Ghana

Gold Coast, Ashanti kingdom, Oh Ghana – Akwaaba

From Tema, to Accra to Kumasi is where I find my feet.

My best friend a vision in white, gliding down the aisle to meet her king.

Rewind to a couple of days before, all the girls, all obronis, trying to navigate the hustle and bustle of Kotoka international.

We step out into the sweltering heat, we taste the sun and we know we have arrived.

A flock of people surround us to lend a helping hand. But nothing is ever for free. 10 cedis later and we are on our way, it’s just the African way.

But no time to dwell, we have a wedding to prepare.

Spintex road is where we call home for a few days. A sprawling complex greets us with a gym and a pool. T.I.N.A! , we exclaim, Africans have come a long way.

Not even Dumsor can put out the light inside of us. Our excitement is igniting. We are finally here.

Months of planning and the Black Star is finally within our grasp.

We meet so many beautiful souls on our journey to the altar. It really does take a village to raise a child.

The calming nature and soft spoken tone of the Ghanaian people, contrasts vastly with our brisk English mettle.

The resilience of the market traders, trudging up and down in the unforgiving sun selling Bo fruit to Fanmilk feels me with awe.

One cedi later and Fanmilk in hand, I can’t help but feel guilty at the disparity of life. But on our way we go.

Sakumono is where the traditional wedding takes place.

Sakumono is where my friend becomes one.

Sakumono is where a part of me is lost.

Our Navy blue dresses surround her White – a bunch of Morning Glory’s protecting our seed.

1 wedding down and another one to go.

Our adventures take us to Kumasi, the climax of the whole affair, a metropolis seeped in rich history and wealth.

A quick trip to Manhiya palace and neighbouring markets quench our western desire to be immersed in culture.  Buy a dashiki here and there, buy a kente print bag here and there and now we are authentic Africans.

Now we are ready.

The big day finally arrives.

The hotel is a cacophony of sounds and shapes,

Makeup here and there, dresses everywhere.

We are late – no surprises there.

Wedding bells are ringing, to the altar we must go.

I take my place in line.

Nerves frayed. Deep breath. Smile, it’s her big day.

She is happy. They both are. This is meant to be.

Home.

She is home.

But where is home for me?

Black in the City : The American Dream

Being Black in the city in this day and age resembles the struggles of the field Negroes in the cotton plantations of the 19th century. Even with our hands up the still shoot us down. The curse of the Black skin still lingers on…. Nothing‘s changed in all these years.

The same hate and dissent of the Ku Klax Klan is still alive today. America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, shoot us for sport like pheasants in the firing range. Another Nigga dead, nobody cares.

#BlackLivesMatter we scream, a silent plea falling on deaf ears.

The Black Man, The Black Ape, The Black Bitch, the Black Death. No longer human just an animal in a cage. A beast waiting to be tamed.

They throw Black on Black crime in the mix as justification for the slaughter. Killing us saves us from our own savagery.

To be Black is to be sub-human. A disease inflicted upon the masses. Black people bleeding with frequent occurrence and all they shout is #AllLivesMatter whilst continuing to pillage a whole race.

Mike, Sandra, Eric to name a few. Dead at the hands of those who are meant to protect and serve. But where is the protection for the Black man? Shoot first, question later, that coon had it coming.

#BlackLivesMatter we cry. But Black tears aren’t worth the salt that is shed.

 Barbados

 

Well the title is a bit deceptive as I didn’t actually do any travelling in the city, rather, I flew to a small island called Barbados for 12 days and fell in love.

Barbados you had me at hello!

Touching down in the Caribbean, I was hit by a sweltering heat that I’ve never felt before and I knew I was home (excuse the dramatics but this was the best holiday ever!)

What is it about holidays that makes one lose their inhibitions and act so reckless? Going on holiday offers us the chance to reinvent our character by allowing us to lie to ourselves with the declarative ” what happens in (enter destination here) stays in (enter destination)”. This simple statement frees even the most timid and before you know it, you are face down, ass up and twerking on a random stranger without a care in the world.

I drank rum and redbull from dusk to dawn, and partied my stress and cobwebs away (my liver detests me). I’m not sure how you Bajans do it. Mount Gay Rum is lethal!

Bajans, are super friendly, with their sing-song accent putting you at ease and making you trust them instantly. Life in Barbados moves at a much slower pace. People are not rushing everywhere and forgetting to actually have a life. They take time to appreciate the beauty in their surroundings, I mean how could you not? when you are surrounded by fresh air and gorgeous beaches. I’m not saying that people over there don’t lead tough lives, far from it, however, their demeanour and spirit never seems broken. They pick themselves up and keep it moving.

The energy and vibrancy of the Bajan culture shines through wherever you go, from the music telling you to ‘put your hands up and roll that body’ , to the trips down to Oistins on Friday nights to partake in the biggest fish fry party and to the bright Purple & Yellow sign of Chefette’s, beckoning you to come over and sample some Roti, which I dutifully indulged – plenty of times. I stan for Rotis – so damn good.

The island can at times be stifling as it is overrun with tourists. We are everywhere! This can at best take away from the authenticity of the place, especially when you just want to ‘go down’ with the locals.

Nevertheless, I would most definitely go again.

I met some wonderful people, partook in dubious activities, drank copious amount of alcohol, partied on board the Jolly Roger and went swimming with the fishes (no Godfather).

Perhaps I will make it for crop over next year  .

Rihanna, I’ll see you there!

Dating in the City: Bad Romance

Hello my name is Jay Bee and I suck at dating. Yep, There, I said it, I suck at dating and I know i’m not the only one.

Dating is a minefield.

A treacherous path that we all have to navigate in the pursuit of the ever elusive ‘Love’.

I don’t know if I’m coming or going, should I stay or should I go? How much interest should I show? Should I make him wait?  My mind is left discombobulated and I end up getting played.

My last dating escapade did not end too well for me (to say the least). It turns out that the ‘Mr’ had a girlfriend all along and I was left feeling like an absolute idiot.

I’m not going to lie; the writing was on the wall (yep, should’ve listened to Destiny’s Child). All the signs warned me of incoming danger but I chose to remain oblivious to it all because I really liked him, and when I was with him I felt good. I enjoyed the attention, the flirtation and just the general banter that passed fluidly between us. I convinced myself that the girl in question, was just a really good friend of his and that I was being paranoid. But when I went looking for evidence of his infidelity, I damn sure found it.

On the other hand I didn’t have a leg to stand on. It wasn’t as if we were ‘official’. But we had been seeing/dating/linking (delete as appropriate) each other for over year and surely I was entitled to feel betrayed, wasn’t I?. There was an unspoken promise between us to remain faithful to each other or so I thought, but he didn’t understand why I was so upset when I confronted him with his lies. ‘Mr’s justifications were as follows:

  •  He had a lot of female friends but was not in a relationship with them.
  •  The girl in question was more than a friend but they were not together in a relationship sense (what does this even mean!!!) 

He told me a lot of things but not once did he confirm his relationship status.  He may not have claimed her but she damn sure claimed him. I had seen the pictures. How naive was I? I was so blinded by lust that I chose to swallow all the bull that he fed me and kept it moving.

However, there comes a point when you can no longer ignore what is staring you right in the face. I held on for so long, in the hope of being his main, when in actual fact I had to admit to myself that I was the side chick and I could no longer allow myself to be someone’s appetizer (and breathe).

I can’t say that he used me, because he didn’t. I willingly let myself get swept up in this situation. I allowed myself to turn a blind eye to things. I let this ‘relationship’ go untitled for so long in fear of rocking the boat. I accept my part in my hurt.

  He, however, is not absolved of guilt.

Damn, the dating game has gotten so complicated. It seems as if we have installed a revolving door in our hearts, one in, one out. Everyone is trying to be all polyamorous all of a sudden. No one seems to want commitment in the traditional sense. As Trey Songz said “they say you can’t have cake and eat it too, but ain’t that what you s’posed to do? Ain’t you s’posed to eat it too?”

       Welcome to dating .

I for one, I’m not here for it. So, it’s back to the drawing board for me. I  have learnt a lot from this brief dalliance and it has made me determined not to settle for any less than I deserve and to fight for what I want out of any relationship that I find myself in. Dating around without any titles is not for me. I’m designed the old school way. I need courtship, not a fling.

 

The Body in the City

When we talk of ‘The Body’, people naturally think of Elle Macpherson’s industry imposed moniker of the tall, lean, athletic model shape. Well, my body is compact and petite. I’m short, with a generous helping of boobs held up by short legs. Not quite the body society would have us believe is beautiful.
It took me a while to understand that my body too was beautiful. Years and years of struggling and failing to look like the bodies in the magazine sent me into a frenzy of self-loathing and ultimately shattering my confidence.  I remember swaddling my body with oversized jumpers in a bid to hide my boobs, all because I didn’t feel like my body measured up to the other girls at college. I wanted to be tall, thin with a small waist. But my body is not built like that.
Flipping through magazines lulls you into a false sense of insecurity. The ‘industry’ will have you thinking that having cellulite is abnormal and that having actual thighs is the end of the world.  Women’s’ bodies are constantly under attack and placed under intense scrutiny. Every flaw is magnified to the nth degree. We embark on diets, cleanses and all sorts in the hopes of slimming down and looking like our favourite celebrities, forgetting that Photoshop is used to make them look picture perfect.  Not to discredit the hard work that some celebrities go through to have that ‘body’, but the agonising way some of them speak about food makes it seem that food is somehow evil , instead of the fuel that we need to keep our bodies going.
I believe that if you are really unhappy with the way you look then by all means make some changes. Healthy changes mind you.  A balanced diet and exercise go hand in hand. One will not work without the other.

We are all beautiful as we are and we need to learn to love ourselves more. Loving oneself brings about a confidence that will have you looking and feeling like a million dollars.

Don’t let the magazines or men dictate what we should look like. Instead, take a real good look in the mirror and see the beautiful vision reflected back at you.

 
Our bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and each one should be celebrated equally.

Natural Hair in the City

Allow me to re-introduce myself, My name is Hov Jay Bee and yes as the title suggest I am indeed a natural haired girl in the city.

Returning to my ‘roots’ so to speak was not a conscious decision to becoming Mother Earth or an African Queen as some men have thought as they catcalled me across the street. Rather, I was tired of the same old monotonous hairstyles that I had and just needed a change. Change as we all know can be scary and unpredictable. But for me, this change seemed to be the making of me.

I know this sounds like hyperbole, but wait, let me finish (nod to Kanye)….

  • For me going natural meant finally coming into my own. I feel a confidence now that didn’t exist before. I’m sure age has also played a part in this new found self-assuredness but I feel free and unconstrained by society’s warped perception of beauty. Yes, being natural takes some getting used to, the constant stares and obtuse questions such as ‘when are you getting a perm’ and ‘what do you plan on doing with your hair’ can get a bit jarring but I just spritz my fro and keep it moving. Overall, the response to my hair has been positive (not that I allow the opinions of others to shape my fro).
  • For me going natural has allowed me to see my beauty in a whole new light. Each kink in my hair tells a story, each coil speaks of triumph. My beauty is not their beauty. it’s mine.
  • For me going natural is not a fad or a desire to follow the latest trends, it simply marks a new beginning and chapter in my adult life.

 

Hair is such an intrinsic part of who we are that to dismiss it as simply ‘hair’ or ‘dead cells’ is far too simplistic. So much of our identity is wrapped up in our hair, meaning that any alteration can initiate a domino effect in other areas of our lives. Case in point: when people go through a nasty break up or experience extreme loss, one of the first things they will change about themselves will be their hair. WHY? well, we need to re-invent ourselves and hair allows us to do just that.

Our hair is our crowning glory and we want it to show us in the best light as possible.

I am not my hair, my hair is an extension of me and I damn sure rock it good!