How to attract more male attention? Pretend your married.
How to attract less? Pound lumpy fufu.
A few weeks before Ando came to visit for the Christmas holidays, I had an idea that I proposed to two of my Ghanaian girlfriends here.
Me: So, I’m thinking I should just cave in and get married so that I can be left in peace for the rest of my stay here.
Evelyn: It won’t work. Ghanaian men love married women as much as they love single ones.
Me: But I seem to be so good at finding husbands here. I’d hate to waste my apparent talents. I’ll find three – for the three of us. How do you like your husbands?
Naki: Find us some husbands. That would be okay.
Me: I know, I’ll tell everyone that I cannot marry until the two of you are married. That’ll give them incentive to introduce their friends to us. Hopefully their friends will have more sense than to propose to near strangers.
My very first day in Ghana, I was proposed to. I went to the bank and the security guard told me he loved me and asked if I could marry him and “bring me back to your country”. He didn’t even ask what country that may be. This would prove to be a daily routine for me.
-Hello Obruni. Where do you come from?
-My name is not Obruni.
-What country do you come from?
-I have a friend in Europe who I want to visit. In New York. Can I be your friend too? Where do you live?
-No. Where do you come from? Where does your mother come from?
-I’ve never been to where my mother comes from. What does that even mean? Stop asking me personal questions.
-But I want to be your friend.
-Why do you want to be my friend?
-Because you are so – nice.
-I’m not very nice. In fact, I’m being very un-friendly.
-No, no, no. You’re not un-friendly. You’re pretty.
-Pretty people are often the most un-friendly.
-No, you’re very nice. Be my friend?
-No. I have too many friends. You are not a serious man.
“You are not a serious man” has proven to be my favourite thing to say in Ghana. Before I came my friend Robin, who lived in Togo for a year, sat me down and actually made me write down her prize line: “But my husband gets so jealous when I bring home handsome black men like you!”
Since I’m still homeless and living in a hotel with no kitchen, Ando and I spent an afternoon at Evelyn’s house making some Ghanaian food.
Ando: Can I help?
Me: Don’t ask her if you can help. Of course you can’t help. You’re just going to do it WRONG.
Evelyn: Exactly. Lia does everything WRONG too. You can sit in your chair.
Me: Evelyn, someday you’re going to come to Canada. And I’m going to serve you. And all you’re going to be able to do about it is sit in your chair. And you’re going to ask if there’s anything you can help with. And I’m going to hand you a tiny knife and a cutting board.
Evelyn: Haa haah. And I won’t know what to do with it.
Me: Exactly. And then I’m going to make all my family and friends stand around you in a circle and laugh at you because you do things DIFFERENT, and that makes it WRONG. She even criticised how Naki pounds fufu and made her stop.
Evelyn: Naki is the worst fufu pounder.
Ando: What makes bad fufu?
Ando: How can you tell a good fufu pounder?
Evelyn: You can see it in their build. This one’s got fufu form [points to the boy helping us pound our lunch]. Besides, Naki’s part Ewe. The Ewe’s can’t pound fufu, they make banku. That’s why the Ashanti can’t marry the Ewes. Lumpy fufu.
Me: Uh-huh! So that’s how I can deter some of the marriage proposals I get all the time – I’ll just pound fufu in front of my pursuers?
Evelyn: Unless they’re Ewe. Then they’ll want to see how you stir banku.
I give up.