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  • Writer's pictureChef Nii

“Push-Kelly-Kelly”

Updated: Feb 1, 2021





Chalé, I recently found out that my colleague - let’s call her Charlotte - had visited Ghana and immediately, a Hi and Bye relationship morphed into something more meaningful. It moved from barely uttering two words to her to having a full-length conversation. Now after reminiscing over Ghana for a while, Charlotte said she had a question or two she had been meaning to ask, so I told her to ask away.

“Why did they keep calling me A BALONEY?”— (a smoked sausage sliced and eaten cold). Now I tell you I wasn’t ready! I was like, “A BALONEY? I don’t think that’s what it was!” But she insisted— “The kids kept running after me and shouting “A BALONEY! A BALONEY!” That’s when it hit me, Ghanaian kids and a white woman… it must be “OBRONI”!!! (oh-bro-knee). And then I burst out laughing, I laughed until I cried, and then I told her, “First of all, you are lucky they didn’t call you “OBRONI KAWKAW” or “OBRONI PLANTAIN", now that would have been even more painful! Because then they would have been calling you “White Plantain”—you wouldn’t want that!”






We laugh about it, and then I ask her, “So what is the next thing that baffled your mind?” She laughs and then asks, “What does Push-Kelly-Kelly mean?” Now let’s just pause here … I did, because this one dierrr! I was lost! This one had me cracking my brain, nothing came to mind. I kept repeating it, and ... nothing. I was like, “I don’t think it means anything, because I honestly cannot relate it to anything”. But she was insistent, she said, “I am really sure it does, I mean the men kept pointing at my backside and calling me that!” And then it hit me…ohhhhhh…. “APUSKELEKE!!!!” (ah-poos-ke-le-ke) … I laughed! Herh! I laughed! God! Now how can I even explain this to her?

“First of all, what you need to understand is that Ghanaians are very expressive and tend to refer to you based on your distinct or unique feature. So, it is normal to hear words like Daddy-Long-Legs! Mr Big Eyes! Shortingo! Shorlee aka Shortee! Obolo Tui! Sharp Brain! Back and front…now don’t ask me what that means…being used casually, the list is endless. So, they saw you and called you “White Woman” and “woman with a huge backside”, typical of the average Ghanaian.”

Now she laughs and asks me, “So what was your descriptive word?” Look! I froze mid laugh! Yie! I wasn’t ready at all! I started having flashbacks! All these words OBOLO TUI! BODY! OBOLO! BIGGIE! OBOSHIE! … all these words related to being overweight started coming back to me because that was my reality. My descriptive word was any word that described being fat. Isn’t it funny how I said “My descriptive word” even after all these years in a different country, and on another continent, I am still dealing with it…The devil is a liar! I rebuke it! The word Obolo (Oh-Boh-Loh) is far away from me. Yes…that was my descriptive greeting – “Fatty”.

Thinking about it now sef, I am triggered. That word eh! It is used so casually with no remorse and no feeling. Yet, it is so powerful! It might as well be a weapon because I tell you, it is an AK47 that destroys. Look! It forces you to re-evaluate your whole life and to question your destiny. They called me that for so long, at some point I couldn’t even eat in peace, yet alone eat in public! I couldn’t eat, period!

I tried every diet on this planet and where I was is where I was. It was as if even simple breathing was making me gain weight so I decided, “I will breathe small small so that my body can digest the air”, because clearly, not eating wasn’t working! Guess what? I was still fat!

Look, I suffered o! I suffered! People used these words forgetting that words stay with you for a very long time. And I believed them; believed that skinny was the standard for beautiful. No! HEALTHY is beautiful! The goal was never weight loss; the goal was staying healthy. Weight loss was only an after effect and we need to deep that! Once you are eating healthy, exercising, drinking enough water, sleeping well, are in a good place mentally and yet you are not a size 8 but a 10, look…that is ok!

It was after I deeped this that things began to change for me. I was honestly just tired of the heart burn and indigestion. I was tired of not being able to move as quickly as I wanted. I was tired of going shopping and coming back with nothing because nothing fit. There was just so much I was dealing with and these words they were speaking out loud really weren’t helping...AT ALL!!!

I mean at some point I was like, “Why at all can’t these people speak positivity into my life? Why can’t they be prophetic and call me Slim Things??” Look! I will take Daddy Long Legs, anything apart from OBOLO! I will take it! Because this is a battle of the state of mind and if these people are not helping, I will just block them! So why am I even shouting? Let me calm down…I am even sweating!



I was literally hitting depression…another topic for another day… It did get to the point where my parents had to threaten me to eat. My dad would storm into my room with bread and shout “EAT!” because for Ghanaian fathers, love equals feeding and not affection, and it would be an abomination for people to call him incompetent! You must eat!

And my mum - thank God for mums - she knew that I adored jollof, so she’d cook jollof, bring it and guilt trip me into eating something, “I cooked your favourite specially for you ... eat some for me!”

Focusing on weight loss stops you from living because the thing with diets is, it works for a while and then it stops working. You end up gaining even more weight than you had before which makes it look as if you have retrogressed. You then begin to question yourself again, “So am I moving backwards or forward in life?” ... “Why did I even bother?”

Love yourself enough to take care of yourself! We need you; the entirety of you in this world to make it meaningful. Also, don’t forget that you were fearfully and wonderfully made - it doesn’t end there - God breathed himself into you. He gave you a part of Himself—own it!

Gosh! This is all a never-ending cycle that can cause you to let yourself go! ... And then you end up dying because you tripped, fell and hit your head at dawn when you were on your way to the fridge to steal a cupcake… how would you even explain yourself to God?!

Chalé until the cock crows again, keep eating your kelewele “against” your pure water.

The Sun, Sunshine

And sunflowers





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6 Comments


kwameotiduah
May 31, 2020

Being overweight in Ghana and moreover as a kid is a wild combination. Anybody can open their mouth and utter words that hit the soul. The only positive is that it’s creates tough skin. Now no one can tell me foko.

Good piece of writing Nii.

Bravo

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kwameotiduah
May 31, 2020

Being overweight in Ghana and moreover as a kid is a wild combination. Anybody can open their mouth and utter words that hit the soul. The only positive is that it’s creates tough skin. Now no one can tell me foko.

Good piece of writing Nii.

Bravo

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kuadekpom
May 25, 2020

Hmmmmm. You just reminded me of my pot belly😂😃

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hephzibah.offei
May 18, 2020

Lool. So relatable. Ghanaians are great but no filters. At least you were not called Teddy Bear or asked why you were not learning in school because you were gaining weight. Really? Great message though. God bless

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Chef Nii
Chef Nii
May 18, 2020

@rickyboo3@icloud.com I am glad it made you laugh!!! And thank God you got the message

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