Anita’s Column: Dreadlocks

ANDREW BODRA

In one of our youth meetings, we were discussing identity and somehow, we ended up discussing appearance in general and dreadlocks. Since that day, Anabel and I thought it would be something interesting to look in to.  Personally, I don’t see how having dreadlocks can hinder your worship or relationship with God but of course, I may be wrong.

Now, we all know that hair is a part of us that you can change.  Just a small change to your hair can make a huge difference to our appearance. This change can make you look unrecognisable or just simply enhance your appearance. However, from this same hair, you can make assumptions about an individual (I’m sure we’ve all done one way or another).

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Image credit: Google images

The history of deadlocks is more fascinating than I anticipated.  According to history, deadlocks have been around since 2500 BC.  Hindu scriptures note that one of their gods called Shiva and his followers wore dread although, this style was first discovered on some Egyptian mummies who had the dreads still attached to their head by archaeologists (1). Ancient Romans, Vikings, Nazarites and many more also rocked this style (1). From this, we can see that dreadlocks are worn by various cultures and not just one.

Dreadlocks are commonly associated with Rastafarianism. Rastafarianism is a religion that started in the 1930s by Jamaicans (1). It all began when the emperor of Ethiopia, Ras Tafari (also known as Haile Selassie) vowed not to cut his hair whiles in exile which led to the formation of dreadlocks (1). His followers considered him to be ‘God’ and believed that he was the second coming of Jesus Christ (2). On top of this, dreadlocks are also usually associated with the use of marijuana which can influence people’s view of dreads. This could potentially lead to stigmatisation and fuels the preconception of dreadlocks furthermore.

dreadlock styles
Image credit: Google images

End of the history lesson.  Now, when you think about dreadlocks, who is the first person that pops into your head?  Let me guess. Was it Bob Marley? Am I right? Most of us probably think of him when we think about dreadlocks. Bob Marley was a well-known Rastafarian who made dreadlocks mainstream as well as Rastafarianism due to his reggae music (1). These days, dreadlocks are worn for various reasons. They can be worn as a fashion statement, for spiritual reasons, and for many other reasons.

Have you ever considered that the strongest man in history possibly could have had dreadlocks? Samson was a Nazarite who was not supposed to use a razor on his head as part of the Nazarite Vow. Numbers 6:5 ESV states “All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.” Samson’s hair was the source of his strength until Delilah cut it off (Judges 16:1-22 ESV).  From reading the scripture we can see that Samson had ‘seven locks/braids’ on his head. Some people imply that Samson had dreads. What do you think?

black samson
Image Credit: Google images

So, does God care about the hair on your head? Since the hair on our head is numbered, surely this shows that God cares about you (even the little details that you might overlook). Essentially, it would be okay for a Christian to have dreads however, there are things that you need to consider.

Firstly, the motive and intention behind why the person wants and/or has the dreadlocks need to be examined.  It is important to note that as humans, we look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (although, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care about how you present yourself). If your intentions of having dreadlocks are pure then proceed.

Secondly, as Christians, the focus should be mainly being on the internal rather than the external. 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV states that “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”   From this, we can conclude that the issue of having or wanting dreads is a trivial matter, there are other issues which have greater significance.

Finally, Romans 14 has a lot to say in regards to this issue. At the end of the day, the question of having or getting dreadlocks is between you and God. You shouldn’t feel judged by people if the Holy Spirit approves of you having dreadlocks. If you are personally convicted not to have dreadlocks, then please don’t condemn those who do but rather show love to those who do. If God has not judged you about having or getting dreads, then why should man?

Ultimately, you’re responsible for your action. Do what the Holy Spirit leads you.

Sources

  1. Studio, Raging Roots Dreadlock. The History of Dreadlocks. ragingrootsdreadlockstudio.com. [Online] 2017. [Cited: 28 May 2018.] http://ragingrootsstudio.com/the-history-of-dreadlocks/.
  2. Gabbara, Princess. The History of Dreadlocks. Ebony.com. [Online] 18 October 2016. [Cited: 3 June 2018.] http://www.ebony.com/style/history-dreadlocks.

The fast pace-ness of modern day life…

ANDREW BODRA

Ok sometimes I have to literally sit down for a minute and just relax because everything and everyone is so busy and sometimes i don’t even see what for. The way I see it, It’s like we have gotten so consumed in society’s definition of ‘making it’ so much that sometimes I can feel guilty of going to bed at night when I know I have things to do- things like being successful, being helpful to others, taking care of myself and everything else I need to do.

The most exhausting part of it all at times is how it seems like, everybody is becoming successful in their busyness and you think to yourself “woow, I’m here feeling tired after going to sit at the office all day”.

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For like the past month or so, I have been praying to God over my life and telling him all the things I want to do and how I don’t want to go at anybody’s pace- not even at my own pace- but HIS. Because the truth is, my own pace is comprised of my parents’ definition of where I should be in life now, the stage people of similar ages to me are, and even worse, people whom I don’t even know but only see on youtube or other social media sites.

All I am trying to say is that- It is a very good idea to take life easy and do what you need to do and not beat yourself up when things do not go your way. one thing God is teaching me is to be soo happy when things do not go my way because, regardless of my own plans, his ‘will’ will be established and he will work all things out for my good.

Like literally, just yesterday, I saw an advertisement on youtube and the man on the ad said: “do you want to spend your whole life working just to pay off student finance debt?!”. Then it just hit me in the face that we all don’t want to be seen as being what society defines as working all our lives just to pay off debt and bills. However, the part ads such as these and society in general don’t seem to want to make us aware of is that; everything takes time to grow. Unless you do some magic or win the lottery or steal money then- we all cannot make it overnight.

ANDREW BODRA (2)

Personally, I feel like this idea of making it so quick encourages people to throw away ideas that take time and effort to develop. It makes me so sad when I look at some of the people I know and how they are so busy chasing after money that they do not even have time to sit and nurture their great natural talents and gifts that will make them successful in every way for life.

I aways read about people like Warren Buffet, T.D. Jakes and Oprah, etc… It took these people time and work to develop everything they have now. I know we all want to make it and we need to make it because come on… THE GOD is our God. Nonetheless, let us not forget that there is a big difference between being lazy, wasting time and taking your time to diligently work and build something.

Invest time in developing yourself and do not worry about the crooked fast pace ways society is always suggesting we make it overnight.

 

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CONVERSATION WITH A MOTHER

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Mothers are the real deal. I mean they are the parent that every child wanna get permission from in order to do something. Personally, I believe mothers are the backbones of the family. They are always there to keep everything on track. BUT.. they can taaaaaaalk lool (African mothers can talk I’m not even gonna lie). I am gonna be a mother one day.. actually soon.. very soon. So I decided to have a conversation with a mother and get to understand what it is like to be one.

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Aunty Jackie

1. what do you like the most about being a mother?

I love the bond I share with my daughter the most. That unconditional love between a mother and child is an amazing feeling. Her smile is precious and I’m truly blessed to have been entrusted by God to nurture her to what He has destined her to be.

2. How is it like being an African mother living outside of Africa?

it’s a challenge raising a child outside Ghana. Back home we would have had the whole family helping to raise her. Babysitting would be much easier where as here it’s hard and costly. I find that it’s a bit hard incorporating our own traditions and culture here in England so as a parent if you’re not persistent and firm, the child will grow up without knowing any of it’s original roots.
It’s been a bit easier for me because I’m all about my culture and traditions but with my daughter being in school with other people it was a challenge to find fun ways of introducing her to everything.

3. What has motherhood taught you about yourself?

That I have absolutely no patience but over the years she has taught me exercise patience in all circumstances. I’ve learnt also of my own strengths and weaknesses. I’m stronger than I give myself credit for and I keep persevering no matter the challenges ahead.

4. Is there anything you don’t like about being a mother?

Nothing really, I love the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s all part of what makes it worth it.

 5. Do you think you can do anything different now to make motherhood better for you?

To trust God more and learn from my mistakes.

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From left to right- Aunty Jackie, her daughter Meredith and her mother.

6. What do you think about feminism as a mother?

I honestly believe women should have equal rights as men but I also believe that a Christian woman will know her place at home. Women are helpmates and not equal to their spouses so while we are fighting for everything to be equal, we also need to know how to play our roles at home in order to avoid crossing boundaries that can cause havoc to our happiness.

7. How do you see your position in society as women?

Some years ago a woman’s role was to marry, have children and stay at home to raise the children while the husband went to fend for his family. Nowadays women are getting degrees, having a career and raising amazing children married or not. Times have changed so much that women are doing more than deemed fit. I think times have changed where women were looked down on but are encouraged to explore all their potentials. In a whole, we contribute to the society by raising good children in the home who contribute positively to the betterment of society as a whole.

8. What do you think about the perceptions regarding motherhood in society lately? For example; there are a lot of talks on maternity leave and women and men getting the same maternity leave and equal pay. As an African woman, does any of this affect you?

I personally think maternity leave should be for the women to decide on if they want to share with their spouses.
I took a year off work to be with my daughter when she was born and even that wasn’t enough when I resumed work. It’s hard leaving a little one who depends on you behind so it should be a personal choice. Some women are capable of resuming work six weeks after childbirth while others struggle after a year so it should be a choice rather than an imposed one. I do believe that men should be entitled to their normal two weeks paternity leave though.

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Aunty Jackie’s mother

9. What has your mum taught you that you are teaching your child?

To solely depend on God. Everything about my mum is God centred and that is what I want to teach my daughter. For her to know that no matter how good or bad things get, her love for and trust in God should never waiver.

Thank you for sharing your experience of motherhood with me.

 

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The practical truth about being a Christian…

being a christian
Image credit: google images

OK so being a Christian is actually very very fun. It is fun because I know that regardless of what happens.. come what may, whether I am happy today or not.. God is with me and he is for me and I am for him. It is literally that simple to me and that is what makes it fun. BUT.. (this is a very big BUT by the way) being a Christian can also be very difficult if you still have not found the foundation of your Christianity. it makes everyday life sooooo draining (from my opinion). So in this post, I am going to write about some of the practical truths about being a Christian and I really hope that it helps someone.

Prayer makes it all so easy

Firstly, if you are a Christian and you often feel lazy to pray.. Hmm… then you are in trouble oo. You are in trouble and you will keep being in trouble because everything you do will be based on how you feel and not what God tells you to do. I used to find it so difficult to pray. And it’s not like I didn’t believe in prayer but I just couldn’t be bothered. However, one thing I have come to realise is that- the more I pray, the less I talk. James 1: 19 tells us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” If you are like me and you have an opinion on everything because you read a lot; you tend to disregard how others feel because you just want them to know what you know all the time. For example; during my undergraduate degree, I couldn’t wait for someone to say something wrong about Africa or black people or feminism so that I can pour all the numerous critical race theory, postcolonial theory and feminism books I have read on them to make that person feel dumb for whatever they said. On the other hand, do you know how it made me look? Yeah you know lol.

I realised that I was becoming really angry at people saying things I thought was wrong even if that was an opportunity for me to listen and maybe offer further explanations or alternative perspectives. So I started praying about it. I remember I used to (and I still do it now) pray so much to God about how he needs to help me use the knowledge that I acquire appropriately and not foolishly; because you can have 10 degrees in political science or philosophy and still sound incredibly uneducated if you do not choose your words wisely.

So If you want your everyday Christian life to be easy.. Pray. Pray about everything every time. I pray when I wake up in the morning, I even pray when I get in to the bathroom because I know perfectly well that there are people who cannot even walk from their bedrooms to the bathroom. Pray and just feel free about yourself and life because God has given you a spirit not of fear but a spirit that gives us power, love and self-discipline (1 Timothy 1:7).

Pray thanksgiving prayers.. ALL THE TIME!

I think nowadays I don’t even know how I pray for things compared to before.. when I was at uni.. I would spend so much time praying for good grades and basically threatening God that if I fail he fails because I keep talking about how I believe in him and all that (woow those were desperate times when you have not revised and you think God is a juju man). Now, I just pray and thank God for everything because I know and I believe in him so much that anything he has called me to do, he will give me what I need to do it and he will also show me how to do it to glorify him.

Of course, when you are in need, pray and tell God about it (even though he already knows all your heart desires). As Christians, we are not told to shy away from telling God our problems. As a matter of fact.. the bible encourages us to speak to God in our most troubling times. So that God himself will direct and guide us in who to go for help or he himself will send helpers your way if that is what you need. The bible says in Philippians 4: 6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Yeah so God himself is telling you to pray to him and tell him what you need. However, the bible says “with thanksgiving”- I understand this part as just exercising my faith- because instead of saying Oh God I need to pass this course or I need to be able to control myself and not fall into sexual sin.. I say: God thank you for being my provider and knowing exactly what I need and when I need it and thank you for giving me a spirit of self-discipline and the wisdom to know that you are better than sex. Yes I said it. GOD IS BETTER THAN SEX. By praying this way.. I end up reassured and fired up because I know that there is so much power in having a conversation with God and putting all your faith in him.

 

Various ways to pray

Prayer does not always have to consist of the conventional way of eyes shut and looking up and saying stuff (when I was young I used to close my eyes so hard because I thought if I open my eyes and I see God or the holy spirit in church I’ll die). Nowadays, I go down on my knees and pray or I will lift my hands and worship or I will lay on my bed and pray till I fall asleep. Other times, when I feel someway (basically when the devil wanna bring himself) I write my prayers down and then read them out like how I write bible verses down so that I can memorise them. One thing I always do is, I pray about the prayer session before I begin because I want the spirit of God to guide me even in my prayer time. I suggest that anytime you are praying just tell God to come and take over even though you have it in mind to pray about something.. you will see that God will direct you in how to effectively pray to him.

 

Lastly, prayer goes hand in hand with the word of God so you can’t and you really shouldn’t spend all your time praying and not studying the bible because  “Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. 17 The Scriptures train God’s servants to do all kinds of good deeds.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). But I think I am going to do a continuation post and talk about the bible and the role it plays in our Christian lives. I’m gonna stop writing now because even me I don’t like reading articles that are too long.

 

PRAY. IT’S NECESSARY. YOU CANNOT BE A CHRISTIAN AND NOT PRAY.

 

GOD LOVES YOU.

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GOD

God is my strenght
photocredit: google images

I woke up this morning feeling so down and I did not even understand why. Around 5.30 am, I’m lying on my bed and I have no idea why I feel so sad and because of that I do not want to do anything but cry. At 6 am, I get a call from a friend and he asks for us to pray and the answer I wanna give him is “no because I am sad with my life today and I don’t understand why so I don’t want to talk to God. But politely, I tell him that I’m gonna take a shower and call him after.

As I am in the shower scrubbing away the hands of every guy that has ever touched me, I start to tell God that he is my strength and he has done great things and he will keep doing great things. I just kept repeating these words to myself till I stepped out of the shower.

So I go back to my room and I call my friend and I lead us into an opening prayer and then he says to me “I feel like God wants us to pray about our hearts.” He continued by saying “sometimes we feel betrayed in our hearts and that makes us very sad. But imagine how Jesus felt when he chose Judas to be his disciple but still Judas did not allow God to change his heart and he ended up betraying Jesus.”

Sometimes, it is very easy for us to forget that our hearts are very fragile and when we decide to carry our hearts in our fragile hands- it will fall. The great thing though is that when each and every morning we give our hearts over to God regardless of how we are feeling- God takes hold of them and he places them in his secured hands. The word of God says in Psalm 37: 3 that we should “trust in the Lord and do good and dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” The hands of God are safe and that is where our hearts need to dwell.

After I prayed with my friend, I got dressed and as I was leaving the house I said to God: “father, I know I am feeling sad, but I will not let the devil make me forget about your greatness- take my heart now and do what you do best.” I put my earphones in my phone and I started listening to songs of praise.

I am writing this post to God because sometimes I really don’t appreciate his consistency in my life enough. No matter how I am feeling- his holy spirit always sends me a helper and he empowers me. God shout out to you for always keeping me grounded in you. It is a privilege to be able to subject my body to the spirit of God and win in all areas of my life.

Shout out to you friend for allowing God to use you to speak to me at my darkest hour today. Everybody needs friends who are in tune with the spirit of God whom at all times can be vessels for God almighty to speak through to you.

And shout out to you reading this- don’t ever suffer alone. Don’t let the devil make you think that isolation or time alone can help you through your darkest times. You have people around you whom I really hope are ready at any time to hold hands with you or be at the other end of the phone and pray that depressing spirit away. If you do not have friends like that, pray and ask God to send you some. A few years ago, I prayed that prayer and up until today God keeps sending me amazing people who are not scared to tell me to do the right thing.

God be with you as you give your heart to him to carry in his safe and holy hands.

 

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100 YEARS LATER…

OK so I walk into the office this morning and a co-worker comes up to me and gives me a handshake whilst wishing me congratulations that women were given the right to vote 100 years today. I said thank you because I was not about to take him to feminist school by educating him on how the suffragettes fought for their rights and thus it was not an achievement. It was 8am in the morning and I had just spoken to my father God about my day so I was not about to ruin it.

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photo credit: google images.

So then it came to me, why don’t I just write about it? So Im gonna do just that. First of all, yes it is 100 years ago today that women age 30 and owned a property were given the right to vote in elections in the UK. I mean all the members of the suffragettes had to endure so much just for their views as citizens of the country to also be seen as credible to a bunch of men sitting in parliament.

The suffragettes indeed paved the way for modern western feminism. However, I do not think what they did is an achievement (in the way we generally understand achievement) and I am going to explain why.

These brave women realised the importance of their womanity being acknowledged and thus decided to take action. It’s like someone demanding for justice to be served against a thieve who stole something from him/her- its not an achievement, it is their right as a citizen in a civil society to see justice served fairly. So the suffragettes were trying to bring humanity back to their senses because like seriously… who even came up with the idea that women shouldn’t be given the right to vote? It sounds so uneducated and just strange. Women are rational beings like men so I don’t understand how men were seen as able to choose political representatives but women weren’t.

And the most worrying part of this all is that even after 100 years of these women risking their lives to make a way for women; gender inequalities are still prevalent in society. Women are still seen as second class citizens in many parts of the world for reasons I still do not understand because they do not make sense at all. Women are still being abused based on the factor that they are women. Even worse, in other parts of the world, it is still being debated if girls should be given the chance to go to school. – Like seriously?

But you know what, on this day, I’m going to happy myself knowing that there are people all over the world working so hard to ensure that women and girls are fully counted as part of humanity.

So cheers (I’m drinking peppermint tea right now) to me being a great African woman from Ghana who loves women and is going to do everything according to the will of God to see girls and women do well in every area of social life.

And cheers to every woman! Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, Thank you for being a woman and remember you can achieve anything! Let us keep fighting for the human rights of every woman to be acknowledged.

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Why am I still a feminist in 2018?

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photo credit: google images.

The answer to this is that- I will never stop being a feminist because I get the privilege to stand for equality, I get the opportunity to call out men and women out on direct and indirect acts of discrimination and inequality. As well, as a feminist in this era where people blindly think that women are now equal to men so we don’t need all this talk on feminism, I get to write and tell people no.

Let me tell you something, the difference between the positions of women now compared to that of 1926 is that- now there are laws that actually says you can’t fire a woman from a job because she is pregnant. And the heart breaking part about this is that these laws are mainly in the so-called developed parts of the world where most of the female population are educated. I mean I don’t think it’s all rosy in Europe and the land of the free (that’s the undeserved nickname of the USA) because direct and indirect inequalities are still skyrocketing in lots of institutions there.

Today alone, I have read 3 articles published online on sexual harassment and abuse against women; and remember, these are the ones that are reported. So imagine all the abuse some women will face today by men in their lives and men they do not know all because they are women and you and I will never hear anything about it.

Now I tell you again, I will never stop being a feminist because we are in 2018 and some men still think the best way to get a woman to listen to him is by getting in her face and shouting at her and telling her he will beat her and get away with it.

A few days ago,  I almost cried when I saw a video of a man who got in the face of Lydia Forson (Ghanaian actress) and threatened to beat her because she was gathering evidence of the sexist nature of the man in question.

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Lydia Forson- Ghanaian actress photo credit: google images

Let me just pause here for a second and tell you how technology has somehow helped women- Lydia knew straight away that to be able to take this incident to the authorities, or even tell her fans on social media about it- she would need proof because of course nobody would believe a woman telling them that a man physically, verbally or emotionally abused her without proof! Having a phone allowed Lydia to show what had happened to her.

Secondly, technology through social media has given women multiple platforms to share their stories and call out on any form of abuse against them.

Thirdly, technology from a personal point of view has given women more confidence to be women because nowadays, there are lots of women behind their phones and laptops ready to rain on your parade if you ever get it twisted on your dealings with the female population. I love technology for all these reasons.

Now back to me forever being a feminist- most women in 2018 are still encountering abuse and discrimination in all areas of life. What some people don’t seem to understand is that, if the reason for a human being suffering any pain whether it be physical or not is due to their biological sex then as a society we are not developed and we are on the verge of failure. I say we are on the verge of failure because despite all the bad things in this world… God has still blessed us with meat pies, bofrot, waakye (amazing Ghanaian dishes), Shea butter and green tea so we haven’t completely failed as a human race.

And just a quick reminder for anyone who has forgotten or does not know at all… the development of girls and women in all areas of social life is a key factor to national development in every country according to the UN and other developmental studies academics. So I don’t care how high up on the list of OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries your nation finds itself; if women and girls are still suffering from gender inequalities in that country then it is not developed.

I can just keep writing because we are only 25 days into 2018 but a day has not gone by where I have not read about a woman being subjected to some form of abuse or discrimination just because she is a woman.

In a few years’ time, I am going to bring children into this world and I am going to have to help my sons and daughters understand how this world has been trying to put women like their mother in a box to fit some silly socially constructed ideas about gender. After I do that, I will spend the rest of my life with the help of God to bring my children up to be great men and women… then we will just have generations of great men and women. Oh how I cannot wait.

 

A few stories in the past few days about girls and women being abused around the world

A 7 year old girl raped and killed in Pakistan:

Murder, rape of 7-year-old Pakistan girl sparks protests around country

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/01/11/this-tv-anchor-held-her-little-girl-on-the-air-to-protest-the-rape-of-a-7-year-old/?utm_term=.423a0da9afc9

New mothers in Kenya allegedly being raped in hospitals: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-42746179

https://www.usnews.com/news/news/articles/2018-01-23/kenyans-accuse-largest-hospital-of-rape-abuse-of-patients

A group of women gets groped in Dorchester hotel in London at a ‘fancy’ charity event:

http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/men-only-inside-the-charity-fundraiser-where-hostesses-are-put-on-show/ar-AAv4UeR?li=AAmiR2Z&ocid=ientp

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