Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Losing Vigilance

Adrinka symbols are traditional, tribal symbols with meaning and/or phrases attached to them. Ohene Aniwa (or King’s Eye) means “beauty and vigilance.”

I interpret it to mean that to be beautiful, you have to be extremely vigilant in the upkeep of yourself. There’s no such as natural beauty: girl, if you want to be pretty you have to work at it!

My colleague, on the other hand, interprets it to mean that you have to be careful if you’re beautiful because of the extra attention.

Either way, my leg hair is longer than it’s been in a decade and my eyebrows have grown wild. My mirror and makeup lie forgotten at the back of my closet. The only cream I wear is sunscreen.

Sometimes I meet a young (western) man and my vain (prejudiced) mind goes, “Ahhh I look like a nightmare!”

Then I giggle to myself, “Yes. Yes I do. And I don’t care!”


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