Church Matters Part 1

As you know, I live a boring life these days which means I don’t get out, don’t get to people watch and no stories to tell. Then I sat in a church meeting on Sunday and thought to myself, I have enough material to write a whole sitcom. So here it is, part 1 of my series of Church Matters.

I’ve been made a leader, when I tell people, they roll on the floor laughing, but hey, every sinner has a future and every saint has a past.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about our first church board meeting (being a leader gives automatic membership to the board). We are in a bit of a pickle at the moment, as the objective was to add 100 new members and to have our own place of worship. We are currently subletting a building which allows us just the 2 hours every Sunday, Sunday school consists of a few tables in the corner and well we could do with moving to somewhere that they don’t kick you out before you have even said the final grace.

We have increased probably by 6 people, taking the total to approximately 45 people (that’s total members, not the board), I think our first priority is to find innovative ways of bringing new people into the church, however one of the Elder’s felt otherwise.

The Elder

I am going to refer to him as The Elder, I don’t know which church he belonged to in Ghana but he started coming to this one probably around the same time I joined. He doesn’t preach much but when he is given the mantle, his sermons always seem to be about “giving” to the point where I am wondering what his motives are. I don’t want to speak negative of him, but he is giving off a vibe that tells me he’s looking for a pay day. I hope I am wrong but he’s not yet proved me otherwise.

If I first go back couple of weeks ago. Pastor asked us to say what we thought the weaknesses of the church were and what was preventing us from growing. The Elder brought up the fact that we did not have our own premises (fair enough), then he went on to talk randomly about “giving”. Now even though we are few, we give, the church needs a new TV, we contribute. We want to advertise, we contribute. Furthermore, these are not people doing cushy 9 to 5s making £30K, 40, 50+ a year. Some people come straight from their morning cleaning, come to church and then off to their afternoon jobs.

The meeting went on for a bit but then we got thrown out for the next church service so we had to continue the next week. The meeting started around 8am, I got there at 8.15, turns out it was a board meeting not a leaders meeting (all so confusing). After a lot of talking, The Elder gets up to talk about his 2020 vision, or vision 2020, I can’t remember. However, he says that we should pick a tier, platinum, gold, silver or bronze. Platinum members should contribute £1,500 a year (or just over 100 p3 in his words) or you could buy into the bronze package for I believe it was £600 a year. Then he went on again to talk about giving and now added that some of us are more blessed than others so those people should “give more”.

Now contributions towards the cost of the church is not the issue here, my issue is one this elitist structure, then can people really afford it and most importantly we are not there yet. Once again, we need more solid members, we are trying to run before we can even crawl.

Then he said something about he has never been to a church where you don’t leave a cash offering at the altar. I’m thinking, “Does this guy want to charge me for my blessings now as well”.

The lady behind me thought the same thing, she jumped up and basically asked him why was he trying to bully us (by the way, there was no vote, we were told to buy into this so that everyone else will). As she brought up other ideas such as gift aid and good old fashioned fundraising, I could see The Elder’s eye’s glaze over like he wasn’t getting what he came for out of this meeting. In the end he just said good point, hammered home his point some more and went to sit down to the sound of crickets.

I’m not trying to be a hater, I just think we need to get our priorities in order because it’s a bit like going from a mail-room boy to a CEO without doing the graft in between.

 

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10 funny comments from Ghanaian “family”

Hi folks, long time, I am going to say it now, life is boring, it’s work, home and church for me. My new year’s resolution is to get a life. The weather has turned cold and all I do is go home on a Friday and resurface on a Monday to start my week except for the few hours on a Sunday when I am in church.

It’s been a year since I joined my church and I have even surprised myself that I am still as active as I am. I love my people, but going to a mainly Ghanaian church means more “aunties, uncles, brothers and sisters” to give unsolicited advice/comment about my life. I have taken to applying my work laugh A LOT around my new found family, (you know the fake one that you give you give to your boss while having visions of ripping of their face). I have put together the top 10 commentary just for laughs, some of you may have heard them too, and what I would like to say in response (it’s all just for laughs oo). It’s mainly about my marital status, my weight and my authenticity as a Ghanaian.

  1. The most popular one of the bunch “so why are you not married yet, what are you waiting for”, because obviously I walk past that long queue of gentlemen callers and simply decided to knock them all back;
  1. About a month later – “so you are still single, we will pray over it”, God is either thinking her again, or they are lying;
  1. “You look much younger than your age, it’s a shame, I would have given you my son, but you are a bit old” I’ve seen your son, even if he was my age, I would say no; 
  1. “I have a friend I will introduce you to”, I say no more, read my piece titled I want a God-fearing man;
  1. “If it weren’t for my wife, I would have married you”, please thank the good Lord that you are already married because no you wouldn’t have been with me my friend ;
  1. “You look like you are living good, and not in a good way” I know I have put on weight, but glass houses and all that ;
  1. “Oh you have lost weight, you look much better now, you were getting too fat”, yes it’s been a year, get over it, and while I think about it and you are still fat, so now what; 
  1. (Speaking to the person next to me) – “Does she understand twi?”, now this gets my blood boiling on so many levels. First of all, if you are going to ask me that question, ask me, and only ask me that question when we have established some kind of friendship. If the language I speak or don’t speak is a requirement of having any type of conversation with you, I really don’t want to talk to you. In fact don’t talk to me unless it’s absolutely necessary as you’ve pissed me off; 
  1. “Do you understand twi?”, do you understand English? It doesn’t annoy me as much as See above. Don’t ask me that question when you don’t even say Good morning to me when you see me; 
  1. “Have you been to Ghana before”, I have not asked your immigration status so why do you ask me if I have been to Ghana.
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I want a God-Fearing Man

Work has taken over my life these days, my boss feels that if she isn’t working me every minute of my 35 hours a week, then I am not working hard enough. She however spends most of her days on the internet giving us Facebook updates and giving us the latest news from the BBC.

My only day of socialisation is actually Sunday at church, I do enjoy it, it’s not one of those that you go in with £100 and end up owing an additional £500 because you are obliged to give a donation for the harvest, fundraising day, pledge etc. Two hours, and one collection, take in the word and go on your merry way. There is a mix of people, mainly married couples with young families, there’s not that many people but it has a family vibe.

At first, nobody used to really talk to me apart from Hello and Goodbye, I think it is because the people there are almost all Ghanaians and with English not being their first (or even second or third), speaking brofu can being tiresome (I say this in jest). However as time has gone on and I am actually going there regularly, I am starting to make friends. I know have extended brothers, sisters, mum’s and dad’s and you know with Ghanaians, once you are part of them, they are all up in your business, in a nice way but they feel that they have to somehow fix your situation. First item on the agenda, find me a husband.

One “brother” took it upon himself to find me a guy. I feel like such a bitch for what I am about to say, but I cannot tell a lie, I can only be totally honest, I think that everyone has their path and some are using the same road as you, others are using a totally different route, but just because you have one thing in common, it doesn’t mean that you are compatible.

This brother set me up with a guy who I am going to call Adam. Adam lives in Tema and is a tailor, not your Ozwald Boateng type of tailor, the guy who you would call when you need an outfit on the cheap tailor. Now don’t get me wrong, a man’s profession isn’t a deal breaker, but as much as I like roadside waakye, I also like to eat out once in a while, and although I am not a frivolous spender, I have hustled in Ghana and I don’t want to go through that again. Furthermore, I am in no way boasting, but I am doing ok for myself, not rich, but not wanting for anything and I am at a point in my life that even though I would love the white wedding with a reception at a swanky hotel and the mini me’s, if it doesn’t happen, I have survived this far on my own, so I need someone to add value to what I have. I don’t think he can do that (before you jump in, read on to make judgement).

When I saw his picture on WhatsApp, well put it this way, I thought to myself he needs to have a fantastically brilliant personality for this to go anywhere. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for someone stunningly attractive, but there needs to be something that one can say “ok, I can work with this”. There was nothing except crickets and tumbleweed. However, my brother had stuck his neck out so I had a conversation with him. His English, well, not the best, probably as good as my twi, plus he kept saying “please” at the beginning of a sentence, “please, how are you”, “please I am fine”, “please how is your day going”. I don’t boast to have the best grammar, and I know that the akan language is very polite and so they do say please a lot, but in the English language, it just sounds like you are begging. I know a lot of Ghanaians, born and bred in Ghana, and I know that they know not to use the word please at the beginning of EVERY sentence so no, even if he managed to change my mind about the points above, conversation was just awkward and annoying. He also kept referring to me as babe. We don’t know each other like that, even when my sister’s call me babes, I am like “who is your babe”.

The third problem was him calling me on a Monday morning. One thing you don’t do is call on a Monday, send a WhatsApp, send a text, but don’t call. My day is filled with meetings, more meetings, and catching up on emails. I don’t have time to talk, I did however answer the call to say I was in a meeting. A few seconds later, he sends me a message saying “why you hide yourself from me”. I am working. You need to understand that or you need to find someone who has a less taxing job which means that they are ever ready to pick up your call.

The last straw was a conversation that occurred just before I had to block him. I had to, it was all becoming too freaky for me.  So this guy, has only seen my picture, we haven’t really had much of a conversation, he doesn’t know what I do for a living (apart from that I have meetings on Monday morning). He doesn’t know my likes, dislikes, that I do like a glass of wine, or two sometimes three. He says that this brother has told him that I am a God fearing and respectful person and that he sees good things for the both of us. He then asked how we are going to meet, nothing about buying me a ticket though, (yes I could buy my own ticket, but I am not the one asking for a date). I told him not to count his chickens before they are hatched. I think that phrase went over his head.

He then says “I love you ok”, I said you have to get to know each other before you can say you love someone. Like will you take a bullet for me, would you donate a kidney if I need one? Like seriously, I know I am one of the world’s worst romantics but even I wouldn’t be using those words without even knowing a person’s last name. So yes, I had to block him, it was all becoming a bit unbecoming and in his mind, we had our common friend God so surely it was meant to be. Yes it is one of the best qualities in finding a mate, but there are so many other variables to finding a compatible mate.

So as much as my brother tried, this is not the one.

So now that’s me, back on the single’s train.

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My brush with the law

As you all know, my house in Ghana was burgled some years back (twice), the first time I went to the police, the second time I didn’t  bother. My expectations of Ghana police are low and so all I can advise to anyone who is a victim of such crime, get adequate theft insurance cover (can’t tell you how well that works though). I have also been on the wrong side of the Ghanaian law, not a serious offence but know full well that 9 times out of 10, the only reasons why the jails are full is because they had no means to pay their way out of it (in my opinion).

In the UK, my expectations were quite high, I say were because they have managed to change my mind in one simple incident.

Amongst all the other issues I encountered on my return, I managed to become a victim of crime. This time, identity theft, some clever person decided to use my details to obtain a credit card and a mobile phone. For the mobile phone, I know exactly who it is, but I don’t know at what point the details were transferred into my name. I am guessing when this person decided to upgrade the phone and then leave me with a £142 bill and a bailiff’s summons for non-payment. My gut feeling is that this same person took out a credit card and decided to go on a jolly on my expense leaving me with a £1,500 fee. Looking at the modus-operandi I am fairly certain that this person knowing that I was out of the country used his criminal means to enjoy life at my expense and it is because of this person’s criminal activities that I cut all ties with him years ago.

However, this is not a blog about my criminal ex, but my dealings with the law. On Sunday after church, I went to the local police station before heading home to report the crime. A very nice young lady behind the counter wasn’t really listening to me but told me that it would be wise to go to my local police station in case I had to go back for any reason.

So yesterday I left work and thought I would pass by the police station and report it, foolishly I thought that I would be seen to as quick as I had been on the Sunday, but I am guessing that there is less crime where I went to report the incident the first time. I got there and there were two reception points. I was probably about forth in the queue and 20 minutes later I found myself at the front. Then as luck would have it, after the person in front of me left to go the black lady behind got up. Not only did she get up, she put her hand up like “oh no you don’t I am out of here”.

So there I was, two counters but only one person filling out the reports. The man who was being seen to must have gone through a whole lot because not only was he narrating what was a very long story but he was also physically demonstrating what was happening. It was all through a sound through screen so all I could see was this guy walking up and down and throwing his around while a very bored officer was typing very slowly. I could tell the officer was bored because his chin was resting on one hand and he was using the other hand to type with one finger taking 5 minutes to type one letter.

Every 5 minutes an officer would come out asking for random people, then she would ask if anyone had come to sign on for their bail, then she would go back to whatever she was doing. There was one officer who would come out and look at the queue then go back to doing nothing, a few officers in the back chatting, meanwhile there was a queue going out the door,

After an hour, I just had to go, the guy being seen to, did not look like he was going to leave until he went over every detail of his incident which was probably the same length of time as the actual incident itself. It was getting late and I had to eat something before I passed out, so I may try again on a day when I have nothing to do the whole day.

Alas, I would have probably been seen to quicker if I had gone across the road, shoplifted a couple of products and got myself arrested.

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A Brief Update

You know that my updates are never brief but I will try.

The sun is finally out and really, you don’t appreciate what it is like until the blue skies are taken away from you and you are wrapped up like an Eskimo 24 hours a day. Even at home, you can’t really do much but wrap yourself in a blanket because the heating bills are so expensive that you can only afford to heat the house for an hour a day.

Work is interesting, I am not in a place where they are inviting me to birthday parties, weddings or baby showers, but I am in a place where if there is something going on at lunchtime I will be invited. We have a laugh and a joke and the girls in my team are actually seeing a little benefit from me being their manager. Rather than micro-manage the ladies (as my manager does me, more on her later), we have a daily meeting where we go through our day and a weekly meeting where we go more in depth into specific issues. At first it was a bit like getting blood out of a stone, but today even the most stubborn one is contributing to the meetings.

A couple of weeks ago I had my appraisal, as part of this process, 10 colleagues are supposed to give their feedback on what they think you are like as a leader and a team member. Before we start the feedback meeting Micro manager gives me the spiel about the feedback serving to improve my performance and as she proceeded to give her prose, I was preparing myself for negative feedback.

As she went through the feedback it wasn’t so bad, in terms of doing the job and my capabilities most people felt I was doing well. The only areas of improvement were in terms of relationships, most felt that they didn’t really know me. Well I had been in the role 5 months when this was done and some people who have known me a lifetime don’t actually “know” me, so I wasn’t going to sweat on that. The girls in my team were actually unbelievably positive, given that they barely said a word to me in the first month, at least I was making a positive impact in the team.

I did have to laugh at one comment by a lady, I say it’s a lady but this is all anonymous feedback. I think I know who it was, she said that I should try and get to know people on a personal level. I have a friend who I worked with at the Revenue and she put it perfectly when she says “what do you want me to say, how’s the cat?, how’s the dog?, sorry I don’t really care enough”. If that’s all this lady could say about me, well I will probably expect the same comment next year.

There was one comment, I know exactly who it was from, he is my counterpart in another department (who told me before the appraisal), who basically said that I am more than capable of doing my job but my senior management team are stifling. So micro manager says “who do you think they are talking about, really, who do you think they are talking about?”. I am looking at her thinking, are you serious, who the hell do you think he’s talking about. What I said though in a very sober voice was “you”. I couldn’t have been more diplomatic than that, because it was the truth and unfortunately I don’t know how to lie.

Her response was that if I disagreed with anything, I should say so, and that the other person (I will call her Jane) who she manages disagreed with a person who micro manager wanted to interview for a job in Jane’s team. Jane didn’t feel that this person was suitable. Micro-manager did. Jane had to interview this person. I don’t see how this was an example of disagreeing with management and them actually accepting it. Hey ho.

Since then I have taken the feedback and worked on it, well most of it, I try and feign interested if someone tells me about their kid being potty trained for the first time, but won’t go out of my way to ask.

It’s been a month since the feedback and I am disagreeing with micro-manager and she is still not listening to a word I say, she is still micro-managing but it’s all good. I gave myself my own personal critique a while ago and that’s to pick my battles and look at the positive side. The positive being I have time to catch up with you guys haha.

 

Until the next time

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Having your cake and eating it too

The reputation of the black man is that he is a cheater. Not only does he want to have his cake and eat it, but he also wants to take a bit out of every piece of cake in the bakery shop.

My auntie, just before I came back to London told me that “it wouldn’t be bad if I found a nice white man”. Her friend’s daughter who was similar to my age had found a nice white man and they were blissfully happy. For me personally, it is a matter of preference, I think Ebony and Ivory can live together in perfect harmony, just not on my piano keyboard though. Tried it once when I was 15 for a few weeks and it wasn’t really my thing so haven’t been there since.

I think that in love (which a very minute part of me somehow still believes in), it’s all a matter of luck. I don’t think one race has the monopoly over love and romance, they just have it or they don’t. A cheat, is also a cheat, and if they can have their cake and eat it, they won’t hesitate for a moment.

Take Mr C for example. I met him on Linkedin about 6 months ago. Linkedin is probably the only social networking tool that I use these days because the premise is that you meet professionals (although you do get the one or two that think it is Tinder or Match.com).

Mr C was working in Ghana and was from Newcastle, so I thought, good contact to have just in case I need someone who knows someone who can get me a job when I come back, or show me the expat trail.

Mr C however had other ideas and after a couple of chats I just decided to leave it alone.

Last night, I was doing a bit of random research on why people move to Ghana. Not for any specific purpose, let’s just say the spirit moved me. As I was reading through I saw a picture of a white man holding onto a very cute black woman. I looked at the name, it looked like Mr C. He was also from Newcastle, and was working in Ghana. Apparently he had gone bankrupt and used the little money he had to go to Ghana, met his “princess” and she was having his baby. This was in 2013.

So I checked my email, although what this Mr C told me sounded like him, he omitted the whole wife, baby and the rest. I couldn’t find the email at first because he had locked his account to private, but the name was still there glaring at me. That’s when I had to laugh at the whole thing and realised that there are some bum white guys out there too.

So as I said in the beginning it’s all luck, so on our journey to find that elusive one, whether he be white, black, yellow or blue, you just have to put it in prayer that your guy is satisfied with the cake he has.

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Losing our way

Before I start this piece, another thing that grates me is when I hear, we are “black people are accepted”, sorry I am a person, you don’t need to be tolerant or accepted, it is a given, I am part of the human race, accept me as a person, if you don’t like me for me (or my views), I don’t really care, it’s like Marmite, you either like a person or hate a person. You don’t need to accept me for the colour of my skin. But so as not to digress.

An actress and her children were murdered by her partner late last year (allegedly). The suspect ran off to Ghana. It pained me to learn that he was of Ghanaian blood, maybe it’s the proud Ghanaian in me, but I don’t want to hear that my fellow country man may have committed a crime.

However, that is the way of life here, it is not uncommon to hear that someone has been arrested for Robbery, GBH or even murder and you hear so and so Mensah, so and so Bonsu or so and so Asante.

As you know I am first generation born in UK, I have friends and family who have children now (and even grandchildren), they are well adjusted well rounded people. They integrate into the British society but also keep their cultural values because that had been instilled in their parents. So when I hear of those few bad apples, it is very disappointing.

The reason it makes me sad is because of the reason most Ghanaians come to settle in UK, US, Germany and alike. Some of these people barely finished high school and are not coming here as lawyers, doctors, etc.. While some do take advantage of higher education, some went into nursing, some do white collar jobs, the other proportion are working around the clock, going from one cleaning job to another or one security job to another all to make lives comfortable for their children’s future. Whatever walk of life are on though, one thing they have in common is the investment into their children.

Education is instilled from a very young age, the intention is to climb higher. Your route is school, university, job, start your own family but don’t just like their investment into you they are expecting their return in the end. The last part is not spoken, but you know watching your parent’s and family members send money back home, that one day the onus will be to do same in their old age.

I grew up in a loving dysfunctional family and we’ve turned out fine, if not a bit too ambitious to the detriment of starting our own families yet, but hey as long as I am on this side of a prison gate, there is still hope.

I get that university is not for everyone, and it’s not easy getting a job, heck even with a university degree it can be difficult. My sister graduated in 2010 and has been working in retail for the past 4 years because after 2 years of getting a temp job here and there, it was a case of get anything permanent rather than staying at home months on end.

I don’t claim to understand why then our kids are turning their backs on the sacrifices their parents made to turn to a life of crime. I was too scared of my parents to even talk back at school, the people I associated with had similar upbringings to myself, and I had friends of all races.

Are we losing our cultural identity? Who knows

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