Photo Credit: Makosi Today
“Yaya, are you coming?”
Bisi’s voice, deep and husky carried clear across the room, causing Yaya to look up from the storyboard she was working on. Bisi stood next to the hallway leading to the elevators, her jacket on, portfolio in hand.
“Girl…?” She widened her eyes and inclined her head. “It’s time for the meeting, come on! ”
The other occupants of the room, mostly other junior and mid-level account managers looked expectantly at Yaya. Yaya and Bisi, everyone at Meacham and Pettigrew knew, were attached at the hip. They were the small advertising company’s rising star account managers and it was their big day. Both women had coordinated to nab the attention of Nadine a major cosmetic company and today they presented their campaign to both Nadine and M&P’s executive. Success meant a huge contract for the company and definite promotions for both women. While they had worked as a team, everyone knew that it was Yaya’s persistence and attention to detail that would ultimately make the deal. Bisi saw big picture situations and had a feel for what was right. Yaya’s ability to solidify the concepts and communicate them effectively to graphic artists, copy editors and other people who worked to bring the campaign to life, and then review their work with almost manic meticulousness was what made their products top-notch. It was the expectation that Nadine would accept the campaign and Yaya would be point person working directly with Nadine, while Bisi held down fort at M&P.
“I’m coming, Bisi, give me a second.” Yaya murmured, returning her attention to the story board she’d just received. It was for another campaign she was working on. Something was off but she could not put her finger on it. As was the case when she was thinking, she rubbed one of her chin length dreadlocks between her thumb and forefinger.
“Meeting starts in fifteen. That story board can wait.” Bisi walked towards the corner where Yaya sat, her heels clicking on the floor. “We gotta make a good impression today, woman. Let’s go!”
“I know… but something is…”
“Off, I know. We can look at it after the meeting and your big promotion. Right guys?” She looked around the room.
There were murmurs of “Yes!” and “Go, Yaya, go!”
Everyone knew how important this account was. Their paychecks probably depended on it.
“Alright alright,” Yaya chuckled and locked her computer. She stood up and ran her hands through her hair. “How do I look?”
“Like the next account manager for the M&P, Nadine account. But we gotta go to make that happen, luv. Chop chop.”
Bisi spun around and made for the elevators. Yaya shook her head and grabbed her portfolio.
“You got this girl!”
The calls of support and encouragement came from around the room. Yaya smiled and nodded as she walked past her colleagues.
I sure hope so, she thought to herself.
In the elevator, Bisi tapped her foot impatiently as they rode to the executive conference room.
“You are so impatient…” Yaya chuckled to her friend.
“I’m ready to make that money, girl.”
“I know right! Let’s hope they think it is as good as we think.”
“Oh they better. We worked our butts off. You worked your butt off. I bet they give you a fancy new office at Nadine’s HQ to sweeten the deal.”
“You know if they do, you’ll probably end up using it more than I do.”
“This is true.” Bisi flipped her hair over her shoulder.
“It is still so weird to see you without your dreads. That was a pretty sudden decision to get rid of them.”
Bisi’s nervous movements slowed a little.
“I know…” She seemed a little more subdued, her voice a little quieter. “I was ready for a change. I’d had dreads for so long.”
” Yup. We got them together what, summer before we started college? That was like 7 years ago. That was a long enough time. Aiyana did a good job with this weave though, you got that Naomi Campbell thing going on.”
“For what I pay her, I better be Naomi’s double.” Bisi grumbled good-naturedly and both women laughed. “Besides, it’s just hair right?”
Two hours later….
“What the hell just happened in there, Tom?”
Yaya faced Tom Cranfield, her manager across his desk, her fists clenched in fury, hot tears burning behind her eyes.
“Yaya, I am so sorry, you have to understand. We need this account but the folks at Nadine were adamant that they wanted Bisi and not you as their account manager.”
“But why? I basically put that campaign together single-handedly. You know it. They know it. Bisi knows it. You let them cut me out completely.”
“We made the decision that was best for M&P, Yaya. I know it screwed you over but we had to. Nadine was too big for us to let something as trivial as your hair get in the way of us getting them.”
Tom’s eyes widened as he realized what he had just said. A red flush crept up his face.
“Look. Nadine was reluctant to have either of you ladies as their account manager, seeing as you would have to work with their stakeholders. Something about you not exactly being the image their company wanted to project.” his eyes darted to her deadlocked hair. “But they really liked the campaign you put together. Somehow Bisi must have found out. Why didn’t she tell you?”
Photo Credit: africancurls.com, starpowerrent.com
In my experience, nothing makes the average Cameroonian/African guy more antsy than a woman who is comfortable enough with her sexuality to talk openly about it. Brag even…
Take this song for example:
Ciara apparently knows her thing (enjoys it too!) and she isn’t afraid to say it.
I can do it big, I can do it long
I can do it whenever or however you want
I can do it up and down, I can do it circles
To him I’m a gymnast, this room is my circus
Not many, I think, would take a girl like this in stride. I can already see the guy’s raised eyebrows were a girl to make statements along these lines.
The questions about how come she can be so bold.
The questions about how many men she’d slept with to be so allegedly good.
E don spoil. Na ashawo
And yes, that little (or big) thrill of interest – anticipation even, as he dares to imagine that she really is as good as she says she is.
So, all the FindPalava’s out there, male and female, whats the deal? What is your preference and why?
This is what I’m talking about. Go Mama, Go!
This 90 Year old grandma is not joking She is back at school. Her reasons;
“I want to say to the children of the world, especially girls, that education will be your wealth, don’t look back and run to your father,” she said. “With education you can be whatever you want, a doctor, lawyer or a pilot.”
She walks miles to go to school with her great great grand kids. NOW THIS IS BADASS!!!!
Imagine my shock when I found out that all these years I had been calling many of my Cameroonian friends and acquaintances by the wrong name. I mean, they were Moluas and Brendas and Ondoas and Frus and I was under the impression that I had heard these people correctly when they introduced themselves, that my eyes were O.K when I read their names on Facebook and my memories of our school days back in Cameroon were intact.
I found out I’d been living a lie.
I found out that many of these people were, in fact, named Charlie.
And who can blame them for wanting to shed their identities for Charlie?
You see, Charlie is this really exemplary person who shines bright as the champion of the right to free speech. So deep is the commitment to this right, Charlie will defend your right to say what you want, even if Charlie deeply disagrees with what you are saying or perceives it to be harmful to society. Charlie is full of selflessness and compassion and the global human spirit which reaches across desert and ocean to share in the pain and suffering of others.
It was confusing. Surely, this must have been a case of dissociative identity disorder à la Frankie and Alice, because I have distinct memories of instances where these same people or groups of people barely noticed or vehemently supported the suppression freedom of expression for the marginalized groups in our communities, in the name mostly of tradition and religion.
I think this dissociative identity disorder afflicts us Cameroonians/Africans, both at home and abroad this is how it usually goes:
Something happens on the global stage and explodes across our social media platforms. Carried away with the bandwagon frenzy, we join the hashtags, change cover and profile pictures. Update statuses showing solidarity, write tomes and think pieces on our blogs. Our celebrities are all over it and we applaud them for using their fame to do something the way western celebrities do. We talk about it with friends at school and at work and bond over the shared unity of purpose. Our bodies just di jollying as we feel connected to the world. We are the global village. Creatures of the information age.
None of the above is bad.
The problem lies in the fact that often, quite often, too often – we do not display the same dedication to dissecting causes that actually do carry some importance to us as Africans. Often, we fail to turn the analytical lens with which we examine these issues on ourselves. Quite often, the issue at hand, the reason for our outcry affects us marginally, if at all. And too often, we display a breath-taking amount of intellectual dishonesty when discussing these issues.
Allow me to illustrate.
So two islamist extremists enter the main offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France and kill pretty much the whole editorial staff. We know what followed. We all witnessed it. We all were a part of it.
Many of us discovered our inner Voltaires, and based our newly discovered reverence for the right to free expression on the quote which although often misattributed to Voltaire, was not by him:
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
Ok, Fine. Petit Voltaires.
Where were you when Eric Lembembe (Cameroonian journalist and LGBTI human rights activist) was found dead after having been tortured? Were you Eric then? Where were you when Alice Nkom, first female lawyer in Cameroon, a woman who has dedicated much of her career to fighting for the rights of LGBT folks in the country, and who has received death threats and threats of arrest for her trouble, was recognized for her work and massively criticized by Cameroonians everywhere? #JeSuisAlice any one?
The same people who would declare #JeSuisCharlie, are the same people who will tell an African woman not to speak her mind else she might not find a husband or it is unbecoming for a woman to be so outspoken. I di wait man wey e go send me some nonsense private message this year. Just try it. #JeSuisFindPalavaWoman
The same people who will declare #JeSuisCharlie will talk about how certain books, music videos, magazines, imagery etc, imported from the West are destroying the fabric of our society.
You, Catholic, Presbyterian and other member of bigger denomination will declare #JeSuisCharlie, but will you stick your neck out and defend Evangelist Apostle Theophilus of Christ, Senior Pastor of Church of the Categorically Saved – International (CCS – International) preaching loudly at the bus stop if a policeman arrested him for the heck of it?
You don’t have to like what they say or approve of it, but the spirit of Charlie demands that you stand up and defend their rights to express those views just as visibly as you did for Charlie. Charlie who despite the nobility ascribed to him, invests a lot of energy lambasting a holy figure as precious to the eyes of some, as Jesus is to many of you.
You want to laugh at the presidents who traveled to France to march in solidarity? Laugh at yourselves first, because you are cut from the same cloth.
I’ll keep an eye out for all you Charlies this year. And believe me when I say that I will be there, exercising my Charliehood to remind you of why you are not, in fact, Charlie.
Well hi there! Good to see you! A recurring nightmare I had beginning this year was that reading my blog and arguing with me was going to be the bad habit that many of you dropped this year, with all that New Year Resolution nonsense. So, I’m super glad to see you. I can’t quit you all either.
Seriously. I thought about it.
During my retreat (if you want to call it that), I seriously considered never blogging again. I mean I’d had a good 2014, for a newbie. My blog got about 15 000 views (although I’m pretty certain at least half of those views were mine, before I finally figured out how to stop the thingie from counting my views, but still even 100 views is pretty sweet!). We got up to some good fun. Hopefully, we all found new way to think about things and be better all round human beings. But I was tired. I mean for one who rants as she breathes, 2014 sure served up a lot to rant about. I had rant fatigue. Unborn rants died inside of me because I just didn’t have the energy left to push them out. So yeah. I was ready to shut it all down and simply walk away.
But, who am I kidding. That old Cameroonian saying: If they shut her mouth she will speak through her... you know the one I mean. That saying was probably written with me in mind. A therapist friend of mine calls it external processing. She’s probably right, especially on the doom and gloom part. Writing, debating, reading, writing and debating some more is how I make sense of the world around me. So, I’m back to it and not a second too soon. There’s stuff to process out here folks. But I’d like to repeat a few disclaimers I made when I started blogging. I’ve updated them and I am emphasizing certain points so you know/remember what you’re dealing with (see in red). With one year of blogging under my belt, I can see that many of those promises were made too soon:
DISCLAIMERS (A.K.A Cover Your Ass)> This is a space where I will attempt to engage women (and men), particularly African women (and men) in discourse and debate about the issues that affect us. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. The are not representative of my family, any school I attend or place of employment, or anything else that I am affiliated to.> This blog has NO RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION. None whatsoever. ( I understand that many of my friends and readers are devoted Christians so if I will be posting about something they might construe as offensive I will put a disclaimer at the top.(I didn’t quite adhere to this last year, but will try harder this year so you can skip the post. Be warned, however, that if you choose to engage me, I will not hold back)> I make a promise to be polite and respectful as much as is possible. Please do note, however, that I am given to ranting and I have been known to use profanity (some things NEED F-bombs, I’m sorry). Also, I will be discussing controversial issues and tempers are bound to rise. The blog is not called Find Palava Woman for nothing.
I’ll only ask that we stay respectful of each others opinions.I take that back. I ain’t about that life anymore. Some opinions are crap – in my opinion, of course – and if I think your opinion is crap, I will tell you so and why. There is too much foolery being circulated out there in the name of opinions. If you want to “uncrappen” your opinion, back it up with logic and fact, otherwise, exercise your right to stay silent.> I will be speaking in a combination of French, English and Pidgin English. Might even throw in some local Cameroonian languages. I’ll translate.> My posts are inspired by the world around me, the conversations I have and the things I see. This blog is basically your all access card into my head. Be warned. It’s a dark, dark place (…especially when the red river flows). That being said, some of you might recognize yourselves in things I write. I will be paranoid about privacy. I understand some of you do not care to share your business with the world, as I apparently do.> Some things I say would easily be construed as me being judgmental. I will always try to examine things from both sides,but this blog is about MY take on these issues. I am not a perfect human being, but I don’t have to be perfect to be able to speak critically about what I perceive to be problematic. Even Nelson Mandela had his issues.
“Hello, you’ve reached Mabel Mbemba. Sorry I can’t answer your call right now but if you leave me your name and number, I’ll give you a call back as soon as I can.”
“Hmmmm… Sister May, you di cam back from that Barbados wey you go na when? Enjoyment oh! I’ve been trying to reach you for the last couple of days. Ase-eh, no that Dr. Max Litumbe di work na for that hospital we you be dey dey? Wandaful thing oh! So his wife got killed in a hit and run accident near their house, last week. Hit and run in broad daylight with people around, oh! They said maybe someone killed her because eyewitnesses saw the person driving the car that hit her step out and pick up some of her things from the road before driving away. But no one was really sure what the motive was. And then yesterday, the news broke that her husband was going after the Secretary of State’s son who is running for Congress in New York for her murder and get this, his story is being corroborated by another man whose family owns the company the woman used to work for, some money people for wuna Chicago dey. This is a guy she who allegedly she had an affair with. I say eh! Dirty laundry is spilling. All man don confuse. The story is developing but all the major news networks have picked up on it, I sure sey e go reach international news small time. Na big scandal for here. Also, a while ago there were rumors that the Max Litumbe himself was cheating on his wife. Do you know anything about that?”
So this has been a pretty long journey. Thank you all for sticking through to the end. I know it didn’t end with your favorites riding off into the sunset in bliss with the promise of a life full of joy and babies. But then, life is messy and we have to deal. I hope the story entertained you. But I also hope it made you think about the themes it featured. 2015 will feature more from me and we’ll delve deeper into our often untold stories.