Church Matters again

Contrary to my very opinionated blog persona, in real life I am actually quite shy. I don’t make friends that easily but the ones I do become like family to me. I usually go with their spirit, if I feel a positive vibe, I will come out of my shell and I am getting better at being a bit more open in my old age.

It’s the good vibe that I got from the church that keeps me going. Ok, so there is that one guy that every time he stands at the pulpit I am expecting to ask us to part with our cash. There’s also the couple that come across as a bit fake nice, but working in the places I have worked, you learn how to do the fake niceties back. For the most part, it’s a humble church and I give what I can from my heart and nobody judges you by what you wear, where you work, or what’s in your pocket (although they do go on about the whole alcohol thing and I can’t give up the odd glass of wine after work).

There is one particular person at my church that my spirit never took to. Not even to make nice. She doesn’t come to church that often but when she does she makes out that she is doing us a favour because she can go to her local church if she wants to. I have never confronted her about anything because that’s not my style she has every right to be the snobbish person she wants to be and I in turn have every right not to be in her presence. However, she did tread on my toes recently and I was forced to step back.

I have one job to do at church and that’s to read the announcements. I inherited a template but adapted it to words that I could confidently read out in church (you know Ghanaians, why use 2 words when you can use 10). I am not sure if anyone actually listens but that’s my contribution to doing God’s work.

My Pastor asked her to help out with the church, the aim is to make it more professional. Now I know that it was all done with good intentions, and she tried her best, I also know the congregation and it’s a small group, most of whom are doing shift work, and they weren’t buying what this girl was selling. I am all for change for the better and did my part whatever information she needed I did the best that I could. She asked me for my announcement template, I sent it to her, we were cool.

Our issue started when I travelled to Ghana. I emailed her the last announcement and as she was appointed the overall leader, asked her to get someone to read it out while I was away. I didn’t ask her to amend it, just add whatever announcements needed to be read out.

So I am at the airport, on my way to Ghana, haven’t even left the country when I check my email. This chick has sent a “new template”, apparently after discussions (with who, to this day I don’t know) and she sends over this brand new template. It was practically a book and well I am not a literary genius, grammar is not on point, but English is still my first language so if there were any changes to be made surely it should be from the person that reads the words out every Sunday.

While I was in Ghana, I let the Lord fight my battle, when I say the Lord, I mean one of the ladies that was on the email chain. I think she gave not only the girl but Pastor what for. Me, well after days of stewing I just decided to gently resign, a simple thanks for the opportunity but I would like someone else to take the mantle.

Fast forward to when I came back, and Pastor pulled me aside to ask me what happened, I was like, the girl said after consultation with YOU, this is the new template. From what I gathered, just like when I stand at the pulpit every Sunday, he wasn’t listening and she took that as the green light to do what she did.

Now, this is the reason why I don’t get this girl, it’s a trivial matter in the grand scheme of things but be bold enough to say, yes I did this, and this is the reason why. It may be a coincidence, but I have not seen her since the Sunday before I left in May. She hasn’t been back to church since, we’re almost in September. This is the reason why I have to follow my gut.

So anyway, all is restored in this world, normal services have resumed and I am back on Sunday reading my template to people who are probably not listening, but hey ho, that’s what I was asked to do and that’s what I do.

Who said that politics was only reserved for the office.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cultural Appropriation

A while ago I wrote about Jollof-rice-gate. Jamie Oliver had sparked outrage from some Ghanaians (and a couple of Nigerians) because they felt that he had appropriated our beloved dish.

Well it doesn’t stop there. Valentino used the prototype for the Ahenema (African sandals) and is selling the “thong sandal with wood detail” for $1,345.00. To add salt to the wound, you can buy a prayɛ, that is, an “African Handmade Dry Palm Sweeping Broom” online for £19.99 + £10 postage. Finally, and it hurts my soul to say this, Asos is selling waste beads for £65. They are calling it “ethnic beaded waste chains”. I am not going to comment on the last one, it’s upsetting that there is meaning behind it and it is being sold as a fashion item, the Ahenema also I feel if you going to sell this, you also need to sell the culture behind it. However, can I really be mad?

Why am I not mad that someone has taken what we owned, branded it and made a profit out of it? We don’t do it ourselves. We come from a country so rich in resources but prefer to work for someone else’s dream to come to fruition, so those people do what they always do, take it, put a spin on it and sell it back to us at 10 times the price.

I have had countless debates with smother on this topic (I say debates, it usually ends up with me walking away). Even the mere suggestion that we should boost up our profile as Ghanaians abroad is met with disapproving looks as if I want to start a revolution. In her mind, it is “you’re in Rome, do as they do, and stop with your nonsense”. At my last Christmas Party, I went down to Petticoat Lane, bought some African printed fabric and asked my seamstress to sew me an outfit.

Smother asked me why I didn’t just buy a dress from the store. Well firstly, I can never find anything that suits my figure, secondly, why would I buy a dress that I could likely end up wearing the same as someone else. Lastly, while I am proud of where I was born and what I have accomplished here, I have also actually done equally as much in my country of origin, why shouldn’t I advertise where I come from.

Why should I reserve my African printed dress for church or functions where only other Ghanaians will attend? Why should I hide my culture or only show it when I am around people who look like me are around.  If we are not present and shining our own light and educate others, it is inevitable that someone else will see the beauty and profit from it and we will stay mad because they don’t know any of the culture behind it. Simply selling it as fashion (and please don’t get me started on the Chinese inferior alternatives that are on the market).

I end this on a positive note. A first generation Ghanaian in America called Caroline Owusu-Ansah is making waves selling the simple Sapor (bathing sponge), ok I bought mine for £1 and she is selling hers for $18 but I will not knock her hustle, it is branded well and appealing to the masses. We need more people like this out there so the likes of Valentino and Asos won’t be recklessly profiting from our culture in the name of fashion.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A run of bad luck with British Airways

I recently went to Ghana, it was a quick dash and was a “blink and you miss it” kind of trip (apologies to all the people I didn’t call/catch up with). I got a good deal with British Airways which cost slightly more than my usual KLM. I had no issues with my luggage (even check in was surprised), no major delays but that’s really where my love affair with BA ends.

My first run of bad luck was when I tried to change my seat to an aisle seat. For whatever reason, I thought I clicked the button to confirm but I didn’t. I ended up in the middle, between a lactating mother and child and some army dude who I honestly believe was going to Ghana for a jolly. I had a little chat with the guy and he was being put up at Labadi beach hotel and was supposed to be doing some kind of training although he didn’t know what. Not a bad gig if you can have it.

The lactating mother, she was nice and the baby well as babies are they cry when they need to be fed or changed, I can’t hate on that but I didn’t get my usual nap as I had to get up for them to pass, move to the side while she breastfed and at points hold the baby while she got stuff out of the bag. Honestly, I didn’t mind that much but I think BA could have put her on one of the front rows for her convenience more than anyone else.

So I have settled down as much as I could do when dinner comes round, the choices are chicken or vegetarian. Now this is a flight going to Africa, some people don’t even eat vegetables let alone eat a vegetarian meal. Normally I would have pre-ordered the healthy option but thought I would take the chance. It gets to my row. Out of chicken. By this time I was like enough is enough, it sounds trivial but you can’t mess with a black woman and her chicken. What made it worse is the attendant placed the tray on my table, no apologies, just “we’re out of chicken”. I told her that I wouldn’t eat then and gave mine to the lady next to me and refused to eat. Lo and behold, she managed to get a chicken meal from business class (don’t mess with a girl and her chicken).

On the way back, I paid for a comfy seat at the front, unfortunately I was a bit too comfortable and fell asleep shortly after take-off (I had crammed a month’s worth of activities into 8 days), when I woke up it was 4am and I was hungry. On my last flight on BA many years ago, I fell asleep and the attendant woke me up, I think before they did that to make sure you are not a stuffer and swallower, but I don’t know if the rules had changed. Now granted, it was a long time after dinner was served, but you would think I would get a sandwich or something. She chucked a breakfast bar in my direction and walked away.

Since I returned I have made a complaint, in return I got a scripted very insincere apology. So what’s a girl to do, I may have to transit at Amsterdam but whilst I am still young to walk around without much hassle to the body, I will be taking KLM in future. I don’t know if it’s because it was a flight to an African country or I was unfortunate (twice), but not a fan of British Airways. I would even patronise a Ghanaian owned airline but we don’t have one.

Bring back Virgin Airlines to Ghana.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Efia on the Ghana High Commission

Last month, I had a meeting with the president. Well me and a couple of hundred other people. It was an interesting experience and hope to have time to send out that blog later.

One of his points was on the one factory, one district and he also touched briefly on those of us in the diaspora moving home. Both of which are topics close to my heart, I have been working in Supply Chain for about 10 years now and certain events in life have made me wonder if it’s God’s way of telling me to go back now. In saying that, especially as I get older, I don’t have the heart to hustle the way I did the last time so I am going to have to plan this well.

So, I thought to myself, why not try the Ghana High Commission. I checked online and there was a number for a number and there it was, a number for the education and recruitment section, winning. I rang the number, and someone actually answered, double winning, alas this story only goes one way, down.

The lady answers the phone “hello”, I counted to 10 before asking if it was the education and recruitment department of the high commission. She said “yes”. I could tell that this was going to be like pulling teeth but I’m 40 now and reverted back to the calmer person that I was in my twenties. I introduced myself gave my history and asked if she could give me some advice as to what channels to finding a job in Ghana. “Madam”, she said “I would advise you to use the same channels you used the first time”. She did go on to say that I should check out the Public Service Commission site, but to be honest, they rarely contact them. So I asked about the one factory one district, we engaged in a little small talk, but she didn’t know much about that either. Now while I understand that this is still in its infancy so she wouldn’t know much but from talking to her, I am not even sure she cares much about the manifest of the new government. For her, she was just doing her job, whatever that is.

So the last topic on my agenda was on their events. I have to say, apart from Star 100 I am quite out of touch with any type of Ghanaian Diaspora events. So I asked her if there was some type of mailing list, she gave me her email address and she was nice enough to ask me to attach my CV. I did so straight after the call, I didn’t get an acknowledgement back that it was received so who knows.

I went on the public services commission site, at first a “404 forbidden” came up, a week later it was up and running but the one job advertised had a closing date of February 2017. I guess I should be grateful that there was a post in this year (there was a job advertised on Linked in with a closing date of March 2014).

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

What makes a great Ghanaian Parent

The country I am currently residing in is very wicked. The sky is blue, the sun is shining yet it is freezing cold. Nonetheless, I am forcing myself to go out a bit more, when I say I am forcing myself, I started last week.

I had joined an organisation called Star 100, if you haven’t heard of it, they are a network for Ghanaian professionals. Membership costs around £45 a year and with that you get free access to a lot of events and meet-ups. Up until last week, I hadn’t taken advantage of any of my membership fee but I was intrigued by an invitation to attend and event called “what makes a great Ghanaian parent”.

The event was held in central London, refreshments were wine, juice and crisps. I am guessing that it was a man who organised the refreshments because we women know how to make a little go a long way…haha

Star 100 though has great potential, my sister is a social media addict and she was saying that had she known through any mode, she probably would have joined, I think they have a lot of people waiting to join, but I digress.

The seminar was split into three sessions. There was a pre-event survey which was conducted and the host went through the results of that. Followed by a question and answer session with a panel of parents. The last part was a talk from Seth Tandoh who is an expert in leadership and offers training to businesses in Ghana. I believe Seth spent his formative years in London and Ghana and has made a living now from offering his services in Ghana.

From the first session I learnt that:

  • The majority of us never had a pet growing up. Around 30% did but not sure if they were actual pets like a dog or a cat or pets that cannot make a mess on the living room floor like a gold fish.
  • The majority of us did many household chores for zero pocket money
  • Our parents showed affection through verbal praise rather than the physical such as hugs. Yes people saying “well done” is classified as affection.
  • We were influenced growing up mainly through the church, family and extended family. One of our major disappointments however were issues such as our parents not teaching us the local language

The last part of the survey asked us to tell a funny story about our experiences growing up. Now I thought I would have a hundred smother stories, but actually, I think she was quite sane growing up. I think it is as she has gotten older and her desire to become a grandmother/mother of the bride (although the latter is becoming a little less important as a precursor for the former). I couldn’t think of one personally, but I did tell a story that I lived vicariously through my best friend (I heard the story that many times, I feel like I lived it). Although not exactly my story, it was the first story they read out and even though I may sound biased, none of the other examples read out were as good as this one.

The second session was a Q&A session, the panel consisted of a father who home schooled his children, a mental health doctor who was also a divorced father, a mother who sent her child to private school and a mature Ghanaian lady whose children were grown. I learnt that:

  • Parents who like me spoke little or none of their language of origin were concerned about not being able to pass this onto their children, but there are quite a few places where children have the opportunity to learn and they are enrolling their kids in these classes
  • 40% of the job opportunities today were not in existence 10 years ago so parents should not be pushing for their children to be lawyers, doctors and accountants
  • Respect is reciprocal and children should be respected as much as the adults (never knew that 40 years ago)
  • First generation British born Ghanaians are trying their hardest to keep the cultural values that they grew up with but at the same time allowing their children to gain the best of the environment that they are living in.
  • Somehow, someway, we end up emulating our parents in some way and find ourselves saying phrases to our children that were said to us growing up.

I was quite intrigued about the gentleman who home schooled his children. I did want to ask what his reasoning behind home schooling his children was, but there was one lady with an exercise book full of questions and we had already started late so I left it. I understand he had a level of control over their education and who they interact with, but at school you learn that there are people you don’t get on with and never will but you learn to get on with (as long as it doesn’t move into bullying because that’s a whole different conversation). How was he preparing his children from that?

If anyone has that answer, interested to know.

There was one other guy that had, let’s say “daddy issues”. I don’t know his experiences growing up but I am guessing that his father was well to do in the community but he didn’t really mix with Ghanaians himself and his father commanded him rather than advised him. This guy felt that he could not relate to Ghanaians and Nigerians although he was married to one of Ghanaian origin. His reason was because of one idiot who left their child in a dirty nappy for longer than they should have and he thought that maybe he was being a bit too “booshie”. Lady with the plenty questions, she spoke with a very posh accent when she asked her questions but she didn’t wait for the panel to answer that and when she did. The posh accent was still there but the body language was showing that there was some ghetto in her that wanted to slap the silly out of him. She kept it classy though apart from the neck cocking, and told him what you’re all thinking. There are bad parents in all cultures, so he shouldn’t classify a whole race based on this experience.

I wanted to know where he lived, because maybe he should move out. I don’t know, I could be wrong, but I feel that in an act of rebellion to his upbringing he has gone to an area where a lot of his “people” are in an effort to get to know them but ended up on the wrong side of the road.

The last session was from Seth Tandoh, he lost me a bit in the beginning and I thought it was more of a plug to his business because it felt more of a talk on leadership. However he did tie it back to present day leadership as parents and observed the fact that we here in England are getting closer to the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child and we first generation are getting more closer.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it, with a few tweaks I think if they did this event again I would recommend this. It’s not just a forum for Ghanaians but for anyone who is experiencing what a first generational goes through (either through birth or by marriage) or anyone who is just interested.

One thing I know is that whatever anyone thinks, we are proud of our heritage and we are keen to pass this on to our next generation.

I also know that even though I will probably have more smother stories to tell, my parents weren’t actually that bad growing up. haha

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Making a mockery out of a language

 

I was born in the late 70s and back then it wasn’t cool to be African. Although my parents spoke their language in the home, they didn’t speak it to me or my sisters except when my mum was angry and cussing us out for doing something wrong. In my household we speak Twi (spoken by the Ashanti’s), it is part of the Akan family (there are a lot of versions and still learning the different types still).

I learned the language by hanging around my dad and his friends, and piecing things together until I started to hear full conversations. My motivation, I could always tell when smother was talking about me but never knew exactly what she was saying and I just wanted to know.

Learning to hear the language was quite easy, but speaking it was always the problem. With my cockney accent and no one to speak it with me, it was always going to come out a bit funny. It is coherent but you can tell that obroni ‘ka twi. At the age of 40 (yes, I have finally said goodbye to my 30’s), I am at a stage where I don’t really care what you think of my ability to speak the language, if I feel like speaking it, I will.

It’s quite funny because when anyone asks me now, they say with pride that yes, I can understand and speak it, my sisters on the hand. They look confused and say, “ahh, I don’t know why”. I can’t say anything but in my head I think “crock of sh***”, but I too smile and shrug my shoulders.

As a British born Ghanaian understand why my younger and older counterparts are reluctant to speak it, in my younger days I was that person. In fact there are quite a few reasons. Now it is cool to be Ghanaian, hey there’s a lot more of us in the new millennium then there was 40 years ago, plus a lot more non-Ghanaians are travelling to Ghana so learning the language is not something that we don’t want to do.

The first reason is, just like French, Spanish and all the other languages out there, unless you have someone to speak it with, how are you going to get it. Even now, it is only due to living in Ghana for all those years that my vocabulary has become advanced as it is (in England, the language is a kind of hybrid of twi and English but going to somewhere such as Kumasi you get to hear the language in its purest form). I remember when I was about 10, I had just come back from Ghana for the first time and I was just so excited that I had learnt all these new words. I told my dad that I wasn’t going to speak English at home anymore. My dad laughed, and whenever I attempted to speak twi, he would answer back in English. Smother, well she was told me why I am I bothering myself. So in the end I gave up.

The other reason, and even now I get it, but as I said, care not. I’ve experienced it and seen it done to others, when those that know better end up laughing and saying “oh look at the British trying to speak Twi”. It really used to bother me especially when the provider of the mockery is someone old enough better.

The other day, a 50 year old preacher man laughed at me because I pronounced something wrong (if you don’t get the tone right, you may say something which has a completely different meaning). I had to tell him off, that at least I am trying, I didn’t get angry but did have to put him straight. Now this man, well a typical Ashanti man and you know about them getting their R’s and their L’s the wrong way round. This is a man who spent the whole of sermon pronouncing Goliath as Goreeath. Did I laugh? Do I laugh when someone pronounces a blender as a Brenda? Do I laugh when asked if I would like to watch the Terry? Finally when someone says that something is “grolious”, I know they mean glorious.

So to you who wander why it seems we are too shy or don’t want to understand/speak the language this is most likely why. To those who mock those of us trying, all I can say is people in glass houses.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A letter to the President of Ghana

On the 7th January 2017, history was made. After two failed attempts, Nana Addo Dandwa Akufo-Addo was sworn into the highest office in the land of Ghana.

I have to admit, I was on the bandwagon that thought he should give up, I thought you’ve done well, you’ve made your mark, let a new person come and try his luck. I am actually glad that I am wrong though, it just goes to show, it doesn’t matter what your position, perseverance and belief in oneself is all you need to get to where you want to. He’s not only leaving his legacy of being the president, but he’s illustrated what it’s like not to give up on not to give a **** about what people say you should do.

So I was thinking, if I were to meet him, what would we talk about?

First I would have to address corruption. Public sector corruption, well that’s a given, he knows he has a lot to do there, the last government were the only ones growing fat, while the rest of us were “growing” lean. However, I am also talking about in the private sector. In particular, the multinationals. They may not be directly corrupt but they do use agencies to cut corners.

I would also question whether what they are bringing into the country is commensurate with what they are taking out. I know the cost of living is cheaper in Ghana (or supposed to be) but I still don’t understand how a company paying $4,000 for a role in their own country pays $500 in Ghana. Then to add insult to injury, sell their same products at the cost equivalent to what they would get it in their home country. I think there should be a minimum wage specific to multinationals.

Then there is the “galamsey”. I remember listening to the radio, an Indian man went to the police to report that he’s driver had made off with his gold. No honey, it is not your gold, it belongs to the people of Ghana. I don’t understand how people who are not citizens of the country can send out a local man for pittance to risk his life for gold that will be pocketed by the non-citizen. That needs to stop right away.

Another issue, electricity and the electricity corporation of Ghana. A washing machine, is considered a luxury, a Bentley is an extravagant luxury. Electricity however, is a necessity. Businesses have folded due to the irritant that is “dumsor”. The last government left a huge debt, I think it’s close to $1m, instead of paying their bill, they left a lot of excuses. I can’t see the ECG turning off the power to the Flagstaff House, so hoping the bill gets paid.

Education, this was a big issue for our newly elected president. I think it needs to go one step further to look to the quality of education and not just the quantity. I have met some of the most intelligent, smart and savvy people who barely went to high school, I also university graduates who didn’t have an original thought in their head. Education is more than passing exams, it’s about thinking and being curious, asking questions and seeing different points of view. I hope that it is not just about getting these kids educated but getting them educated right.

These are just a few of my thoughts. In reality, we will see how it goes. I do have high hopes. Unlike many before him, Akufo-Addo comes from political royalty so for me, I see someone who is actually looking to improve the situation of Ghana and not just line his pockets. As long as he pays attention to the people around him and help the people he is being paid to serve, we could see Ghana growing back to her former glory. Time will tell. In the meantime, I wish him all the best.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments