On Beauty.

Because she’s fabulous.

Love, Adjpants

My loves. This is the post that I started to write over a year ago and continuously lost my nerve. Today I read about Auntie Oprah’s epic faux pas and I thought, “the time is now.” In Oprah’s O Magazine, there was a fashion segment about crop tops. The line was “If (and only if) you have a flat stomach, feel free to wear a crop top.” This foolishment finally gave me the courage to share this post. Today we’re going to be talking about positive body image. It’s something that I’m passionate about, and something that’s very close to my heart.

It’s about to get REAL in here so I’ll give you a chance to settle in and get comfortable *sips tea* And we’re back. Like an alarming number of young girls, I grew up thinking that I was ugly. There, I said it. I was a shy and anxious kid, always…

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IJGB – I Just Got Back

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IJGB – I just got back.

 

The inspiration for this post can be found here: http://www.bellanaija.com/2013/12/10/are-you-an-i-just-got-back-ijgb-signs-symptoms-cures-of-the-new-jjc/

 

(Please read the comments section. The lolz. Some comments were shady though. Real shady.)

 

What is it? Does it exist? Who cares?

 

I’ll answer the second question first. It does exist. It’s very real. Now I’ll answer the third question. Who cares? People like me dammit. People who just got back! *clears throat* This also applies to those who wish to expatriate and have had that thought lingering in their brains for a while. Now I don’t think I fully fit this category anymore as I’ve been here for 6 months (now 16 months. Boom.) I feel like one of those parents who say their child’s age in months. Le sigh.

 

I’m more aware of my surroundings, how the everyday Ghanaian in Ghana behaves and I know when someone is trying to cheat me (my London Twi always comes to my rescue *hi 5s self*).

 

So what is it? The IJGB first of all means ‘I just got back’ a.k.a JJC or warrever. It’s normally used for people who have returned to the continent after some time away; studying, working etc. Or members of the Diaspora who have moved back for the first time like me. It’s the simmering resentment towards those who have just got back, some reasons which are plausible and others which are just not. Bear with me, I’ll explain.

 

My experience with IJGB syndrome

It’s the lingering stares examining you from head to toe. It’s the shock then almost sudden disdain when you don’t speak with an accent like theirs (I’ve literally had experiences of doing presentations and the participants say ‘Eii’ as soon as I speak. Yeah. That has happened MULTIPLE times -_-). It’s the assumed superiority that they believe you have (My handbag is from H&M not Louis V, chill). It’s people blanking you or mumbling half sentences when you say good morning for no reason whatsoever. It’s the uber defensiveness when you try to teach them something different to what they know. (Side note – I work in an office of women. Just FYI. Yah.)

 

Now don’t get me wrong, when you start any new place of employment you have to prove yourself. That is a given. But this was more than just ‘proving myself’, I’ve had to do that before. It was more of a ‘Who do you think you are?’ kind of attitude.

 

Some IJGBs do have a stink attitude. An inflated sense of self even. I’ve seen some. They annoy me too. They may make reference to their schooling (even though you didn’t ask), or they may complain incessantly about the heat (It’s Africa boo) or just generally be whiny (go and sit in a corner somewhere). But I was careful (even too careful) about making how I comported myself around Ghanaians. I would complain to my peoples back home in London lol.  So why me? *cue violins*

Is it insecurity? Is it the presupposition that I think I’m better? Nah. I came back to help my people. Yes I’m a proud Brit but I’m also a Ghanaian (though being in Ghana has made me realise how British I am. Another post. Te lo prometo). I want to use my skills to help advance education in the land of my parents. *cue Michael Jackson – Heal The World* No but seriously though, I am here with genuine intentions. The curriculum, teaching practices and methodologies in GH are outdated. It’s shocking and we’re ridiculously behind. The UK system has serious gaps but, it doesn’t compare to what’s happening back home. Just. Doesn’t. Compare.

 

I’ve pondered over this for a while. I think it’s complicated and everyone will have their own individual reason or nuance.

 

It seems as though some just can’t reconcile that you share the same surname as them, you can make abenkwan,  you have a foreign accent AND you can communicate in your local language. Almost as if we’re aliens 😦 Now this is not ALL Ghanaians. Some are suitably impressed that you’re flying the black star flag wherever you were born/have lived and are back to lend your knowledge. I’m detailing my own experience and the experience of some ‘returnees’ I’ve come across.

 

FYI, this doesn’t apply to my obroni friends by the way. The “White Saviour” mentality is still  prevalent in Africa so they expect our Caucasian friends to have nicer clothes, to have foreign accents, to have money trees growing in their gardens and so on. It doesn’t offend them. It’s the expectation.

 

So what do you think? Have you experienced this? Am I making it up? (Of course I’m not. Don’t be silly ;-))

 

Until next time…

*I initially drafted this when I reached the 6 month mark so March 2014. Sigh.

Living Back Home Pt. 1 – Work

Ghana is live (fun, a great place to visit, interesting etc.) I can almost guarantee you that coming here on vacation you will ADORE it. Particularly if you are with someone who really knows the place. It has a unique history and culture, laid back vibe, warm and friendly people, some great bars, clubs, restaurants…The list goes on.

But I’m here to talk to you about LIVING here. Not a whirlwind 2/3 week vacation where you know that you’re going back to London, the US, continental Europe *insert foreign location*

Living in GH can be difficult, extremely difficult but it’s also a very enjoyable place to be. You just have to develop some coping mechanisms for the more difficult parts**.

For those wondering, my job in Ghana came about as a result of an internship I did for an education consultancy company who then sent me to Ghana as an employee to manage the education team for a DFID Girls Education Challenge project – Making Ghanaian Girls Great!

I would highly recommend (where possible) securing your job before you get to GH. I’ve heard too many horror stories of people getting jobs in GH then finding out the job doesn’t exist, benefits are poor, not being paid for months on end etc.

Expatriate packages vary from company to company so bargain well well before you get here. You probably won’t get all you dream for but bargain for what is important for you as an individual. Standard things you should be asking for are: accommodation, health insurance, number of flights home (to London/Canada/US etc) and possibly travel allowance. You may also think about living allowance but this is probably pushing it (depending on who you work for).

Get learned (especially older & more experienced) people you trust to read your contract. I have some amazing friends but the truth is not one of them (nor I) were well versed in international employment/expatriate contracts so we didn’t really know what to look for. You don’t want any nasty surprises when you arrive in a place you’ve never lived before.

Companies by nature will do what works in their best interests so really think long and hard about what is important to you. And don’t be afraid to ask for it!

Working culture in Ghana is distinctly different to what you may have experienced. That laid back attitude is very much present in most arenas and can be infuriating when you want things done quickly. You have to exert extreme patience, follow up on everything, and unfortunately you may have to micro manage (initially). My advice is to be firm but fair, take an interest in your staff as human beings (they’re not robots), praise them when they’ve done a good job (cannot overstate this enough!), give them constructive criticism and communicate, communicate, communicate. It will take time (a long time) but the efforts will be worth it when you have a team of staff who were previously displaying poor work ethic that are now regularly going the extra mile and always seeking self betterment as professionals.

Back to the praise part. There is so much power in a simple ‘thank you’ or a ‘well done’. It doesn’t matter what level you are at in your company. No one enjoys feeling unappreciated. So praise them when they’ve done well. Now on the flipside when they haven’t done so well you can use the “2 stars and a wish”/WWW & EBI* format. (Yes, I was a teacher before I came to Ghana. You learn so much about humans). 2 stars and a wish is used when giving feedback to a pupil. It’s very simple. Start off with 2 positive comments and a point for improvement. That way, the person doesn’t start the conversation feeling apprehensive or leave the conversation feeling deflated. It’s all in the language you use.

Until next time folks!

**Dumsor dumsor (lights off/no electricity), taxi drivers (just because), poor customer service (happens everywhere but some Ghanaians have an art for it) etc.

*WWW= What Went Well, EBI= Even Better If…

Accra is Gotham. Can it be Saved?

Mind of Malaka

In the Gotham allegory, Batman is the symbol of hope in a city that is so depraved and corrupt that the only way to root out that corruption is through violence. Batman doesn’t hold symposiums and forums encouraging city corrupt leaders and crime bosses to stop ruining the city by appealing to their more delicate sensibilities. He merely kicks ass, disappears and waits for the police to pick up the trash. There is no discussion.

Accra is really no different from Gotham. All of the elements that comprise of the fictional city exist in the metropolis that sits on the coast of the Atlantic. The same extremes in wealth and poverty, corruption, looting of government coffers, shady deals with nefarious characters, stabbings, raping, arson…they are engrained in this African city. The debauchery is so rife that you can smell it in the very air. Accra’s air is thick with smog…

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What Makes Ghanaians Such Abysmal Activists?

Mind of Malaka

When it comes to social change in Ghana, Ghanaians obey a strict set of rules and rarely deviate from the following process:

  1. Express shock and outrage about a particular event
  2. Talk about it on radio/Facebook/What’sApp/Twitter
  3. Deride anyone with an opposing opinion
  4. Wait for the next breaking news story to over shadow the aforementioned outrageous event
  5. Repeat

The whole process usually takes a week, two if you really press it. I look at this generation of “activists” – of which I cannot exclude myself from – and shake my head with dismay…for I know that if it was up to us, Ghana would still be in the bonds of colonial shackles. The brand of Ghanaian born today pales in comparison to those born eighty or more years ago. We have no stick-to-it-ness, no value of continuity, no vigor for any cause beyond the initial spark of outrage and shock. If we…

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Living Back Home…

My iPhone photography skills at the top of the Jamestown lighthouse :-D

My iPhone photography skills at the top of the Jamestown lighthouse 😀


Happy new year……y’all. *chuckles* I won’t get bored of this for a while.

So I’m back in big bad Accra, blogging like I said I would. It’s 2015 baby! Despite despising the hype, there is something exciting about a new year starting. Something refreshing. So I hope you’ve all written down some goals. I hope you have a new focus for the year. I hope you’ve consulted with God on what His will is for you henceforth. I hope you’ve started on a new foot mentally and so on….

I’ve decided to do a mini ‘Living Back Home’ series, for those flirting with the idea of coming to live in Accra, Ghana or another African city. I really should have done this during my first first year here but to be honest it would have been a lot of angry ranting rather than a balanced perspective on life in GH. If you have any questions or specific topics you’d like me to address don’t hesitate to reach out and I will happily cover them in a post or two.

Lazy Ghanaians PLEASE Stand Up!

My Nostalgia for the Future

Let’s say your name is Rajak. You are a member of a small community outside of Atebubu in the Brong Ahafo region. People there are largely herders and small farm workers. You finished SHS but you didn’t pass enough of your exams to warrant entry into university. Even if you had gone to university, you probably could not have afforded to attend. Let’s say that you find out about a chance to work with The National Youth Employment Program (NYEP) to act as a teaching assistant for some of the students in your very own village. These are people that you grew up with, your own sisters and brothers and you take some pride in what you are doing. Nevertheless, you have signed a contract that guarantees you a very moderate 95 GHC each month (I reiterate EACH MONTH). It’s not much, but it could go a long NYEway for you…

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Stop Building Schools Please. Thanks.

Articulates some of my thoughts perfectly!

My Nostalgia for the Future

This might sound mean…

Because almost 70% of SHS aged students do not go to SHS

but

We don’t need anymore people going to SHS.

Nope.

You can’t possibly think that increasing the number of SHS’s in the country is going to… by pure osmosis… fix the issue of low achievement. PLUS… go to SHS and then what? To do what? Where? Education and the world of work are so intertwined… its like if Bonnie and Clyde were siamese twins. You cannot perpetuate one without also moving the other… and the economy is a clear indication that the world of work is slowly imploding on itself.

While policy reforms and interventions have improved access, a majority of pupils in primary schools fail to achieve proficiency. (source; UNICEF) While policy reforms and interventions have improved access, a majority of pupils in primary schools fail to achieve proficiency. (source; UNICEF)

Here is a graph that basically sums up the issue. In 2000, the world agreed to increase primary school enrollment. Ghana did that… but…

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Lessons from 2014 that I’d like to share

Saw this on Bishop TD Jakes' page and rather liked it.

Saw this on Bishop TD Jakes’ page and rather liked it.

Hey y’all (Think y’all is here to stay…y’all. Lol). I present to you some random lessons I learnt this year, professionally, spiritually, emotionally etc. Some are old lessons but situations this year really contextualised it and made it real for me.

In no particular order of importance…

1. Love others. Always choose to act in love. Don’t impose on others. Love them for who they are, flaws and all and be active in that love. Love them hard in prayer when all human means fail. Even before human efforts fail hold people up in prayer. Always.

2. Be patient. Slow to anger. You can rarely take back words and actions spoken in anger. Look at things from the other person’s perspective before reacting. Talk to God before speaking. You won’t regret it.

3. Listen more, talk less. Be measured in what you say. Make sure it holds weight. In the professional arena, church, personal circles…

4. Be diligent. Study and invest on your craft. Whatever it is. Don’t despise the little daily actions that will pay off in the end!

5. Cultivate a frugal trait and making savings and investing a priority. Choose a set amount that works for you. I use 10% of my salary as a benchmark but add more when it’s a light month for example. Nothing is too small and be consistent with it. Unexpected things happen and rainy day funds are always necessary. Also think long term, beyond 5 years. Build wealth. Don’t be penny wise but pound foolish.

6. Love learning. Always be inquisitive. Ask questions. Learn! From experiences, circumstances, people, books…the sources are endless. Learning never stops. Always ask yourself: “What can I learn from this?”

7. Don’t be afraid to dream big! Nothing is impossible. Don’t minimise your dream because you don’t see how it could ever happen. Pray. Seek His will. Commit to Him and do as you are led. Don’t go ahead and then say ‘Oh yeah God, could you ordain that for me please? Thanks!’ Just no.

8. Always try to look on the bright side. Try being the operative word. Life will knock you down. Life isn’t always fair. Don’t sulk about it or become defeated. Focus on the positives, lessons learnt and keep it moving. We have a purpose to fulfil guys!

9. Invest in your health. Don’t take it for granted. People always realise this when it’s too late. Exercise. Eat well. Be healthy.

10. Always make time for people. Relationships are so important. Don’t get so busy that you don’t reach out to people and remind them that you care.

11. Be confident. Know and understand what you bring to the table. There’s a gift placed inside of you, a special space on this earth reserved for you. Some of you know what that is already, some are still finding out. Keep searching and once you find it, own it.

12. I lied. This is the most important point. God was, is and will forever be the Alpha and Omega. That is all.

I don’t believe in new year resolutions. Self development and character refinement should be a constant goal. Not a December/January routine. Set some goals for 2015 (and beyond). I like to do short, medium and long term goals. Don’t let the year pass you by and then when it hits December 2015 you’re wondering where the year went. It’ll give you focus. But don’t just set goals, revisit them periodically throughout the year. Some will change. Some won’t. Key thing is to always remember the ‘why’ behind them. Don’t just go through the motions.

Strategically position yourself for a great year, one that you can reflect on fondly: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Happy new year guys! See you in 2015, where I will blog more regularly. (Cough) xoxo

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As 2014 draws to a close…

To those who habitually blog and post, I salute. I need that discipline for blogging in 2015. Yes. I haven’t blogged since my one year anniversary in September and a lot has happened since then. Mostly personal stuff but a lovely round up to the year.

1. I was on CNN, y’all. (Not an American but felt y’all was appropriate here 😀 ). I featured on Inside Africa talking about my lovely project: MGCubed or Making Ghanaian Girls Great! Check us out! (We’re within the last 5 minutes or so) —->

CNNhttp://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/international/2014/10/06/spc-inside-africa-ghana-girl-power-c.cnn&video_referrer=

MGCubed on Twitter – https://twitter.com/mgcubedgh

MGCubed on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mgcubedhome

MGCubed video – http://vimeo.com/90391911

Still don’t actually remember what I said because I still cringe when I see it. I’ll watch it properly one day guys. I promise.

2. Moved house! I moved out from the East Legon side ❤ to around the Osu side of town. Currently loving the new neighbourhood and the new appartement *French accent* and a new roommate *swirls*

3. Went to Lagos, Nigeria to witness my beautiful sister-friend get married to her beau. Being a maid of honour isn’t easy but so so worth it. A pleasure to serve ❤ Lagos is an interesting place too. Would defo recommend.

4. Came back to London to wind up the year for Christmas and new year. Christmas was lovely. African girls know what Christmas day means: cooking the WHOLE DAY then not really having an appetite afterwards 😦 #HouseGirlsUnite! Spending NYE in church with Pastor O and some of the people I love most exciting me is an UNDERSTATEMENT. Whoooo! And the sales of course. We can’t forget the sales.

Also…I’ve been discovering some MORE lovely places in Accra!

Nails – Marie Noelle’s Spa (located in Osu near Noble House/Heritage Restaurant)

Website – http://www.marienoellespa.com/

Food/Drinks (cough) – Burger and Relish (Osu. Take Koala Down and follow to the end, it’s on your left). Lovely ambience and the drinks are lovely.

Website – http://burgerandrelish.com/site/

Coco Lounge (Airport City) – Currently in love with this place! Such a cool laid back vibe but swanky with great drinks and a simple food menu. It works! Plus they sing and dance when you order tequila on Tequila Thursdays. An experience.

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/iconhouseghana

Mukase Chic Eatery (Osu) – Mayneee. I don’t know who this lady is but I must meet HER! This lovely lady (who is my friend in my mind lol) has opened a place (currently a pickup/delivery place but soon to be a restaurant I here) and sells some of THE nicest local food I’ve had in GH. And I mean proper local food like garden egg stew, abom….*salivates*. She also has healthy versions (i.e. very little oil and so on) I HIGHLY recommend.

Blog – http://mukasechic.wordpress.com/

Instagram – http://instagram.com/mukasechic_eatery

Out of Town Excursions – Aqua Safari Resort – A super lovely resort in Ada, about 2 or so hours away from the city (depending on traffic of course). Very scenic with beach sports, water sports (jet skiings, paddle boats, a boat cruise to the estuary etc), a grill, minerals (soft drinks) and a lovely beach. Not like Labadi. Labadi doesn’t even count as a beach tbh.

I have vowed to explore more African locations whilst I’m in GH. It just makes sense. Now I have a default travel partner too it makes it all the better. Yay!

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IMG_1715Aqua Safari – Ada…(Top pic – some of my teaching team and I).