“Marry a White man, they treat women better. They are more affectionate, they cook, clean and help with the children. Look at my palms.” She pantomimed, unfurling both hands. “Look at how callous they are. If you marry these African men you will be subjected to a lifetime of Fufu pounding and Banku pressing. Take your uncle for example, he will not touch yesterday’s leftovers with a broomstick. Serve a White man1minute microwaved noodles and he will wolf it down and not even complain about the missing goat meat. Amma, look at my palms are and take heed.”
Even before my aunt’s words started ringing in my ear, my early opinion of the White man had been shaped by carefully crafted Hollywood images. If he was not an action hero scooping women from burning homes, he was caressing her face in a long drawn kiss. Mr. White man was glorified in movies like Pretty Woman where he showed the depth of his heart by showering a prostitute with love and affection. The White man was elevated to the level where even their Ghosts were romantic, refer to Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. The silver screened African man on the other hand, was a polygamous non-hero. He was unfaithful, ungrateful and uncaring. He bore minimal traits of romance and tenderness and if he held a woman, it was at a funeral scene, or to throw her out of her marital home. In real life African homes, most mothers perpetuated the image of the man as a disciplinarian and a no-nonsense provider. A handshake from a husband is considered as affection – anything more is saved for behind closed doors. With movies, music, proverbs and history on my side, I had subconsciously formed the opinion that the road to happiness came from marriage to an Obroni.
Then I moved to Toronto and met a married, church-going, white couple. In public, they were as perfect as Brad and Angelina on a red carpet. He was respectful, attentive and punctuated his sentences with a kiss on her lips. In private, he was brash and distant. When his sharp tongue was coated with a shot of vodka, he was exceptionally abusive. He would deliver searing insults and castigations at his wife until she sobbed. It did not matter that she was the one who cooked, cleaned and gardened. It did not matter that he depended on her to unclog the toilet or change a bulb, he remained remarkably unappreciative. Here, before my very eyes, the epitome of my perfect couple disintegrated. Like many of the women I called auntie, ‘Angelina’ also continued to stay in her marriage. She explained that after marrying 4 times and changing her name 3 times, she had little faith that another man would be different. Angelina was just a disillusioned with men as many African women are. Clearly, unscrupulous men can be found in any continent. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been now been inducted to the hall of shame of high profile names who cheat on their wives. If you need more examples, look no further than Bill Clinton, Dominique Strauss-Khan, John Edwards, Francois Mitterrand, Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Larry King, Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, Jesse James, JFK… Not forgetting the unmentionable surnames of Ghanaian women who married white men for the wrong reasons, only to encounter the fate of their Ghanaian counterparts.
There are a few good men, but then again, anything good is hard to find. It is hard to find a good hairdresser, a good school or a good church. Heck! I am still trying to find a good doctor who is taking patients. As banal as it sounds, anything good is hard to find. A good woman is hard to come by and although a good man does not come easy, they exist. My friend Cherie’s parents are from Jamaica. Her father is loving and dependable. He is also a faithful and affectionate husband. My friend Renee is married to a wonderful Ghanaian man. They have one child together who is my goddaughter. Spend time with them and you will want to get married. He does not lord over her and she does not manipulate him. Theirs is a true partnership not a fairytale. He admits that after 11 years, he knows that marriage is not easy, but he and Renee choose to work at it. He tells me that Vajayjays are thrown his way at a discount and for free, but he refuses to double dip because he knows what he stands to lose.
My auntie Eno is married to a quiet and unassuming man who has not known any other woman in the biblical sense. He is easy to please and attentive. On Saturdays, he can be found washing the dishes and eating Cream of wheat. He does not engage in acrimonious fights with his wife, rather, they work in tandem to put food on the table to feed their 5 children. For 30 years, they have shared a bond so endearing that I had to ask my aunt to spill her manipulative secrets on how she got such a good man on lock down. Without blinking she said “Even before I knew him, I was praying him into my life.” The praying never ceased. They have prayed their way out of a tiny apartment to a big house. They’ve prayed through public transit, unemployment, hysterectomy and more. To this day, they continue to pray. So there you have it my dear readers. It is not race, religion or culture that makes a happy union. It is prayer.
Disclosure: This article is faith based, but if you don’t work on who you are, no amount of prayer can help you.