Nary a difference in all the world.
When I posted the podcast about funny names Ghanaians give their kids, I offended a friend called Candy. That podcast, like all my posts was intended to be fun, not hurtful.
I think you'll all agree with me that this blog has been a good platform to interact with Ghanaians, learn, and laugh. In my posts, I state my opinion on issues that affect Ghanaians, and I poke fun at myself and all of us. At the heart of it, I'm in love with the idea of Ghanaian-ness. And trying to reach for what it means to be Ghanaian. Everytime I post an entry, I'm testing to see if you could gather 200 Ghanaians who do not know each other, and bring up a topic and have them all mess around, laugh, and become excited about nothing other than the thing they have in common. At best, that looks like my last but 2 post, which was about Ghanaian insults. Everyone relates. We learn something new. We reminisce. We laugh till we cry. We go home, maybe thinking that being Ghanaian is kind of dope. Maybe we even tell a friend or two. I enjoy it as much as everyone else. That's why I do it.
However in my bid to start a conversation about Ghanaian names,I posted a podcast with a list of the 10 funniest names ghanaians give to their kids. That list was purely suggestive. In my explanation of why i thought "Candy" was a funny name I called into question the sanity of parents of kids called candy. My friend Candy was offended by this, and sent me an email to communicate her disappointment.Unfortunately, I did not check the email address she sent it to, till 2 weeks ago. Hence the very late response.
After reading her email, I sent her a response in which I maintained that I remained amused by the name but apologised for mentioning parents. I think that was my Ghanaian upbringing speaking. The whole you should never question older people thing. So I apologised for it. But truly truly in my heart, I didn't mean it. At the time I thought I did, but after 2 weeks, in a chat with a different friend, I wrote: "i still think...what were her parents thinking?"
The truth is that for better or worse, I see absolutely nothing wrong with asking..."what the heck are Ghanaian parents thinking when they name their kids Perpetual"? In all honesty, many of us have kids at 24, and we give them names. C'mon, is it such a terrible thing for a 27 year old to ask about a choice that was made by a 25 year old some 25 years ago? I think not.
I met a man named Dzata (pronouned gyata like the lion) about 7 months ago in my boss' office. Dzata, a 50-ish old man introduced himself to me and the first things I said to him was, what were your parents thinking? How was secondary school? He laughed. hehe. Then he tried to redeem himself by saying there are people called Fox and Wolf. haha!
Also my aunt was named Perpetual. We always laugh over it, and she actually dropped it a long time ago. Now she only goes by Esi. Another of my aunts is called Margarita. Yeah, I know, I'm cracking up too. Seriously! I'd have wondered what my Grandpa was thinking but I know that being Catholic, he just chose names from the Catholic calendar or whatever they choose names from. My mom got stuck with Philomena. haha! You should have been in our house when tictac's Philomena Kpitinge came out. In my family, we thought it was mad funny. Take my own name Woarabae. It is my name but I'll be the first to admit that it is queer. Who names their child Wo ara ba e. I have sometimes wondered that if I were to have a 1-night stand with a guy, it would be mad funny if he told me the next morning, sista, wo ara bae. Abi me naa bring my body! hehe. This is where I am coming from...which explains why even though I have tried, I'm still not getting my friend Candy.
Anyway in my email to Candy, I offered her the opportunity to write a blog post on this blog, about why "Woarabae" is funny. I thought it would've been really awesome. But I never heard back from her. I guess she also did not see it from my point of view. In that email, I said that if I did not hear back from her, I would post an apology on my blog. Afterall, since I made fun of the name in public, it is only fair that I apologise also in public.
Since 2 weeks have passed with no response,I started that apology yesterday. Initially, I meant to write what another friend aptly described as one of those hollywood backhanded apologies. I wanted to get it over with, do my bit, and get on with my life. Afterall, I reasoned, I hadn't intended to hurt anyone's feelings. My podcast was not about a particular person. But I started writing it, and I felt like I was not being real. Now I'm many things, impulsive, critical, maybe even an obnoxious, snarky bitch, but the real meaning of hypocrite is not one of them. So even though I started writing that apology, I ended up trashing it because somehow it didn't feel true to who I am and what I aspire to be. Instead, I'm writing the apology that feels authentic.
So why write an apology if I don't get her? Why apologise for something I still find funny? Why apologise for asking a question that still pops into my head whenever I hear a name like errr, Ferdinand (My dad's name. lol.) ...Benjamin Ferdinand Cleland? So so pretentious fantis :) Why is Esi Woarabae Cleland (would have been named Alice) still writing an apology?
Because the words I spoke had an unintended effect, that's why. And as I say in the title of this post, "what difference do it make if the words that hurt you were intended or not?" No difference. The reality is that people were hurt by my words. That's not something I can dismiss. As my boss said yesterday, you cannot argue about someone's feelings. I can't argue that Candy was hurt. If she says my words hurt her, then they did. And I am sorry for being the cause of that hurt. I may not be able to earnestly apologise for thinking her name funny, but when I apologise for hurting her, at least I can mean that.
And so here is my sincere apology to the Candys of this world. I'm sorry if your feelings were hurt. And to everyone else (the juniors, the o-gres, the agartha's, c-connies and so on) if you were hurt by my podcast, I'm sorry that my words caused you pain.
If you ever move over to the dark side, the invitation is still open to write about why names like Woarabae are funny:)
ps: In some countries, people give olive branches when they want to make peace. Does anyone know if there's something special Ghanaians do? Like eat beela together or somtin? hehe.
*adapted from a Toni Morrison quote: "What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not?"