Angry Black Woman

I hate social media, I read an article, then I read the comments, and then I get angry at the comments, then I get angry at myself for getting worked up, yet it’s the world we live in. I put my phone down, 20 minutes later I repeat. The article which got me a little bit riled was regarding the reality show Love Island. I don’t watch it, I think I watched 5 minutes of it last season and fell asleep, it was one of the longest 5 minutes of my life, I am not judging my many friends who watch it. It just isn’t for me. The other reason I don’t watch it is that there is always the token black girl who nobody wants and ends up leaving first and it hurts me (don’t ask me why I take that so personally, I am a sensitive person).

Speaking of the black girl, I can’t remember if she wrote the article or she was interviewed but it was along the lines that black girls will never win Love Island and she went into detail as to why. In the comments section there was a lot of backlash from what I understand to be my paler faced counterparts basically telling her to get over herself, one person said what’s her problem, one of “your lot” one this year. I am not going to go into detail as to why the statement was all kinds of wrong, you either think it is or you don’t, what I would say is that the lady in question was mixed race her father of black heritage and the mother white. Why does this make a difference:

In the totem pole of life in the west you have the level of attractiveness goes as follows, the blonde lady, the brunette lady, the mixed heritage lady (or other “exotic looking”), the ginger lady and the black lady. It’s not everyone’s standard but I am generalising. I also generalise the black lady as although we come in all different shapes and sizes and shades, we are seen as light or dark (don’t argue with me, even some make up brands only sell two shades for black women).
In addition to being on the last rung of the totem pole we also have this label that seems to follow us “the angry black woman”. If my paler face counterparts have resting bitch face they get asked “what’s wrong babe”, a black women has resting bitch face and they are making the world feel uncomfortable with their anger.

I am not a confrontational person, I grew up with 3 other females all with larger than life personalities and I was always made to feel like I have to be the responsible one. With that instilled in my psyche, I have learnt to keep quiet in an argument or walk away, not always the best as it does end up festering at times but that’s between me and my therapist..lol
On the rare occasion I have had to speak my mind in a setting outside my family, I have been told “easy, no need to get so angry” – i.e., angry black woman. So I keep quiet, there is no “what’s wrong babe”, I am told rather that I am being intimidating. Now, I’m 5 ft 4” (163 cm), how, who or what am I intimidating exactly. I should be intimidated by the fact that I am with a group of people who don’t look like me, who’s culture is totally different from mine and where I am the minority. Plus I’m short and the majority of these people are much taller than me yet I am intimidating?

Angry Black Woman
So yes, the young lady had a point that she would never win love Island, and there it appears that the further lighter on the colour spectrum the perception is more passive and the darker, the more aggressive so whatever she said she was always going to be seen as an angry black women. Which is quite sad considering we are in the midst of this #metoo movement, looks like the buck stops before it gets to the likes of me.

However in conclusion, we come in all shapes and sizes and shades, we are allowed to get angry without being labelled angry black woman and we can get upset about injustice without being told to get over ourselves because that’s our reality. Thank you.

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Ghana is doing just fine?

I came across an article titled “Africa is doing just fine, thank you”. It listed all the innovations happening across Africa, after reading it, I thought about Ghana when I arrived in 2007 to the last time I was there earlier this year. My thoughts, we do have a lot of roses amongst all the thorns. Off of the top of my head, I can name quite a few:

Places to Hang Out

When I arrived in 2007 and even prior to that when I used to go over for vacations, the only place to really hang out were Osu and its infamous Oxford Street, Cantonments, Airport Residential Area had a few hidden gems and then around the beachfront. If you were lived where I lived, it was quite a hassle getting into town due to traffic so I ended up only going out at night or having to strategically plan my day so that I wouldn’t get caught up in a traffic jam. Today we have around 7 shopping malls in and around Accra and 2 in Kumasi where you can just go and sit, grab a juice or a coffee (or something stronger if you prefer) and there are an abundance of restaurants, bars and clubs popping up on all sides of the city so you don’t have to sit in traffic for hours on end just to go “chill”.

Mobile Money

I remember signing up for it in 2008 and not really thinking anything of it, today it is one of the biggest innovation in Africa to date. Mobile Money is a way of making money transactions through your phone using only your sim (yes that’s right folks, no app involved). It is an e-wallet which is used to store money and can be used for the payment of goods and service as well as the transfer of funds to friends and family. It is simple to use and is popular with just about anyone so even your Grandma in the remote part of a village can use it. I believe this initiative started with MTN but now all the service providers have jumped on board.

Kotoka International Airport

I can almost forgive the last government for the years of “dumsor” with this one. On 27th December 2018 I touched down in Accra and for a second I thought I was back at Heathrow. No more waiting around on the plane while they bring over the steps to disembark from the plane. No more waft of hot air as you finally leave the plane and sweat dripping down you by the time you get to customs as you are crammed into a bus from the plane to the terminal. I don’t even remember being in the queue at customs that long (although that might have been the effects of the brandy I drank on the plane). What I do remember though is that the airport is first class and rivals any International Airport in the West.

Tech

Google has built an AI lab in Accra, Uber has firmly established itself in Accra with similar platforms breaking into the market. The tech industry is accelerating in Ghana and while I am not an expert in this area all I can say is watch this space.

Roads and Infrustructure

Ok, we are still battling the potholes however every time I go to Ghana I see improvements. New roads being built and old roads being improved, where as previously potholes were merely patched up I can see proper long term solutions for the state of the roads. The road from Adjinganor to school junction used to be a nightmare. What was a 5 minute journey felt like a lifetime as you had to dodge all the potholes where the rain had washed away the little 2 by 4 patch work that had covered the roads. On my last visit they are constructing the road and I actually see people working on the road (not sure if they have finished yet, heard it has been completed). Additionally as you drive through Accra there is some magnificent buildings, probably not on the scale of New York but can definitely rival or in some cases beat the architecture in London.

Is the economic climate in Ghana still an issue, I would be lying if I said with all these new innovations and initiatives that are coming in, people are now suddenly on par with the west, however it is far from the shithole county it has been described.

What I will say is that, isn’t it about time we started seeing our country in it’s glory. Unfortunately, in the media and even when we talk about Ghana we focus on the corrupt politicians going cap in hand to the IMF for a bail-out (only to “chop” all the money within the party). We see the poverty, we see the religious leaders praying on the weak and the vulnerable and we see the huge disparity between the haves and the have nots.

It’s about time we look at what we are doing right and find a solution for everyone to gain a piece of the pie without having to kill our brother to get it.

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Rejection/Redirection

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

A year to the date after being made redundant, I have found myself in the same position again. This is probably the 4th time I have been manoeuvred out of a job and while I miss that regular income, one thing I have learnt from living in Ghana is to always have a contingency plan. With every job, I have my main savings and then my temporary savings pot to tide me over for the moment. Today, as I said, I do miss that regular income but I have to trust in God and believe that this is the time to reflect and do what needs to be done.

To be honest, I never really had time to think these past 8 months as I would be up at 6, out by 7am and home by 7pm, with only a 30 minute break I day (which I would mainly miss), my days were work, home, eat and sleep (sleep is really important).

The reason they let me go is that they said that, they their inventory was high and I wasn’t being proactive enough to reduce stock. Now let me take you back a while. First Brexit happened and sales started to decline. However, the company had committed to buying a certain amount of stock every year. My suggestion has and is, stop buying crap that you don’t need. I am not a sales person, I can’t give you the magic formula to sell your stock, but I can advise on what needs to be bought and where you can save money. Furthermore, it was a small company, live within your means people. I won’t go into my personal feelings about certain people I worked with because that’s my perception and that’s all subjective but it is hard working with disingenuous people and have a smile on your face when you know that they are stabbing you in a back.

Does this sound like sour grapes, maybe, do I sound petty, more than likely but the same people who were attacking my character are now the same ones doing my job now as I am not being replaced for now. Furthermore, this is a company that sacked their cleaner to save costs (and the staff had to do the cleaning), so whatever I did, unless I pulled a rabbit out of a hat, the writing was always on the wall.

I had a nice little contract role prior to taking this up where I was actually adding value but I got sucked into the “I need to get a permanent role”, in hindsight I should have stayed where I was but no regrets though, only life lessons. This is what I have learnt so far:

1.       Permanent is not always best, there is comfort in having to not jump from job to job and if that’s what you feel is best for you, then go for it, especially in an uncertain economic environment. However, it can consume your whole life, and well gone are the days when you have a job for life so it is up to the individual and what their vision is for their life.

 2.       Always listen to your gut. I took over the role from someone who they said was not up to scratch. I did feel a bit uneasy accepting as the whole interview process was very cloak and dagger. It felt like dating a married man who leaves his wife for you. If he can do that to her, he can do that to you. After I started hearing about the contributions my predecessor gave to the company, I never felt my seat was totally mine.

 3.       Forgive people their foolishness. I found myself not only having to remember what I had to do but sending out the same communication about 10 times because nobody read their emails until they actually needed that information. My boss read my emails during our weekly meetings (so basically once a week), then I was accused of poor communication. Reach!

 4.       One-Man business run the same in almost every country. At the end of the day, they have the final say so take that into consideration when making that decision to accept. If you have worked in fairly large corporations it is difficult to make that transition unless it’s your own.

 5.       Lastly, something I need to do for myself. I tend to take my job way to personal. I don’t have children, so my job tends to be my baby. If I am going to stay working in any company, I need to learn that “poker face” and play the game without selling my soul. I need to learn to smile even when the people around me make me so mad that I just want to hit them in the face.

 As always, I have learnt more life lessons (or re-learnt in some cases) and if I want to move from an employee to an employer, I know what I should and shouldn’t. I will not however compromise my integrity so it is good that we parted way.

On a positive note, I will not take this as “another rejection” as rejection is subjective and it is one person’s opinion of you, it doesn’t define who you are. To quote Steve Maraboli

“Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was being redirected to something better”.

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New Discovery

The UK and I are having a tough time at the moment. I liken it to a relationship that you had been in since a young age, then you take a break, form new relationships but come back not out of love but because it is comfortable. Now I know someone will read this and say, well if you don’t like it here, you know where to go. Yes that is very true, but for the moment in time I am going to stay in the place that I love but not necessarily in love with for the sake of the children, i.e. I have bills to pay.

It’s not completely bad though, in this past week, I have discovered that there are resources out there that may or not have yet been discovered but just like Christopher Columbus, I am going to claim that it is a new discovery.

Now, if you live in the UK you know that when you are unemployed, there is the job centre, there you can claim benefits to tide you over (it’s really not that much) until you get a new job and you would expect to get some kind of assistance in helping you get to the job market. In reality, you fill out a form and they ask you for evidence that you are looking for a job and you have a certain period of time to get something, anything to get you off benefits but no one really helps you find the job that you are qualified to do.

What they don’t tell you is the help that you can find in your local library. My God sister mentioned it a while ago but I really only discovered what it truly had to offer until I happened to check the library open times this week. At my library, they have a little section called the hub central, it is basically a work space environment in the library where you can do your day to day.

It also provides you with resources with helping you with your CV, and any developmental training needs that you need, mainly soft skills but there are a plethora of online courses and workshops.

Today, I attended a workshop called “turning your business idea into a successful business”. It was an intimate group of 3, there was me with an idea I had in mind, a lady who had a couple and a guy who was looking for a side hustle but wasn’t quite sure what to do. It was an action workshop where we spoke and got to share ideas as well as learn from one another. It also helped me not just focus but look at the bigger picture. I have an idea of a product I want to produce but didn’t really think about the marketing strategy or it’s unique selling point and this has given me a lot of clarity surrounding this area. I also spoke to the facilitator prior to this about my idea and she printed off a whole load of research and food for thought, something you probably wouldn’t even get in one of these paid workshops. The main thing is that it has given me motivation, as you loyalists know I have been using lip service to starting my own business for a while now with no basis, so today I am going to start putting pen to paper to do something about it. I am not going to say that it will launch in a month or even two, it may take me until the end of the year, but the main thing is as I say this now, I have started moving so watch this space.

The greatest thing about my “newly discovered” business space is that it is totally free and a great place to start networking with people who are in the same position as you to keep you moving.

My next workshop is “creating a business plan” and there are a lot of interesting things coming up in the pipeline that should bring about exciting times.

So, UK my love, even though the love is waning, I haven’t lost total faith in you.

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Supporting the Ghana Diaspora Community

I was at an event the other week and Uncle Papa, high commissioner to the UK was talking about a Ghanaian woman he had met. She was suffering from mental health issues and his response was to go back to Ghana. He then implied that in Ghana there was no mental health issues.

First of all, yes there are, but instead of addressing someone’s issues, they are called witches. Second of all there is a whole area called Asylum Down, which if I am not mistaken is where one of the mental health facilities is located, but I could be wrong.

Lastly, I am sure the lady in question would rather be in the hot sun absorbing her natural vitamin D everyday but if she goes back what exactly is she going to do there.

Let’s face facts, there has a been a lot of talk about returning home to contribute to “building” our nation, but every event I have been to so far has only discussed investment and business opportunities. Great initiatives yes, but what if you do not have the capital? Some of us have skills and knowledge that we want to take home, however, I have not heard mention of any avenue that provides assistance in this area so what is one supposed to do?

Now lets move on to the auntie who hustled to come here and is doing a manual job just to get by with the goal of getting her kids through school and now is in a place where she wants to go home. What assistance is out there for her. How would she integrate back into the Ghanaian society, because let’s face it, going back home on a four week holiday is very different to going back for good and without a plan or a steady income, it can be frustrating. So the reality is, auntie is going to stay here until she gets her little pension, she will while she is here, build her house back in Ghana bit by bit and if she is lucky she will get to go to Ghana once a month. In the meantime, she has to worry about her children, her extended family, and of course keeping a roof over her head here in the diaspora. So yes, these things are going to take it’s tole on her mental wellbeing but packing up and moving to Ghana, in my opinion is not a quick fix option.

In my opinion, Uncle Papa High commissioner should be working with the community in conjunction with mental wellness advisors to help those of us in the diaspora. Mental health issues have for far too long been a taboo in the Ghanaian community but the reality is in my 42 years, I have heard many stories of our people dying in one capacity or another due to a “breakdown”. We need to educate ourselves that it is ok to talk about it and it is ok to seek help.

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Monkey Business

I don’t really have the personal attachment to the British monarchy as others do, and I am all for live and let live. Prince Harry met and fell in love with a woman who has a drop of colour in her and good for him. I don’t get what all the hate is all about, but then again, I am busy trying to live my best life in the hopes that just one day, I may find my own prince.

I do feel though, the need to talk once again on the whole white privilege, it seems to consume some people to the point that it blinds them. I as much as anyone would like to believe that racism doesn’t exist, we all got along and that when I walk along the street somebody would like/dislike me for the person I am and not the colour of my skin, but as much as I try not to pay attention to it much, it exists and I have to deal with it.

So, a broadcaster by the name of Danny Baker tweeted a picture of two aristocrats holding a well- dressed chimpanzee with the caption “Royal baby leaving the hospital”. Unless you, live in a bubble or under a rock, then you would know that the biracial wife of the British Prince recently gave birth. Had it been the old days, this man may have been beheaded, however in modern day Britain, he got the sack.

For those of you who are thinking, what’s the big deal, this is my point of view. I am a child of the late 70s and early 80s. I have been called the N-word, I have been compared to a monkey, I have been asked if I like bananas. I have been to the zoo and been told “isn’t that your cousin over there”, this is as a child, and so yes, I am offended.

The next defence is that he apologised and deleted the tweet. No, he made a half-arsed apology, tried to make further jokes. Then moments after he was fired, his words were “I’ve literally been thrown under the bus”.  He only really “understood” what he had done once he was fired. Doesn’t sound like someone who realised what he had done and had any remorse. Sounds more like someone who after being fired tried to play the victim before then actually issuing a formal apology. Plus, no sir, you were not literally thrown under the bus.

He then went on to say, he didn’t realise that it was “that” baby, once again, unless you have been living in a bubble, or under a rock, you know, plus your job is in media, you know.

Then his defence was that royal babies are like a performing circus or something to that nature. Why had he not used that image when this new-born’s three other cousins were born not so long ago.

Supporters have defended him by saying that he has never said anything racist in the past. I don’t know what he says about anyone in the comfort of his home when there are no “blackie’s” around, and at the end of the day, this is a baby with a black grandmother, a mixed race mother and even if he has the tiniest drop of black in him, it’s there. The monkey image in relation to this child, at best it’s offensive, worst case, racist.

Now I live by the rule that you have every right to say whatever you want, just as I have every right to get offended by what you say if I deem it to be racist, sexist or just plain rude. What I don’t need you to do is tell me what I should or shouldn’t get offended by, or to be told to get over it. Either you apologise for your offence and keep it moving, if not just keep it moving. We don’t need excuses and we don’t need to be told how to feel. Thank you.

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Diaspora Town Hall Meeting – 2 years of good governance, change is happening – Part 2

It was a weird set up. There were seats on stage for the panel to sit, but they only went up for the question and answer session. Instead, the panel sat down in the first row of where the audience was sitting so each person had to go up onto the stage to give their presentation and back down again. Logistically awkward in my opinion but I wasn’t the organiser so what can I say.

The first presentation came from the majority leader. It was a talk on how well Ghana was doing in the last 2 years. Inflation down, GDP doing great, economy improving, free high school education implemented. I do have to commend them on the free high school education, it pained me driving through Accra seeing little boys and girls hawking on the streets when they should be at school. Something that I was given as a right as a child here in the UK and not a privilege, I do hope that subsequent governments do not get greedy and take this right away.

He also touched on the importation tax which has been recently slashed. The spin was that they listened to the people in the diaspora and realised that costs were way too high. Too be honest, I don’t know how anything in Ghana is priced, everything is so expensive and you feel like it was taken out of the air. If you read between the lines, in the past year Ghana’s importation has increased by 4% and Togo’s has increased by 300%. A large percentage of Togo’s increases come from Ghanaians who to avoid the absurdly high taxes in Ghana deciding to go through Lome and trying their luck to smuggle their (mainly) cars into Ghana. The Togolese government, well they haven’t been playing ball in stopping this because it’s money in their pockets so Ghana has finally had to take action.

The government also patted themselves on the back for increasing passports from 5 years to 10 years. Now when I got my passport in 2008, it was a 10 year passport, somewhere between then and April 2019 this was reduced to 5 years, why, I don’t know. Please don’t pat yourself on the back for doing the right thing.

Following on from uncle majority leader, there was a presentation from the Sales and Marketing Manager for Ghana Ports and Harbour authority on the different ports and harbours and expansion projects, it was a bit rushed due to time but there were slides. I would love to share the link to where these slides are but that information was not given to us.

After that, there was a presentation from a representative from Ghana Revenue Authority on setting up a business and tax laws and some guy who presented a very confusing talk on importation tax (again rushed due to time even though this was what everyone was interested in).

Lastly there was the question and answer session. Now why can’t Ghanaians just ask a straight out question without having to give a whole background story, then repeating the question about three times. They got it the first time, let it be and give the mic back so somebody else can ask a question. There were some really good questions and some really bad questions, unfortunately I didn’t write them down so everything I write down is coming from memory.

There was a lot of questions around corruption and basically what was the point of the special prosecution office. The deputy attorney general was on the panel and gave a lot of lawyer speak which didn’t actually answer the question. The highlight of the night, Mr Charles Bissue was at the programme (as an observer not a guest), is currently under investigation for illegal mining after an expose came out. Somebody in the audience straight outed him and a little bit of damage control had to be done from the minister and deputy minister for information.

Some points that came out from the Q&A session are:

The government will be rolling out one ambulance to every district.

The $1.2billion dollars owed to the NHIS has been paid, so in theory it should be running like a NHIS service and you shouldn’t have to pay up front before you are even seen.

There have been 79 factory projects identified and to be signed off under the 1 district 1 factory initiative.

Airport officials who have been caught taking bribes have been sanctioned and initiatives are rolling out across the public service to curb bribery and corruption.

Railway projects are under way.

Not sure what’s happening about National ID cards and the ability for Ghanaians in the Diaspora to vote because the answer was a bit sketchy.

Somebody asked if UK cars could be exported to Ghana, waste of a question.

Speak to the Trade Officer in the UK if you want to import Made in Ghana products into the UK but do not meet international standards.

That’s all that I can remember for now, but apparently the event was live streamed so you could probably go to the Ghana High Commission website for further details (www.ghanahighcommissionuk.com)

Next events are on the 3rd May with the homecoming Ghana media launch, on 18th May is the homecoming Ghana roadshow being held at the Ghana High Commission Belgrave Square.

This event could have been so much more valuable if it was better organised and started on time, but hey this is Ghana, we set the bar low.

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