Diary of an African woman who played the fool to fool the fool who thought he was fooling her
“When I wanted to sleep with you, you didn't know I was a man.”
These words said to me at JK Airport was the wakeup call I needed to give myself credit for the dues I have paid. Often I talk about the regrets with relationships but never do I pat myself on the back for mishaps that I averted. This Yoruba man was one. I mean if ever I made a good decision, and all my faculties were aligned, it was by not dating this man.
It was the year of our Lord Twenty and Twelve. Atta Mills was still alive and he was President of Ghana. I was a bald-headed, and very broke recent graduate of a NY based journalism school that made others oooh and aaah every time I said that was where I had gone to school.
I was at the African Regent Hotel which I made my mobile office ( shout out to Chief for letting me sit in that corner by the kitchen for two years rent free). As was often the case I was on my laptop, doing something important. Out of nowhere a man approaches, and asks if I would like a drink. I looked up from spectacles and saw a medium height relatively attractive man, wearing a goodboy kaftan. From the audacity to interrupt me he could only be one of two things: an Ashanti man or a Yoruba man. Every time a man in Ghana had been bold enough to enter my personal space at the Regent they were either Ashanti or Yoruba, more times the latter than the former.
Yoruba men I learned from experience (my father, and his father and his grandfather are Yoruba) not only know a good thing, but they refuse to let it pass them by, even if they are married with three kids. So there I was, doing my work when Oga went and brought himself. I was broke but I could buy my own drinks and eat at a hotel so I told him I was fine.
Over the next couple hours he would leave and return multiple times. He was staying across the street and was in and out of meetings. By the end of the day he had asked if I was hungry, tired, sleepy, and finally he focused on my phone. Said a babe like me should not be rolling around with a small Nokia. He made mockery of the phone and suggested that I should never leave my house with it again.
My phone a sweet HTC I had brought back from New York had been stolen a week before at a Talk Party event I attended in Osu. Since he wasn’t going to go away I put computer down and decided to be friendly. We spoke. He was normal, and seemingly decent. He was not wearing a wedding ring. He invited me over to his apartment which was directly across the street, a walking distance from the hotel. We chatted some more. It was the penthouse all the way at the top but it lacked the luxury and grandeur needed to impress me although he seemed rather impressed by it himself and wanted to give me a tour of the whole place. I entertained him but let him know that an open floor plan would have been more suitable, and the actual design did not have the kind of flow I would have expected.
A colleague of his who was also staying at the Penthouse arrived. Also a Nigerian. They were investment bankers. Before I went to the Penthouse I had Googled them extensively. Still so grateful for that short course in investigative journalism I took at the J-School.
It was regular banter; we talked about my work, their work, West Africa, music, the gist of the season. When I was ready to leave my Oga transformed into a baby. Oh how could I leave him. He needs me to stay. I must stay overnight. I told him I could not. He begged and begged and begged. I told him my mom didn’t know that I was there. I could not, not go home. Yes I was an adult, 28 years old and what not but still my mother did not know where I was.
Then this man full of ideas suggested his driver would take me home, I could inform my dear mother and then return to his apartment to spend the night. I said I couldnt spend the night because I didn't know him. Then he showed me all his IDs, gave me his particulars, told me about his company, their investment in Ghana, what they were planning to do, and how serious he was about me.
“I never do this. But there is something about you.”
He said he felt compelled to be near me. Finally, I said okay. I mean he said “compelled”, like spirit catch am. The way the man brought himself low and begged, I kind of was like wow, what will a man not say to sleep with a woman? Anyway, I decided I would go home and tell my darling mother that I was going to spend the night at the apartment of a man I did not know before today but she could have all his details and mine to track me down.
She did not like that idea at all. But at 28 there was nothing she could do to stop me. His driver took me home. It was 90 minutes round trip to my house and back. I returned with a change of clothes for the next day and pyjamas and an overnight bag. One thing you learn living in New York is how to leave a man’s house the morning after as though you had slept in your own house. We don’t do “walk of shame”. That is for amateurs.
We slept in the same bed. He stayed in Jericho and I on the Port Harcourt side of the bed. Gave him strict instructions not to touch any part of my body as I can not sleep at all if someone touches me (LIES, the way I love to cuddle. HA!). I repeated it multiple times. I even said if you feel like you would need to touch me then let me sleep on the sofa. It was big and lush. He said no no no its okay please I don’t need to touch you. We talked for a while and then he fell asleep. Then I fell asleep. When I woke up he had made me coffee and he made me breakfast. By now the once ringless hand now had a wedding ring. So I inquired. Oh so you’re married? To which he responded:
“That’s a silly question! Have you ever seen a man with a wedding ring who wasn’t married?”
Ah! Oga had found zeal and bravado in the morning oh. He that was begging me to stay like his life depended on it now felt like he had risen to my level. He could free flow and just address any how. Well noted. I think he actually believed that because he had gotten me to spend the night that that meant something. Oh Chale!
After breakfast he insisted on taking me to the mall to replace my phone. When we got there I chose one. It cost at the time 2000 cedis ($500). Alot for a phone, when you are a recent grad with no money but hey I did not ask him to buy me a phone, na im wan waka cam. If God wanted to bless me with a phone free, who was I to interfere with what abbafada was trying to do in my life.
Sadly my Oga was leaving for London to go raise funds. He was so sad to go he said. How could he leave me? I said oh but you must. Buck up my dear it shall be well. No he has to see me again.
“You have to come to Lagos.”
“I have plans to do so.”
He was so happy when I said that. He assumed that when I said that, I was saying that I had plans to do so with or for him. Pele!
Months earlier I had met a bunch of Nigerian men at Monaco for the Grand Prix. Between the Billionaire’s Club and a Yacht on the French Riviera three Yoruba men, who were all friends had separately, and unbeknownst to the the other invited me to Lagos with the same line. I had said I would. Of Course that was before I met this Oga and he could not have known that his other Yoruba brothers had also seen a good thing and made attempts, and were still making attempts, to get me to position myself well well.
We got the phone. We said goodbye. He called everyday and we Whatsapp. Then someone else escalated their invitation to me to Lagos with roundtrip business class airfare and a week’s stay at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel. I gladly accepted. A girlfriend lived in Oniru and I had stayed at the Four Points when I was working on the MTV Africa Music Awards years before and I had loved it.
So I arrived in Nigeria without telling the Oga that I was going until I arrived. Once I did I let him know I was there. Come see wahala.
“I cant come and see you at Four Points because someone else brought you there.”
That level of ridiculousness I could not even understand so I said Oga suit yourself oh. I am here. With the group I had met in Monaco and my girlfriend we took a speed boat to Kamp Ikaare Beach Resort which is a 45 minute ride on a speed boat off Victoria Island. We rode on dirt bikes in the sand and ate seafood galore. At night we went to Brown’s and a couple of other bars and nightclubs I no longer remember. I was there, I was young, and I was single.
The best time in any courtship is the time when you have not said yes to a relationship and they don’t know which way you will go. The man who actually brought me to Lagos was married and had a girlfriend who he told me he was trying to replace me with. Yes you heard right! He told me that I was more the kind of woman he should have because I had an Ivy League degree. He said I was brilliant and business savvy. I was the new chosen one. I actually liked his girlfriend. She was a gorgeous and calm mixed race woman. No way on God’s green earth she was with him for anything else other than money.
He made his best appeal which included this line that I will never ever forget in my life:
“Vickie move to Lagos, if you do, excuse my words but even your tampon you will not need to put in for yourself. I will take care of everything for you.”
If at this point you vomited in your mouth, so too did I. So. Too. Did. I!
Only I had to keep my face together as though I had just been offered the deal of a lifetime. My response to this offer was a gentle let me think about it. I stayed at the Four Points for a week, all expenses paid. The man who brought me there saw me all of twice. He said he wanted me to be free and enjoy myself. He sent me $1000 to cover any expenses I might incur while being there. All there was between us was two handshakes.
Back to my Oga that I met in Ghana. Man was he upset. When I told him I had come to the end of my stay he said I should stay longer. Why? He said he hadn’t seen me. Then he said he would pay for the change fee for my airfare and cover my hotel fee. I told him I could stay longer. He asked me what Hotel I wanted to stay at and I said I wanted to remain at the Four Points or go to something better. He said he definitely had something better. I checked out of the Four Points and he took me to some hotel by a river or was it the Atlantic Ocean. In my opinion it was not better than the Four Points. I told him I did not like the hotel. Then he tried to convince me it was better as if I could not do that assessment on my own.
He took me to my room. I looked at the room and there was no way I was staying there. You can not remove me from Sheraton and bring me lower. If you can not afford to toast me on the level that I’m accustomed my brother it means that I am not for you. He had come to put in a place I think that was less public and open for his married man status. Hahaha. He finally remembered maybe that he was a decent person.
In the room he asked me to sit on his lap. I asked him why. He said because that would make him happy. To which I responded, ah what kind of happiness is that? I refused. Then he asked me for a kiss. I also refused. Then he tried to hug me and then slide a kiss with the hug, I pushed him away politely.
He said he had to go back to work. I told him I wanted to go and hang out with my girlfriend in Oniru. He asked if I would come back to the hotel. I said yes. But surely I was lying. As we went into the elevator he asked me to kiss him again. I said no and then he whispered under his breath something that sounded like then why are you here? To which I responded you brought me here. Ha.
We got into the car. He sat in the front sulking, as the driver drove us to my friend’s place. He then turned around with a sullen face.
“That plastic bag is for you.”
I opened it. I was disappointed to find two bottles of perfume. Disappointed because to me there is nothing more thoughtless than picking up perfume at the Duty Free. Perfume is the standard I am toasting you and I travel gift that African men from Freetown to Lagos resort to because they think all of us women are dying for perfume. Me I am not dying for perfume.
In the car on the ride to my friend’s place he scolded me. He thought I liked him and yet here I was wasting his time. He thought I was a smart girl who knew what she wanted. I clearly don’t.
In my defence I explained that I had never told him that I did like him, nor did I say I wanted to be his mistress. From the beginning when we met I had told him I wasn't looking for romance and that I was celibate. And I was. I had told him that I wasn’t looking for or interested in being someone’s girlfriend back in Accra when we met.
He became quiet. When we arrived at my friend’s apartment, he got out of the car and opened the door for me. He said he loved me. I told him that was impossible. He then looked at me with the saddest of eyes, but I didn't feel any compassion for him.
After he left he sent me a message of polite insults. Hahahaha. I did not respond. By the next morning he was pleading to see him. I did not respond. I returned to Accra and never saw him again until I was at Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi.
This man walked up to me and said. Hey! I thought that was you. We pretended to be old friends. It had been 7 years since I saw him in Lagos. He asked of my family. I asked of his. I thought ah maybe now we could be friends.
He asked me to escort him to the bar, and I said okay.
I had purchased some items at the duty free and the bag was heavy.
“Please hold this for me,” I said handing him my duty free bag to rest on top of his pull-on.
“Why….How am I supposed to carry this?” he asked.
“But you’re a man you’re stronger,” I said playfully.
“When I wanted to sleep with you, you didn't know I was a man.”
As he said it I could see in his face that even he knew that he had fucked up by letting that one slip out. I didn’t respond but in my heart full of wisdom. I wanted to say Aha! So you had only wanted to enter me abi? But I kept my cool. Ordered him dawa for his cold and thanked the gods that even in my twenties the wisdom of my grandmother had not left me.
She always used to say: Fom fool foh gain sense which simply means that sometimes you have to play the role of a fool to fool the fool who thinks they're fooling you.
Rest In Peace GrandMa. It is well. I am well.