I Tried Something Different

The sight of a black woman dating a white man will have most Africans thinking fast and coming up with an obvious answer for the why. “She must be looking for a better life.” They are right but also wrong. Wrong because they reckon the black woman is a hard-nosed gold-digger, but right because she’s after respect, affection and security. She’s had it with dating black men who assume kingly airs just because they bought her dinner and fancy themselves irresistible Lotharios whose oats are wild and deserving of free rein in every female’s garden. Faithful African men are a rarity.

Don’t get me wrong. These men have a great side too. They are charming and fun. They might not kiss their girl in public but they’ll take her on shopping sprees and will not wait for her birthday to get her something nice. These gifts can be as extravagant as a new car. They’ll take it upon themselves to cover most if not all of her bills even when she’s holding down a good job. If she’s jobless, they’ll bankroll her business venture, mostly, a shop. That’s their way of showing love. Unfortunately, this lasts for a short time and comes at a price – absolute submission.

Once the initial excitement wears off, her ideas will be regarded as frivolous. She’s a woman and she must listen to her boyfriend. Visiting his place will mean cooking, cleaning his pigsty, hand washing and ironing his laundry as he lounges watching TV.  It’s nothing to be frowned upon. It’s a sign he is serious about her; letting her take on a wifely role. He will encourage long-stay visits to his place, but will then make night out plans with his friends that don’t include her, effectively ruining any ‘dancing with the girls’ plans she might have had. She’s the perfect housekeeper. He will not tolerate any questions about his attitude. She’s muzzled.

He’ll try to limit her nights out and she might protest. He’ll lay in wait and pounce as soon as he knows that a man talked to her on a night out.

Europe Can Be Lonely, If You Let It

The biggest shock to my system after my move from Africa to Europe wasn’t that I saw white faces everywhere instead of the usual black, nor was it the strange Czech language. No sir! See, Africa is a continent of (frighteningly) open people, whose friendliness any non-African might find overwhelming. A friend is family and families are close. Europe offered something different though. I walked into a stone wall of closed Europeans who came off as either unfriendly or pissed off to heaven. It was and still is quite difficult to make friends and here’s why.

Greeting a neighbor on public transport is a no-no

My very first brush with the European social freezer was on the Prague metro. Out of a well-honed 24-year habit (I’d previously struck up innumerable conversations with strangers on the Ugandan public transport), I attempted to engage a Czech stranger. My friendly ‘Ahoj’ drew a frown, then a puzzled look but no verbal response. Was my accent that off? Embarrassed, I smiled sheepishly and looked away. What was her problem? Two things dear reader. One, she didn’t know me from Adam. Two,  Ahoj’ as a greeting should be used amongst friends. I should have used the more formal  ‘Dobry den’.

Turning work colleagues into friends is a long and often, futile shot

Just because you see each other daily, go for lunches together, talk about your lives, celebrate birthdays and have nights out doesn’t make you friends. Once out of sight, say, like when I had to take maternity leave, all communication ceases. Some might come together and send you flowers and gifts, but don’t be offended if they have no interest in meeting your new baby.

Friends are mysterious too

You might know them for years before you get to meet any of their family, if ever. If there’s a change in their lives and they are in no position to

I Pissed Him Off

I’d just arrived in the ČR and was on a mission. I was a black flamingo and wanted to find like birds to share that feeling with. I smiled and exchanged hellos with every black person I came across (5 on a very good day). I envisioned crazy bootie shaking nights out, evenings demolishing kilos of roasted meat without being shy about it and relaxed strolls talking about how beautiful but dusty sweet mother Africa is.

I did, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. There are some truly crazy Africans over here! Misunderstandings were bound to happen and I left one alpha male royally pissed off…

I got on the Metro one evening after work and flopped onto a seat next to the only other black person. I sighed my tiredness away, turned to him and offered my hand. Hello. He responded with such enthusiasm that any misgivings his outfit had provoked evaporated. He was about 35 and spotted a beard that must have taken hours to sculpt. His hair, worn in a short Afro, and his loud outfit combined to give an air of exoticism. He had on a pair of navy blue & white-checkered trousers, a colorfully patterned shirt and a glittery waistcoat to bring everything into perspective. A pair of snakeskin pointy shoes completed his look. We launched into an animated conversation about our respective histories and what-do-you-dos. He complimented my hair, outfit, engagement ring (!) and the way I talked (I know…. I too have no idea what that meant). He was married to a Czech woman, I was engaged to a Czech man and he reckoned there was quite a lot we still had to talk about. Phone numbers were exchanged and promises to meet soon were made. He seemed like a nice guy.

Buying a Pineapple

Food markets in Uganda are all the same; bustling, boisterous riots teeming with noisy humans. A market day starts with sputtering from a continuous trickle of heavy-laden trucks slicing the peaceful  quiet of predawn. Fresh produce from farms, meats from abattoirs and freshly caught fish are quickly offloaded by an agile pack of muscle men, kanyama. The soft light of dawn reveals impressive, glistening muscles and pouncing bodies; market vendors, small-scale restaurateurs and supermarket owners all vying to get their hands on the freshest. A merchandise manager has an areal view of this chaos, keeping tally of who’s taking what and making sure nothing gets nicked. It’s organized in its disorganization. Wheelbarrow pushers, each chewing incessantly on a toothpick watch it all unfold from the sidelines, from where they’ll spring when called upon to transport produce to its final destination. You’ll have street urchins larking in everybody else’s shadow; picking anything that accidentally falls off the trucks, nicking some and later setting up on-the-ground popup stalls – small heaps of this and that, where those out of pocket can always get great deals on okay looking stuff. No questions asked. Meanwhile…

Raging at Dawn

My city, Prague

This week has been a blur. Nights last minutes! I get into bed at 10:00pm, close my eyes for a second and it’s morning!! Dawn at an infuriating 5:30!! It’s killing me. Knowing it’ll get worse and that dawn is bound to sweep in at an even earlier 3:00 am, has my stomach in knots.

My 6 years in Europe haven’t done a thing. This atrocious invasion of my sleepy time by an overly eager dawn is going nowhere! For 24 years in Uganda, my system was primed and tuned to waking up at the crack of dawn. As the bottomless, near emptiness of night gave way to a glow-y purple sky, my brain would automatically and softly be cajoled into a state of wakefulness. Birds, roosters and wailing kids were always part of it. Nothing…nothing beats the reliability of an African dawn; year around same time, 6:00 – 6:30am.

To Tango with Wine

I got done in by 3 glasses of wine!! Strange things have been happening to me since I turned 30!! I mean, 3 glasses, seriously? As a result, this post will be a piece of genius rubbish. The kind brought on by an alcohol induced, sleep deprived haze! Let’s crush and burn this post.  I know where to lay the blame.

Where was I? Yes, yes, the wine….

I know, I know (being especially bright this very instant). A mum at home, probably firmly immersed in unintelligible baby language (two years at home), and a sameness to my daily routine - each day looking just like the previous 13…puh! I should be swimming in the stuff, right? Well, I’ve been good (remember to let Santa know). I’ve been so good I barely touch the contents of my home bar. Any lustful thought of reanimating my lethargic, uncooperative, sleep deprived brain with that little infusion of the ferment is swiftly laser-ed! I’ve been so good, I don’t remember the last

What men get from pregnancy boobies

Men are weird creatures whose preference for a particular female body shape changes with their current state of mind. A guy who’s got his baby goggles tightly fitted will continue to see what eludes most – the intoxicating allure of a pregnant body. Yes, really! At the climax of his baby hints, my husband once exclaimed, “Oh my, her body’s so sexy!” He was poring over a photograph of a 6 months pregnant woman in a bikini.

News of a pregnancy is received in a whirl of whoops of joy and secretly, a lot of gleeful hand rubbing. The man’s eyes take on a salacious glint. He is ready to explore pregnancy’s tasty pluses - the magic twins. The natural size of his woman’s boobies doesn’t count. Flat chested or amply endowed, the expectation is the same. Bigger…B.I.G.G.E.R please! Men are greedy that way.

The tease is on.

The boobies don’t disappoint. The small get bigger and the bigger get enormous. Optical nutrition is a full on feature as brassieres and tops strain and groan and each tinny movement causes a chaotic but oh-so-hypnotic bounce to the chest. For the moment, he’s satisfied and very understanding of the unspoken restrictive rule because, morning sickness is a bitch but it’ll pass - soon. He’s been reading up on pregnancy for dummies, bidding his time. The best is on its way.

The second trimester creeps in and so does the forbidden wandering hand. SWAT!! They hurt like hell.

I'm a Gold Digger

Yes you heard me. Big ol’ gold digger and I don’t give a rat’s a…bottom! Oh no, I’m not alone in this illustrious career. It’s well sought after and apparently, quite a lucrative hit. I belong to a gang of black African women married to or in relationships with white men. As some people would have you believe, we ALL are seasoned, hardcore gold diggers. 

The romantics (mostly white) will ask, “ ….So, how did you two (lovebirds) meet?” There’s no doubt it was love. Very close friends (black, white, etc) wont ask -- they were there as the story unfolded and were constantly furnished with up-to-date details.

The WISE people, (the kind that’s not necessarily close to you but you’ve known them for ages and they claim to know absolutely EVERYTHING) finally allow their undesirable brittle disposition to shine through the friendly facade, “…Soooooo, how did you manage to catch yourself a white man…mmm?” (Replace ‘catch’ with any word that makes that sentence sound derogatory, like, bag etc.). I picked him off the road, idiot! A sweet ‘how we met’ story, oozing chemistry and thick with passion won't count. No sir! I’ll still be the little sneaky gold digger who knew where to hit and HIT HARD. I’ll often catch an eye roll that I wasn't supposed to, or an exchanged look that was meant to be discreet or sometimes, I get that annoying conspiratorial  ‘we both know the real story’ smirk. A smirk I’ve wished (many many times) I could wipe off with a punch that would hopefully dislodge a tooth or two…hell, why am I being nice…the whole goddamned set of teeth!  

According to wise people (I’ll go out on a limb here and state; mostly my fellow countrymen - black to the bone)…

Adolescents, their Parents and Sex Talk

The owner of a cute button nose suddenly stopped in his tracks and looked up at the large woman and reflected, ‘Wow! My mummy is so smart. She knows everything! I’ll ask.’

A few minutes prior to this conclusion, the 6-year-old boy had endured a taxing conversion. A conversation so bizarre, he’d been left almost unhinged. It was the longest he’d had to sit through so far. His innocent comment about his pregnant mother’s size had led to wasting a precious 10 minutes sitting still and listening to a nightmarish story of how cows grow baby cows in their bellies and there being nothing mummy cow can do about how big she gets, because see, it’s baby cow getting bigger, not mummy cow. She’d then gone on to tell him about the little girl growing in her own belly and how he’d soon have a sister. Boy, was he struggling to wrap his head around that. How?! His mind was a riot of questions. Oblivious to the tremors she’d just set off and satisfied that her boy had got it, mother and son continued on their way, with the mother thinking to herself, “There’s no way I’ll let

Rebel Teen Fashion

The teenage apparition 50m away and moving towards me exuded darkness.  Fierce, ruthless, wholesome darkness. She couldn’t have been more than 16 years old. She looked angry and confident in her gloom, seemingly levitating with the help of thick-soled ankle boots. Heavy-duty platform. They seemed to weigh down her waifish frame. Her assortment of jewelry, mostly chains, jingled with each step. Chains hang from her jacket, snaked their way out of her tinny short’s pockets, weighed down her arms and gave the jingle to her boots too. Her little black summer jacket had sleeves that had probably, with eternal purpose been chewed on by a mad dog - at precise internals. An impressive collection of rings adorned her left ear lobe and one more looped through her nose. Not a silent apparition at all.  

The left side of her head had been shaved to a glistening finish. The remaining (lucky) shoulder length mass of pink tinged dark mane was slickly swept across and to the other side of her head, ending in downward spikes. Completing a hairstyle I’m sure was meant to shock. The sneer taking residence on her young face was probably a well practiced ‘in front of the mirror’ expression. She had on deep red lipstick, heavy eye shadow and eyeliner so thick it seemed to weigh down her eyelids. Eyelids…eyeee…what?! THE EYES! It was jarring to suddenly encounter a blue doe-eyed look - totally in conflict with the owner’s ominous landscape. I had an instant feeling she wouldn’t hurt a fly.

I was incredulous that her parents would let her in or out of the house.  A friend later enlightened me…they most likely support or are resigned to accept her choice of self-expression.

An African teen, turning up home dressed as aforementioned white teen would set off a chain of events, hilarious only to an observer. African parents become vociferous at the slightest hint of anything they consider an offense.