As a British-born-Ghanaian, raised in London, I think it’s fair to say that my appearance, mannerisms, views, amongst many other things may differ from the average Ghanaian born, raised in Ghana.
When I was a teenager, I guess you could say that I was a bit of a “Tom boy”, and only really became “girlie” (if you want to put it that way) in my late teens/early twenties.
At aged 17, I got my first job. I was a Retail Operative (fancy way of saying a customer service assistant!), at Primark, Marble Arch, in the West End of London. I was contracted to work on the weekends, but would do overtime alongside my studies when possible.
Although working there was a bit of a headache (as it was EXCEPTIONALLY BUSY), the majority of my colleagues were between ages16-25 so working there had a youth club kind of feel. There was a lot of banter, and I was often the only female chilling with the “mandem” (guys), during my lunch breaks. I felt no way contributing to their conversations (even if they were talking about their man-hoe ways), and if anything they probably saw me as one of the lads (guys). I was used to forming close friendships with males and it being normal.
So anyway, fast-forward to a good couple of years later, I do not have a large amount of male friends, but I have 2/3 close ones. There is 1 in particular whom I talk to everyday, if not every other day. Aside from me currently being out here in Ghana, when linking up with my male friends (in London), we would take pictures/videos together and I would feel no way posting it up on my social media (Snap Chat in particular), as it was “normal”.
As you know, I’m currently out here in Ghana. This is the first time that I have come to Ghana without my mother and younger brother accompanying me. Due to this I have enjoyed networking and meeting new people. However, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a reoccurring theme. Well, I say reoccurring theme but it has now happened twice. Let me explain to you what happened the last time (very recently), as I found it infuriating.
So, I was connected to this young man, let’s call him Alfred. He is my brothers, friends, friend and we were introduced because, he is a radio host/DJ and I am interested in getting involved in the Ghanaian media scene. On the first day that I met Alfred, we instantly got on. He invited me to his radio show the following day, and I attended.
In the space of about 2/3 weeks Alfred and I were regularly talking/texting and going out and about here in Kumasi. “I’ve got a new friend, who seems to be a good person”, I told myself. However, I started to notice an annoying trait that Alfred had. EVERY TIME WE WERE OUT AND ABOUT AND SOMEONE ASKED ALFRED IF I WAS HIS MRS, HE WAS QUICK TO SAY YES, COMPLETELY OVERRIDING MY NO.
Before, you ask yourself “well why wasn’t she quick to correct him”, oh hell yes I was. However, that did not stop him from doing random things like trying to put his arm around me in public etc.
Anyway, it was clear to see that Alfred had developed feelings for me. Not only that, but here in Ghana it seems that if a guy and a girl are often seen walking out and about, people automatically assume that they are in a relationship, or “chopping” (sexing) each other. This also added to me being annoyed as I was horrified not only by the idea that people would think that me and Alfred were more than friends, but also at the fact that rumours would potentially get to my older brother, whom I live with. Come to think of it, what if someone who is worthy to be my other half, would not approach me because they thought that Alfred was my guy??
***Let me make it clear that in general I am not the type of individual to care about other people’s opinions. HOWEVER, I have only been here for 2 minutes, and I DO NOT need to be having a bad reputation, even before I’ve achieved my goals.***
Anyway, back to Alfred…
The last, well the second to last straw was, on the day after my food poisoning (read previous post here Upset Mach. ), Alfred was insisting that he wanted to quickly see me in order to know that I was OK. We ended up sitting at a bar directly behind my house, talking. A drunken man approached us, expressing how he thought I was beautiful and that I reminded him of a relative. After making his statement he asked Alfred if I was his sister or his wife. I immediately replied “his friend”, but Alfred exclaimed “My wife” before proceeding to hold my hand, (I removed it of course).
He responded with “If I had told him that you were my friend, he would have troubled you”. To some extent that was true, but this was the millionth time that he had pulled that stunt. That night, he called me expressing that he was aware that I was unhappy with him constantly telling people that I was his girl, when we are out and about. I won’t bore you with everything he said, but let’s just say that he was hoping that I would be his future wife. L.O.L. You can only imagine what my response to that was, but whatever. I said my piece, made it known that I was only interested in friendship and went to bed.
The following day Alfred was continuously expressing that he had no money and had not ate. Long story cut short, he thought it was cool to command me to cook specific dishes for him, and then inform me that he would call to find out how I am getting on. Followed by him telling me that he directly wanted to eat from my pot (as in come to my house). L.O.L BANTER. I don’t recall this guy being my boyfriend or husband so cook ke? You dey craze. I had to shut that train of thought down, but the way that it occurred, I knew that it was time for me to distance myself.
Some days passed, and I was getting on with my life. My nice peaceful life were I was not being somebody’s by force girlfriend.
Then a bombshell was dropped. Word got back to me that Alfred had been informing people that I was his girlfriend and that I had specifically come from the UK to stay with him.
Let’s face it; some people here in Ghana have a fascination with people coming over from abroad. I’m guessing that this, amongst the fact that he thought I was attractive, had him thinking to potentially cock block anyone else from getting close to me, by spreading this lie that me and him were an item.
A situation similar (not as annoying as this), had also occurred nearer the time when I arrived in Ghana, were a male took my niceness for something completely different.
Due to this, I have now worked out for myself that I guess over here, I can’t be close to a guy and always walking out and about with him, unless I am interested in him beyond friendship? I have also had a conversation with some elders out here in Ghana who confirmed that this seems to be the case.
So, with this example, and theory that Ghanaian elders have told me, think about this. Alfred had told people that I was his girlfriend, whom had specifically come from the UK to stay with him. I was unaware of this. So imagine, I had been walking out and about with Alfred for 2/3 weeks, thinking that I’d made a new friend, but in the eyes of the local Ghanaians I was a girl fresh from the UK hanging out with my boyfriend. With this thought in mind, imagine if I had met a guy that I was genuinely interested in, and I started publicly walking out and about with him? People would question themselves as to if I were a wayward woman (I’m going by this Ghanaian theory that elders have informed me about). With this theory in mind, and Alfred fully knowing this, it is clear that his intentions were not pure. Furthermore what if a potential Mr was interested in me, but because of Alfred’s lie, did not approach me? In short, Alfred took the PISS. Silly cock-blocker!
I am a firm believer that we continuously learn new things in life. Although I am currently residing in a place I call “home”, I have not previously been here for a long period of time. Due to this I need to get accustomed to the way of things out here. From what I have seen, I can’t be behaving like how I do with my male friends in London, here, without there being more to our “friendship”? Or, is this idea wrong? On a normal day, I really do not see why I can’t be cool with the mandem, but it seems like the mandem wanna be hot with me.