*This piece is dedicated to Abena and Kojo in commemoration of their traditional marriage.
I was in China recently and I visited the Great Wall in Beijing. On the south side of the wall, I saw a proverb written in Chinese characters. It was one of the oldest writings left by either a Worker or a Visitor centuries ago. I asked a host to translate the characters for me. The proverb read:
“The blind are the most fortunate amongst all men. They know and feel the deep richness of love.”
Naturally I had questions about the meaning of the proverb. In this part of the world, the words you see may have a totally different interpretation. The host starts to explain.
“Have you heard of the word soul mate?”
“Yes.” I responded
“Can you see the soul of a human being?”
“No” I responded
“How do you find a soul mate if you cannot see the soul of another human being?”
I smile because I am beginning to appreciate the enlightenment through his line of questioning.
“The blind,” he explained, “cannot be corrupted by physical love. They can only give and receive love through a deep connection with another human being.”
He added, “This proverb in our Chinese culture does not mean you have to be physically blind to find a soul mate. Rather, it’s telling us that in order to experience the richness of true love, you have to find a way to make a connection to a person’s inner being and their inner soul.”
Yesterday, Abena and Kojo Prince painted the sky with the richness of their love and dedication to each other. They telegraphed a simple message to the world.
From henceforth, we will never walk this earth alone. Every breathe we draw from this moment on is to appease each other. We remember what we are fighting for with each step we take. Every time we look at each other, the world will melt away. From this day on, I will take your hand and lead you through the rain and the fire.
It was a cornucopia of love! The Ghanaian traditional marriage itself offers a cornucopia of true love; a cornucopia of rich tradition and reverence for the sanctity of marriage.
I spoke to Kojo before the ceremony and asked him how he was feeling about the traditional marriage ceremony. His response;
“This is the day I’ve always been waiting for.”
I want to congratulate Abena and Kojo on their marriage yesterday and wish them the best of everything in life. Their collective strength has inspired hundreds including myself.
I was a student of love when I first met Kojo Prince. When I wrote my first piece about his relationship, I mentioned that “I got it” after interviewing him. As always, I did not fully absorb the insight Kojo had presented to me. There was much more to learn. A lot more to reflect on. A myriad of things I missed about what their story truly meant.
Today, I want to share a piece of my experience with Abena and Kojo that fundamentally expanded my perceptions of the way I love, the way I parent, the way I approach life. In my first piece, I wrote about Kojo’s courage to see Abena like no other, the courage to love and stand by her unconditionally. I followed with keen interest the responses they received, positive or negative after the story broke. I saw some of the couple’s postings on social media and I realized I missed something. Abena and Kojo were defending their love for each other to the world. They were protecting the love they shared for each other. The question is, why were they defending their love to the world. Did others have to do the same? Why them?
The most precious things in this world like gold and crown jewels is protected and defended behind walls of steel, guarded by armies of men. These items are protected because they are rare in this world. The world has a higher purpose to defend and protect these rare gems. Society does not question why these rare items have to be defended and protected. Abena and Kojo did defend their love but did they really owe us an explanation? They did not have to defend what they had. They knew what they had and why. Our quest for an explanation, our need to support them, our drive to make them feel different were all dissolved in their powerful affection for each other.
Thousands of newly engaged couples post their pictures on social media for friends and family every day. Abena and Prince were no different from the everyday couple who wanted to share their exhilaration with loved ones through their engagement pictures. You have to ask yourself why all the other couples who took the same path did not become the subject of a national dialogue, admiration or radicle. The other couples did not make it to the national and international news cycles.
Abena and Kojo’ pictures made some of us linger a little longer. We paid a little more attention. We became a little more curious. We stared just a little longer.
The irony of why we lingered is not lost on me. We do not linger around the pictures of the “ideal” couple who fit the model of how lovers should look like. Here is what we always do. We see the “ideal’ couples’ pictures and we say to ourselves, “Wow! What a lovely couple!” “He is so handsome. She is so beautiful.” What do we do after that? We simply say “NEXT” and move on to the next “ideal” couple. We forget about the “ideal” couple quickly. Our brains are wired to accept the “ideal” couples as normal. There is no need to linger. Abena and Kojo on the other hand presented us with an anomaly. An anomaly our brains are not programmed to just accept and move on. So we lingered and caused a stir.
Yes, we can point to the picture of Kojo lifting Abena as the catalyst that caused us to linger a little longer. Yes, we can point to the differences in the size of the couple as the catalyst that made us linger. Ultimately, we all did the same thing when we looked at their pictures. We saw ourselves and questioned if we can do what they did. It did not matter if you were tall, short, skinny, fat, beautiful, ugly, etc., etc. Anyone who admired this couple, anyone who found them to be unacceptable, questioned their ability to be this courageous, their ability to be this bold, their ability to find this kind of true love, their ability to put out something society may deem unacceptable, looked at this couple through their own life experiences. Read the comments people left on their postings and articles and count how many “I” statements you see for some validation to the point I just made.
My message today is a positive one. We are all entitled to our opinions and how we feel about others and the world. I always state that I am willing to be wrong. I respect the opinions of anyone who responded positively or negatively to Abena and Kojo. Today, a day after they made their union official, a day that also happened to be Kojo’s birthday; I am asking that we all take a pause and be thankful for the expanded perspective Abena and Kojo brought to us. The perspective that you can find a soul mate by connecting to someone’s soul instead of connecting to the size and shape of certain body parts. The perception that there is no connection between the ideal couple and true love.
My perception was expanded to include the phrase. “it can be done.” We can find the answers we seek if we let our inability to see past the physical beauty go. Personally, I always thought the vision of romance cannot be cruel. It cannot be an anomaly. My vision of romance has to be ideal enough to pass the smell test of society. To spend over a year blindly pursuing what Kojo believed was true love is a novelty. A novelty I would have characterized as not worthy of my time and efforts in my misguided outlook of love.
In this social media age, we are sometimes more obsessed with how we will look in our engagement and wedding pictures than how much the person we have chosen to spent the rest of our lives, truly feels about us. I will be the first one to raise my hand and declare that I am one of the people obsessed with looks. I am the first one standing in line.
Let me end this congratulatory piece with this analogy. Some came to our kitchen with bags full of ingredients ready to cook an amazing meal for us. In addition to the food items, they brought their own sauce pan. Some of us said to them, “You can’t cook this amazing meal for us. They asked why and we explained. “I don’t like the way your sauce pan looks. “Your sauce pan is not my style, it’s not my favorite color, it’s not my ideal size. I will rather go hungry.”
Abena came to Kojo’s kitchen with bags full of ingredients and food items ready to make an amazing meal for the two of them. In addition to the food items, Abena brought her own sauce pan. Kojo did not pay attention to the sauce pan. He was more interested in the outcome of the meal than the size, shape and color of the sauce pan. He offered Abena a place in his kitchen. The quality of the meal Abena was about to cook was one true entity Kojo knew he could believe in. So Abena cooked the best meal Kojo has ever had. A meal that continues to sustain him up till today.
Congratulations again, Abena and Kojo! May God continue bless your union!
PS: All this talk about food just made me realize something. I am hungry like a pregnant fish. I am starving! Let me look over to my kitchen to see if anyone is cooking 🙂
Kwadjo Panyin is a Ghanaian born relationship and lifestyle blogger located in Los Angeles, California. He holds three degrees; a Bachelors degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey, an MBA from Franklin University in Ohio and a Masters of Science degree from Northern Kentucky University in Kentucky. Kwadjo is a business professional who blogs for fun. His articles are about the challenges of dating and relationship anomalies. Writing, blogging, world travel, and photography are his favorite hobbies.