The name Moesha Boduong connotes erotic body contours. She often flaunts her curvy shapes and her “goods” on social media and does not shy away from controversy. The university graduate once told Delay in a TV interview that her taste for fashion, houses and money kept, rising and when a man is not rich enough to fund them, she moves on to another man who can afford.
Today, she is trending. She is dividing opinions. Gathering support. And receiving condemnation from tongues sharper than circumcision blades and hotter than the small pepper we used to smoke out rats from anthill holes in Kete-Krachi.
She granted CNN an interview in which she said women in Ghana offer sex for money in order to survive because of the economy:
“Ghana, it’s like our economy is just such in (sic) a way that you just need someone to take care of you… You can’t make enough money as a woman here. Because even when you want to get an apartment in Ghana, they take two years’ advance and I just started working. Where will I get money to pay for an apartment for two years?”
Stunned by Moesha’s revelation, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked her, “Are you basically telling me that you are having sex with this guy to pay your rent?”
Moesha responded affirmatively: “Because he can afford to take care of you. He takes care of me, my financials, my apartment, my car, my rent – everything.”
“He expects me to be loyal and take care of him and give him sex when he wants.”
Moesha says her man is married and has multiple sex partners, but she is not expected to cheat. She must offer sex on this man’s demand even if she is sick at the time of the demand.
Some people have widely and harshly condemned her. Other liberal minds, especially feminists and so-called feminists, have jumped to her defence, saying her critics are hypocrites.
Her revelation raises a number of questions. Is it right for a woman to be sleeping with men to survive? Should we praise or condemn her? Should we her in a context and understand her? Is she alone in this or her business is a norm in Ghana?
Whether liberal or conservative, Catholic or Protestant, feminist or chauvinist, one basic thing is clear. It is not okay for a woman to make a living from sleeping with men, whether married men or single men. If you disagree with me on this, answer this question:
If you have a daughter, will you ever advise her to make a living with her vagina, instead of her head, hands and her potentials? If your answer is no, then remember Moesha is someone’s daughter. And she can’t live this way forever. Her breasts will sag. Her skin will wrinkle. And her contours will contort with age. And the men will go away. That’s if she is lucky to escape possible deadly infections men with multiple sex partners carry.
Apart from people who earn their livelihood this way and still criticise her, others who have spoken against this lifestyle cannot be labeled hypocrites. And the fact that others do it does not make it right.
Women, like men, have potentials and are expected to use them. The impression being created in the story is that the economy is so hard that Ghanaian women have to sleep with men to survive. This is not true. There are hard-working women who are earning a living with their heads, not their vaginas. Some of our women manage big companies and multinational corporations. Some are entrepreneurs employing hundreds of men and women. Others have distinguished themselves in public service while others are making waves on the international scene. Some of the most hardworking women can be found in Makola, Agbogbloshie or Kejetia markets while others are tilling the land to educate their children and leave legacies. Women in Ghana, some of whom cannot recite beyond the first four letters of the English alphabet, are making it. So a woman with a university degree who believes selling her body is the only way out is either lazy, dumb or both.
It is also not true that the reason for Moesha’s trade is a bad economy. The women who are excelling are doing so in the same economy. In the best of economies, there are people like Moesha. Moesha can make decent money in Ghana if she wants to. The only difference is that she cannot make enough money to fund the kind of lifestyle she wants to live. She wants to live like a celebrity but does not want to do something for which she will be celebrated.
Like a Liverpool FC fan, however, Moesha does not walk alone. And that kind of lifestyle goes beyond selling sex. Some would steal and kill to fund such lifestyles.
In Ghana, we generally live by the principle that the “end justifies the means”. We praise and worship wealth and expensive lifestyles without caring about the sources of such wealth and lifestyles. Even those that are genuine and might need our constructive criticisms to grow, but our excessive worship often kills them.
A few years ago, at a time we had longer days and shorter nights, we went to bed late and woke up earlier than usual. Before we woke up, however, a business mogul was in town. His name is Chief Godfred Medicine. His US Group of Companies had taken the nation by storm. Before the sun journeyed to the middle of the sky that day, he had caused a book to be written in his honour, ‘From Zero to Hero’. Billboards showcasing his exploits sprouted all over Accra like Asamankese mushrooms. We were told he had formed a choir and was about acquiring a radio station. It was a long day so before we retired to bed, he was still granting media interviews and telling those who had ears to spare for fairy tales how to be successful.
When we woke up the following morning, the title of his book had changed: From Hero to Zero. He disappeared as quickly as “Madam Moke”, the ghost, which haunted high school boarding students but often vanished quickly enough before anyone else could corroborate the account of the student who swore crushing into her. People who had invested in the US tilapia business were weeping and the police had to come in. Chief Medicine disappeared from the public scene.
Before Zylofon waded into the entertainment industry with wads of hard cash, rLG did wonders in the industry, bringing the likes of Chris Brown to perform and sponsoring great shows and events. Today, it is no more. We hope and pray Zylofon’s shine will outlive the fine petals of sunshine flowers of the blistering savannah.
Because “the end justifies the means”, we have hardened criminals who are stealing from the state, individuals and other companies. We call them entrepreneurs. It is impossible to tell a coherent story of their success so they have chosen the commonest and easiest way of attributing ill-gotten wealth – the blessing of God. They are among the new Christian elite, the few who take the front pew in church because they pay tithes in bags.
Is it then strange that Moesha is thanking God for helping her make it to CNN? It leaves one wondering if God really helped her in the sex trade, which earned her the slot on CNN.
The bane of our society is that people want to get rich without sweating. The incentive is that they will be celebrated and respected and showered with awards and titles once they get rich. People do not question the sources of sudden wealth. The few who have such questions will dare not ask for the fear of being branded as haters.
Our society rather questions and seems to have problems with modest lifestyles. I once offered a young newscaster of The Multimedia Group a ride. She had closed from work and I was going in her direction. I asked how she came to work and she said she came to work and went home in a taxi.
“Because I now on TV, I cannot use ‘trotro,’” she added.
“What’s wrong with you being on TV and sitting in a trotro?” I asked.
“I can’t do that. You know Ghanaians!…”
From our conversation, I got the impression that she considered herself a star of a sort once her face was known. Society expected something higher than a trotro for her new status. She left me wondering the amount of financial stress she had put on herself just because of what others might say.
But I must confess the pressure is real. In August 2011, I acquired a small motorbike with the help of my brother. Fifteen days later, I was awarded the most promising young journalist of the year. Some of my colleagues said my status had changed so I should stop using the motorbike. The following year, still on my motorbike, I won the Journalist of the Year. A senior journalist once told me that I was the face of journalists so the motorbike was not dignifying enough. He said I should try and get a car.
He did not care to ask how much I earned. I was struggling to survive because, as a freelance journalist, I was basically working for free. The only option was to sell my conscience if I needed to ride in a car, which I was not prepared to do. So I had to live with the pressure from society until I could get a car the legitimate way.
Two weeks ago, my car broke down and I went to work in ‘trotro’ until it was fixed. I would get to Circle and walk about 10 minutes to work. It did not make economic sense to spend up to 60 cedis a day with an Uber or a taxi when I could spend 6 cedis or less on a trotro. What would cost 30 cedis in five days with some manageable amount of “trotro” discomfort would cost 300 cedis.
But in some of the “trotros”, I saw faces with what-does-he-want-here looks. Faithful Bayelimali a staff of Fidelity Bank in Adabraka, actually said he was surprised to see me join him in the front seat of a “trotro” one morning. This should be normal.
When the June 3, rains 2015 flooded my room, my girlfriend’s friend told her to tell me where I lived did not befit my status. She sent the message when she saw the pictures on Facebook.
The name of a journalist may be a giant. But his or her salary is often a midget. So if a journalist wants to live like a Hollywood star and does not have a very lucrative alternative source of income, they must compromise their values in order to fund their flashy lifestyles. Unfortunately, they have become the new norm, a standard of success by which everyone else is measured. They create a false impression of a lucrative profession and those who are lured into the profession by such false hopes get disappointed. They either leave or part ways with their conscience in order to enjoy the luxury.
Moesha’s shameful revelation and unfortunate generalisation of Ghanaian women has brought to the fore an unfortunate reality which is rapidly sinking our society and fuelling greed. People want to live large. It is not limited to one profession. Many people go into politics not because of the desire to serve, but it’s a quick way to make money. And politicians who retire without much wealth are branded failures. Growing up in Kete-Krachi, we used to hear a lot of negative comments about one Mr Apraku who had been a member of parliament but had no property to show for it in terms of assets.
Entrepreneurs, celebrities, pastors, lawyers, journalists, public and civil servants, medical doctors and bankers are competing to outpace one another in lifestyles that are above their incomes. The only way to fund and sustain a lifestyle that is beyond your legitimate income is to engage in shameful acts such as sleeping around, stealing from the state or your company or engaging in other evil ways of making money.
And our society’s stamp of approval for such waywardness is our adoration of inexplicable overnight-wealth without questioning its source. But there is often an ultimate prize or price for every decision or action under the sun.
The writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a journalist with Joy FM. He is the author of two books, “Voice of Conscience” and “Letters to My Future Wife”. His email address is [email protected] The views expressed in this article are his personal opinions and do not reflect, in any form or shape, those of The Multimedia Group, where he works.