Have your parents ever?

Every week since I have been back, my good friend E has called me thanks to her understanding that I have only 200 free minutes and she has like a gazillion. We usually spend about two hours catching up on the week’s events, and spend about 30 minutes of those talking about our respective smothers. Although they believe to be perfect in every way, they missed the boat on taking the time out to actually understand your child, but rather prefer to have mini me’s who if not in line with their values (going to church every Sunday, passing judgement on everyone etc..), they prefer to use the guilt trip. My friend made a poignant point that, unlike our caucasion counterparts, because our parents moved to this country when they were very young and didn’t have their mother’s to tell them what not to do, they obviously did everything right, therefore, we as their offspring must follow their same formula. My smother, well she bought a house, put all her children through university, worked in a very respectable profession before running a business for 20 years and even her step child is doing well. Therefore, why shouldn’t be Mary Poppins, perfect in every way.

Anyway, I digress slightly, what I wanted to do with you guys is play a game of “have your parents ever”.  I am going to pose a few questions, I am sure that your parents have said/done same, but I will go on to give you my examples and you can decide whether my smother is better/worse than yours.

I will start with a few easy ones. Firstly, has your parents ever pee’d you off knowing that what they are about to say or do is going to get your goat.

The answer is almost invariably yes. What smother usually does is start off with “don’t get angry but…”, that means that she is going to say something which is going to get me annoyed, usually repeating something that she said before or something that is probably quite obvious, but of course she feels that coming from her is going to change my circumstances. In the event that she forgot to start her sentence with “don’t get angry…” she will then end her spiel with “I only tell you this because I care, if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t say anything”. These will be simple things like “have you had a bath today” or “all jobs now are advertised on the internet”, I could go on but I have to take to into consideration my word count.

These are petty little things but after almost 38 years of it, it gets tiresome. My father, he also has his moments. Although I can contain my emotions somewhat with him, I do have to bite my tongue. For example, my father is the unofficial food monitor in my house. I remember, I have to admit, there was a time when I just ate. I was 5ft 4 and almost 70 kilos because I would eat a lot of street food and then top up with whatever had been cooked at home. My father always used to comment on my eating habits, and one day I changed them which resulted in a 13 kilo deficit. Now however, he feels that he has to remind me to eat. He can call me literally three times a day, each time he will ask “have you eaten” as if, if he doesn’t call I may well forget. Like seriously.

Have your parents used you to get back at the other.

Now I don’t mean, parents are divorced and going through a bitter custody battle or trying to use their time with you as a bargaining tool. I mean, parents live in the same house, sleep in the same bed but smother wants attention, and used you to get that. I remember one time, dad wasn’t giving her attention so she decided she will go out randomly, usually just to the local town centre. Then one day she tells me, “if your father asks, imply that I am having an affair”.  I really wish I was joking but that’s exactly what she said to me. All I could do at that point was stare, unfortunately for her, my dad never asked and the weather was cold so it was a colossal waste of time and she gave up. For someone who is so great at communicating with her children, I don’t know why she can’t use that same energy for her husband (actually on second thoughts, he stopped listening to her years ago).

Have your parents ever bragged about what they do for you

I used to go out on a Saturday, not very far, the same town centre where smother was having her imaginary affair, well for some reason they thought that I wasn’t studying and asked my godfather to talk to me. He sat me down and relayed what they had said, I was confused, but was hit with double confusion when he told me that he doesn’t give his children pocket money, they have to do chores first so I should save mine, buckle down and I would have all the time in the world to have fun when I had finished my exams. Now first of all, I did my chores for free, I had money for a burger on a Saturday because I would spend my lunchtimes in the library, so what were these people talking about. But, what could I say, if that’s how they saw it, then it must have been the truth.

Have your parents ever set you up on a blind date.

My dad, God bless him, is not the parent that gives pressure over marriage. When people ask why we are not married yet, he will say “when it is God’s time”. As much as I love him though, he is rather passive aggressive and I believe that he has a seat reserved right next to the Father so has deemed himself fit to do his will here on earth. He seems to think that I have imaginary friends so is trying to push some random guy onto me, it is either that or after the last guy feels that he is better qualified to finding me a suitor. A friend, who he told me, is a good Christian guy, is studying Oil and Gas at university and is an all-round good guy. However, according to law, this young man should by rights be on his way back to Ghana once he has finished studying, also, my dad spent a few years trying to set this guy up with my younger sister. I am not sure how much he wants us to get married as opposed to having this guy in the family but from the other side of the world, he has passed this guy’s number onto me. Awkward.

I have a feeling that the longer I stay, the more stories I will have to tell, I may even turn this into a series. Parents, well they believe they know what’s best and as they say, they do it because they care. So I sit here quietly and take whatever else they have to hit me with it, and try not to get screwed up more than I am already.

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A newbie’s guide to London…

This piece is for all the newbie Ghanaians wanting to come to abrokye. I thought I would give you a guide and tell you what your relatives probably wouldn’t even think of telling you.

First of all, when you get here, if you’re feeling homesick and missing those home comforts (waakye, kenkey, people speaking the Akan language, a row of churches etc..), you need to find a place with the word “ham” and their environs. That is East HAM (East London), TottenHAM (North London) or PeckHAM (South London). The only exception to the rules are Hackney & Dalston (East London) and Brixton/Croydon (South London), however they have become what we called in the 80’s, yuppiefied. Yuppie’s were the up and coming youths with a lot of cash to burn, since the 2012 Olympics, these cats have taken up residence forcing our Ghanaian brethren to seek more affordable housing in Essex, although you will find that they are also “hams”, that is RainHAM and DagenHAM.

Travelling in and around London is quite expensive, when I left, a monthly travel pass for zones 1 – 4 (so the whole of London) was around £80, it is now £177. Our Mayor of London feels that this isn’t an issue, but I never really thought much of Boris Johnson and I may have a libel suit on my hands if I talk about him any further, so you will find that the bus may be more suitable for a newbie in town. The trains and the underground, although not cheap, get you to your destination fast and you are less likely to get lost around town because there are maps plastered everywhere. Just like the tro-tro, if you want to use the must cheaper means of travel, you will have to get up a bit early and although the bus will tell you where you are going, you may have to ask a passer-by which bus to take if you are going to travel from one end of London to the other.

I remember back in the day, when a cousin of mine used to come over to work, his friend would set of rather early to get from South London to East London by bus. We live close to the underground and so my cousin’s method of cost saving was to wait until after 5 and pick up an unwanted travel card that had been discarded on the station floor. Unfortunately now, just like everything else, you have to top up on an electronic card, so either you add a travel pass to your monthly budget or you find inhabit yourself close to town so you can walk.

Jobs in London, well the population in town is almost 9 million, my sister told me that to be a receptionist nowadays you need a 2:1 (2nd class upper) degree and well you know my situation, all I can tell you is that it’s hard, but it is not impossible. You will need a National Insurance card and a bank account. That too is not so easy to obtain. All I can advise is that, if you are coming over for financial gain, pray that those around you are trust worthy. You would be surprised that your own relative may charge you for the use of their assets. At the same time, thanks to a few Nigerian scam artists, the banks pay close attention to any black person with an accent, so don’t go off on a frolic of your own, think you are smart and open an account without the aid of a local. You may find yourself in hot water if you don’t have all the necessary documentation.

So that’s all for today, if I have any more pearls of wisdom for you newbie’s thinking of coming over or are here I will let you know, or drop me a line, I am here to help.

Before I go, in terms of buses, here they are not the Benz buses, they are red, either double decker or long and bendy. If you do however see a bus with the Prime Minister’s face on it, do not enter as it only goes to one destination. Heathrow Airport….

Bye for now…

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A sense of belonging…

First of all, I would like to say a big sorry to those of you I should have reached out to and haven’t. Hopefully once you have read this piece you will know where my head has been at and know that once I am in the right mindset I can speak to you with a happy tone instead of the miserable old bag that I have become, something that is easy to fit in to when you live in a country where the people are as grey as the weather.

I have never had a child, so I don’t want to make light of post-natal depression, but in this past month, it really feels that I have something quite close to it, with England being that child, that I have gone through lots of pains for and now that I am back, feel no connection to it and it has no connection to me. The only shining light is that I remembered why I left in the first place.

I have to admit, with the constant power cuts and with my house, car, and me, falling to bits, I was in the frame of mind to come back, but now that I am here, it feels like I have gone back in time. If not for the fact that my birthday next month will add a years on this earth, the last 6 years seems to have meant nothing over here. I even decided to go and claim those national insurance pennies that I had amassed over the 10 to 15 years as a British national, and was told that just like the French, the Dutch and whoever else decides to make claims in this country, the fact that I stepped out for a while means that I have to sit here like a fig for 3 months and only then, if I am not in employment will they give me a bit of pocket money to live with. I am not surprised though. At the age of 60+, smother, who has contributed to the national coffers for 40 years of her life is only entitled to a mere £100 a week for her troubles. £1 up from last year, and with that she is supposed to pay her electricity bill, council tax, gas bill etc, oh yes and eat…, at least if she took that to Ghana she would have close to one person’s salary over there.

Things were looking bright when I came back, I knew that it would not be easy slipping back in, but I didn’t know that it was going to be 10 times worse, I spoke with some agencies, and they said I had a great CV but a month down the line, not even an interview and the agencies are realising they will not getting a commission out of me, have gone cold too. Apparently, even though I was working at the number one multinational known in the world, because the experience was in Africa, I might as well have been a cleaner. In fact, had it not been for the British Passport that everyone seems to want to have proof that I am “one of them”, I would probably be on the lookout for David Cameron’s immigration bus to take me back to where I came from.

It’s the same problem that has reared its ugly head once again. I have enough certificates and qualifications to cover my bedroom wall, yet even after I had accrued a mountain of qualifications, I never quite knew whether I wasn’t selling myself well or if my name read like a Nigerian fraudster in the eyes of the white folk. This is why I left in the first place, if I went to where everyone looked like me, would I have the same problem? I found out there, it was a bit of both. However, I got opportunities that I don’t think I would have ever got here. When I was here, I did a law degree, not because I really wanted to be a lawyer, but because I knew I was greater than my environment. The block was though, that I was on step 2 of a 3 step ladder, and well unless someone died, had I stayed and not taken control of those surroundings, I would have been waiting every year for one extra pound on my salary if that. I went to Ghana because of a desire to succeed, and for a while I did. Even with the epic failure that was Olam, at least for a while I was able to pay my bills and enjoy a kebab from DnR once a week. Whatever the mistake, at least I was in control.

Now, however, the control went to my family and forced to hear smother telling me what’s best. I can’t even get a job doing the shit that nobody wants to do, I am a legal, illegal immigrant you could say.

But it is ok, I am Efia,  a grafter and a fighter. I did it once and I will do it again, at least when I go back I go with a knowledge that I need solar panel for my house and an income outside of a regular salary. As a good friend of mine said, it’s just a short break while I figure it all out. My mission for the right now is to ensure that I am never dependant on anyone, I need to take back control of my life and my finances, because I am obviously too big in my shoes to continue to be a humble employee. So for now, I may have to take that travel back to 6 years ago, while I build up some capital and plan my next move. However, if this one month has taught me anything, it is that smother definitely doesn’t know best.

So now that I know what I am going to do, just need to figure out the how I am going to do it….and that’s where my story ends for now, but I’ll keep you posted….

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I’m back Back (but not for good)

I was thinking about starting a new blog, but I think I will stay on this one because I know that my London “trip” will be a temporary one. Whether it be six weeks or six months, I know that I am in the body of a woman born in Ghana because this cold weather is killing me.

For those that I wasn’t able to say goodbye to, please forgive me, I am terrible at saying goodbye and it was awful telling those that are in my family that I was leaving so I would have been a blubbering mess before I got to Kotoka if I had spoken to you all.

So what happens now, well my main priority is my house, now that I will be paid in the great old British Pound it should be easier to save up enough money to clear off that debt and live in the lifestyle of DSTv for a while. Then I need to start a business, my problem is and always has been that I am way too big for my size 6 shoes and I don’t think that coming to work for someone here is going to dim that flame. Luckily I am in a country that is 5million years ahead of the country I have lived in for 6 years, so I am going to be looking into ways of entering the Ghanaian marketing which is innovative and cost effective but yield a profitable return. Something that will appeal to the East Legoners and even if I end up being a salaried worker, I can have a “bit on the side” in terms of cash flow.

In the meantime, I am braving the -1 degree Celsius cold in the hopes that I can find a job to get me going, word to the wise, if you are thinking of coming back home, don’t come back during the coldest days of the year. It’s about to snow here and even with the 10 layers of clothes that I am wearing, I still feel like a block of ice.

To all the people I am yet to say hello to, I will be in touch, just readjusting my body clock, it took me 24 hours just to open my laptop so I am sure that by the end of the week my blue blood will turn a shade of red and I can think clearly enough to have a coherent conversation with you (at the moment all I can think of is how cold you are).

So unless I get that book deal and that interview with Oprah which takes said book to great heights, I will be here, thinking and planning and hopefully working, and blogging and keeping you up to date with my progress. The one saving grace is unlimited broadband so I can write to my hearts content. The one silver lining in this very grey cloud.

Thank you all for continuing to read and support me through all my decisions and will speak to you soon.

A special shout out to my friend “TheOnlyWayIsGhana” doing it for us expat girls, I hope that we meet one sunny day in Accra very soon. To D, my greatest supporter in Accra, it is your pearls of wisdom that have kept me going and when I make it big you will be my PR manager…haha, my girls P and E, will be in touch soon, a date with starbucks very soon. And T, my burning flame, until the day we meet over a tall glass of Choice, it’s you I will miss the most while I am away.

Nothing left to say right now apart from “I need a heater”, so until the next time….

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Never can say goodbye….well not permanently

Some of you are not going to be surprised by this, some of you may be disappointed and some of you are probably thinking “it’s about time”. However, I am checking out of Ghana for a while. It was always my plan B and was dependent on the how the job worked but a series of incidents made me realise that I had probably outstayed my welcome by probably two years if I am going to be honest.

The signs were there even before I took the job. My employer had talked about a high turnover and ventures that have failed but it was always because of poor labour as he made out. Apart from some Germans who were sent down from heaven, it seemed that every black person who had passed through his doors were incompetent. Although he had said this, for me I felt that it was a good place to learn for when I eventually start my own business (whenever that would be).

A week into employment, I was like, I need to make it to the end of the month. A series of correspondence prior to my joining, I found him rather passive aggressive. Then unfortunately, on the first day, everything that could go wrong did go wrong and I was late on the first day. Although I did make up the hour at the end, his end of week “first impression” email he sent was bordering on the passive-aggressive to just plain aggressive. Me personally, I don’t like to give a bad impression, so I responded just to clear the air, he in turn, turned the whole situation around and made me look like I was an oversensitive idiot.

So I am thinking, I just need to get through this, just long enough to get paid, I was injecting a lot of cash into travel and my car was used once in a while for business purposes but repairing those faults where on me. When I tried to have a discussion with him about this, again, passive-border-aggressive and he did not use my car again. This was fine by me mind you, my “rickety old car” as he called it was getting me from A to B just about but going to C may have killed her.

So a month in and already I am feeling a little disrespected in what this man is saying and I don’t trust that this guy is going to pay me. He had made a few comments which made me think, this guy wants very little for a hell of a lot, and his mind is that he is the boss so he can do what he says. I am going to be straight up, I don’t think this guy wants employees, he wants mindless slaves. He is probably telling everyone now that I had a bad attitude I was lazy and I really don’t care, but by week 4 it got to a point where I said to myself that he can run his business any way he wants, but it’s not for me. At that point, he had called a colleague, stupid, in fact he used a vernacular word which translated means worse than calling someone stupid. That’s when I walked out and never turned back. With my experience from those cowboys at BJ Global (probably was a BJ that got the lady a franchise from Antal recruitment), it is likely that I would never get paid so I walked. As predicted he referred me to a line in my offer letter (which never got to me to sign) which said I didn’t give my 15 days’ notice. His tone, once again passive-aggressive, now he claims that people who have left him come back, but I am sure that they are people who don’t know what they’re about and probably went from one, one-man business to the next and realised he was the lesser of two evils.

For me, even if I met a boss like him again, it would have to be for a lot more money than he claimed he was going to pay me so that’s why it is time for me to go.

I am probably going to be one of his party stories, I don’t care though, in fact I wish him well and I would like to shake the hand of the person who finally thinks that he is an ok guy to work with. Me personally, I think that I am a good judge of character but though he was a little bit anal, what I wasn’t expecting a complete sociopath but we live and learn.

So, with that, the disasters that were my previous relationships and the fact that I am sitting at home, eating one meal a day. I need to go home for a while, make some money, at least if I am going to stay at home watching DSTv, I should have a house that is paid for and food in my fridge. I will never use the word “I am starving” for granted again, because sitting here, there are days when I am literally starving but thank the lord for sardines (it’s cheap in just about every country).

I am giving myself a year or two, in the event that I get an opportunity to work in Ghana for a decent salary, hey I will not say no. I love Ghana, I just don’t love the economy. In the meantime, while I am there, I can do some more studying (add to my portfolio of certificates), save money and really think about in what way I can make an impact in this country.

I will always remember the girl who had just hit 30, preparing for a life in Ghana, optimistic that she was going to make it big and leave a mark. She is still there somewhere, but I think she lost her way at some point, tried too much to fit in and then ended up just an ordinary local. That’s why I am taking this time out, I know I am destined for greatness and still believe that it is here, I just need to take a time out and really think about how I am going to get there.

So, I want to thank all of you for following me, I won’t be gone totally, I am sure going back to UK is going to have it’ s own challenges, but for now, I bid you a fond farewell and see you soon.

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He’s just not that into you….still

In the book of Psalms, there are two types of prayers. The hallelujah, praise the lord for all he has done. Then there is the other one where the flesh is weak, enemies are surrounding and even friends are not around. I am feeling the latter at the moment. I have friends that I have to talk to, but with a car that has decided that it is about to give up the ghost, I can’t even afford to take a taxi to go and see them, so I am being held prisoner in my house.

I have though got DSTv to the end of the month. I have been watching a lot of the housewives programmes, Atlanta, New Jersey, New York, OC, the basketballers, the hip-hop, the preachers. You name them, I watch them. In a few minutes I am going to watch NeNe get ready for her upcoming nuptials. Am I bored of it, hell yes, but for reasons I will talk about later, they are all the friends I have got right now.

I do however wonder about the husbands, it must take a certain level of love to look past all their crazy antics, brawls and general girly bitchiness, but these men do. They stand by their women. Which is why I am writing this article in response to my experience with guys in Ghana.

In the past couple of years especially, discounting the guys that were just not worth my time, I can’t even get one guy that can look past my imperfections, some of these women in the course of many seasons have got one, two sometimes three. Even NeNe divorced her husband and remarried him with him giving an apology.
I spend my time, trying to be the perfect girl. I try not to be too clingy, yet I try to give a certain amount of attention. I try to be understanding of their needs, I try not to make my problems theirs. Then what happens, the halo slips, one incident (or maybe a few) and I get a lecture on how to conduct myself, and advice for “future relationships”.

The insecure in me does a self-analysis every day of my life, so I don’t need anyone to help lower the self-esteem. The confident in me though thinks that these guys from day dot, are just looking for a reason to say “aha, that’s it, that’s why she’s not the one”. I am a big girl, saying “I am just not that into you” really will not hurt. Ok, well it will hurt just a little bit but I will get over it. I think it will hurt a darn less than a detailed analysis ripping my character apart.

I am not talking about a particular one guy, they all seem to go down the same line in any event. Most of the time, it’s like a feeling, and I try and get it out of them, they say, “we’re fine”, but still can sense it, then one day I snap. Then it’s like “oh, there she goes, that’s the reason”. It happens every time, and especially in the last two years. Must be something in the air or something.

So, while you are do the analysis guys, I want you to think about this. Maybe, just maybe, the halo slipped because I was trying to be perfect rather than letting you see the real me from day dot and could have saved us all the heartache. But this is the story of my life. I will get over it and move on like I usually do.

So I leave you guys to ponder over this one especially. If you are just not that into a girl, or if you just don’t want to go there, we are ok just being friends. We don’t need to be analysed, and we do get it when you are just not that into us.

In one of the housewives a show, the tag line is, “you never know how strong you are until you have to be” or something like that. My time in Ghana, especially with the relationships I have had.

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Happy New Year

This is the first of a trilogy of articles, marking the end of my year and my decision for the future. I know sometimes I go into too much detail into my life, I have been told that I can be controversial, but this has always been my outlet where I can share my feelings. This is where my sometimes dull and ordinary existence allows me to be extraordinary and creative. Although I don’t know most of you on by face, I have embraced your comments and your feedback in the same way I would my closest and dearest friends.

First of all I want to wish you a happy new year, a week in and I am hoping that even if it hasn’t started off on the right footing, we will all be able to find our feet and dance down 2015 to the rhythm of good vibes.
I had decided that chasing after the ECG was going to prove futile, the district manager span me a yarn that the estate officer had allowed them to enter my property. I don’t know how they managed to obtain the key to a padlock I bought but that was the lie they were sticking by and this is a country where without links you are kind of up shits creek without a paddle. All I could do know was beef up security and invest in solar panels so I am not so dependent on the national grid.

ECG though was not finished with me it seems. One afternoon shortly after the turn of the New Year I got a knock on my gate. In fact it was a crash on my gate with what sounded like an animal hounding “agooo”. I am not one for opening the gate to strangers so I ignored them in the hopes that these noisy fools would pass on by. So I am looking out of the window and I see a man in a blue coat with a ladder passing by to the house next door. So I hung around the back, something in me thought that I would wait just in case.

Eventually, they left but not for long, the noise became louder and I am like WTF do these people want and came out from the back ready to fight with whoever this inbred was. I guess the old man was just as riled up, and he shouted something at me in Ga, and then demanded I open the gate. Well child, let me tell you, red rag and bull. I am like who the hell is this idiot and who did he think he was demanding. Eventually after a lot of insults (from both sides), he tells me that he is here to check on the meter and he can see that it has been tampered with. Then he reminded me that the box was for the government. So I told him that this is my property and he had no right in the first place to enter it. Then he said that “a mistake had been made”, but that was not the point. Really, that was not the point, like I could have put my hand around his bear neck. After a lot of back and forth, I told him, that if they wanted to check on their meter, by all means, they should enter the same way they did the first time.

“This is not America….., or Britain, I will cut you off from the top” the man says while another guy is accusing me of getting someone to tamper with the meter. Like I have that much time, but anyway, they said they will be back, and I said by all means, and they should bring the police so that we can find out which criminal entered my property without my permission.

So, I probably shouldn’t have got mad, should have let them do their job, but I am getting kind of pissed off with the people of Ghana, not doing the right thing, I am doing the right thing (actually paying for the electricity) and now what, they feel that I am paying too little so are coming to cause me more damage. I don’t think so.

In the meantime, I am being terrorised by ECG, have about 90 cedis on the meter, it is not like I am using the electricity for free that they can cut me off for no reason (I hope), but if they do, I will deal with them, I have no choice but to. Happy New Year!!!

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