Author: Rambling Roommates

afrolove

Love Brewed in an African Pot… with a Melody!

RRPicI love love.

I just love flowers and rainbows and unicorns and romance and happy endings (not those… gutter mind much?)…

I love beautiful ‘how I met my partner’ stories and ‘how I almost let her get away but then I got my mind right’ stories…

I love ‘Love and Basketball’ because I secretly wish I knew someone most of my life and just woke up one day and realized they were the person I was meant to be with.

I am a hopeless romantic and I believe there is a love that can conquer anything.

I love love!

I also love love songs. Really pretty ballads with someone crooning on a track… giving us the false sense that relationships are these collections of 5 minute moments of bliss, set over a beautiful piano composition with simple lyrics that you remember for a lifetime.

Ah… love!

USrenewallove

Recently, a friend of mine sent me a song he composed and sang. It is a beautiful ballad about being in love until eternity and— catch this— it is all in Twi, one of the popular languages spoken here in Ghana. So here’s the thing, if you understand the popular music scene here in Ghana, there is literally one mega genre into which all music sort of sits under. Whether you call it afro-beats or hiplife, the truth is, the Ghanaian sounds are usually these fast paced, repetitive dance tracks that will definitely tear up the club but may not push the envelope in musicality or content. Don’t get me wrong, Ghanaian music is definitely making waves internationally and there are people who are trying to do something different in the form of music or content, but they are definitely few and far between. Our award show categories don’t even include a plethora of music genres (ie. best ballad, best traditional, best dance etc.), its more or less categories of best types of musicians (ie. best new artist, best artist with a name that starts with an S, best artist to release a track that became a jingle during a telecom commercial, etc.) So I was really grateful to hear a ballad sung in Twi with such soulful delivery.

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Probably Nigerian. Probably spit the ill game by suggesting they take this photo. Probably got her address in no time to send her postal mail. #DonJuanwasReallyDonUgojukwo

Now this could definitely turn into a conversation about identity and music and the influence of the West and authenticity— but I am here to focus the conversation on how important it is to have this kind of music. Songs like this restore your faith in African men because a) an African man wrote it and you sort of want to believe (whether true or otherwise) that there are guys out there that love this beautifully and b) it puts the local language into a different light, allowing you to appreciate it beyond proverbs and general narrative conversation. African men definitely get a bad rep for being particularly unromantic— well Ghanaian men, I should say. Everyone knows that Senegalese and Nigerian men get the stereotype of being especially handy with words and compliments and romance (but will be spitting the same great game to all the woman in the village). Ghanaian men get the stereotype of being timid and dutiful, though not particularly romantic, after all, taking care of you is the highest form of love really— so there’s that. But I like that this song, sung by a Ghanaian (even though he looks straight up Igbo— but I digress haha), is in a Ghanaian language and characterizing the principles of love and commitment— as opposed to the hiplife version of love where women are compared to food, and sex and love are used interchangeably.

Beyond just the song, the video is also beautifully done and super creative. It definitely transcends ethnicity, culture, race and location. Anyone can watch the video, and whether you understand the language or not, you can immediately relate to the themes. My favorite part is the glitter hands… because glitter is my favorite color it’s such a beautiful way to represent the sanctity of marriage. I also just love the overall use of fingers, especially when the girl finger (whatever that means— talk about gender norms, lawd!) kicks her foot up… so cute!

In any case, I will stop gushing over the video, and let you all judge for yourself. Whether you understand what is being said or not, you can concede that the love brewed in this African pot is sweet like aliguntugui— ok I am done with food references and love (HA!).  Check out the video and let us know what you think!

Do you think there is a place for this type of love song in Ghana’s music scene? Sound off in the comments, we love hearing from you!

Someone Will Always Be Collateral Damage

I have to admit, I was one of the skeptics when Afua said she wanted to publish that article. In my mind I was thinking, I just don’t even understand why men have to be solely implicated in the issues of toying with emotions and hurting people. It was not an attempt to play devils advocate or to even the tone of the conversation, but it was to say that no one gender has complete ownership over ‘collateral damage’. I will concede, in Ghana, men are given the pass way more than women. Especially with issues of infidelity. But Afua’s point was bigger than just this idea that people cheat, her point was that people use people, and it’s unfair that it’s largely women who suffer in the end. I think that the issue is really that hurt people, hurt people. And that there is a bigger conversation beyond just telling men to stop being emotional abusers. I think the conversation is about mothers and fathers and social leaders investing time and energy into developing the social intelligence of the generation to follow. I happen to think that this issue is about social accountability.

I will take myself as an example.

I have been in the situation where I have recently stopped seeing someone. In my haste to ‘move on’, I sort of rushed into something new. In my mind, I may have entered with good intentions. I may have thought, maybe that old adage is true… that the best way to get over someone is to get under beside someone else. So here we are having fun, laughing, getting to know each other— building. Suddenly it dawns on me that a) I am not really even over my ex and b) I’ve been faking it up until this moment and it’s gotten extremely tiring.Here the person is, constantly talking about a future life together… about how much they love you and how they will marry you. How perfect you are and how wonderful it is to meet someone as lovely as you (duh and duh!). And in my mind, all I can think about are deciding on the most sensitive and considerate ways to slowly break away from the relationship. In the time of my thinking about these things, I start to detach and get easily annoyed. It becomes clear that I am just not interested.  I clearly needed to address some personal issues with regard to my past relationship. I also needed to be real with myself about what I wanted. And I feel this is fundamentally, the real issue. I don’t think people are out here purposely trying to hurt people. Even though I am of the mind that people are inherently evil and self seeking, I think that they are also preservationist— that is they want, as much as possible, to save face and at least put good into the world so they can also benefit from that good energy. I don’t think Ghanaian men, or African men in general, are hard wired to want to be deceitful. I just think our societies don’t foster the type of self- reflection necessary to enter into healthy relationships. I agree with Afua: “Sometimes the journey towards ‘…happily ever after’ or ‘…and the rest is just history’ does not leave you unscathed.” But this is true for everyone, male and female. Unfortunately, in Ghana, women carry the burden of emotional intelligence. There are conferences and books and preachings and seminars and speaker series and conventions and anointing oils— dedicated to ensuring women get to the status of Proverbs 31— not so for men. While Full Gospel Christian Business Mens groups exist en masse to encourage entrepreneurship and honest business practice, the same does not exist to spur on men to be honorable men, worthy of lifetime commitment. And yet, with all the Proverbs 31 messaging being thrown at women— neither men nor women are taught how to be emotionally intelligent. Preparing yourself to be a a wifable woman and developing your emotional intelligence have somehow been separated. So while yes, there are men— nay, people— who trample on the hearts of well meaning, good natured, loving partners en route to their happily ever after… it is not an epidemic that is wholly owned by men. It is the epidemic of not offering enough training, support and mentorship in growing our overall emotional intelligence (as evidenced by the messy, shady, crazy things women are also doing here in order to bait, keep or trick a man). As children of immigrants, we know too well the high standard of academic excellence placed on us, however the same is not necessarily the case for emotional intelligence. And while women are definitely exposed on how to develop themselves into ‘wifey material’… there is a general shortage of ‘how to deal effectively with your emotions such that you are not making your partner a causality in your sordid love affair” development opportunities. All in all, I will repeat hurt. people. hurt people. And the only real solution for all of us, is to get our emotional intelligence game up by seeking resources to help us grow… after all proper preparation prevents poor      partner   performance— eh?

What say you? Do you think it’s all one big male ploy to trample the hearts of unsuspecting woman of valor, or society overall has failed our generation in adequately preparing us to be good partners in relationships? #SoundOff 

Short PSA: We’re Changing Things!

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We’re switching things up a little… just a little. We’ve had a good time rambling about relationship topics, but there’s definitely more to our lives and the world at large than love and pursuit of martial bliss. And more generally, talking solely about love.dating.sex can get some way… there’s just so much more to our returnee experience that we think y’all are missing out on hearing about :) So we’re opening up the discussion to other topics! These will include, but not be limited to:

-working in Ghana as returnee women
-gender and race issues
-religion
-general hot topics and popular culture

Don’t worry, we won’t slack on the juicy relationship stuff though!

~Love, RR

PS – If you want to guest post for us, please email us at: ramblingroommates@gmail.com

Collateral Damage; Men and Women are not Equal.

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So… I was torn posting this, but I figured in the end I could post it and preface it *shrug*. I didn’t want to post this initially in fear of being labeled a bitter black women. However, many of the relationship things referenced in this post have been witnessed more-so than experienced (remember we have a new simple modus operandi of late). Thus, this post is channeling a lot of things I’ve seen- which is still incredibly frustrating– so that’s probably the tone you’re picking up on.

And after sending this out as a feeler to a couple guy friends, I do recognize that the struggle is real on both sides of the spectrum… Because no one, guy or girl, should feel like they’re being used or their time is being wasted. 

Would love to hear your thoughts.

~afua

– – – 

Twitter just be giving us so much life recently… AND content for the blog!

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Girls abr3**.

You remember that phrase? I used it first when discussing the Art of Hedging, or when men in long term relationships be faking and using you for one last test run/ joy ride before clamping down on the inevitable.

Well this tweet in a way circles back around what I wrote, and it appears to be a view shared by many- judging from the number of re-tweets. I’ve always known that men and women aren’t equal in a number of aspects, but when it comes to relationship behavior, these differences couldn’t be more pronounced as I get older. AND I am not saying women don’t do their own playing, I’m just speaking from what I’ve seen and experienced.

For me, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t want to be part of your sinful past on the way to redemption. I don’t want to be part of your try everything on for size stage or be a part of the starting five line up on your hedging team, before you say ‘I do’. Again… I know I’m generalizing on men here, but I can only speak youcutefrom my perspective…

Folks just be tired of wasted time.

…which, hear me out people, is different from when we really like each other, date with direction and somehow it doesn’t work out.

Although I’m still quite weary of this type of behavior, I now honestly understand when some women want to know where things are headed shortly a man starts talking to them. Like I get it now. I get when some women want to (partially) give up and bury themselves in just work, family and friends. Sometimes the journey towards “…happily ever after” or “…and the rest is just history” does not leave you unscathed.

It’s funny cause a few guys I know (of) have recently gotten engaged or married and you look at their behavior prior to marriage like, ‘I hope you come to Jesus real soon, cause it’s only His blood that can wipe your past clean.’ #ikid #butonlyjustalittlebit lol
But on the real, dudes have run circles around Accra, Lagos, London, Johannesburg, Nairobi, NY, DC, [and add in any other big city where there is a mass of Africans]… they’ve been dating, sleeping around with, breaking hearts, cheating on their gfs right, left and center. And now they are walking down the aisle like all is forgiven. And according to society, all IS forgiven. Society tells us that, “he’s a man being a man, he was sowing his wild oats, having fun before having to commit to one person”; in essence, the slate gets wiped squeaky clean once he puts a ring on any (half decent) girl. The behavior gets chalked up to a typical young bachelor lifestyle, which he has now matured from [we thank God oh]. However, while folks outchea having amnesia about a guy’s past and while he’s moved on to dutiful wife and kid, the former women have to deal with the consequences of the situations they put themselves in. And I do put blame on women for putting themselves in these situations too- if you remember *THIS BLOG*.

It’s one of those hard truths that we need to stop pretending doesn’t exist, because we are the ones suffering for it… Things aren’t equal and one has to make sure you don’t end up being a casualty of a man’s ‘growing pains’, however that manifests itself (ie. Pregnancy… Your reputation jeopardized (cause his won’t be)… Or you’re just plainly heart broken).

Sometimes you have to just honestly protect yourself… and sleep soundly.

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**Girls are tired (of relationship wahala)

When Being a Woman in Nigeria— Spoke for Everyone

If you missed out on the hastag #BeingFemaleinNigeria trending last week on twitter, do you live under a rock? don’t worry we’ve round up a few of our favorites. It’s nice to know that we’re not out on an island by ourselves sometimes.

Let’s start with Amma’s top picks:

This one is hilarious because it reminds me of the side eye I sometimes get for wanting to go back to school.  “So you want degrees but you don’t want children, eh”—ermmm I’ll take both please and thank you.

This one I like because it is positive and it also represents something I am very passionate about. I think the privilege of getting to raise a boy child means bringing someone sensible that all the girls will swoon over because he will be all of the greatest sophisti-ratchet swagged philosophical things I wanted… you are welcome in advance to his wife.

A bit problematic given my tendencies towards guys younger than me… but ma sakyira. 

This I find HILARIOUS… because I was just talking to a friend about the erectile dysfunction commercials over the airwaves in Ghana and how it is VERY clear that women are not ashamed of their ‘carnal desires’. Here… it is obviously the men who are struggling to keep up. #viagrabeforeviagra #goingtojujumenforstrokegameupgrades #struggleisreal #beingaghanaianman

Here are my picks:

I had a few too many favs, so I have less to say about them and will just let you marinate in their truth instead.

#realtears** because I can actually see Ghanaian aunties and moms saying this in their accents.

I’ve been saying this Over and Over and Over again. This emphasis on equipping women to be ‘good spouses’, and somehow thinking that men have this innate ability to know how to love, serve, protect, stay faithful to, be sensitive to and open up to their spouse is beyond me… but this will have to be saved for another time and blog post.

Again… #realtears**

When the holidays roll by… when the family functions take place… hell, every damn Sunday.

Afua, you look [fill in the blank with any ordinarily-positive-compliment on brains, beauty and confidence… which somehow doesn’t quite come out as a compliment in the context it is given]

It’s that, or all your relatives will think ‘you’re not taking good care of your husband and home…’

I had to add this for a friend… #butthat’snoneofmybusiness … chirp … chirp’

These last two I take to heart… because a guy friend politely informed me of the following when I told him I just want a regular guy to approach me, because I’m a regular ol’ gal: ‘afua, when a man sees you out and might want to approach, first he has to contend with the sea of too known repat friends you’re surrounded by, then he’ll be hit with the SERIOUSS slang, then he’ll find out your schooling and job, then he’ll see you driving some car wahh, the apartment and the places you like to frequent…. #massabegonewiththatdesire’

[sigh]

Word to your mother… and your grandmother.

– – –

** Real tears because I’m laughing so hard that I’m crying

On Why You Should Change for Your Man

photo (1)“Don’t let anyone change you”

“Your partner should love you for who you are… as you are…”

“You can’t enter into a relationship with the idea of changing your partner… if you can’t love them as they are, then you don’t deserve them forever”

Raise your hand if you have heard one or more of these before…

I certainly have. It’s easy to believe that change, when explicitly requested in a relationship, can be bad. Often this conclusion is a result of deciding that when change is requested, nay, required, it is somehow an attack on who you are as a person— like a direct hit to your identity. Then the idea of changing at the request of someone who should love you as you are, feels contrived… almost like “Was this your plan all along? To woo me and then force me to transform to suit your fancy”?!?!

But sometimes changing for your partner… and for the health of your relationship is good.

Let’s look at Ginuwine.

As he said back in the day… even though he may be on TV, he is in fact the same ol’ G.  Fast forward to 2014, him and his wife are fighting on instagram as he foolishly posted a picture of their daughter with a caption implying she was a stripper— or whatever. I mean, I wonder how much Sole was telling him, “Babe, you actually can not be the same ol’ G… you should find a new G status to acquire that includes not being so faded on television that you are slurring your words in a live performance.” Perhaps if Ginuwine was a new Ol’ G, his marriage would be in a better place (and even maybe his career). ginuwine

Perhaps that example is egregious… because he should obviously change for his own good. But so… is that the standard? If your partner requires certain changes of you before you can move along in the relationship, is it ok as long as these changes are constructive? What if they seem constructive to your partner but may not be to you (as in, they are not destructive but you don’t find them particularly valuable)? Is it unfair of you to acquiesce and are you doomed to a life of sadness if you do? Will all your friends judge you and say you’re whipped?

I remember casually dating a guy in college that had been a childhood frenemy (I hated him until I was like 18… on everything, I wished death upon his life twice.) The fact that we were even casually dating was a feat. He was very headstrong, and I was very dogged in my beliefs, but we somehow clicked. I remember we had this long conversation about trust and what it means to really be vulnerable and show affection. He would always say that I was so hard. I thought I was doing really well with my smiley faces and the fact that I made a lot of time to talk to him. Over time, I became increasingly comfortable with him but I was still guarded. When it came time to go back to school, I told him straight up that I knew that this relationship was going to wither into the wind because we were in different time zones (Cali love #noTuPac) and he was a guy… so… we shouldn’t fool ourselves. He said we should just see what happens, and stay connected. I obliged. We tried to stay in contact but the time zone difference was killing us softly. I knew this would happen. I remember telling him that I knew this would happen. Even though we knew the time zone factor was an issue, he said it came back to me being an ice queen “hard”:

“You can’t ever just say how you feel Amma. If you miss me, tell  me you miss me. Don’t be afraid to be affectionate. I mean yeah, we always seem to be busy but you’re just not vulnerable”

“How can I be vulnerable when you are never around!?” I thought… crying on the inside but maintaining my nonplussed attitude on the outside. If he couldn’t handle my love…well… then… good riddance.

Fast forward ten years later, and in a number of relationships I have received a similar critique. It could be the case that I just attract these really soft, romantic types that do not reflect the archetype of the hard, emotionless African man I understood. Or it could be that I was in fact an African man Ice Queen. Upon realizing that the latter was closer to the truth (though the former is not mutually exclusive), I decided maybe I should try something different. Maybe I should change.

Here’s the thing… none of my friends take issue with my “lack of affection”— neither do any of my family members. They all love me as I am, and completely accept the way I show love (read: smiley faces and acts of service). Any changes I would make, therefore, in my propensity to show affection, would be at the strict request of the person I was dating. Thus: I would, in fact, be changing, for my man. Setting pride and ego aside and looking at this as purely wanting to make sure the person I am with is happy, one would be hard-pressed to find fault with my actions. Furthermore, these changes do not make me less “me”… in the ways that people know my character and general sensibilities. Yet, talking to friends about it… even in the abstract is often met with hesitance. “If you start now, will it ever end… what else will you have to change… blah blah blah”…

Most people understand that change is inevitable.

No one really expects to be the same ol’ G forever… but I think people take issue with the change being done for someone else, as opposed to for yourself. But what is really wrong with that? Am I less independent? less intelligent? less— anything because of it? And if the changes don’t make me unhappy (though… a bit… uncomfortable in the short term— open affection takes getting used to, I am fighting years of desensitization, allow!), isn’t it worth the effort?

All in all… I am happy with the changes I have made. Aside from making the other person in the relationship happy, there are also spillover effects for other relationships with friends and family. At the end of the day…I just cannot be the Ginuwine to someone’s Sole… it could never be me, me, me (*cue track*)

What are your thoughts? Should you change for your partner? Is changing for your partner a slippery slope? 

Why Did you Let me Date Him?

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I love this meme. It epitomizes the phase of life my contemporaries find themselves in now, and me too. It’s not like the days of old our yester-years (ok maybe like 5yrs ago… or hell, like 2yrs ago) where being with someone or NOT being with someone had less no dire consequences… Ok maybe not dire, but the opportunity cost wasn’t as high. Now, the opportunity cost of being with someone or not being with someone seems colossal. Let’s listen in on my conversation with a close friend earlier this month, it helps illustrate the point:

Friend: “It doesn’t seem like it’s working out [with Billy**].”

Friend: (A description of inconsequential and consequential traits and characteristics not fully appreciated in the beginning of dating bliss… Of which I shall skip, because they frankly have no bearing to the premise of this post).

Af: (Interjection of empathetic “Oh, really’s”, “Oh. I’m sorry,” “Yea?” “Uh hmm”)

Friend: “Why’d you let me date him, Afua?”

Af: “Excuse me, come again…?”

Friend: “You’re supposed to be my friend, you should have said something. Now I’m turning 30 and I have wasted the last 2 years.”

Af: [Thought: well that escalated real quick… But I’ll indulge in your slightly irrational line of thinking]

“Welt, let’s see… You said you liked him and he was a good fit. You also gave an extensive list as to why the aforementioned was true. You said you did background checks (with friends and people who knew him). How was I supposed to know he was going to do bait and switch on you? I don’t know him from Adam nor do I hang out with you and him together, so what exactly was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to get this epiphany from, especially when your behavior hasn’t changed negatively.”

Friend: (A bunch of other highly whiny-like statements and accusations of my blame in the situation… For the most part I tune out)

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Le sigh

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BUT…It did get me thinking, what should be one’s participation in your friends relationship(s)?

meme2Because I do this blog, folks like to talk to me (and I like to use their lives as content lol ;) ). However, I’ve become less than enthused about shelling out ‘advice’ for a number of reasons… one.) you never really know both sides; two.) life is already too complicated for me to be rendering out advice on a situation that is not mine; three.) me, myself, I’m not even dating, remember?…so what am I going to say? I mean in instances of extreme behavior, like domestic violence, extreme unhappiness, sure I’ll say something directly… But other than that, it’s meh… keep your thoughts to yourself. With cheating situations, if you’re not my good friend, ya I’ll look at you and feel sorry for you, but I will keep it moving.

We are the sum of our decisions… And just like I told my friend at the end of the conversation, life is about the decisions we make and the consequences that result from them; for the things that happen to us that we cannot control, we control how we react and respond to them. Irrespective of what our friends say or don’t say, there’s personal responsibility for the lives we lead…

Is that mean? What do you do with your friends? Do you find yourself meddling more or less as you grow older?

**Names obviously changed.