Akumaa Mama Zimbi addresses the “Jennifer Lomotey” Myth.

Akumaa Mama Zimbi addresses the “Jennifer Lomotey” Myth.

Upcoming artist, Kurl Songx has had an arguably enviable airplay with his hit single, "Jennifer Lomotey." Aside the track’s detailed and explicit stor

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Upcoming artist, Kurl Songx has had an arguably enviable airplay with his hit single, “Jennifer Lomotey.” Aside the track’s detailed and explicit story-line, the artist’s soothing vocals, coupled with great instrumentals make the song one of the finest in the interim. Not forgetting the remarkable feature of Sarkodie, also one of Ghana’s finest, on it.

A line in the song caused as much stir as the artist’s audacious collaboration with Sarkodie, almost to a point that it is quite difficult to conclude on what really made “Jennifer Lomotey” a hit. The song is literally a romanticization of a Krobo lady called, “Jennifer Lomotey,” in which listeners are indulged in detailed accounts of Kurl and Sarkodie’s sexual fantasies and escapades with her.

The line, “Okomfuo Anokye di adwamang a bo no dua,” referenced a known stereotype or rather myth, associated with Krobo women to be very well vested in “bedroom matters.”

I personally have Krobo friends who have claimed this stereotype boldly in certain discussions and so I was quite dumbfounded when it became “an issue” all of a sudden, with the good people of  Krobo vehemently cementing their displeasure with the connotations of that line.

I do understand, however, that the line in its literal sense could be offensive because “adwamang” isn’t essentially, “seduction,” whereas, the stereotype is more of their seductive prowess. There were several developments from the Krobo traditional area regarding this tune but we are yet to find out where exactly it ended.

On Thursday, January 25th, 2018, radio and television talk show host, Akumaa Mama Zimbi appeared on a new gender-forward show “Pepper Dem on Class.” It is a flagship of the Pepper Dem Ministries, an online social movement doing advocacy with a focus on gender. The focus of this show is to put “Gender” on the “Agenda” in a massive way, by pushing the conversations way beyond its boundaries.

 

On this particular episode, the topic under discussion was “The construction of women’s sexuality in our African societies” and who better to help dissect this topic than the one and only Akumaa Mama Zimbi?

It is an undeniable fact that she is one personality who has led and continues to lead social discourses around Ghanaian women’s sexuality. It was phenomenal when she began this journey and in my opinion, she should be noted as one who has helped normalized the sexual agency of women in our society.

Very early on in the discussion, we decided to embark on a little “mischief” by asking Mama Zimbi, a proud Krobo woman to dispel or confirm this myth for us once and for all. The simple question posed was, “Does your being Krobo have anything to do with who you are; your confidence with your sexuality and also your experience in the mentoring of others?”

Mama Zimbi quickly answered in the affirmative, confirming and owning the stereotype. In explaining further to the amazement of the entire panel, she revealed certain aspects of the Krobo traditional socialization that we could equally adopt to enhance recent interventions and developments in our society in general.

Mama Zimbi laid emphasis on the “Dipo” rites which happens to be the puberty initiation ceremony of the Krobo people. With the advent of Westernization, the Dipo rites have been met with several criticisms just like many other cultural practices. While there remain very valid concerns, this episode with Mama Zimbi reveals, now more than ever, the need to withdraw our mostly Eurocentric projections that have the tendency to reject an entire practice/mandate and rather subject these practices under conscious critical Afrocentric lenses to avoid “throwing the baby away with the water.”

Moving forward in this article, I’d like to initiate conversations on how we can begin to see the “good” in our old ways, and re-write the “bad” to suit our own emerging sociological needs.

Mentorship

The Dipo rites continue to carry a bad name due to an aspect of the practice that tends to “sexually objectify” the young girls who participate in it. Ideally, it involves parading fully naked to semi-naked girls through the township to announce their new stage in life. Previously, this was the period the men get to “choose” their wives too. We can therefore, understand why this ritual is likely to receive the negative views it currently has. However, it is a known fact that the girls are groomed on hygiene.

Puberty is such a delicate stage for girls that it goes without question why this would be essential to us. Menstruation, in several cultures already has a bad branding because of how “messy” it is likely to get. Aside menstruation, there are other changes/developments in and outside the body that would require novel personal care regimes. It goes without saying then, how important this is in empowering women.

Aside personal hygiene, girls who go through the rites are taught “how to keep a home,” and with this, Mama Zimbi did make emphasis on the management of home economics: finances, meals, resources, etc. I don’t think I need further explanations here. However, as problematic as I find that term (keeping a home), the details keep me hopeful.

Now to the bang! Apparently, there is an aspect of the rites where the girls are taught the art of seduction, and furthermore, detailed procedures on how to excite and please a man in bed. She refused to give further details but I anticipate a tutorial of this kind to be revealing certain aspects on the biological makeup of both men and women to these girls.

Other aspects cover how a woman should carry herself about respectfully and responsibly and most importantly respecting their male counterparts.

While these offer some great insights, I can’t but notice how one-sided it appears. We did ask if there was any male version of the rites of passage where adolescent boys were also taught personal hygiene, seduction, sexual intercourse, home management, etc., and this where this otherwise beautiful and essential cultural product gets marred.

Specifically on women’s sexuality, we are in the midst of a national crises! There are hardly any existing social structures that tackle sexuality in such a holistic manner.

While there remains a non-existent sexual education structure for boys, what exists for girls is mainly that of fear, shame and guilt-driven mini talks in the shadows. This is a huge gap that needs filling and the earlier we wake up to this task, the better.

The myth on Sexual education

We’ve gradually constructed an unsavory idea about sexual education in our culture. For fear of inciting sexual curiosity in our adolescents, we’d rather ignore the topic all together and resort to fear: “At this stage you are in, you can easily get pregnant when a man touches you. And you know what happens after that, he will dump you, you will drop out of school, you will end up on the streets,” etc.

But there is immense research that proves that many of our cultures had some kind of sexual education that offered knowledge on both the biological and social implications of sex.

Sexual education, in this day and age is crucial because it covers:

  • Women’s Sexual Agency: This is the ability to also chose whom, when, where and how women want to engage in sex. 

 

  • Responsible Sexual Engagement: Knowledge about our own reproductive system and making conscious and informed choices about it.

 

  • Reproductive Health: From hygiene knowledge, to getting the confidence in seeking professional help when necessary. In the wake of STIs, we cannot let this ignorance linger on! Talking about sex is learning about sex: Preventive, protective and healthier measures should be at our finger tips.

 

  • Losing Our Shame: This has become exceedingly crucial especially in the wake of the #MeToo campaign where women have to confront various kinds of sexual abuse. The shame attached to women’s sexuality is why many cases on sexual abuse and sexual assault go unreported, undetected and therefore, unpunished. Many perpetrators also take advantage of this because they know they are most likely to get away with it.

Teaching women about their sexuality is one very crucial aspect of the “empowering” process. We get to discover for ourselves which acts/interactions with the opposite sex are “pleasurable,” “solicited,” and should be “encouraged.” Majority of our teenage pregnancy cases and deadly illegal abortions will be avoided, should we take on this new approach to women’s sexuality.

We empower our girls through candid, honest, informative conversations about their existence. Our “liberation” should not exist outside our sexuality; it is essential to the cause! While at it too, let’s not forget to balance the equation by equally developing interventions that cater to boys too!

Catch the “Pepper Dem on Class” show every Thursday evening at 7pm on Class fm 91.3 for more cutting edge discussions on gender.

 

 

Efe Plange

Efe Plange

Efe Plange is founder and editor of Sankofa Reviews. She holds a Master's degree in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University. She is passionate about the Arts and Cultural industry and her background in the field is fueled by a longstanding dream of seeing theory work together with practice. Connect with Efe on social media.
Efe Plange

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