Yes I Know It’s Christmas, Bob Geldof.

Let’s Go Save Africa saving africa When I was younger, I remember telling my mum that I wanted to go and volunteer in some country like Cambodia or Haiti. Either that or I wanted to go work at the Osu Children’s Home. Ask me the first thing about those three places, then and now and I’m not going to be able to tell you. So why did I want to go and volunteer, if I know nothing, about these places? You could say that I felt some sort of complex concerning the people in those countries. In all honesty, I will say that it’s probably because I wanted to make my college application more attractive. I felt that by going there for 2 months or less, and paying to do so by the way, I could give them something that they were incapable of doing themselves. But I wonder who is to blame for that. Is it my fault that I felt this way towards them because all my life I had seen people come to Ghana and do the same thing? Heck I see Ghanaians do this every day when it comes to their National Service and they are posted to some village in the northern Region to teach. I see it all the time in TV series that I watch where there is some chick that falls in love with the stereotypical cringe-worthy doctor who is “curing starving African children of communicable diseases.” And their Skype calls always have to take place inside a tent because there are miraculously no huts or houses in the “rural areas.” Now I was reading a book once and all was fine and dandy until the girl started talking about a volunteer journalism trip she had to take to an African country. Kindly note that said country was never mentioned, just Africa. From that point onwards I bore*. And her boyfriend kept going on and on about how he was scared for her safety. The only reason I finished the book was so I could see what exactly it said about her “exceptional” articles from Africa. The irony of this blog post is not lost on me. The patronizing African volunteer. Lol. Earlier this week I came across this website through a blog post called “Humanitarians of Tinder.” Now Tinder is an online dating website. This website looks for people on Tinder who have display pictures of them in a foreign country (preferably a third world country) surrounded by the natives. You can find pictures like this:

Photo: TInder
Photo: Tinder

Now the highlight of some volunteers is taking a picture with the indigenous children. The hungrier and darker they look the better. It helps you the volunteer look like a saint anyway. Now the lighting has to be perfect, you want everybody on your Facebook timeline to know you have a big heart and that you care. Photo: Shuttershock And this attitude of the volunteer being better than the people they are helping is something present in schools. Schools are encouraging people to do volunteer work in “3rd world countries” when these students don’t care about the people in those countries. By sending teenagers to countries they are not really interested in, the volunteers might see it as them doing a service to the people rather than getting the opportunity to lend a helping hand. The volunteer might come in thinking that that briefing that they got about that area on paper is enough to help them understand the problems of the area and solve them. But it’s not. No paper can prepare you for the full reality on the ground. There are two steps to understand the reality on the ground:

  1. Shut up and
  2. Listen to the people

I was having prep this week when I came across the BandAid 30 song for Ebola “Do they know it’s Christmas”. I was furious for two reasons. Firstly some of my favourite musicians were in that song and that just made me lose respect for them. And secondly a simple song filled with people feeling self-satisfied and smiling just helps enforce the images that so many people try to break. For those that haven’t seen it, this is the video:

This song saddened me because I’m tired of people generalizing the whole of West Africa. Yes Seal that goes to you. I’m sad because as a result of this virus my parents are scared to bring me home for said Christmas because they are scared that I might not be allowed back into South Africa. I’m sad that you think that a remake of a 30 year old sad song is going to change the reality. Unfortunately this is a typical example of a “white-saviour” complex that I’m talking about. There is this impression that we are incapable of handling our own affairs. I’m ultimately sad that I still see nonsense like this every day.

I think this man forgot that a tattoo is permanent...
I think this man forgot that a tattoo is permanent…

Two African songs have come up targeting the virus and are aimed at educating the public. The first one was “Ebola in Town” which was released in May. The second was ‘Africa Stop Ebola’ which was released last month by Malian, Congolese, Ivorian and Guinean musicians They are done in French and English so that the people can understand what exactly the disease about. The only thing that your song does is to tug on the heart strings of people that are feeling guilty so after donating, they feel that they have worked to save “helpless African children.” With lyrics like this, what exactly do you expect?

“And the Christmas bells that ring there Are the clanging chimes of doom”

Bob Geldof I don’t need you to tell me that it’s Christmas. I am very aware of that fact. I own a calendar that tells me exactly what date it is if you care to know. You the volunteer go to that country to offer a service not to “save them”. You need that humbling interaction more than they need you. This post is not mean to condemn people that do this because I was also at fault at some point. All I want to say is that think critically before you go and volunteer as to why you are going there. If your head is filed with pre-conceptions and you feel as if they cannot survive without you, please do the people a favor and do not go at all.

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Who Are You?

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First post of September! Whoop whoop!

Hi guys, this was written in a fake deep moment in the middle of class when nothing was happening. I hope that you take a moment to reflect on who you truly are.

This is not a question that gets answers like your name, or your country, or your church or your school but who you are as a person. Will you want to be your own friend? Are you true to yourself or just another one in the masses? A clone? In my school, one word that you hear a lot, and when I mean a lot I mean predicting the next word, is diversity.

It’s basically about the journey of self discovery.

So here it goes.

Whirling and twirling.

A lotus flower it seems,

A Venus fly trap it is.

 

Entices my poor emotions,

Only to trap them in its unforgiving jaws.

I tell myself that I am dynamic,

But am I really?

 

It seems to be tearing my covers down,

With excruciatingly painful slowness

Layer by thick layer.

 

But the question is,

After all my armor has been pulled down,

Am  truly ready to be vulnerable?

 

This was not part of my ABCs and 123s.

But an intro to the bittersweet reality.

After all the smiles and the hot and cold days,

Am I truly ready to see me as I am?

 

It’s like a model without her makeup.

Will I pull the wrapping paper off my gift

To see a rapidly corroding substance?

Or will I find a diamond?

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Summer Highlights: Chalewote 2014

It was amazing!

Akotowaa Ntontan

My summer is coming to an end. I might as well blog about its highlights now, since I go to school on Saturday. The first one I’m blogging about is Chalewote 2014, which I attended on 23rd August. Chalewote is a Ghanaian street art festival, and it was my first time attending, since:

1. This year was the first I’ve heard of it (thanks, Owiredua), and

2. I didn’t have to be in school at the time of the event.

So! Pictures and captions. Let’s go!

Some of the beads, bookmarks, decorations and ornaments being sold Some of the beads, bookmarks, decorations and ornaments being sold A beads sale A beads and bracelets sale Little pendants for chains and bracelets etc, in Adinkra symbols and shapes. And they look so...ancient. LOL Little pendants for chains and bracelets etc, in Adinkra symbols and shapes. And they look so…ancient. LOL This represented the first stage of man: birth. Upon entering beyond the dark curtain... This represented the first stage of man: birth. Upon entering beyond the dark curtain… You would see a scene that represents death. There's an old woman buried with belongings, as is tradition... …You would see a scene that represents death. There’s an old woman buried with belongings, as is tradition…

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We Are Not Letters or Numbers.

Disclaimer: I do not support plagiarism in any way.

So this post was inspired by something on The RSVP Show, along with recent conversations with some of my close friends, which lead me to come to the conclusion that: No matter what your school and your family members tell you, you are not your results.

I know for sure that someone out there read the previous sentence, and like every Tom and Jerry Cartoon, his eyes bugged out to freakish proportions, and he started insulting me with a lot of enthusiasm. Don’t worry, I love you too ‘kay. :*

I know if said friend reads this, she will start jumping on her bed. Please don’t break it.

Since the seasons in Ghana are slightly different, I will call this time of the year results season. From July to August each year, the exam boards decide that they will make us spend our vacations biting our nails in anticipation and dreading the day our results are released. Or if you were a WASSCE student, dreading every day because they never told you the release date.

And how dare you imagine that your well meaning family members will provide you some respite. So basically your vacation sucks. Unless you’ve already gotten into a college that doesn’t require your results, then your situation is nice.

So the headteacher of Barrowford Primary School in the UK, handed her students this letter, in addition to their results. Urm, however a quick Google Search revealed that the letter was stolen from an unknown school in the US, after it was posted on a blog. Pretty ironic and way to set an example… *scratches head*

But my focus is on the content, so here it goes:

Results

Our schools may yammer on and on about examining based on multiple intelligences, but let’s face it, very few practice what they preach. What I’m trying to say is, and this is borrowed from a family member of mine, “No one writes an exam with the intention to fail.” Well there are some people who actually plan to do that, but they are pretty special. Please clap for yourself if you fall into that category.

You the person reading this probably falls into the former category. No matter how long you stayed up for, there is always that probability that you will fail. There is a probability that all the blood that the mosquitoes borrowed stole from you may be in vain. If that sheet appears in front of you, and it is not what you wanted, please keep it in mind that it does not in any way mean that you are inferior.

I will draw from the cliché examples of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who defied the status quo. Now let me be the devil’s advocate and burst your Utopian Bubble. You can’t just sit on your bum and twiddle your thumbs and give this as an example. I sure as hell don’t know them personally but I can tell that they busted their asses to get to where they got to.

Ok, I’ve disturbed you enough. All I’m saying is that, I think you can still achieve your dreams even if your grades attempt tell you the opposite. I hope you have an amazing day.

P.S. If your grades are not what you wanted and you have typical African parents, please transform into the ideal child for the next few weeks and avoid most interactions with the parental unit. Good luck to you.

What is Love?

 What is love

What is love?
From the moment I popped out of my mother’s womb,
I was told I was loved.
Well I thought it’s my mother it’s her job.

All around me songs were sung about love.
If said musicians were so in love,
Why did they break up every day?
If there was so much love,
Why are there wars?
If there is so much love,
Why are there people on the streets?

But what do I know?
I’m just a kid I am told.
I have barely reached the stage where I make decisions I am whispered to.
My vocalisations are pulled down as being childish dreams,
Things to be ignored and brushed aside.

Is love what I saw in the telenovelas,
Which I was instructed not to watch but always ignored,
Where the man with dark locks swept that woman into the night and made love to her all night?
Or is it when that little boy gave his valentine a piece of chocolate crushed in his sweaty palm,
Hoping his rejection would not be the story of the day?
Or is love when your grandparents finish each other’s sentences and look at each other like they are the only people in the world?

What is love?
I’m just a kid,
I really don’t know.

Sent from my iPad

Y’all ever heard of Africa?

If the first thing that popped up in your head was, “It’s a country”, try again my confused friend. Spoiler alert: It’s not a country. Sad, right.

I was looking for something online the other day when I saw something that I found both infuriating and amusing. The video on the website wasn’t showing and the apology that the website gave me was “people that live where you live are not allowed to watch this video. Not because we don’t love ya, but because the owners have some restrictions. The good news is there are tens of thousands of other videos to choose from” or “the video you have requested is not available in your geographical region”.

What the flying hell? People have a silly irritating conception that Africa is a country, DO we look like Australia to you and by the way I do not live in a tree. No, just no. I live in a brick house with people and we do not do things a certain way in “Africa”. I do not wake up every day to go hunting for food and I am not betrothed to some creepy-ass chief thrice my age. Boy do I hate that idea. If I live in a tree, the president lives on the highest one and your ambassador lives under him. There are villages that have huts and all and engage in subsistence living but not everybody is like that. Just saying.

One of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard is when people from European countries come to African countries to volunteer and say they are coming to “save” Africa. Yes, there are some parts of the African continent that have desolate conditions have need of basic necessities such as clothing and shelter, but please for the love of all things holy, refrain from generalizing.

I do realize that I have some privileges that many people my age do not have and I am not speaking as some spoilt brat, but I have a feeling that the irritation I feel is akin to what Canadians feel when they are told that they are a part of the US.

What you see in those UN and World Vision adverts are of places that are struggling from famines and wars. They cannot help themselves and as such adverts like those are made to help them out.

Last week, after the Ghana vs. USA match, Delta Airlines posted a picture supposed to represent the two countries. For the USA they used the Statue of Liberty, but for Ghana they used a giraffe. Of all things they could have thought of a giraffe. I have lived in Ghana all my life and I have NEVER seen a giraffe in my country. I don’t know what Ghana you are looking at. If you want to see giraffes move towards Southern and Eastern Africa.
Giraffes

Delta tweet

 

What really got to me was that this is an airline that flies to Ghana. If they chose to check on Google, it would have taken them less than a second to have gotten a result. In the end this just backfired because it simply revealed how ignorant they are.

We live in an age where information is more freely distributed than before, but we still have to live with the same, extremely stupid stereotypes. In case you are feeling lazy the continent consists of 55 countries with over 2000 languages being spoken. It is saturated with unique and rich cultures.

Kindly stop referring to us as “Africans” and start recognizing us by the names of the different countries. It isn’t that hard actually. I saw this on a friend of mine’s Facebook page and decided to share it with you guys. Here are 50 African stereotypes. You might find one that you have heard before somewhere in there.

  1. Tunisians are terrorists.
  2. Arabs are not Africans.
  3. Nigerians will juju you.
  4. Igbo people love money.
  5. People from Senegal are BLACK.
  6. All Kenyans are fast runners.
  7. Hausa people don’t speak good English.
  8. Africans are poor.
  9. Nigerians are scammers and must not be trusted.
  10. Muslims are terrorists.
  11. All Africans are black.
  12. All South Africans have AIDS.
  13. Yoruba girls are ugly.
  14. Nigerians are all thieves.
  15. Nigerians are all drug dealers.
  16. Nigerians are obnoxious.
  17. “Do you speak African?”
  18. “Do you people live with lions?”
  19. “Do you know Mugabe?”
  20. All Hausa people are stinking rich or terribly poor.
  21. Africa, in general, is a dangerous place.
  22. “Do you live on trees?”
  23. “Do you own cars?”
  24. All Africans are violent as they are terrorists.
  25. Light-skinned and attractive Africans are more successful.
  26. “Do you have internet in Africa?”
  27. Africa is a homogenous country.
  28. Africans are less intellectually gifted than other people.
  29. Getting opportunities because you are an African, especially with college applications.
  30. “Why do white people like black movies?”
  31. Africans go to school on camels.
  32. Rwandan women are all introverted, beautiful and composed, but do not always hold unto the truth.
  33. Rwandans kill themselves (the genocide of 1994).
  34. East Africans have large foreheads.
  35. Zulu people are hot-tempered.
  36. All South African languages are the same.
  37. South Sudanese all have a delinquent and miscreant mindset.
  38. Wealth inequality across Africa.
  39. All Egyptians are Muslims.
  40. All Arabs are Muslims.
  41. “Do you live in a pyramid?”
  42. Sub-saharan Africans cannot have long hair- it just doesn’t grow.
  43. Nigerians are kidnappers.
  44. Nigerians will ‘hook’ you to drugs.
  45. Xhosa women are all gold-diggers.
  46. People from the Maasai tribe eat blood.
  47. Africans speak “Lion-King” language.
  48. Africans hate white people.
  49. Africans do not wear clothes.
  50. All African countries are corrupt.

#SurvivorPrivilege

Hi. I know it’s been a while but I recently finished my exams. I don’t want to put a damper on your day but I felt this had to be spoken about.

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I was perusing the internet recently when I came across an article by George Will in which he claimed people come out as rape victims because they want the elevated status of being a “rape victim” which he classified as survivor privilege. I am aware that this article was aimed at college students but I believe that it can apply everywhere.

Yes, there are some people who fabricate rape stories to gain attention and siphon people’s money from them using fictitious rape foundations, but those people are sick in my opinion. But you have to realize that this is about 20% (made up statistic). What about the remaining 80%? If you behave cynically, you create a platform for people to be repeat offenders of rape because they believe they shall never be reported.

I personally do not see anything glamorous about being raped. I was looking at some rape statistics and I realized that in some countries* people go so far as raping day-old babies because they believe it could heal them of HIV. Tell me, did that baby dress too suggestively, or is it the baby’s fault for being a virgin? Did the baby ask for it? How could that infant possibly have told their assailant no?

Somewhere out there a child’s rights are being violated by someone who they thought they knew and who they thought loved them. They are helpless as their lives are threatened and in some cases they are told there is nothing wrong with it. Some go through life believing it is their fault and that they are damaged and not worthy of peoples affections.

Some have lapses in their memory and questions that no one has answers to and have to walk through the world with people pointing fingers and whispering. Those that remember sometimes relive those moments at random points in their lives and relive that awful feeling.

How would it feel when you have to pass by the culprit every day? The injustice you would feel if your case is ignored or your offender is let off with a slap on the wrist, whilst you are left wondering about your sanity each day; to stare in his/her eyes and suppress that burning need to curl up in a ball and cry or whack that person straight across the head with a crowbar; to be scared of entering a relationship because you feel it might be a repeat performance. Or that once your significant other hears about it they would dump you in a heartbeat.

To be scared of intimacy with anyone, because that is all you can remember. In the case of some women, they have to stare into the eyes of the child produced by that act so many years ago every day. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against that child and I don’t believe he/she should be objectified. The poor child had nothing to do with it but some mothers simply can’t bear the emotional heartache and that child has to suffer from undeserved antagonism.

Just a few weeks ago a story broke about one of the Chibok girls who was able to escape. According to her she was raped 15 times a day by 15 men. The girls have been gone since April. This next part is not for the faint at heart. Let’s assume that each girl was raped once a day. They’ve been gone for over 60 days so 60 times. If you do the math, and we agree that 250 girls are in the camp, then rape has gone on in that camp approximately 15000 times, give or take. That many times is bound to break someone’s spirit. Most of the girls are 18. Think of any 18 year old (if you’re 18 then use yourself, whether male and female) being raped 5 times. That’s scary right? Now multiply that by 12.

Most of them, if they are lucky to go home, are going back feeling used, soiled, confused and in some cases suicidal because they feel they have disgraced their families.This is actually the case of one of the abductees who was taken for over two years. Imagine how they would feel if they heard this. I don’t think ‘privilege’ is one of the first words to come to their minds.

And what baffles me the most is that someone actually approved the said post. A person out there read through it and approved it. It would be extremely hard for one of their friends, who was a victim of rape, to come out to them now. But how would they feel if it happened to one of their children or their partners? Would they feel indignation towards the act, or contempt for the victim?

Rape is a terrible hate crime, a symbol of oppression, and nothing to be taken lightly. If you are reading this and you have been a victim of rape or you know someone who has been, my sincerest condolences.

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