“True love does not exist in Ghana”, said a cousin of mine who is hooked onto the “American Dream”. He is arguably a more fervent believer in that ideal than white rabid southerners who congregate at Tea Party meetings that, he does not believe any non-American (Westerner) is capable of appreciating the depths of the 4 letter word. Of course Sadiq, my cousin, is misguided on the issue but his sadly self-hating view stems from a prevalent yet subtle notion in our society. One which has fed Nollywood and Ghallywood a number of corny scripts and represents itself in the music which blares from our radios, the commercials on our TVs and the jokes we crack in our social circles.
The most worn out plot of Ghanaian movies is one where boy falls in love with girl. He showers her with all the gifts in the world, pays her fees and basically plays the financial role of her guardian. She tells him she loves him like she has never done or she ever will. Suddenly a richer old guy comes around, usually a politician or some big bellied dude offering her better than the first dude. Without much thought, she leaps into his one protruding pack and gives the first guy the “it’s not you it’s me” talk. I know you are already cringing at the awful plot so I will save your eyes the agony of reading the played out twist where the first guy gets richer and the big bellied guy dumps the girl who in turn returns to the now richer dude who of course says no to her advance.
It is from the constant portrayal of love in such a light that feeds perceptions like the one Sadiq has. Yes, there are Romeo and Juliet like stories acted out by Ghanaian characters but even some of those have a pinch of “Love Does Cost a Thing or Two”. Not forgetting that there are not even enough of such stories. And thus hopeless romanticism in Ghana is more of a romanticized concept than a lived experience.
Hopeless Romanticism is a fancy word for people who truly believe in love. People who see love as an art, dwelling on its spirit, possessed by its form and enthralled by its intricacies. They are simply the Pedros and Rosalindas from our beloved Telenovelas. A hopeless romantic is probably the only one you can say gets blind when he or she falls in love. They are post racial and do not mind being with people outside their ethnicity. One night stands are not their staple and they do not mind staying away from sex until “…the time is right”. Celibacy is not a big deal so long as “the one” has not bumped their way. And oh “Love don’t cost a thing to them”. And that is why it is hard to play hopeless romantic when your name is Kwabena or Akosua.
Scratch that! Kwabena and Akosua can be hopeless romantics. Kwabena can write queasy poems about “roses being red, the sky being blue and his love for her being true” and Akosua might blush her ebony skin away. But Akosua and Kwabena are very wide and far in between the Ghanaian story. They are like a rare specimen of the Black rhino lost in Caucasus Mountains. Chances are that Kwabena’s poems would most likely be ridiculed by Akosua who believes “fine boy no dey pay”. For stanzas actually never pay bills neither do iambic pentameters ever buy iPhone 6 or Brazilian wigs. But even if Akosua did love haikus and rhymes, Kwabena would probably only write them for her if she was “light skinned, thick, tall and with well-rounded bums which clapped as she walked”.
And so the monetization of love and fetishizing of the female body makes Being Ghanaian and a Hopeless Romantic a hopeless adventure. An exercise very likely to end in futility. So the next time you watch La Gata or “How I Met Your Mother”, do not get high hopes of ending up like Ted Mosby and finding “The One”. Spending 9 years after you turn 30 in search of your “lost rib” would surely make you the object of the most derisive words. Hopeless Romanticism does not prowl the streets of Madina Zongo!