To: African Men in the Diaspora
From: African Women in the Diaspora
Re: Several Issues We Wish to Discuss!
Just this once, please allow me to put aside trying to be proper and worrying about correct tenses and punctuations. I want to talk to you in a language we can both understand without punctuations and grammar/spell check getting in the way and slowing me down. My African sisters and I came together and decided it is time to get some things off our chests! Most of the naturally light skinned ones said they did not care and did not want to get involved because they had no problem. But, we know they are lying, for most of them are also still single too.
The younger sister of Mansa's friend got married last weekend in Ghana and she is only 25 years-old. This got Mansa feeling nervous because a lot of us, similarly attractive, well educated sisters in the Diaspora have not yet been as lucky and we are pushing 35! Now we won't admit this, but we are all so uneasy. We think if we don't come to our senses and ask some serious questions, we will all die old and alone with our big degrees, luxury cars, and flashy homes! So, we wanted to come to you, our men in the Diaspora, and find out what is going on. We want to know why many of you have abandoned us for other women, and why you watch us slowly fade into oblivion. One day, we will all have vanished leaving behind no trace of our existence. We are slowly becoming an endangered species, and we want to know why.
White men don't want us because we do not meet the standard “beauty” definition. Black men run away from us because they say we are too educated and opinionated and unsubmissive. European men would rather date and marry one of their own. Don't even get me started on Asian men; they won't even look us in the eye because they have no respect for us. They think all we're about is to come into their hair supply stores every week to get a different brand and length of weave and fading creams. But what are we to do? We can't please everyone. We can't be ourselves; and when we try to be someone else too we are labeled insecure?!
Amma run into this sister of ours from Kenya the other day and she looked weird. Her face was as light as butter cream but her neck said her face used to be a darker color. All this so one of her own would find her attractive.
Then there's this our Nigerian sister who tries too hard to look … well, even we are confused about what she is trying to do with her hair. Today it's long and wavy. Tomorrow, different story. Cecilia said she almost didn't even recognize her.
Don't even get me started on my Ghanaian sisters for I know them too well and I don't want to be the one to snitch and embarrass anyone. Let's just keep this between you and me (whisper). “Her eyes are really dark brown and not hazel like you think. And when she and I talk, she does not sound so proper and prim. Her accent is as heavy as yours. She's just faking it to impress you.”
My Ivorian sister confided in me the other day that you wanted to put your sacred member where things should only come out of. When she protested, you threw her aside and said you were going to Michelle's house because Michelle doesn't mind where you put, what you yourself apparently have named, “torture rod.” Of course Michelle will let you do whatever with … em … what's his name … “torture rod?” because she has no respect for herself, or her body. To her, it is a playground for any man who wants to play hide and go seek! You used to respect us, what happened?
When we were all back in our various African countries, you told us you would die for us! You jumped our father's high walls decorated with sharp-edged broken bottles and barb wire, and even the hedged fences, to profess your undying love. You would not stop calling even after daddy gyata (lion) yelled at you and threatened to shoot you in places we need not mention if you ever called “his” phone again.
Some of you bought us fake plastic flowers which we gladly accepted because we did not know we could have the real thing. I remember the teddy bear Kwame gave me for Valentine's Day. I named him Kwame Snuggly because he looked just like Kwame and was so snuggly, and I know he had to really scrape and save to buy it for me. Even though he is now one-eyed, I still love and cherish him and snuggle him every night in memory of what we once had, and the sacrifices you were willing to make to ensure I was happy. Of course, then all you knew was that I was beautiful and worthy. I was your African queen. Now you are asking me “why have dark chocolate when there are all these different flavors?” What a cruel, cruel world.
We want to be ourselves and still be accepted! If you won't accept us for bettering ourselves, who else will? Obviously no one! And many of us are suffering in silence because when we talk you allow your non-African wives to jump on us and call us names.
See, mummy told us if we were good girls and learned how to cook and clean, that we would find good African men to marry us. This is why even when some of us were hitting the books hard and burning the midnight oil to compete with you guys in secondary school and the university, we still found time to enter the smoldering kitchen to learn how to chop onions, cut our fingers, have our fingers burned by flaming charcoal, and even learn how to cook your favorite yam and egusi stew. And let's face it, we did have to work twice harder than you because after a long day in school we still had to go home and cook while you all got to release your stress on the football field and/or study whenever you wanted.
Funmi says her mother used to tell her that knowing too much book will not get her a good man to marry and boy was she right!
When we were up at 4:30 am sweeping the large compound, you all were snoring away. So what, that we had two house girls at home? Mummy was not having her girls not know how to clean their husband's compound and bring shame to her name. She taught us well and we appreciate it even if not for your benefit, but for our own benefit.
Personally, I hate egusi stew but I figured what if my husband likes it and I don't know how to cook it, then what? So I learned how to cook it anyway. All for you ooh, all for you! Now I hear that you are choosing other women who can't even cook over us because of love. What's love got to do with it? This no be love matter oh, this be the “principle of the matter” matter!
Leave love to the others! We want love too. They already have many many choices of men who will snatch them as soon as you drop them, but like I stated earlier, you are all we have because other men don't find us attractive! They don't want us! Even with the hazel eyes, long weaves and light faces, other men know real blond when they see one. They can easily separate the fake ones from the real ones from across a room.
Even as we learned how to make egusi stew and yam, we also learned how to be educated, classy ladies. Many of us have single-handedly worked two jobs to put ourselves through the university so that we can have smart conversations with you and not embarrass you in front of company. We can talk just as good as the other women and we know that champagne goes in the glasses with the long stems and wine in the glasses they call wine goblets. We also know how to drink wine and eat cheese at these uppity functions even though what we would rather have is some waakye (rice and beans) with spicy shito and cow/goat leg stew. You know…the one that makes your nose tingle and the hairs on the back of your head feel prickly? Ahaa, you remember!
My cousin Emmanuel says as for him, he likes akata girls because they will let him do anything to them. But, that is not fair, because it was him, this same person, who was standing there nodding his head when Auntie Cecilia and Grandma Agnes were telling me that “the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.” If he knew that was not true, he should have said something. He says I'm his favorite cousin, so, you can see why I'm feeling betrayed. I have all these cooking skills and no man to show for it because apparently the way to a man's heart is through some place else? Aaaba!
Okay, so now that the damage has already been done, now is not the time to point fingers and all that other stuff. Now is the time to right the wrongs. So, what is it that you guys see in the other woman that has caused you to abandon us? What is it they have that we don't have? Please tell us for we are listening. And we do not want to hear about all this “falling in love” nonsense for we want love too and are very capable of loving you in return. What makes you think we also don't like to hike and vacation in Venice?
All we ever asked is that now that you are also making a little money, that you buy us real flowers and still go through hoops to win our hearts. Eii, we were taught not to be too easy so can you really blame us for rolling our eyes at you a little even when we know we like you? Enikwe thinks it's because now you guys have options (variety) you want to flex on us. Don't mind her, she is too akata even for her own taste. I know that's not true, right?
You say that ever since we traveled outside Africa, that we have changed. Now how can change be such a bad thing when we only changed to better ourselves? All we did was go to school and become someone so you won't have to be the only ones paying all the bills. All we did was learn how to eat chips and dip so we can compete with the other women. We have trimmed down our hips, thighs, buttocks and stomachs and are now wearing size 4 jeans and that too you're complaining? You were the same ones who used to tell us you liked the way our behinds jiggled with the swift sway of our hips. We were your bottom-powered African queens. Now you want to complain because you say Tameka is easier to flip in the bedroom and as for us, we are just too heavy to move.
So, we changed all this for you! You were the very same ones who would run your hands up and down our legs because you said they felt like velvet carpet and that it turned you on. Today, you know the razor blade is not just for getting rid of hairs under our armpits – that Venus has a blade that will help reveal the goddess within - so now you like us to get rid of what once used to turn you on because the other women have smooth legs? Hmmm…
Abena thinks the real problem is that we have bettered ourselves by going to school, getting big big degrees and big big jobs that pay us big big money, and you guys feel like you have lost control over us. We have learned to eat things besides fufu and abe nkwan (palm nut soup), and many of us talk like we were born here. Many of us have our own cars, so now when we visit and you won't stop pressuring us to sleep with you we can drive ourselves home and not have to wait till you're good and ready to call us a cab after you have given us the “if you loved me you would do it” speech.
I think the problem is also that we know you too well and can call you out on your BS, and that is why you prefer to go with the other women; because they don't know what you looked like when you were eleven, and how far you've come since them; and they help to pump up your ego.
But, remember, this is where you started! We know that when you look at them, you wish they were us. Yes, we are begging for understanding, but we still have our pride! It's not like we don't have a choice. We can go home and we will find husbands just like that! (Said with a finger snap) But, the men back home … we'll just save that for another day.
So, what are we going to do now? Tell us, what should we do now that we have gone through all this trouble and have been groomed for you and you guys have abandoned us? Akosua says she was at the meat market last time when she saw this Ghanaian man with his Akata wife and toddler. She says the man let go of the toddler's hand for a minute, and the child was about to wander off. His Akata wife yelled at him pootopooto, and called him stupid right there by the meat counter with everybody looking at him and he did not say anything! Now Akosua is known to exaggerate the truth, but I believe something close to what she says happened really happened.
At least if it was one of us, we would wait to get home and then call you stupid even if we wanted to dare disrespect you like that. Now, that is what you want? That is what you call progress and moving up? Twiaaaa!!!!
If you were able to make sense of all our rambling, then you still understand us and care about us. If you were lost in translation, then we are afraid you are so far gone there is no hope of ever getting you back; so farewell, so long and may you be happy wherever you choose.
And now comes the begging part: We are begging you to talk to us. Let us know what changed. What is it that you are looking for? We will do anything to have you come back home, EXCEPT, of course allow you to put your “torture rod” you know where! You can keep Michelle for that as long as you come home at night.
(This article was written by N. Amma Twum-Baah. Amma is the founder and managing editor of Afrikan Goddess (AG) Online, an online publication for the African woman of charm and excellence.)