Jumping Off the Gladiator Chariot

I loved Scandal when the show first started. Here was a smart, talented black woman with integrity kicking ass and taking names along the corridors of power. I couldn’t get enough. I binge watched Season One and tuned in Thursday nights all through Season Two.

So, Olivia Pope is having an affair with a married man. The wrongness of it I acknowledge. I still, however, saw in her a vision of what I aspired to. A flawed human being who tried to  do relevant work, to stand on the side of justice. I was happy to see a black woman on TV who portrayed a smart, hardworking character, who was neither Jezebel nor saint. A complex person, as I know I am.

Right now I am like

I talked about this with a male friend recently. He had this to say:

She was the black girl from a somewhat humble background who fought hard to get to the position she has. I respect that. Even her affair with the president was not right but well, anyway lately especially watching episode 11 and 12 of season 3 she has actually become more like a whore than anything else to me. I even agree with her father.

While I will not go as far as to call her a whore, I still have major issues with the way Ms. Pope is comporting herself these days. She is selling her self so cheap, it is disturbing to watch. Here are my thoughts and this is what I told my friend.

We tend to expect black people in positions of power or celebrity to be paragons of virtue, because their actions reflect on us, which is a little unfair. They are just as fallible as everyone else.  This is actually an on going issue here in the US. The follies, errors and misdeeds of black people are rarely ever separated from their skin color. Quite often, the reactions of outrage are more to the fact that the person is yet another black person doing something wrong, than it is about what the person does, and this standard is then applied to all black people. Why do I say this? Because people of other races commit the same misdeeds and the outcry often is not as loud.

Her background has little to do with it, for me. Underneath the skin color, we’re all human. So how about we remove any value laden expectations we might have of her, given that she is a black woman who made it as far as she has and just assess Olivia Pope’s current character as a human being?

The show styles her as this person who, despite her errors and failings has integrity and always fights for justice, a person to inspire loyalty. She has gladiators. Gladiators literally will fight to the death at the behest of their master. I was so lifted to the skies when she told Fitz in Season 2 I think, that she was going to go stand on her people’s side and be therefor them “I’m their gladiator!” she said. Those were the days. Nowadays Olivia Pope has one person she is loyal to after herself and her sense of right and wrong, and that’s Fitzgerald Grant. When push comes to shove, she does what gives her peace of mind first and what protects Fitz second and if anybody else takes the fall, it’s somehow excusable.

If she tried to protect “We the people” from the truth about their president, it’s OK, but if B613 does the same, it isn’t?

How many people died while she and her peeps tried to cover up the truth of what she and the Defiance group did?

How many people’s lives have been destroyed while she and Fitz tried to cover up their affair?

And the whole fiasco of her mother’s escape. The soldiers who died flying her criminal mother out of the country.

The Grant children…all this manipulation and cover ups, how does that affect them?

How is it now that B613 is the enemy after having made liberal use of her connections with her father and with Jake?

And the recent episode…OMG… The nerve of her to try to lecture another person about sexual scandals. It’s like Shonda Rhimes is now taking writing tips from Jerry Springer and Maury.

Can she really be that naive? That fickle? That blind to her own failures?

So this is the problem I have with Scandal. The character Olivia Pope is regressing. She is not growing. She is becoming less relatable and likable, less like someone I want to spend ~ 1 hour of my Thursday evening hanging out with. She is becoming the friend who consistently makes bad choices no matter how often you try to talk to them, the train wreck who you feel alternately mad at and sorry for. The friend who is in an abusive relationship and knows it and refuses to walk away because she thinks she loves the guy even though he is using her. The friend who you know can do so much better, is a great person inside  with a lot to offer the world, who deserves so much better than to be caught up in cleaning other peoples messed up lives in the name of love.The friend you eventually cut off for your own sanity and peace of mind. I am not feeling it at all. I no longer even know what the show is for anymore, except for drama. I now feel the same aversion to the show as I feel for reality shows.

Is it just really a TV show?

The media plays a HUGE role in influencing our attitudes and values, for better or worse, and often times, we don’t even realize it does. That is why advertising is as big a business it is. That is why Martin Luther King asked Nichelle Nichols to stay on Star Trek when she was going to leave. That is why equal and fair representation in the media is important.

I am a big believer in conscious living and mindfulness. This means even in my entertainment, I would rather have characters whose lives and choices inspire me to be a better version of myself. They don’t have to be perfect, but I’d strongly prefer some consistency, some growth.

So, no thank you, this gladiator is leaving the arena.

African Girl’s Informal Guide To Online Dating Part 2

It was one of those moments, so overwhelming in its hilarity and so shocking I blinked  8 times in close succession. One of those moments so absurd, my brain took a quick break before processing and even then, the only thing it could come up with was “What the fuck?”  I knew I had to record it for posterity so I took a screen shot.

And thus, I was introduced to reason number one why online dating is not for the faint of heart, especially if you are a black girl on a non-black specific dating site. You become every streetwalker who walks the ghettos. The more polite ones will simply not talk to you, but some like old boy up above will try to break the ice in their own special way.

I honestly don’t know what he was trying to achieve or if he actually expected me to respond, but the wording of this message as well as other messages and in person experiences I had, make me believe strongly that truly, to many many non black people, all of us black girls are LaShoniqua on the corner. They talk to you in ebonics and quote rap songs. They make reference to BET TV shows and if you were to get irritated by the ridiculousness, they make reference to the angry black woman and the neck roll. If I had a dollar for  every time some guy messaged me and it included a question of how well I could twerk. I could probably make bank as some strippers do without even  touching a pole.

The ones who actually get that you are not African American and even if you were, that this sub culture is as foreign to you as it is to them, are no better. Every stereotypical black/white conversation will be your portion.

Ladies, online dating is not where you go to practice the good manners and breeding your mama taught you. Life will be so much more simpler for you if you just ignored the guys who messaged you and who you have no interest in pursuing things with. Seriously. Polite pikin, trying to find good karma that I am, I started out sending nice little“Thanks for asking, but no” messages and even tried to explain why I was saying no. That blew up in my face. If you know you don’t want to pursue things for whatever reason, do not respond. Trust me on this one.

Some will message you and offer you money for sex. Ignore.
Some will tell you how they just want to do really bad things to your big juicy lips. Ignore
Your world famous black girl bum will be mentioned. Ignore
Some will catch jungle fever after looking at your picture. Ignore
Some will tell you how they’ve always wanted to try a black girl. Ignore

That being said, this was a phenomenon I witnessed more on the non paying sites, which I already stated tend to be meat markets.

If you are looking for a relationship, you have better odds of success by sticking to the paid sites.

Even there, here are some guys to watch out for.

The Guy Who Can’t Take a Hint.

You have winked at me and liked all my pictures. I check out your profile (you can see that I did) and make no response to you. You continue to wink at me. Over and over and over and over. I continue to ignore you. Then you send me a message “If you just got to know me…” Well, I read your profile. You say clearly that you’re looking for a girl who enjoys the traditional roles of womanhood and lets her man “be the man.” I want nothing to do with that, whatever that means. Or your pictures show you posing with several guns, and shooting is a sport for you. Great! But no thanks and I sure as hell am not getting into a gun control debate with you.

The thing about responding is that you get drawn into a long and pointless conversation which almost always will end up with the guy calling you shallow or some other nasty name, for rejecting him. Save yourself the stress.

Ignore. Block if you have to.

The Guy Who Goes MIA

You start talking. Messaging each other back and forth, exchange cell phone numbers even. It’s fun! He’s smart with a good sense of humor and not bad to look at either. You’re planning to meet or even do meet and go on a couple of dates.

And then one day, he just stops communicating.

Don’t try to understand why. Some things cannot be understood. Feel your sad feelings and carry on.

The Black Guy Who Thinks You Should Choose Him, Because You’re Both Black

Need I say more?


The “Interesting Friend” Collector

You are the filet mignon for these types of guys. The caviar, the prime rib. The chicken gizzard, the nyama-ngoro in the eru full of kanda. You’re foreign, exotic, smart, your worldview is very different and well informed. You are educated and cultured. He will talk to you, take you out on dates, introduce you to his friends and family. You will go along, blissfully unaware of how deep into the friend zone you are. You will think you both are just taking time to get to know each other. Then one day, he will introduce you to his new girlfriend.

The Guy Who Just Wants To Be Friends

Ummm…Oga, what part of dating site did you miss? Unless this one was of those situations where you talked and met and both agreed that “just friends” is the best option:

You do not “just be friends” with a guy you like as more than a friend. What you are doing is sticking around hoping he changes his mind after he sees how great a girl you are. You have thus become The Girl Who Can’t Take A Hint. Ain’t nobody got time for that. It’s going to hurt walking away but, believe me, you WANT to walk away from this one.

I could go on and on and you ladies who have tried this can probably tell me more.

Women are guilty of this too. I know I have gone MIA on a couple of guys. 

The bottom line is if you do choose to try this out, be ready. Develop a thick skin. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR, and put a time limit on your membership because the one last type of guy you should watch out for is…

The Lifer a.k.a The Serial Monogamist

He’s been on the site since 2005. Hundreds of dates, relationships and hook-ups later, he is still there actively searching. One thing to do when you see this one:

African Girl’s Informal Guide To Online Dating Part 1.

So you decided/want to join an online dating site. Good on you!

Those of us from African countries have all kinds of networks and connections to meet people, so I’m not trying to bash that or anything. Honestly, if you have access to these networks, take advantage of them. These are people who know you and who you know. I still believe that is optimum. However, for women who want a wider scope, or who may not have access to these networks, or who quite honestly have not found the kind of partner they want within these networks, the online environment offers you another means to meet people who may be you would never have met with in your day to day life.

So all of that being said, if you are one to be easily offended or to take things personally, or are the type to always want a guy to make the first move, then stay away.


Part 2 will delve into the dark side of online dating.

 This is a door that many of us girls from African countries are reluctant to cross or have outright sworn never to, so I am supposing that if you are considering this,  you are braver and more open minded than many (no disrespect to those who choose not to though!). I don’t know what path you have walked that has brought you to this point but I can tell you is this: no matter what site you are on, or what you are looking for, brace yourself.

I first ventured into online dating after the end of my longest relationship ever. I was at a very conflicted point of my life and I really didn’t know what I was looking for then. Plus, between work and school, I hardly had any time to socialize or go fishing… so anyway. Yes. I jumped in the deep end,without a swimming tube and with swimming skills which were mediocre at best. So far I’ve gotten one good relationship out of it, although just when things started to get serious, it ended up getting completely messed up by his meddlesome family and his indecisiveness (different story for a different day). I’ve also gotten to spend time with some truly interesting guys and gotten some fascinating glimpses in the minds of men. Guys can be such messes, lol.

I believe these experiences are making  me a better woman, more capable of accepting guys for themselves, and recognizing when, despite this acceptance,who they are is not what I can deal with on the long term. I believe they have taught me the difference between liking  the person and liking the potential of the person which may or may never be realized.

So dating sites. What should you know? This is not a how to guide per se, but random stream of consciousness thoughts I have about the whole matter.  If you do decide to jump in, your experience could be different. Here goes.

Men on dating sites these days are not the pot bellied, doughy, bald headed creeps one would so easily think. I found that there were men (and women) from all walks of life, of all races (there are African men on there too!) and ages and levels of attractiveness or lack thereof, who like me were looking for a partner – someone to connect with and possibly start a life with –  and who had simply extended that search to the online environment…which is hardly surprising given the significant amount of time we now spend online.

If this has been your fear, by all means set it aside. Trust me, the normalcy of the men online is the least of your worries. It is precisely like being in a classroom/office/bar/club/public gathering/coffeeshop/grocery line/park  full of people you do not know, one of whom could strike up a conversation with you and catch your fancy enough to get you to want to meet with them again. Even more, it gives people who normally would be shy in face to face situations, a chance  to put their best leg forward. A chance for you to talk with and get to know the brilliant mind behind the dorky smile which you might have ignored to begin with.
You get the chance to check the guy out  from a distance, but with a little more information than in a real life situation. It is sort of like being at a party and noticing a guy you are interested in. Only difference is, you know he is single and  looking too (you don’t get drop kicked by a jealous girlfriend/wife) and you have exactly what he is looking for in front of you. You know whether or not you’d work out. There have been countless times I have been reading a guys profile and getting all excited until I read that he doesn’t like pets ( like seriously?) or he likes Rush Limbaugh (ewww…) or he specifically is looking for a white/asian/hispanic/middle eastern girl (oh welp…) or one who makes at least $100K (O_o) You do not waste time and energy talking to, spending time with  and starting to get into your feelings about a guy only to discover that there is something he’s into (or not into)  that is a deal breaker for you. Granted people are trying to put their best foot forward on these sites but if his best foot forward makes you want to back away slowly, it’s a win-win yeah?
In all honesty it’s no different than, like I said, striking up a conversation with a cute guy at the bus stop, and finding out that you have enough in common that you want to hang out some more. There are really no formal rules. Yeah, you want to write a profile that gives people an idea of who you are and what you are looking for. You want to include (recent) full body shots and close ups of you living a life, but beyond that, it’s like any other human interaction. So dive in. Create a profile. Speak honestly about yourself, put up good pictures. Have fun looking around. 
Know what you want though, because the thing about online dating sites is that there is so much to choose from. SO MUCH CHOICE. Its a literal smorgasbord. Too easily can you find yourself looking around frantically trying to find the best combination. The temptation of something better around the corner is huge! It’s like being at a buffet, versus cooking a meal for your self. If you cook for yourself, what you cook is what you have. You might want something else but you will have to rouse yourself up to make it. At a buffet table, however, the options are right there in front of you.You can go to the buffet table with a clear idea of what you want to eat, find it, take take it and leave without even looking at the other options. Or you can go there with no idea and sample as much as you can put on your plate. If you end up with posh belly or constipation, na you find am. It is said that the first 6 months are crucial and I would agree. Don’t plan on staying too long. Go with the paid sites if you can. Sometimes they have discounted offers. Seriously. Money = Value. A guy who would pay for membership is likelier to be looking for something serious than one who gets in for free. The free ones are quickly gaining the reputation of being meat markets/ hook up venues anyway.
Keep your life active, try to stay involved in other things. Read, go for walks, join a book club, volunteer, go shopping. Have a life you can talk about. DO NOT become the girl who is constantly online. This might be hard if you are alone in an unfamiliar city or a loner like me, but you really want to have interests and things you do so you’re not spending every free moment you have checking your account. You will get tons of messages….actually I take that back. If you are a black girl, the rules are kinda different. I will go into this later. But nevertheless, do not fall into the trap of wanting to always check your account. Here’s the thing. It shows when you are online. Nobody cares much for the person, male or female who is always online. Make’s it seem like you have nothing else to do with yourself,which is definitely not a good thing.. If possible set specific times you check your messages/browse around.
Don’t be in a rush to meet the guy in person. Exchange emails for as long as you feel comfortable before agreeing to meet. A guy who is worth the time will respect your space, as you should his. If he is not ready to meet immediately then give him the same courtesy you would want. If you do decide to meet, make it a public place and a casual activity. I’ve found dinner to be a bad idea. If you met in person for dinner and things turn out to be awkward after all, you don’t want to have to sit through an hour long meal. Make it coffee/tea/ a walk, something open ended.Go in expecting to cover yourself. Take care of your own transportation.
Make sure someone knows where you are and who you’re with. Talk to supportive friends, share the guys picture and I feel bad for saying this but have a bail out plan. Have a friend text or call you at some point to check in. First, it lets someone know you are safe and having fun and second it gives you a chance to pull a quick, “My sister’s car broke down and I really gotta go pick her up” (Hehehehehe…)
Finally, keep these things in mind:
  • It is completely your prerogative to respond to or ignore messages as you see fit.
  • You are likely not the only girl he is talking to (Remember, so much choice!)  Do not get attached too fast.
  • You CAN block people who are being pests.
  • Keep your search criteria as open or as narrow as you wish, you will get the results you search for.
A special note.

If you’re not on a black people only website, then it’s a little more complicated. Statistics show that black women on non specific dating sites receive the fewest messages of interest. We’re all aware of the negative stereotypes we carry so we have that to contend with. That is not necessarily a bad thing, though! First, the guys who do message you are the ones who can look past these stereotypes and that is a good thing. (There are also the ones who message you because they believe you are what the stereotypes say but I’ll speak about those later.) Don’t be afraid to be be yourself. My profiles have spoken about my love for Cameroonian food and West African music, my disdain for western imperialism and the special place Monty Python holds in my heart. You don’t have to make excuses for who you are or try to be anything other than who you are. Also, you have to be willing to reach out. If you are interested in non black guys too, give an indication in your profile. Reach out to them. Many non black guys operate under the assumption that you would never be interested in them. One thing I have found out is this: a guy is a guy is a guy. Race has little to do with it. 
Online dating is not something we normally would do, as girls from African countries but it is an option and if you go in with the right attitude, it can be a fantastic way to meet people. It does not take away the need to set realistic expectations and be open to compromise though!

Talk Ya True!

I was seating on this blog post, planning to publish sometime this weekend (I should be studying, dammit!). Recent alleged events in BHS Buea, however, have made it such that this has to get off my mind now.

So apparently, in deeply moral and religious Cameroon, that land of strongly held African values where homosexuals must be nailed to the cross, it is OK for the authorities of a religious school to stand by and watch a mob beat a man to death for the inconceivable crime of visiting his ( girlfriend? ) in her dorm.

Jesus and all our esteemed tribal ancestors would be so proud.

It’s things like this that make me question if the people who are the first to claim “African Values” and “Religion” and “Morals” when trying to defend some opinion of theirs, really stop to think about the society they live in. But then if there is a crime us Cameroonians/Africans tend to be guilty to the highest order of, it is that of intellectual dishonesty.

There is nothing on earth that irritates me more than intellectual dishonesty. This refers to the intentional omission of or failure to ponder upon facts and other relevant information when they do not support one’s hypothesis or viewpoint. What grinds my gears even more is when the person in question claims ignorance when they are called out.

It speaks of a mental and moral laziness which IMHO is very  pervasive in our communities. A willingness to look the other way even when faced with glaring wrongdoing. To cry the victim when confronted with our own failures.

I am hardly 100% morally upright and I lay claim to no religion at this point.

But I refuse to be silent faced with such ridiculousness.

We must to must talk wa true, first for we sef sef if we go ever see change for that we contri. (We must be honest with ourselves, if we are to change anything)

We do this to ourselves.

Woman Eh!

So it’s Women’s Day, and this being a blog (mostly) about African women, I have to post something today, right?  Hmmm…. Maybe I should have held on to my most recent post and released it today?


actually have something else on my mind.  It is Women’s Day today, but I want to talk about men and boys. To be specific I want to talk about African men and boys.

The African woman is coming into her own.  No matter what her nationality, ethnic/tribal group or village, she is on the rise. She is rising in politics, in business, in technology and science, in literature and the arts –  in almost every facet of life. It is a slow but steady progress that will only gather momentum as time progresses.

Strike the Woman, Strike the Rock

This ascent of  the African Woman, has been a direct consequence of the  liberation of our minds. Afro-feminism in particular and feminism as a whole, facilitate the process.   No longer are we completely bound to that idea of the woman as the one in the background, whose role in society is limited by how much they permit her to fulfill the more “appropriate” role of wife and mother.

It is a good thing, this ascent. I and many of the women reading this blog, I  daresay,  are direct products of it. We move through the world with a little more freedom, a little more choice and options because many of our mothers had,  and we now have slightly different mindsets about the purposes and roles we can and should  fulfill and assume in life.

African Women to Watch

Ladies of the Cameroon Professional Society

It’s all fine and good for us. The future is bright and promising. But what about our men, the young boys among us? Are they coming along for this ride? Oh sure, they are kicking literal and metaphorical butt in all spheres of life as well, but that likely can be attributed more to the expectation on them to succeed, than it can be to the kind of freedom for self determination that women enjoy. The crucial question here is this:  As the minds of African women are being untied to the kitchen and the bedroom, are the minds of African men vis-a-vis their idea of the roles a woman should occupy being untied as well?  Or are they still ensnared in the trappings of what a woman should be, and how she should act especially when it comes to the sphere of family life and marriage?

I ask this question because I think  it would make for a lot of unhappiness if these two processes did not happen in tandem with each other. We could end up with (or have we already?)  communities where there would be discord between roles and expectations that men have of women and that women have not only of themselves but of the men in their lives, and the brunt of resolving this discord would still fall on the woman. An unequal distribution of responsibility, so to speak.

I’ll illustrate.

 I remember this day at a hair saloon, back home, I think it was Caro’s in Buea Town (by the way, no one could sew a weave like Caro…well maybe Michael….) This was one of the places that women who wanted their hair done and done right would go. This was one of the hair dressers of the “aunties” . Of course, there was always a line of women waiting. These were not ordinary women. They were smart and  ambitious and  by most Cameroonian standards, successful. They were the women who had transitioned from struggling university students, had written the  “concours” and were now barristers and doctors or had some appointment  at the various government offices in the town.

This fine rainy Saturday afternoon, I went to get my hair done and since I showed up without an appointment, I had to wait for all who were there to go before me. I brought a novel because I knew what I was going to face, and settled into a chair to wait. My novel soon lost all appeal because I was shamelessly eavesdropping on a conversation between a young woman in her thirties and the friend who had accompanied her to get her hair done. She recently had fired her house help for some reason or the other and there had been some strong feelings involved, since this girl was a relative her mother had sent from the village.  During the parting argument the girl had thrown sass about how she would be unable to manage raising her children, managing her family and meeting the demands of her job.

So this woman set out to prove her wrong. She woke up early enough to cook the lunch and dinner, then prepared her children’s and husband’s breakfast. She dropped her children off at school, picked them up and took them with her to the office till she had to leave at 3 or 4 or so. She helped them with home work  and kept track of dirty clothes and dishes and pretty much all of the housework. On the weekends, she cleaned and laundered and grocery shopped and did everything that needed doing. She had it under control and the house help could go to hell. Her children were well fed and taken care of, she was doing fine at work and her husband had no complaints. She would do this until she found a trustworthy help and if she  couldn’t she already knew that she could take care of business and would do it by herself.

I was impressed. And so was her friend and pretty much all the other women present. There were cries of :

“Na so!” (That’s it!)
“You get to show this young girl dem sey  the fact sey you bring them no mean sey you no fit do the thing them you sef sef” (You have to show these young girls that the fact that you bring them in to help doesn’t mean you can’t do these things by yourself)
“You be correct woman!” (You go girl!)
“You di try, chei!” (Wow! You kick butt!…or something like that)

She glowed with the praise, and deservedly so.

One question niggled at my mind though, where was the husband in all of this?  At no point did any one even suggest that he could have helped with washing the children’s clothes, or  his own clothes, or doing the dishes, or picking the children up from school.  Was his possession of a penis an automatic disqualifier for participation in domestic/family life? I mused over it for a bit and it passed into my subconscious. After all, I was still steeped in a culture where despite education and emancipation, women and men still mostly assumed their assigned gender roles.

I think about this more these days, though. Many of my peers have traveled abroad and are married with families of their own. Even surrounded by cultures where gender roles are a little more flexible, they still see themselves as “African Women” and with this comes the expectation both within themselves and from the men, young and old, in the community that they assume responsibility for family life. 

“Man pikin, no supposed for di  do that kind thing them, even if na for America.” (Men shouldn’t do these things, even if they are in America) 

Which in theory, isn’t or shouldn’t be  a problem, especially if you’re one of those women who has somehow found that delicate balance. What happens, though, when a liberated, outspoken and ambitious woman who really does want to marry a fellow African, ends up having a small to zero pool of suitors because men want more “African” women?  What happens when professional success means a little less involvement in family life and the woman has to be the one to give up on ambitions? What happens when you are spread so thin trying to meet these demands, you’re like 25frs worth of butter on that 150frs boulangerie bread? What happens when it starts to affect your health and mental well being? What happens when you are just plain tired/ stressed out by responsibilities you can’t enjoy sex with your husband enough to even be interested in it? What happens when the resentment starts to build on both sides?

Woman eh!

The African woman cannot afford to leave the African man behind in her walk towards emancipation.

A Truth We All Know


Back to the business of telling African women’s stories. 

As many of you have probably noticed, I am a huge Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie and Lupita Nyong’o fan. HUGE. Like, reduced to screaming incoherently, wanting to plaster the walls of my room with their pictures and their sayings… . I go absolutely bonkers for anything that has to do with these two women. I mean check out that Bigidi (or na follow-me?)  Who want try?

I’m not alone.

Chimamanda and Lupita are very popular and well loved to many black women every where, but they seem to be loved with a deeper fervor by black African women. I have a few theories as to why.

A lot of the praise being heaped on Lupita and Chimamanda have to do with the fact that not only are they beautiful, they are smart, articulate/well spoken, well educated, well read, sophisticated, self aware and “world-aware.” 

Here’s the thing though, think about the African women you know, from different countries and corners of the continent. How many of them are similar if not exactly the same? 

How many of them are smart? Professionals with college educations or more? How many of them are academic butt kickers despite working and having families and many responsibilities?

How many of them are not only articulate but fluent in  more than one language? 

How many of them are well read and self aware? Classy and just generally quality human beings?

Now, I am not unaware of the challenges that women on the continent still face or the long way that things still have to go.  My point is that for an ever increasing number of African women, their story is not that of the woman stripped of her right to self determination, wallowing in poverty, illiterate, uneducated, unempowered, married off by 14 and saddled with 3 children by 19. For many African women, the story is changing. We go to school, even graduated college and have advanced degrees, we know the world, we know the challenges we have and we can speak up. More importantly, not all of us are from privileged backgrounds, matter of fact many of us come from not particularly rich parents (as many people seem to think Africans in the diaspora do). Granted Ms. Adichie and Ms. Nyongo’o come from some privilege (relatively speaking) but how many of the Cameroonian, Nigerian, Ghanian, Senegalese, Togolese, Congolese, Gabonese, Kenyan, Somali, Ethiopian  etc women out there, at home and abroad, do you know who are just as educated, just as well spoken, just as ambitious, but do not come from any privilege?

For many of us, this image of the African woman that seems so fixed in the minds of non Africans is as foreign to us as it is to them.

And that my friends is likely why we resonate so deeply with Chimamanda and Lupita. 

Chimamanda’s stories, tell our stories. Growing up in cities, going to school,thinking about the future, starting careers back home or travelling abroad, realizing that there is so much more to the world than we thought, marriage, children, careers, life, trying to figure out how it all fits in, attempting to reconcile the lives and stories of our mothers and grandmothers with the one’s we now are living. We see our hopes in them. Our hopes for success in our chosen careers, not only at our community levels but at international levels. We see our struggles in them, we see the potential for our triumph in them. We see the validation of a truth we have known all along: 

We have value. We have a heck of a lot of value. 
We have voices. Not just voices, but we have a lot to say.
We have ideas. Ideas that can change the world.
We have beauty. Beauty that can turn heads and inspire.
We have knowledge worth knowing.
We are here.

When better people want talk…

Ish sef…
Clearly, some people don’t know when to quit. Dencia doing what she does best.
Somebody, please make this girl stop talking.

On the other hand, as one of my favorite bloggers says, this is why we cannot have nice things in Africa.

How come some science department at some Cameroonian or Nigerian University has  not analysed this product to determine what it truly contains and what risks it poses, and then published a paper/released information to alert/inform the public?  Some high school pikin for America for done do am since. One thing I am certain of is this;  if some Swiss chemist came up with a skin lightening product which was effective within 2 weeks and completely risk free, I doubt he would partner with Dencia.

We say Dencia is hussling, and she is. The Cameroonian lady who stole $75M was husssling too! So was the one who sold expired medication and when questioned had the nerve to say the expired medication was only intended for people in Africa. This is the same lady who sold diluted cancer medication to dying people. So are the scammers we all know. Are we now defending their hussling?

Talk about #TheyWantCoshWe….

My African Values

So, how can I be African and still advocate that homosexuals not be treated like murderers? How can I be African with a deep respect for the African values Cheihk Anta Diop described as common and central to the the various cultures that exist on the African continent. Values like  oneness/harmony with nature, survival of the group, inclusiveness,  cooperation, collective responsibility and interdependence – how can I highly prize these values, advocate so strongly that we look to them as the guiding philosophies of our lives rather than to western-oriented values like  individualism –  and still support the emancipation of people involved in a practice that seems so contrary to nature and intuition and is so divisive?

Read those questions carefully, people, because in them lie their own very answers. 

For those of you who haven’t unfriended me on Facebook already, my profile page has a very long and ongoing conversation with my  beloved Uncle P, and other friends where I go into why I believe, religion, politics and morality are no justifications for imposing the kind of harsh punishments that are being imposed on homosexuals, so I am not going to go into that.

It boils down to one thing. Before I am African, Cameroonian, Tikar, Ngo-Ketunjia, Bafanji whatever you want to call it, before I am all of those things, I am one thing – a human being. A human being capable of compassion and empathy. A human being capable of looking at the way another human being is being treated and knowing that it is unfair, no matter what the law, culture, society and religion dictates, and unfortunately for you my friends, a human being who has no problem going full activist on all of your butts, no matter what it costs me.

Life in prison or the death penalty are punishments usually reserved for criminals who commit the crimes that violate the most sacred human right, the right to life. This is the same punishment that you get as a homosexual person living in Uganda and many other countries. What is worse, there is the aspect of mob justice which is essentially a death sentence without trial. Kisuule Magala, a Ugandan journalist based in Chicago summarized it neatly on NPR when he said gay people in Uganda and Africa really, have more to fear from mob justice than from the government.

David Bahati, the Ugandan member of parliament who introduced the anti-gay bill in Uganda stated in an interview that he will like to “kill every gay person.”  Read Interview Here

 Not an idle musing, Rwanda is, after all, right next door to Uganda. The idea of gay witch hunts, and public executions is not too far fetched and what’s worse, the people who could perpetrate these acts would have the implicit support of the law and the general public.

So yes, as an African, even as an African, I support the right gay people have, to lives without fear and terror. Free from the tyranny of the self righteous majority.

If we as nature loving, harmonious living, inclusive, cooperative, collectively responsible and interdependent Africans care so much about our values, how about we find and explore ways to offer support to those who have homosexual tendencies but wish not to express them, and live with those who choose to express them without killing them off or tossing them into prison, out of our sight, without actually dealing with the issue?

The mark of any great society is it’s ability to adapt itself to the times in which it exists. 

These are our times…