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)
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."
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?
I have walked to the ends of the earth
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.
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.
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!
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?
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 )
2. Sweet Lady- Tyrese
3. Westside- TQ
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
6. Are You That Somebody- Aaliyah
7. Who Am I- Beenie Man
8. (Doo Wop) That Thing- Lauryn Hill
9. Cheers To You- Playa
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:
3. The Boy Is Mine - Monica ft. Brandy
4. How Deep Is Your Love - Dru Hill
5. Love Like This- Faith Evans
7. Make It Hot- Nicole Wray ft. Missy Elliott & Mocha