Yaounde, the city

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As an architect, the city of Yaounde like Accra, stirs up feelings of disappointment anytime I really look at it. The feelings are more intense in Yaounde because the topography is beautiful – even breathtaking at some points. Yaounde is hilly in the purest sense of that world. It’s not the harsh, unfriendly kind of hilly, no it’s gentle slopey, rolling familiar-looking green hills mixed with enough steep inclines to make jogging rewarding, and cycling exhilarating (cycling downhill, at least).

The planning (or lack thereof) is sad and sometimes upsetting. Especially when one spots a perfect hill that could have had the buildings upon it as adorning jewels and not unfortunate occurrences. It’s disappointing because I came to Cameroon expecting to see examples of that inherent grace and appreciation for beauty that seems to run in francophone cultures.

Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful buildings – several in fact, but the overall composition isn’t usually picturesque.

GHANA REALLY WANTS TO RISE

Somewhere last week, during @BloggingGhana Twitter Debate, a question came up. “Can Ghana Do Without The USA?” or something like that. I answered with a “Certainly”, and earned the following response “I do not know you, but I can wager you are either 1. A fresh university graduate 2. Not a frequent traveler.” I chuckled and retweeted, and asked why she would think that. I’m still waiting for an answer, so let me do some wagering too. And oh, before I forget to mention, this blog post is inspired by a comment from a friend about the incident, apparently, that comment, hmm… it was a great punchline… Hmmm

Now back to my wagering. I do not know her, but I can wager she read my bio and saw “freshly minted architect”. I guess she doesn’t know that to be an architect in Ghana, you would have to have a second degree at least. So yes, I’m a fresh architect, with a Master of Architecture degree. My thesis was all about an African Architectural Renaissance, and I’ve done the research, but I won’t dwell on that. I also won’t dwell on the fact that I’ve been working for three years now and mostly catering for myself with my own money. (Don’t let this young face fool you oh, lol) I can wager she assumed that I was a green girl with wobbly knees and an unrealistic outlook on life. Point number two made me laugh more, the one about not being a frequent traveler, because I can wager I know exactly where she’s coming from. I know because I’ve been there, and many people are still there, but I’ll come to that later. I can wager that she doesn’t consider someone who has traveled extensively within her own country as well traveled, so I won’t dwell on that.

As for my aburokyire experience, my memories of Malaysia are almost all gone. All I remember is this delicious banana dessert I had. I can wager she didn’t know I had a daddy-sponsored stint in Chicago & New York & Ann Arbor ( and I went to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water) but I won’t dwell on that. Now that I’m done wagering, I’ll move to the things I want to dwell on.

GHANA REALLY WANTS TO RISE

No offence to my aburokyire trained sistren and brethren, but I have this dream of seeing Ghana being moved forward by people that had all their training here. I hate it when people talk like the educational system here is so terrible, like nothing good can come out of it. I’m something good, I’ve come out of it, and I have several friends like me!
When Osaagyefo started the program of taking people out of Ghana to study in the USA and the UK, the intention was that they go and learn and bring the knowledge home… bring the knowledge home to lift Ghana up to similar levels, not come home and work their butts off (arguably) so as to be able to afford school fees in the US & Europe for their kids. I don’t hate the West, but damn it I want Ghana to improve! I’m fighting very hard, fighting against the urge to run off and go do my doctorate somewhere in aburokyire….(another post, maybe) I hate the mental slavery that exists in our minds, the mental slavery that makes us ‘respect’ people who have just landed and treat them differently. I hate the mental slavery that makes people struggle to make money, struggle for a visa, go to aburokyire and take pictures at some mall bi , upload these pictures on Facebook and then come home and ‘flex’. Can the ‘borga’ word just fade away already?! I hate the mental slavery that makes people think nothing good can be found here, that my country cannot move forward, that as for Ghana dier…. I want to feel proud to be Ghanaian every single day, not just when the Black Stars are playing. I don’t want everyone in Ghana to be rich, well-educated and happy. I don’t even think that’s possible. I just want some equity, I just want people to have a chance, a choice…

When I say I believe that Ghana can do without the USA, I’m not saying we should. I’m saying we can. We can survive without aid, we can stay here and get a good education, we can move our country forward. We can if we want to. And if you think we can’t, then please, for goodness sake, move out of the country quickly. If you’re not here, don’t come back, because Ghana really wants to rise.

In Defence of ‘Stick-Figures’

 What all this fuss about bodies? Who decides what an appropriate or perfect body is anyway? And what is wrong with women who do all sorts of things to ‘keep-in-shape’? Who decided what that shape was anyway? If you’re keeping in ‘shape’ so as to be more attractive to the opposite sex, fine.. by all means, go ahead, get breast implants, a nose job… whatever gets you there. Just don’t give me that crap about “I’m doing it for me“, “I want to feel beautiful“. And stop making other people feel bad about the way they look!

Now that’s off my chest….

I’ve always been slim.

Well, actually, about 10 years ago I was pretty skinny. At that time, growing up in Ghana, I always got the ‘Why are you so skinny?’ question, but not in the admiring tone that one usually hears when this question is asked in an American High school movie.

My mother didn’t care how I looked [mothers, they love their babies just as they are :-)] but my aunts would just not leave me alone. Everyone tried to stuff me with food, milk, eggs, cakes… I still have a sweet-tooth. Thank you aunties!  I ate… I still eat… a lot. They kept wondering where the food went.I have no idea, I mean I was a little tomboy running around, climbing trees and playing football, but I used to spend large chunks of my days reading as well, so where did all the food go?

At that time, I guess the ideal Ghanaian girl had to be plump (or fat),with large breasts, a large ass and shiny skin. I was skinny, flat-chested and my buttocks had less fat than non-fat yoghurt. So, imagine my confusion when whiles watching KTV and Movie Magic I saw scenes from movies where girls would cry themselves to sleep because they were fat or someone told them they had a fat ass! I even remember at one time consoling myself with the thought that all the women who meant anything in the world were built like me, the actresses, singers, women-leaders, activists… That kept me warm on some very cold nights.

I remember a boy in my class in Junior High School asking me if I had had my period. The reason, I didn’t have breasts and you need breasts to have your period, I guess…

Fast forward 6 or 7 years and suddenly, I AM HOT STUFF! The question became “How do you stay so slim?” Again, I had, I have no good answers… All I know is that that is how I am. It was pretty cool for a while to finally have a fashionable body, but soon enough I grew tired of it. There not much fun in taking pride in something you just are. I didn’t climb Mount Kilimanjaro or swim the entire length of the River Volta, all I was was slim. I didn’t even exercise or eat healthy food!

Fast forward 3 or 4 years and the fuss about underweight models and anorexia and other eating disorders. Add that to the new African-is-fashionable craze and allied movements. I remember seeing this artist’s blog. She painted nude images of ‘everyday women’. In her opinion, ‘everyday woman’ didn’t have ‘perfect’ bodies, they had stomachs and thighs and butts. They were not ‘stick figures’ with eating disorders.

Similar thing on the Ghanaian front… A true African beauty is big and beautiful. Skinny isn’t African enough, and if you’re skinny you probably don’t eat enough. Honestly, I think this movement is largely based on big people lashing out. Yet, whilst all this is perfectly understandable, Why the attacks on slim people? Is it necessary? Can’t you love your body, leave me to love my body and just shut up about it. And the slim people are just overdoing it with the retaliation. I’ve had it with the fat jokes on my twitter timeline. And I’ve had it with the ‘A Real African Woman is Well-Endowed’ comments as well. True African beauty? What kind of stupid notion is that? Do a quick image search, start with say.. Ethiopian women, note the body type, faces… then Somali women…. Angolan, Malian, Egyptian, Nigerian… form an impression yet? Take Ghana, the women here have different body sizes and shapes. 

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Is there no love for those of us who are like this because, well, we were born this way. What about us naturally slim girls?

And in conclusion, judging from my interaction with men, I’ve come to a conclusion. Most guys I know will moon over particular girls or models or actresses, but when it comes to crunch, THEY WILL HAVE SEX WITH ANYONE. forget the face and body nonsense, Available is the only criteria here… 

And if you’re really doing all this to look attractive to men, common sense indicates that you would want a similarly attractive man who looks after himself to. No? No.

“I see women barely breathing in corsets out with pot-bellied trolls all the time!”

So what’s really the point here?