Monday, February 24, 2014

Got Science? - UPDATE

OK, let's delve into this...


What is believed to be the  Scientific Report is below. It is very easy to read and rather straight forward.



Take a moment to look for yourself.


The only thing I see stated with any degree of certainty in this document is that nobody knows why some people tend towards homosexual behavior.  It does make some noteworthy points.


1. Homosexuality is not something Western culture is imposing on us. Africans are not homosexual because they are copying the West. 


Excerpt :
Homosexuality existed in Africa way  before the coming of the white man. However, most African cultures controlled sexual practices, be them heterosexual or homosexual, and never allowed exhibitionistic sexual behavior. Almost universally, they contained homosexual practices to such  a point that overt homosexuality was almost unheard of.
Emphasis on OVERT. It never went away. It always has been and always will be there whether there is a death penalty or not.


2. The African aversion to sexual exhibitionism applies to both orientations: Gay and Straight

The present fad of sexual exhibitionism, both heterosexual and homosexual is alien and repugnant to most African cultures.


I do not understand why so much vitriol is thrown at homosexuality in the name of African values. Growing up, I hardly remember any overtly sexual scenes on national TV. Kissing or touching in public was frowned upon whether or not you were married. We got kicked out of the room if kissing came on TV. Today, African music videos, commercials and movies are just as full of  sexual imagery without legislation being enforced to crack down on them. Sex sells in Africa just as much as it does in the West. Where are the laws to legislate this? Where are the fines for putting kissing in your movie or video? Because of adultery men bring diseases home to their wives and women to their husbands. Families get destroyed. Where is the death penalty for that? Where is the 14 years in prison for promoting safe sex? Or the prison term for sex outside of marriage? Are those not also against our African values? Where were African values when the Cameroonian government passed laws banning tight jeans and short skirts and we all asked "What the hell?" Uganda had one of the worst HIV?AIDS prevalences in the world, without homosexuality being legal in the country. A massive campaign led by Museveni himself, pushed the idea of safe sex and distributed condoms. Where were African values regarding sex then? 



3. Homosexuality is NORMAL. It is not a disease or an aberration. 


Thus also in sexuality, there are spectrum of sexual behaviours. Some people are less fixed in form of sexuality than others. Thus sexuality is a far more flexible human quality  than used  to be assumed in the past, demonstrating the biological variability within the human race.


Sure, the cultural context influences it's acceptability and the current cultural context in Africa is one where it is not tolerated, but paradigm shifts must occur in accordance with the shifting sands of time. It used to be that homosexuals in Africa could not speak up, but now they can and they are. There was a time when being a smart, educated career woman was culturally unacceptable. There was a time when choosing your own husband was culturally unacceptable. There was a time when killing twins and albino's for no other reason than that they came in pairs or  looked different was culturally acceptable. Many of us girls clench our thighs together and grimace when we think of female genital mutilation but there was a time when it was(and in certain parts of Africa it is still)  culturally acceptable. To paraphrase Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, the culture does not make the people, the people make the culture. 



 People tend to think homosexual and think of the exhibitionist and flamboyant ones who seek attention. (The same way as people think black in America and think of Hiphop/Rap culture, which represents only a fraction of black society) Not all homosexuals are cross dressing, attention seeking degenerates. Matter of fact, many gay are respectable professionals who you wouldn't even know were gay if it wasn't mentioned. More than anything else, they want to be left alone. The more we make rules to criminalize them, the more they will fight back. It's basic physics. To every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.




What frustrates me is the fact that we hide behind tradition and culture and African values to oppress a group of people over something they really have very little control over even while we ourselves labor under the weight of being  black people, something we have no control over either. 


Our leaders shake their fists in defiance at western countries over homosexuality and we crow with support, forgetting the injustices that they inflict on us. Today Museveni is a hero and he has certainly done many things for Uganda. Do not get me wrong. However, everyone seems to have forgotten that he's been president since 1986, removed the limit on presidential terms even after criticizing the practice by other African leaders.  Uganda is reported to have a 62% unemployment rate. 

We forget that he confirmed the Public Order Management Bill — a bill which limits freedom of assembly, pushes media censorship and the persecution of democratic opposition and ordered the invasion of the DRC in 1998, as if that country didn't have enough trouble of it's own. The American fundamentalist christian organization, The Fellowship, hails him as their key man in Africa which is ironical seeing as he is setting himself up as the African leader who is resisting western influence. We dance in the streets and thumb our noses at the West when our leaders pass laws that feed into our delusion that they care about us and then beg the West to help when the same leaders turn around and spit in our faces.

I di wait man wey e go open e mop call on the international community for intervene again when some African crisis wukop.

I hope every single African who supports this law encounters a friend or a family member who is gay, especially the ones who call themselves Christians and still support laws like this. You better be ready to turn that loved one in for them to face whatever punishment your country has whether life in prison or death or you will be harboring a criminal and breaking the law yourself. Religious beliefs are neither inherent nor genetic. I also hope no one has a problem if a president decides to outlaw certain churches, especially the non denominational ones, after considering the psychological and financial havoc some clergy and pastors and their followers wreak on communities and families.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Week in #TheyWantCoshWe

I doubt there is a Cameroonian alive and aware who doesn't know about recent events in Washington DC.

I want find palava but I no even know place for start. 

I think I'm going to start a weekly review of the shenanigans and dumbassery that we get ourselves into.

 #TheyWantCoshWe...

When I first moved to the US my sister told me two things which have stuck with me since. 

1.  Before anything else, know that you are responsible for your actions in this country. This is not Cameroon.

2. DO NOT MESS WITH THE GOVERNMENT.


I don't even want to consider what the repercussions will be for other Cameroonians and Africans making honest livings in the area.



Friday, February 21, 2014

If being gay was a choice...

One of the most perplexing arguments I have heard against homosexuality is the fact that it is a choice. That homosexuals choose to be that way.

Ummm.... OK.

Let's break this down for a second.

So it's a choice. Well, dear straight ( I assume) reader, when did you face that critical moment of decision in your life when the options were:  1. Straight and 2. Gay... and you chose straight? Or is this choice faced only by the people who end up choosing to be gay? In which case, maybe they were just meant to be gay to begin with?

Also, think about it. If the choice between straight and gay was something that everyone faced, I am willing to bet all my worldly possessions (not much by the way) that the world would be a very different place today. First of all, homosexuality wouldn't even be an issue because the potential for it is something we all would face at some point in our lives (its a choice, yeah?). It would be totally normal for some to choose gay and some straight. Just like some choose to have kids and some don't. And some choose to become doctors and some teachers. Heck, choosing gay could very well have become the cooler thing to do if it happened that gay people tended to have the things that were desirable.

Secondly, who in their right mind, given the strong human tendency towards survival, would willingly choose the lifestyle that could mean their death in some places ? Who would want the pain and emotional and psychological trauma that is associated with being gay in today's world? Seriously? Stop and consider the lengths people go to to avoid negative consequences. We who undertake all other kinds of crazy endeavours just to fit in. It just does not make sense.

Next, there would likely be way more gay people than there are now. Hold on.... bear with me here.... Let me finish.

Men and women are different. Many problems arise in relationships and marriages because men and woman and different. So different, in fact, it is almost as if we are from different planets sometimes (Mars and Venus, I believe they are.) So, if there was a point where you got to choose the gender with whom you formed romantic and potentially lifetime attachments, what are the odds people would gravitate towards others of the same gender, who they would likely understand?  Underneath all the social conditioning, the basic biological drives are the same. The hormones, developmental trajectories...same.  What are the odds a girl will most likely understand the way another girl is feeling or the way she does things or approaches life? Or guys other guys? How many people, tired of looking for love in one gender would simply switch to another? Or over the course of a lifetime switch between one and the other?

Children, you say? Guys, human beings figured out what plants were safe to eat and which weren't, Spread all over the surface of the earth mostly on foot, built the pyramids and the Great Wall of China, fought massive wars, conquered diseases, and put a man on the moon without the technology we have today. I'm sure we would have figured out a way to deal with that.

Choice? I think not.





Saturday, February 15, 2014

Where Do We Belong?


"A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect." 

                                                                      - W.E.B. Du Bois.

I've been following the Michael Dunn case and I've come to a realization.

Us black people in America, whether descendants of slaves or newly arrived from Africa,  have to come to terms with the fact that the plan was never for us to become members of  this society, worthy of admiration, respect and protection. And to the rest of us outside of America, it's no better. The world as it now exists has little use for us, disease stricken and conflict ridden and corrupt as we are. We are to be pitied, guided, policed and helped at all costs. By every means necessary.

Yes, Slavery was abolished and Jim Crow and Colonialism and Apartheid ended but those were simply laws and systems which codified the beliefs held by the collective of western (read: white)  society: the belief that black people were somehow imperfect specimens of humanity, sub-standard, the very expression of what is base and evil in human nature and not worthy of sitting at the table of real human beings. The beliefs that are held by many other races now. The belief that made slavery so easy to institutionalize and colonialism so easy to implement, despite all the good people who surely were alive back then. All men were created equal but some were more equal than others... scratch that. Some were not even men. Yes, the protection of the law was taken away from those who chose to express these deeply held beliefs openly. It did not stop them from holding those beliefs.

I think the worst part is that we bought into that lie too. We came to believe that we were inferior and needed saving guidance. We internalized these beliefs. As Nina Simone so simply put it :

"The worst thing about that kind of prejudice... is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough."

One look at the West's technology and philosophies and aesthetics and all we were and all we had suddenly became sub-par. Our languages could not compete. Our ways of governing ourselves could not compete. Our religions could not compete. We could not compete.

Extreme language? Pick up any book written by European explorers about their exploits in Africa. Come tell me what you find. Google, "Are black people human?" And while you read those articles, blogs and comments, remember that human beings like me and you seating in front of their computers in the comfort of their homes wrote them. Oh but these are just a few people seating behind computers and not representative of all Americans? Sure, but how many more still hold that inherent disregard and mistrust for blacks and are not sitting behind their computers talking about it? Worse still there are the ones, who have this deep seated fear/mistrust/disregard and are not even aware they have it until they get caught up in a situation that puts it out there for the whole world to see. Think about that the next time a security officer follows you around a store, or a mother pulls her kid away from you as you walk down the street or when no one seats next to you on the bus, or when your teacher seems surprised you did well on a test or when next that thing happens that you know will not happen if you were not black. We know these things so well...

Look at the justifications that are given for the paternalistic and patronizing approach that the West has to African countries (and enabled by our leaders and those of us who continue to talk about how "we lack resources" ...we have all the human and natural resources we need.) Basically, we have been treated like animals and dimwits from the very beginning. It's common to hear people say now that black people are treated the way they are mainly because of  the way black criminals behave. Lies.  The  automatic fear and the bastardization of the black race predates anything that black criminals and deviants ever did.And it exists now. Every black person is presumed potentially not quite right until they prove otherwise and even then, any display of negativity is ascribed to their "blackness" not to any of the social forces that might provoke this behavior. Segregation existed up until the 60's and in South Africa up till the 80's. You have to ask yourself, if Martin Luther King and Mandela had not led rebellions and protests, would  we still have had black only restaurants right now? What are the odds a good many people would have had absolutely no problem with that?

Are there individuals now who see things differently? Yes. But  the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. The American societal system as a whole was never designed to accommodate black people. The West dominated world as it exists now follows the same pattern. Am I painting in broad strokes? Absolutely. How different is it, however, from the same broad strokes with which black society is painted? If the current actions of a subset of black people are the standards by which all black people are assessed, what makes it wrong for the same rule to be applied to non blacks?

That  American society is  being forced to accept us as a viable component is part the reason for all the tensions and microaggressions we have to live with on a day to day basis. It is against the law to openly show bias (although that's changing now) but it's ok if the bias can be cloaked in "taking precautions" and ignorance and "just kidding".  The demand that we  ASSIMILATE is really a demand that we shed whatever we have that makes us different and take on the dominant culture so they don't feel uncomfortable. I've never  read about any Europeans assimilating when they encountered Native Americans or other indigenous tribes.

So what are we to do? Where do we belong?

I have no grand way forward to offer, folks. I am still trying to come to terms with it myself. One thing I do know is that "just ignore them" is not the way forward. Because while we're "ignoring them",  lives are being destroyed because we are trapped in this purgatory. The burden of blackness weighs on us all whether or not it's acknowledged. If you have some how found a way to navigate life despite this burden, remember that many others still labor under this burden.

 Not ignoring them will make you angry. As James Baldwin said:

"To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage." 

But this rage, is perhaps what we need to galvanize  the drive to find validation in ourselves and our history and culture (which by the way in  the past was conveniently destroyed to make way for more Eurocentric models.)  because we will never get it from anywhere else. We have already been deemed unfit.




Thursday, February 13, 2014

Was I African Before It Was Cool To Be African?

I've been following blog posts from the wonderful group of young Africans at Rise Africa. The focus this month has been on how we fall in love with our "Africaness" and there have been insightful posts from young men and women from all across the continent talking about how they came to accept and bear their African heritage with pride.

Read More Here

A common theme which has arisen in the posts is that idea that the enthusiasm with which many Africans are embracing their heritage is because it is now "cool" to be African. To rock natural hair and tribal prints. To know your culture and traditional language, to know your music and to know the writers who tell your stories, is the latest trend and self respecting hispter of African origin should know. So in addition to the Starbucks and black framed glasses and knowledge of all the cool rock bands before they were cool, we now have colorful headwraps, speak with that ever so slight inflection which hints at knowledge of another tongue, we wear beads, keep natural hair and listen to Wizkid.

This echoes a question one of my sisters asked me recently. "Where is all this new found zeal for all things African from?"

She asked this in response to the fact that I now listened to PSquare who I usually made fun of. (Never mind that I reserved my  sharpest criticisms for their songs  which  merely mimicked American singers. I have a deep abiding love for  genuine traditional African music, from whatever country)

Where is my (not so ) new found zeal for Africa from?

It comes from a place of anger and frustration. I've always been African. I've just never had to put conscious thought to being "African" until I moved to the US.  Since moving to the US I've found myself having to tell the story of my Africa over and over. I've had to  redefine it's image in my daily interactions, facing massive ignorance only fueled by the images of the continent so well loved by the mainstream media. We all know that image: that of a helpless , hapless continent, trapped by it's history, mired in it's corruption and violence, abandoned by it's children, whose only salvation lies in the hands of foreign intervention. The Africa that knows only pain and disease and suffering. The Africa that many of our leaders carry on their heads as they jostle in line for international dollars that regular Africans never see and have learned to live without. That Africa that many of us never knew.

I've heard African art referred to as rudimentary and its music and dance as unsophisticated in their expression or vulgar (too much bum bum shaking). My reply that comparing our dances, art and music to western versions was like comparing apples to oranges fell on deaf ears. It all came to a head during a heated argument in which I was arguing for more of an investment into training locals to provide the healthcare needs for Africa rather than shipping in volunteers and expertise from abroad. To which an American friend said "But they can't even count... they barely can go to school. They need volunteers to at least  count the pills. " I wondered who he meant by "they" for a moment then it struck me that he meant "us" Africans. Of course, I blistered his ears with what I thought of his patronizing attitude but later that day, I broke down and railed and cried bitterly because my protestations rang false even to my ears.

"What do they even know?" I asked my then boyfriend. To which he simply  replied "They know what they see on TV."

But it was more than that. It wasn't only what they did or didn't  know, it was also what I had failed to show. I had to acknowledge the part I was passively playing in promoting that sad image. How can our music be powerful when I am all too eager to listen to foreign music, leaving my own music for the privacy of my home or when in gatherings with other Africans?  How can our clothes be beautiful when I can't wear them with pride despite the stares? How can our cuisine be diverse and delicious when I am too embarrassed by the strong aromas to take them to work? How can our languages, our history or culture be worthy, when I am willing to cover my accent, adopt new traditions (Baby shower vs. Bornhouse)? How can my country be worth my dedication when leaving it was my dream for so long?

There is a high price for true assimilation as America would prefer. Assimilation that would require either that I forget the cradle of my fathers or at the very least that I push it to the very back of my life, in order to fit in. An assimilation that would need me to develop a double personality almost. A price I find myself unwilling to pay as each day goes by. For me, my protestations to Africa's beauty and value, were betrayed by my reluctance to hold high her pennant in a foreign land.

Does it really matter why anyone is now African?

I say it isn't. As long as we can find something to be proud of in our homelands, I say go for it. Fly the flag high. Even if the thing that we are proud of is the fact that other people are proud of their homelands, it works for me. It is my firm belief that the transformation of the continent has to come from within each one of us Africans, where we  find something worth fighting for and saving in our individual countries or tribes,  be it our art, music, languages, philosophies, natural remedies, manner of grooming, way of life and community interaction, the health of the people, their education, their economic development, whatever it is, find something to fight for. Some thing to be proud of.

To echo the sentiment over at Rise Africa : Africa is Done Suffering.




Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Conversations With A Fellow African Colleague

After pleasantries and the requisite lighthearted mocking of our countries of origin

Him: So are you married?
Me: Nope.
Him: (looking a little shocked) Why? How old are you?
Me: (looking a little miffed) I'm 26. Getting married is not actually a priority right now.
Him: (with the knowing nod) Aaaah, you're still young. There is time.
Me: Is that so? It's not marriage for marriages sake oh!
(I then launched into a mini lecture about how this pressure on African women to marry was unhealthy and unnecessary)
Him: See, you shouldn't talk like that, men will be afraid to approach you if they hear you talking like that.
Me: (side eye)


#The StruggleContinues





Monday, February 10, 2014

Rant Break: Samuel L. Jackson Looks Like Laurence Fishburne?


I'm not sure why anyone will confuse Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne, but apparently Sam Rubin is not the only one to have made that gaffe. If reader comments are to be believed, they DO look alike. I was shocked by the number of people who said they have actually met either of these men in person and mixed them up.

Wuna helep me.

Na the broking teeth? Or na the occasional corobo wey dem two di wear? This one pass me.

Anyway, the thing that has me a little miffed is the fact that Mr. Jackson is being criticized and called an egomaniac for setting the award winning entertainment reporter straight after he mixed them up. Watch the interview below.



To the people saying SLJ is an egomaniac or a jerk or that he overreacted. I beg to differ.

First of all, this could have gone a lot worse. I mean, SLJ could have cussed him out, could have thrown a hissy fit and stormed off set. He  is an actor and other big name actors have done worse with less provocation. He did none of the above. He took the opportunity to scold the man, using biting humor and heavy doses of sarcasm for an error which is way beneath a journalist of Sam Rubins calibre.  This is an award-winning journalist for crying out loud. Is it too much to ask that he knows who the heck he's talking to? If this had been a black journalist who mistook, I don't know, Sandra Oh for Lucy Liu, we likely would have been hearing a completely different story on social media. Conversations about professional standards and a lack of excellence.

SLJ did have a commercial that ran in the Superbowl but , that commercial is NOT what Sam Rubin was referring to because he immediately started apologizing when SLJ asked him  what commercial he was talking about. In my experience, innocent people do not apologize. Innocent people will likely  look back at you wondering how come you do not know what commercials you have been in.

Are other  big name actors mixed up too? Sure. Al Pacino and Robert deNiro. Amy Adams and Isla Fisher...

Click here for more

 These people actually look like each other folks....

Would they be annoyed if they were persistently mixed up for each other? I bet they would. Would they be more than a little miffed if a reporter of some import mixed them up with someone else? I'll bet you all my worldly possessions they would.

SLJ has every right to be annoyed. Whether or not he's a good actor is a matter of opinion but he's respected enough in his field to have risen to the top. He deserves respect and recognition, especially at an interview on live television where they are supposed to be promoting his movie.

Click Here for SLJ's Awards and Nominations

To be confused with another big name actor on the street by some hapless fan is one thing. To be confused with another big name actor by some one who is supposedly one of the better entertainment reporters in the business is something else completely.

And then people talking about the fact that he played the race card. Well, aside from being black and famous what else do these two men have in common? Do they even sound alike? Do they play similar roles in their movies? Because they certainly do NOT look alike. What part of Sam Rubin's brain could possibly have been malfunctioning?   Of course, SLJ could have played the gracious and benevolent celebrity. More specifically he could have been the ever smiling sambo, easy going, and care free; or the mystical negro, the friend, forgiving of all slights, understanding of those who misunderstand and prejudge. (Morgan Freeman has dibs on that character by the way)

But he didn't. He got pissed off and set the record straight, and there's nothing scarier to the delicate sensibilities of the American public than the sight of an angry black man.

Anger, righteous and earned or otherwise is something you don't exactly get to show as a black person living in the US. Your stature in society, your education, your track record of being a nice enough person to be around melts away like butter on a hot spoon. You're not just an angry person. You're an angry black person. That carries a different connotation.

This takes me back to the Richard Sherman brouhaha. Brothers can't win in this thing.

 I'll write about being black and angry in America one of these days.



For my non pidgin-speaking peeps:


Wuna helep me. > Somebody help me.

Na the broking teeth? > Is it the gap tooth?

Or na the occasional corobo wey dem two di wear? > Or is itthe fact that they both sometimes are completely bald

This one pass me. > I can't figure this one out


Sunday, February 9, 2014

On Marriage...

We all have those friends. The one we went to school or grew up with and formed a deep enough friendship. The one with whom after graduation or family relocation, life happened and you drifted apart. Inevitably, they track you down (or you them) and the lines of communication reopen. The sharing of confidences pick up right from where they left off and years, even a decade of separation melt away.

This happened to me recently. A friend from childhood contacted me on Facebook and we exchanged numbers. She called me and we got to talking about life, achievements, milestones, hopes and dreams. I’ll call her Lum (name of course changed to protect the innocent). Lum is a couple of years older than me, has a graduate degree and a pretty awesome job in a Europe based pharmaceutical company. Lum also seems to have retained the bubbly spirit and kind heart that I knew her to have in our childhood days. Lum seems to have achieved that balance that African women seem so good at.  She's very ambitious and driven, career oriented and quite successful, deeply spiritual and has that comfortable sense of domestication about her. Our conversation was peppered with references to conferences she attends, breakthroughs at work, the wonderful church community she belongs to, as well as her forays in African markets to find just the right ingredients to make her goat meat pepper soup taste exactly right. Ah yes, and her quest for a husband.

You see, smart, gentle spirited, successful, deeply spiritual, beautiful Lum is not married and this is starting to be a source of deep anguish for her. Matter of fact once that topic came up, it dominated the rest of the conversation.

First, there was the guy her parents set her up with. He met all the criteria that any self-respecting African parent would want for their daughter. Good family? Check. Smart and successful? Check. (He is a pharmacist in the US). Good manners? Check. Looking for a good girl? Check. There was an immense amount of pressure for her to marry the guy. She was on a student visa in Europe and he is an American citizen. It’s not like he would treat her badly, their families had known each other for decades, heck they had played together as children. He wasn’t unattractive. He was by all standards a pretty darn good catch. But, it would have been a typical arranged marriage to a guy she had literally no desire to marry. Bucking convention, she turned him down. Her parents were horrified. His parents were insulted. He moved on to the next candidate and Lum stayed single.

Since then, there have been a couple more attempts at arrangements and set ups by friends and family. She has also dated widely and across all races even though her preference is Cameroonian (…and parents have made it categorically clear that they do not care for the idea of a non-Cameroonian as a son-in-Law.) There have been the ubiquitous heartbreaks from the jerks and the assholes and the one’s whose hearts she broke because things were just not going to work out. Lum is becoming the weary single woman, tired of travelling the convoluted land of love of which there is no map. She is ready for it to be over.

This is a familiar story. I’m willing to bet each of us knows at least one person who is living this story right now. But here is the twister. When in all my earnest, modern woman, self-righteous indignation, I tried to tell her that marriage was not the be all and end all of her existence as a woman, in her quiet and gentle manner, Lum set me straight:

“Do not mistake me for one of those misguided African women who feel that marriage is a woman’s purpose. I easily could learn to be happy and content as an unmarried woman, but I’d rather not have to. I do want to get married. I want to share my life with someone. I think it is a beautiful thing to have someone to share life with. I want to have children. I would like to be able to do it when I’m young and healthy to minimize risks and also get the chance to spend more time with them.  I’d prefer for that to happen in a loving two parent home. The thing is I cannot take the chance of marrying someone and waking up one morning asking myself what the hell I was thinking. I don’t ever want to get a divorce and I know I will if I was truly unhappy. I want to marry someone I know I can commit to no matter what happens. I’d also prefer to marry Cameroonian and the reality is that for us African girls the older you get, the more successful you are the more complicated things become for you.”

She admitted that she had begun to feel anxious and depressed because she will soon hit the big 3-0 with no viable prospects in sight and aside from her personal longing to get married, the pressure from family is enormous. Furthermore,  things are not helped by the fact many of our peers are married and working on baby number 2. She is terrified of one day feeling so desperate to marry; she takes the plunge with whoever is available.

It struck me then that there really needed to be a re-examination of the attitudes African women have towards marriage. Sure there are still many, many African women who cave in to family and traditional pressure and have either married for the sake of marriage or have adopted the manipulative get married or die trying attitude because as an African woman, marrying is what you are expected to do when you reach a certain age. There are still many for whom poverty has made marriage (in all it’s configurations) the only solution but that’s a topic for another blog post.

This, however, is no longer the whole story.

First of all there’s the ones like me, who really could take or leave marriage (mostly leave right now…hahaha!) and who, as a friend recently said, would probably end up with many cats and many ex-boyfriends and many PhD’s. We think about it and on paper it sounds like a good thing. But then we think about the nitty gritty and just how much stronghead (stubbornness) we have and we decide to spare the hapless fellow the trauma.

There’s also the one’s like Lum who do want to get married not necessarily from family or societal pressure but because it is something they see value in. They have genuine desires to forge those bonds with another person, to bring children into the world and partake in the joy and privilege of raising them to be the best humans they could be. It is an institution whose power to advance society they believe in and they are willing to put in the work to make it a successful partnership and want nothing more than to find a man on the same wavelength.

The sad thing is, too often, women like these (who I personally think are awesome…) get mixed up with those nuptial ninja’s, and their sincere desire for one of life’s most fulfilling experiences gets ridiculed and belittled by self-righteous militant feminists: the ones who would act like men are completely and absolutely useless, (I mean they are but that’s something else…. Hehehe… I keed) that the notions of family and childbearing are inherently oppressive and any woman who yearns for these things is weak-minded and an idiot. It creates an atmosphere where they feel like they can’t talk about their wishes and desires for fear of being typecast as the mewling, simpering female waiting for the man and children to give their lives meaning.

Another sad scenario is that these wonderful women, because they want to marry, open themselves up to the possibilities and repeatedly get hurt by careless men who do not see the rare and precious gift that they have. These are the men who would try to suppress their ambitious and career oriented spirited by getting on some “you have to be an African woman” high horse, or the chronic cheaters for whom the term commitment has no meaning, or the leeches with absolutely no self-respect who will try to profit from their success and bring nothing to the table except for their penises or the men who have simply refused to grow up. This leaves many of them cynical and bitter.

Meanwhile the clock’s ticking and as us African women very well know once that certain age O’ clock passes... To which it is easy to say "You don't have to marry Cameroonian or even African, age is not a factor for many of the other nationalities and races out there...." except there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to marry within circles you feel comfortable and familiar. Interracial/international  marriage is not for everyone.


To all the Lums out there: ashia mamas. I cannot say I feel your pain but I hope you have or can find female friends with whom you can talk about your issues without fear of censure. I hope you eventually find men who can be the kind partners you trust to build successful marriages with (goodness knows we could use some successful marriages with today’s statistics), I hope you have children because I know you have within you the potential to be the kind of mother that any child would be lucky to have. 

I believe that your hearts are in the right place.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

They Want Cosh We Sometime Them, We Hand Dey Dey

Imagine my shock when the story came up on my Facebook news feed that George Zimmerman of Trayvon Martin infamy is set to be in a "celebrity" boxing match with DMX. I was sure some one was playing a prank so like all good news watching Africans, I went to CNN to check if there was any veracity to the story and sure enough, it is true.  It's supposed to happen sometime in the near future. March 1st I believe. This is real life, people. I'm literally losing my mind up in here. 

So, Zimmerman is now being afforded "celebrity" status. A man whose claim to fame is to have apprehended a 17 year old black kid because he looked suspicious and then proceeded to shoot and kill the kid when he dared to defend himself [And before anyone starts talking about Trayvon's suspensions and other misbehavior, let's not forget that this is America where teenagers are allowed to act out, rebel, engage in experimentation with drugs and crime and be forgiven or have it covered up by friends and family because they're teenagers. Unless you're a black teenager that is...]


Zimmerman shot this kid partially as a result of racial profiling which sets up the black men as violent thugs to be apprehended on sight - a stereotype not helped by the scores of young black men who deliberately choose the path of violence and destruction. Young men who, although likely not in the majority when considering the black male population in the US, have come to be representative of not just black men but black people as a whole. And now we have DMX, a black man, known druggie, ex-convict, who in order to have been selected for this fight had to have emailed a request to participate and apparently has vowed to beat the living shit out of Zimmerman. 


They want cosh we sometime them we hand dey dey. 


What. The. Fuck. 


Trayvon Martin will have been 19 years old today. Goodness knows what path his life will have taken. Maybe a good one, maybe a bad one, but the tragedy is that we will never know. It's insulting enough that the promoter announced this on Trayvon's birthday, what kills my soul is that a black person is involved in this. Now, don't get me wrong. Black people, DMX inclusive, are not perfect. We are prone to dumbfoolery too. We have our issues which are independent of the establishment that has put us at the bottom of the pile. I hate the overcompensating that black people in America have to do on a regular basis to get by. I don't care for the fact that we have to prove ourselves to complete strangers who have nothing to suspect us of except the color of our skin. I resent the fact that we are not allowed to be the imperfect human beings that we are and every one else is  because it indicts our whole race in the eyes of society, when we are anything but perfect. But, we as a collective, can definitely do better than this.



I sey they want cosh we sometime them we hand dey dey.


I have no thoughts on Zimmerman because as far as I am concerned he will live in the prison of knowledge of what he did for the rest of his life. I am disgusted with DMX. Not that I expect a whole lot from what now passes for the hip/hop-rap culture that has spurned the likes of him and Chris Brown and all the other black "celebrities" by whose lives and choices all black people in America seem to be judged. Seriously? This is how he chooses to honor Trayvon's memory? By becoming the thuggish black man Trayvon was suspected of being and killed for?


Zimmerman choosing to make an even bigger spectacle of himself does not in any way justify the involvement of any other person, talk less of a black man. No one needs to be fighting for Trayvon now. When it mattered he fought alone and he died alone. The people outraged at Zimmerman should not forget that this fight will not be happening if another person hadn't volunteered to be a part of it. Another person who just happens to be a black man and a pretty close approximation of the kind of black man you don't want running around your neighborhood.


This is what Al Sharpton had to say:


"We must be very careful not to glorify or in any way sidestep the implications of making someone whose only claim to fame was killing an unarmed young man named Trayvon Martin into a cultural celebrity or hero. He has the right to pursue whatever he wants in life, yet we also have the obligation to be discerning about who we lift and to what level. It is perfectly legal for him to exploit his fame but we should never forget what he is famous for and not behave like he is a celebrity based on gifts or talent or contributions to society. I am concerned about the precedent that it sets.”


Well said, sir. Well said, indeed. Except you apparently failed to address the fact that Zimmerman will be fighting against a black man. A black man who VOLUNTEERED to join him in his delusional quest for goodness knows what. A black man of some celebrity himself who is doing nothing to honor the memory of his fallen black brother except give the person who killed him exactly the attention he is desperately seeking.  A black man who is not exactly a credit to black society as of right now with his multiple arrests, drug use, illegal weapons possesion and incarceration and financial woes despite being a big name rapper.



If DMX wants to fight for Trayvon, let him address the parts of rap culture that glorify violence and deviance. Let him clean up his hot mess of a life and stand up as one of the desperately needed examples that young black men can look up to. The black community should be seriously getting on DMX's case right now. He should be shamed into backing off from this travesty. Non black people doing stupid things  is not an excuse for black people to pursue dumbassery. Talk about Black Rednecks and White Liberals. 


So he beats the shit out of Zimmerman. So what? Another black man engaged in an act of violence. Nothing new. We see that on the news every evening. We are reminded of it everyday. 


Ish sef. Ma neck.



By the way you can sign a petition to shut this rubbish down. Click Here To Sign




For my non pidgin speaking readers:

They want cosh we sometime them , we hand dey dey >  Sometimes when they insult us, we make it easy for them.

Ish sef > "Ugh"
Ma neck >  "Grrrrrrrrrrr"

Together,  they are an expression of disgust and frustration.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Affaire à Suivre

We finally get to hear Dencia's side in all this wahala  her product has caused (When she's not cussin' it out on Twitter that is...) The journalist in me is obliged to present all the sides to the story, no be so?

Read Interview Here


She's not a dumb girl as some people seem to think. I think she has business acumen. I also, however, think she came across as defensive and a tad unaware of the implications both psycho-social and medical  of such a product . And that name.... just WHY???.


What are your thoughts, peeps? Do the explanations behind the motivations for her product make sense? As African women who know that quite often, taking care of blemishes is the least of the uses skin lighteners are put to, can we accept this explanation? Where should the issue be tackled? At the level of demand or at the level of supply?This is an issue that affects us. This is our story. She is one of us. Let's tell it together.


Now since we are all classy ladies and gentlemen, I'll ask that we keep responses polite and respectful of the lady, no matter how much we might disagree with her viewpoints.


If you have trouble commenting, email me at findpalaver@gmail.com

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weaves vs. Whitenicious vs. All Things Western: The Flip Side of the Coin


This is a continuation of a discussion I started Here

Dr. Yaba Blay  is my hero. Her analyses of black issues always leave me in deep reflection. In this piece, Click Here to Read she discusses the limitations and weaknesses of the " black women lighten their skin because of low esteem" theory. Her arguments are sound. We Africans retain so many Western practices, it's hard to believe we had fully functional societies, with legal systems, languages (both spoken and written), educational systems, way of dress and grooming or anything like that before Europeans showed up. Our current education systems, legal systems, way of dress, official languages are all reflective of Western standards.  Even our countries are Western creations. "Falling Bush" (going abroad to western countries) is the aspiration of hundreds of thousands of young Africans. Heck, it was my aspiration too! 

It is easy to target women who lighten their skin as weak minded and suffering from brainwashing because they try to emulate western standards of beauty. But I wonder why they and they alone get the brunt of  criticism. I wonder because if we follow that line of reasoning then my dear people, we've all been brainwashed. All of us  hair perming, weave wearing, GCE O' and A' Levels, Baccalaureate, Bachelors, Masters and PhD holding, fluent English and French  speaking, jeans and three piece suit wearing, Christian, white wedding making, bush falling, proud Africans from countries named after Njanga (Shrimp). I hope I don't have to explain that last bit to any CameroonianAs  black Africans, for the longest time, our languages, our cultures, our physical appearance, our art, our music, our intellect, our spirituality, our philosophies, the very essence of our existence has been denied, underrated, devalued, suppressed, ignored, destroyed, supplanted by "superior" versions. We've mostly come to accept it with a "Na so the world e dey" (That is the way of the world) shrug.

On the one hand, it's survival. The world is a Western European world. Their culture, their systems of government, their philosophies dominate. There is not a single inhabited continent whose destiny has not been changed by contact with Western Europe.  Their way of life has been setup as the standard that everyone should aspire to.  If you have to survive, then you have to learn their ways, assimilate. Nelson Mandela demonstrated this clearly. He mastered Afrikaans, the better to communicate his concerns to the Apartheid leaders. [ By the way,  I had a good chuckle during the Winnie Mandela movie starring Jennifer Hudson when students protesting the Apartheid government held up banners saying something along the lines of "We do not want to learn in Afrikaans. Teach us in English" Sweet Irony. Why not Xhosa or Zulu or Swahili? Large enough segments of the population speak those languages, implementing a traditional language as official would not be a nightmare like it would be in the Land of the  Njanga River...errrm Cameroon, where there are over 200 local languages.] 

So just how much assimilation is acceptable? Lightening skin and perming hair is a legitimate attempt to assimilate too. It means one is adapting to the world around them and doing what is necessary to live comfortably and in peace of mind. Much like us bushfallers who start rapping and watizeying (speaking with American/British/etc accents). Any of my bushfaller compatriots who are really dark or have natural hair or heavy African accents  and have felt the weight of their "blackness" in school or work or in stores and other public places will know exactly what I mean. Dark skinned African girls who have been passed over for marriage by African men who ended up choosing lighter skinned girls would know what I mean. How do I, the naturally light-skinned child of a middle class family whose parents were astute enough to send her to good schools and impress upon her the importance of independence and resourcefulness, criticize the woman in Douala whose parents could barely send her to school, who barely got her university degree, who now can't find a job and finds herself depending more and more on the largesse of men. Men who show a preference for lighter-skinned girls? Isn't her decision to lighten her skin just a different expression of independence and resourcefulness? Dencia saw a demand and moved to provide the supply. She's made herself a huge chunk of change in the process I am sure. She'll likely never know the kind of desperate poverty that makes a woman do things after which she ends up unable  look herself in the mirror. Can we hold that against her?

 Where is the line drawn, people? What level of Westernization is optimum without total eradication of our black African heritage? How do we decide which aspects of Western culture are good for our progress and emancipation and which aren't?