me with a pitiful look and /or a half smile. (Sometimes, I wouldn't even get a glance!) Now, I may not have been "beautiful", but I was certainly more smart academically. Thus Amina and I neatly fitted the stereotyped 'beauty and the brain'.

I must say, it didn't really bother me while we were really young, but at the age of 12/13, when a girl starts becoming more aware of her physical appearance and her physique, this started to become a problem. I won't comment on the hair and skin tone issue because these were things I eventually learnt to accept, and even love. But as for the weight, well, that is still very much an issue I am still dealing with.

When I started secondary school, I was most definitely the biggest girl in the class. No questions asked. It did not help that my bra size was a 32B. It may not seem like much, but trust me, in 1998, that was big for an 11 year old. (I am well aware that 11 year olds these days look like full grown women). I won't pretend that I spent my all of my secondary school years self loathing, but I was bothered about my size. However, I was very good at covering up my insecurities and acting like the insensitive comments didn't bother me one bit. Covering up my insecurities did somehow turn into fake confidence, and although I don't know exactly when it happened, by the time I started sixth form, I was beginning to feel beautiful. Don't get me wrong, there were knock backs on the way. Let me give you an example: I remember at the age of around 14, I was at my cousin's house one night. My other cousins were there. Altogether there was about seven of us (including Amina). We were in my cousin's room, watching T.V. There were three boys and four of us girls. I can't remember what I did to upset one of my cousins, but all of a sudden he, (let's call him J) started laying into me, verbally. The things spewing out of his mouth were venom. "You need to lay off the donuts you fat bitch" and all sorts were coming out of his mouth like word vomit. I mean, I have never hated any of my cousins, including J, but I was hurt for ages, especially since none of my other cousins stood up for me, but found J's abuse hilarious. I must confess that Amina was the only one mature enough to apologise afterwards.

Anyway let's fastforward eight years, I (sort of) don't have the same beef I have with my weight. Don't get me wrong, I do believe I am attractive, and not ugly by any stretch of the imagination. however, let's not pretend that I am a size zero. Also, I am still having to deal with people's annoying comments. Let me give you an example. Earlier this year, I was with an...acquaintance, (let's hold back from calling her a friend), we had just finished a night of rehearsing a church performance, and by the end of the night, we were all famished, so I started going on about what I wanted to eat. Hear my girl: that is why you are so fat! I was knocked back by those words because it had been ages since I had heard those words. Also, I didn't think grown-ass women made digs at each other like that. Plus, I thought it was below the belt since we had had a discussion earlier where I told her that my weight was the cause of frustration for me because it is one of the only areas in my life that I find hard to control. (That's "friends" for you *sigh*).

I have come to the conclusion that I can't afford to rely on other people to make me feel good about myself. That is something I will have to do by myself. I mean, I do have issues with my weight, but loving myself is something I am learning to do everyday.After going on a countless amount of diets (and gym memberships!), I have come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, God, in His infinite wisdom, created me to be fat. It seems with everyone there is always something about themselves they have an issue with. Which is why like Sankofa, I don't have time for people that go on and on about how much they hate their belly, their big nose, their small boobs etc etc.

Oh yeah, back to Amina - it's funny how a bit of maturity will allow you to see things totally differently. Please don't get me wrong, Amina and I have BOTH grown up to be beautiful women, but I don't feel, AT ALL, that she is the more beautiful one. I look at us, and think wow! I may be a few kilos heavier, but Amina and I are EQUALLY beautiful in our DIFFERENT ways.

Let me leave by telling you this: everyone has body issues, but it is up to YOU to deal with yours. Do not rely on ANYBODY to help you get over them. Also, ranting about what you don't like about yourself is BORING for those who have to listen to you. The chances are your so called 'listener' does not really care about your complaints. Also by ranting, you are only drawing attention to what people would not have noticed in the first place. Most importantly, God must feel so insulted everytime you open your mouth to say you hate something about yourself that He created.

Anyway reader, whtaever your issues are, learn to appreciate what you have.

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize - DISCUSS

So, President Obama has won this year's Nobel prize for peace. I must admit that when I saw the headline I thought 'huh?' I couldn't think of any ongoing war he had stopped or any impending war he had avoided, or really anything that showed that he was working towards world peace. You see there's a reason that some people are on the Nobel committee and some (me) are not.

The committee explained his winning is a sign that they want to support what he is aiming for; his efforts in ridding the world of nuclear weapons, the immediate closure of Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay and his push for peace in the Middle East to mention a few of his peaceful pursuits. Now although all these things are true and do represent a goal of 'world peace', critics might well say, "but he hasn't actually done all of it", I mean in winning the prize President Obama is in the company of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, German scientist Albert Schweitzer, Dr. Martin Luther King and Mohamed ElBeradai all of whom were awarded for tireless efforts or lifetime work in the 'field' of peace. Are 10 months as US president and 'good ideas' enough to deserve a place in the often controversial list of Peace Prize Laureates?

I don't know, as I continued to read I agreed with the reasons behind his success, it is very important to encourage and support those who strive for the good, there are too many people giving props to drug dealers - Curtis Warren listed included in the Times Rich List as if he's making an honest living , paedophiles - the furore over Roman Polanski's arrest for drugging and raping a 13 year old, cheats, warmongers and other such unsavoury characters.

Well done Barack, let's just hope that your speeches, good intentions, and awards are not your only legacy.

Are You Joking? You Called Her A Paki?!?!?!?!

Ummm, it's late and I really want to go to bed but I am up in arms!

If you don't know, this is all about Strictly Come Dancing, professional dancer Anton Du Beke has an Moroccan dance partner, Laila Rouass, and he 'jokingly' called her a Paki. He publicly apologised, she, although offended, accepted the apology and the BBC 'stood by their man'.

People are bleeting that this is political correctness gone wrong blah-de-blah. Usually, I am the one bemoaning political correctness gone crazy (argh, vertically challenged for short??? Nah, your just short mate!). But how is it OK to get rid of Carol Thatcher for calling a footballer a gollywog (blatant racist term in the UK) but to keep Du Beke because it was 'in jest'? How comes racism is OK against Asians but not against black people?! WTF?!?! In jest my ANUS, look if that was a black chick being called a nigger people would be up in arms, there would be shouts that the BBC is institutionally racist. But Du Beke get's let off?!! And WORSE, for some unknown reason it's OK for Bruce Forsythe, a veritable darling of British primetime TV to say being called a Paki is not different than Brits being called Limey's. Like, ARE YOU BLOODY JOKING?!?! No, it's actually EXACTLY the same as being called a Nigger, Gollywog, Chink, Spazz (for spastic) and all the other words that have a real serious negative effect on a group in society, and lead to victimisation and deep divisions in society. It is not an innocent adjective. It is a vile, foul, offensive word. I tend to support the BBC almost unreservedly but honestly, this is badly done!

10 (Very Annoying) Things I Love About Ghana

When we talk about our motherland, we tend to talk about her in the same way we talk about our family. In other words, I love her but she can be so annoying! And, oh yeah...if you're not one of Mother Ghana's children, don't even think about uttering a word against her! I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. In my last post entitled "Welcome to Ghana", I went on a rant on how erm...strange my experience was at Kotoka International. But trust me, now that I'm back, I am missing Ghana like crazy! So here is a list of ten really annoying things I had to endure in Ghana, but (not so secretly) wish I could enjoy in London.

1. Having to barter for everything. When we first arrived, the first thing I noticed was that nothing has a fixed price! Come on, if you are going to sell something, at least know its market value. However, after bartering the price of slippers from 35 Ghana cedis to 20, I started to think 'hey, this is good! I love the fact that hardly anything comes with a price tag'.

2. GMT (Ghana man time). GMT to me was pure fuckeries at the beginning of our holiday. Can you imagine waiting for two and a half hours for someone to come and pick you up. I mean, why tell me you will arrive at 10pm, when you reall mean 12.30 am? The thing that kills me is when the said person (finally) arrives, there is no remorse or any effort to even try and feign a bit of haste. One morning, my cousin called and said, "hey, I will be at yours in an hour and a half".

"O.K", I answered lazily, and went back to sleep. Well it goes without saying, I managed to get an extra hour of sleep AND have breakfast before he actually arrived. Wow! this is not bad, I can actually get as much sleep as possible, watch an episode of Tinsel AND have a big breakfast, and still be ready on time. This is only possible in Ghana.

3.Family. What else can I say here? Whether in Ghana or in Timbuktu, the very people we love so much and hold close to our hearts can sometimes be the source of so much annoyance. But this is more true when the first thing your big (not so slim) cousin, who has not seen you in ten years, can say to you is 'o shri-eh!, you are fat!'. As if I need reminding of the fact that I have grown two dress sizes in the last ten years. Not only that, my charming big cousin soon started to give me her sob story about how she hadn't been paid at work for over eight months. (I guess I don't need to spell out what she was getting at here!) Needless to say, political correctness is not at the forefront of Ghanaian's minds. Nevertheless, after a week of being back in the U.K, I am actually missing my family terribly.

4.The heat! Damn that Ghana sun is hot! Seriously, how is it that I am drenched in sweat five minutes after coming out of the shower? We slept under full blast of the air conditioning and two ceiling fans! However, now that I am back in London and preparing to face a long cold winter, I am actually missing the Gold Coast sunshine.

5. Having to wait for over an hour for chicken and chips! Can someone please help me out here? Am I being unreasonable, or am I within my rights to have a moan when I have to wait the whole afternoon for a plate of chips and a chicken sandwich to be sent to my hotel room? kmt! I mean, you wait no longer than five minutes for your two piece chicken and chips meal in this part of the world! But, I have come to the conclusion that if "fast" food in Ghana is not so fast, you can at least find comfort in that fact that it is being prepared from scratch and has not been sitting there the whole day!

6. The Accra Mall. O.K, don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Accra Mall. But when you see the same Shoprite sign in every Ghanaian film, when your social life in Accra is based in the coridoors of the mall, when you can't step into the mall without bumping into the same dozen people you saw yesterday in the same blasted mall, IT ALL GETS A BIT ANNOYING!! But seriously, I will miss the Accra Mall. After all it houses Rhapsody, the best bar/club in Accra.

7.Frank Rajah Arase films. Let me not even lie, I watched enough of these fims. But how many times do I need to see the same two girls fight over a light skinned man/kente wearing prince? And how many Ghanaians do you know with the name Akeela, or Zazee? And seriously, where are the kingdoms of Azula and Mumuni? Nevertheless, I will miss evenings with my family in Ghana, watching these films.

8. The taxis! These yellow pannelled vehicles were the cause of so much amusement when we first arrived in GH. I remember sitting in a Taxi from Abeka to Lapaz. Now anyone who knows Accra knows the roads on that route are murder. I mean, I was expecting bumpy roads in Accra, but that route takes the piss! And it didn't help that the taxi I was sitting in was nothing more than a metal shell on wheels. I wasn't sitting in a car at all. I was practically on the floor. And everytime the monstrosity of a vehicle went over one of those God forbidden port holes, I got scared that the metal shell would give way, leaving our bums to hit the dusty streets of Accra. Anyway, now that I am back in London, my Oyster Card is my friend. Seriously, although I would do anything to not have to sit in a overcrowded train carriage, who can afford a taxi in London?

9. Road hawkers. In Accra, it is not necessary to go to your nearest supermarket to be able to tick everything off your shopping list. While in GH, I found it slightly irritating that I couldn't look out of the car window without someone waving t-roll in my face. Now, I actually miss having to walk all the way to the supermarket to do the weekly shopping.

10. Wacky driving. I HATED the fact that people in Ghana drive like absoloute maniacs. But when you have to settle back into life in London, and you're running late to work/ church/ any other important place, you wish your bus would jump the traffic light and cut into somebody else's lane to get you there on time!

Trust me, I can't wait to be doing this again:

Networking, Networking, Networking

Last night, Afrocentric and I attended our very first Ghanaian Londoners event at the Dust Bar in Farringdon, organised by the lovely Adwoa Agyemang and we had a blast. We were late (gotta work on that GMT) but we still managed to catch some great speakers including Bex Mortty of Quality Network Solutions and the London representative of the NPP whose name unfortunately I didn't manage to catch. There was immeasurable Ghanaian talent in one little room and that included a fellow Ghana blogger Kwabena of Ghana Hype. Kwabena is also the creator of the wonderful Kayobi clothing line and if you haven't checked out his stuff, I suggest you do so asap.

Anyway, when the actual "networking" session began, let's just say that Afrocentric and I took a little while to get into the swing of things. Alright, we were down right wusses! I find networking really hard people! Tell me I'm not alone in this. It feels like the first day of school all over again. We eventually manned up and met a myriad of creative (and analytical) minds. Still I sometimes wonder at the usefulness of these networking beyond meeting new people. How many people really utilise these new contacts when all is said and done? We would still do it all over again a heartbeat because new people are new people, no long. So, what are the thoughts of people out there on "networking"?

Do What You Say You Will Do...

You know, I think learning to forgive is one of the hardest things we can do but what tops it a ga-zillion times over is just getting over it. Maaaan, that really is one of the things I struggle with and it's really sad because whatever it is you are refusing to get over is only blocking YOU!

This little grain of wisdom has been told to me in a number of ways including my big sis screaming it at me on one occasion. She said that when I recount stories from the past my emotions at the time come to the surface and it is obvious that I haven't really dealt with whatever the issue was. Up until now my take on this was always deny, deny, DENY. But how can I continue to argue with the truth when it's killing me inside?

There are so many people who I'm sure need an apology from me for fuckeries i've done to them, or that they feel I have done. It's inevitable, as inevitable as the fact that I feel I need certain apologies in order to move on with my life. Today, I've been a bit quiet, just thinking...a lot (ladies, u know how dangerous that can be!). For anyone who knows who Nsoromma is, who I have honestly offended, I hope to God that you know I'm sorry. But more than that I do truly hope that these people can move on and whatever it was does not block their growth into the beautiful person God intended them to be. In the same way, though it's bloody hard and I know there will still be days I cry, i'm going to finally do what I say i will do and let it all go.

I hope that everyone else can do the same,

Love You All,
Nsoromma...COTH xXx


How does a modern woman survive in this Jungle of life? Where can she find time to be and do all the things she has to?
She's cooking low-salt high-fat nutritious, delicious and balanced meals for the boy, low-fat low-salt, reduced this, reduced that for her mother, will go to Canterbury three times a week, find someone to pick up said boy from nursery and Lord let's not even mention her diet (next week promise!), she hardly has time to take a bath, eek! PRESSURE!

This is a question I'm starting to ask myself, I'm a mother, a graduate, a masters student and..... BROKE! Trust me, I was living the dream, "popping" into Topshop here, H&M there, until about two weeks ago, when I realised that all those £1.50 potted flowers I was buying from Lewisham market (amongst a myriad of other things) were NOT actually going to be any help in trying to pay for the three-to-eight years of education I was considering (masters x2, phD then world domination, oh and somewhere in there marriage and more children). So the next few days will see me writing to numerous charities who might help if I fulfil the requirements which range from living in Lewisham borough to aiming to study in Turkey, and other such randomness.
Blimey! and as if that's not enough I've got baby-daddy's mama drama fresh from le Diamant, Martinique, if this woman doesn't stop telling me my child is 1.fragile, 2. at danger from sitting in his pram or 3. retarded because he's not walking yet, I'm going to have to go up at the next altar call --- Jeeeeesus forgive me!

Anyway, yeah that's all, I was trying to not rant on this blog, and that's partly why I haven't written for ages (partly - don't hit me Nsromma and Sankofa), but it's all I've got. I'm going to make a cuppa and watch Monk now.
I'm rinsing Hillsong's 'Desert Song' right now because this a dry patch but you know These dry bones will live!

"All of my life in every season you are still God I have a reason to sing"

Good day to you all

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