Raising a New Generation of Ghanaian #CodeGirls

Who runs the world? GIRLS.

We should all know this by now. Girls are incredible. And yet here we are in 2015, and the tech industry is still a male-dominated one. Did you know that only 7% of tech start-ups are led by women?

So when I was invited to attend the premiere of the Made With Code “CODEGIRL” film, I screamed and pretty much cartwheeled all the way to Google’s Accra office. The film was being shown to Google staff, leading ladies of the Accra tech world, and a group of secondary schoolgirls from Adabraka, Accra. The girls were viewing the film as part of the awesome Tech Needs Girls program.

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CODEGIRL is a docu-film that follows groups of girls from 60 countries, participating in the Technovation 2014 competition. Technovation is a tech entrepreneurship competition that encourages millions of girls to explore the beauty of code. The girls identified problems within their local communities, and developed apps to combat these issues. They tackled problems like violence against women, lack of access to clean water, teenage drink driving, urban waste removal, and negative body image. The film follows the teams as they work on their concepts, design their apps, and travel to San Francisco to compete.

As the competitors shared their stories, I was struck by how familiar their sentiments were. They spoke about the challenges of being a girl in a mostly male field. “People think computer science is for boys,” one girl said. Another expressed her frustration by saying, “People try to ‘pink-ify’ coding and opt for the cute factor. It should be as simple as this: a problem exists in the community. Can you use technology to fix that problem? Gender shouldn’t even come into it!” Preach, mama.

Once the film ended, it was time for a Q&A session with some of the most inspiring women on the Accra tech scene: The lovely Estelle Akofio-Sowah (country manager of Google Ghana), Regina Agyare (Tech Needs Girls Gh) Doris Anson-Yevu (Founder of Photowalk Ghana), Cassandra Mensah-Abrampah (Program Manager at Google Ghana), and Naa Oyoo Quartey (Creator of lifestyle blog naaoyooquartey.com).

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L-R: Estelle Akofio-Sowah, Regina Agyare, Cassandra Mensah-Abrampah, Naa Oyoo Quartey

Estelle reminded the schoolgirls that engineering could help them solve problems in a fun and creative way. She asked them about some of the problems they saw in their local community, and whether they could think of apps to alleviate the issues. There were some real gems! From apps that could help with urban flooding awareness, to ones that could ease Accra’s ongoing electricity crisis. You better look out for these girls- I feel like our first female president was in that room!

The girls were then asked who their favourite team in the CODEGIRL film was. The unanimous answer was Team Charis (spoiler alert- they won the competition); the Nigerian girls who created an app to deal with ineffective waste removal in urban areas. I could see how excited the Adabraka schoolgirls were. They were seeing girls who looked exactly like them on screen, smashing gender stereotypes by winning a tech competition. Listen, people! THIS is why positive representation of young black girls in the media is so important.

We then discussed the challenges that female coders and engineers face in Ghana. A couple of the ladies from the Google office explained that in this male-dominated field, they had to work extra hard to shine. Is there a woman reading this who doesn’t know that feeling? This quote in particular stuck in my head: “In Ghana, as a woman, people already doubt you. So [being an engineer] is challenging, but the outcome is awesome.”

Estelle asked the girls how many of them would like to become coders or engineers when they grew up. One shy hand went up. Then another. And then another, until I legit felt like I could cry with pride.

The schoolgirls were given some useful resources, so they could start to learn how to code. Some of the resources named were Code.Org and The Code Academy. Dang, I might even join them and upskill myself! Being able to insert a cheeky line break does not a coder make…

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Finally, Estelle gave the girls a few words of advice:

1. The biggest risk is not taking a risk. So go for it.

2. Keep at it. There will be times when you don’t get a good grade or you’ll struggle with coding. But don’t quit.

3. Always think about the user and keep their experience at the front of your mind.

I left the event feeling inspired and hopeful. I remember years ago when I was working in Australia, I met an elderly Kenyan gentleman at the bank. We got chatting and he asked what I did for a living. When I told him I was a digital marketing specialist, he looked at me in shock and said, “Ah! Isn’t that a white man’s job? How come you’re doing it?” I was taken aback.

But then I smiled and replied with the truth: “Because I was raised to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to.”

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I’m so proud that thanks to inspirational role models like Estelle, Naa, Doris, Cassandra and Regina, a new generation of unstoppable Ghanaian girls is on its way.

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Huge thanks to Google for the invite!

Love,
Adjpants

OOTD: London Nights

Oi oi girls!

Ready for a Friday OOTD? This is one of my favourite ensembles, perfect for a casual night out with the gals. On this particular London night, I went for a few drinks with my bae Miss Fu. I love this outfit because it’s easy-breezy-comfy, with just the right amount of sass. Lord knows I love the sass.
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BAM!

Let’s get straight into it! This is my fave faux leather jacket from Primark. I love it because it’s really soft and goes with everything. Underneath, I wore a strappy bodysuit from the Boohoo.com Nadia Aboulhosn plus-size collection. I’ve mentioned the gorgeous Nadia in my previous post on body image. She’s one of my favourite body-positive bloggers; a plus sized fashion maven who encourages women to wear whatever the eff they want. I was so excited when her collection came out because she’s my bestie in my head!

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Now these jeans fam… I’ve mentioned them approximately a thousand times. These are the Lift & Sculpt skinny jeans from M&S and I wear them as much as possible because = fierce.

On my tootsies? Leopard print peep-toe wedges from River Island. As my Fashionista Boo Rosie always says: “Animal print is a neutral.” Preach, mama.

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And who doesn’t love cheap accessories? Why would I spend loads of money on stuff I’m going to swiftly wear out? This tan cross-body bag and chunky black belt were fab finds from Primark. From memory, I think both of them cost me less than 10 quid.

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And there you have it darlings- the perfect Friday night fit! D’you have a go-to outfit for your weekly #TurnUp? Holla at your girl in the comments…

Love,
Adjpants

Love the Skin You’re In!

Hey dolls!

Let’s talk skincare for a hot minute. You all know I love makeup (or “makeupses” as my boo Rosie calls it) but listen. Great skin takes your sexy to new heights. What do we want? Fresh, glowing, supple skin! When do we want it? Upon the immediate.

Skincare is very much a different strokes for different folks situation- what works for me may not work for you. But can you really ever go wrong with Mother Nature? NAH.

I try to keep my skincare regime as natural as possible. I avoid anything with harsh fragrances, chemical nasties or anything with too many unpronounceable ingredients (I follow the ingredients rule when it comes to food too). If you’re buying an aloe vera face wash, why does it contain a list of 27 ingredients? Hmm? Is this life?

So here is my laughably simple skincare regime. It keeps me glowing and baby smooth, with only the very occasional spot (which I also zap mercilessly with Mother Nature’s bounty- keep reading).

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L-R: Vitamin E oil, aloe vera gel (the struggle kind for now, because I couldn’t find my fave brand outchea in Accra), Simple Regeneration Age Resisting Facial Wash, Simple Kind to Skin Soothing Facial Toner, Oil of Olay Beauty Fluid, and pure tea tree oil.

Morning: After I’ve woken up and scrolled through All of The Instagram checked in on current affairs, I skip out of bed and wash my face with Simple Anti-Ageing Facial Wash. This creamy cleanser gets me squeaky clean but feels really nourishing with none of that tight after-soap feeling. I then follow that up with a refreshing toner. I tend to alternate between the following three:

Pure witch hazel for when my skin feels a bit spotty or congested: All-natural and cleansing with antibacterial properties

Rosewater for when my skin feels a teeny bit sensitive: Amazing toning and calming properties. Plus you’ll smell like an exotic Turkish rose garden #WinningAtLife

Simple Kind to Skin Soothing Facial Toner for all other times: Does what it says on the bottle- gently clarifies, soothes and tones

Once my toner has dried, I moisturise with one of the oldies but goodies: Oil of Olay (Ulay? Why did they ever change it?) Beauty Fluid for combination/oily skin with SPF 15. What I love about this moisturiser is that it’s not that awful gel-like consistency that you get with most lotions targeted towards oily/combination skin. It’s really nourishing and keeps my skin supple. To be honest I no longer fight my oily skin like I used to. I like the dewy look, and they say we oily chicks stay looking younger for longer *flips hair*

Dassit! Three simple steps fam. And then I follow with whatever face- painting I fancy. Alrighty now let’s fast-forward to the end of the day…

*cue fake montage of me running through the city in heels, coffee in hand, slaying at board meetings, hopping into taxis with flawless style*

*now cue real montage of me bare-knuckle-fighting a taxi driver in Osu, standing in Max Mart trying to understand why baked beans are quadruple the RRP written on the can*

Evening: And we’re home! It’s night-night time. Let’s take our face off. The first thing I do is wipe off my makeup with baby wipes. That’s right girl. Why am I spending £4080 on L’Oréal or Garnier face wipes when baby wipes are less than two quid for a bumper pack? Plus they are soooo much gentler on your skin than that expensive rubbish. Always go for un-fragranced. The reason I wipe my face before washing is to get rid of as much makeup as possible in advance. Also for some reason, I’ve never been able to wash my face without flooding the entire bathroom/house/planet. Getting rid of most of the grime with wipes means less time at the sink!

I then proceed to wash twice with warm water and my trusty Simple Regeneration Age Resisting Facial Wash. I also repeat my toning step. And then I move on to my final step; going all out on any blemishes which have dared to appear during the day. Forget all the expensive spot-fighting potions. You don’t need that shiz. All you need are tea tree oil and aloe vera gel.

Guys I can’t overstate this: pure aloe vera gel is everything you have ever needed in life. Got spots? Get the aloe. Rashes? Sunburn? Get the aloe. Boyfriend acting up? ALOEEEE. Most nights, I slather on a thin layer of pure aloe vera gel (apply it the way you would put on a face mask, avoiding your sensitive eye area and your mouth). I wait for it to dry before hitting the sack. My fave brand is Aloe Pura with Tea Tree oil, and for a while I was miserable that I couldn’t get it here. But then a friend of mine casually handed me a fresh cutting from his aloe plant. I almost wept with gratitude.

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Fresh aloe is the holy grail. If you have one of these plants, you will basically be 1000 years old, still serving smooth Angela Bassett realness. Very easy to use, too.

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Just cut off a small section of the leaf, and slice off the sharp thorns along each side. Slice through the gel in the middle and open up the leaf. Then just rub the gel directly onto your skin. Allow to dry, et voila! Word of warning though- pure aloe vera gel is horribly bitter so do not get this stuff in your mouth *shudders*

Tea tree oil is my other spot slayer. I just dab it on blemishes at night, and the spots are usually gone (or at least drastically improved) in the morning! Pure tea tree oil is strong though, so if you have sensitive skin you may want to dilute it in water and apply with cotton wool.

On the occasions where no spot-fighting is necessary, I wash my face, use toner and apply a few drops of organic rosehip oil to my skin. This ruby-red oil is effing awesome for plumping up the skin, smoothing, and keeping wrinkles at bay. In terms of anti-ageing I’m hoping genetics will keep me baby faced. My mum is almost 60 and she’s outchea looking 12. Still you can never be too careful, so I massage in this antioxidant-packed oil whenever I can at night.

I’ve run out of this at the moment, so I’ve replaced it with pure vitamin E oil. This stuff is great for giving maximum glow and healing scars. Don’t spend a fortune on vitamin E oil though! All you need to do is buy the gel capsules and pop ’em to get at the golden oil inside. Then just gently massage into the skin.

And there you have it! A diva is ready for beddy-byes. Face routine done!

For my body I swear by Nivea Nourishing body lotion. I call it “The Good Nivea” because they have made so many different varieties, none of which live up to the original. You want the one in the iconic dark blue bottle, enriched with almond oil. My dad has used this lotion ever since I can remember (his skin is flawless by the way), and the scent always makes me think of him. I especially love Nivea for dark skin because it gives a gorgeous glow like nothing else. Other recommendations for my glow getters- pure coconut oil and pure shea butter. On the days I don’t use Nivea, I use either one of these.

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L-R: Pure extra virgin coconut oil (apologies for the smooshed label), The Good Nivea, pure shea butter.

You’ll be shining bright like a diamond! This always reminds me of my grandmother. When my brothers and I were little, she used to bathe us and baste us liberally in cocoa butter. We were walking around sparkling and sliding off the furniture (which was of course covered in plastic). LOLz!

So dolls, please don’t be scurred when it comes to developing a good skincare regimen. Take your time, figure out what works for you, and remember: SKIN IS IN, hunty.

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Pssst! I’m really nice, so please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below! Hugsies.

Love,
Adjpants

OOTD: FELAbration 2015!

Hey boos!

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Felabration 2015 #TurnUp in Accra. The event was a fabulous way to honour the legendary Fela Kuti’s birthday. You guys know I don’t play when it comes to my afrobeats, and I got my love for Fela from growing up in Nigeria. I lost all my home training when Kyekyeku performed Fela’s “Lady.” For me though, the best performance of the night was by Villy & the Xtreme Volumes. Absolutely electrifying. I was screaming YAAAASSS, hitting my shoki and waving my handkerchief like your overly turnt Auntie at the church BBQ.

Anyhoo! Before the event I was stressing about what to wear. It was laundry day and I needed to take a simple outfit from “okay” to “SLAY!” Et voila… a cutesy little black dress and some chic accessories.

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This “little black dress” is actually a vest top from Dorothy Perkins, tucked into a flared mini skirt from my beloved Primark.

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I paired this outfit with a gorgeous deep coral beaded necklace, accented with a chunky bronze section. It was a gift from a very dear friend, and I love it. I’m a fiend for pops of bright colour, so I set off the red/orange of the necklace with a fuchsia lip. This lipstick is “Spellbound” by CoverGirl- I picked it up in Sydney and it is BAE!

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And on my tootsies? These fringed tan sandals from New Look. I bought these babies in the summer for Wireless Festival in London. My aim was to serve Chocolate Pocahontas realness. I love these sandals with shorts and little skirts. The swishing of the fringe with every step gives me life!

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There you have it! I felt fabulous and also like I had cheated the universe by creating an outfit out of laundry day dregs. A little black dress will always be a winner for ladylike chic. I may swear like a sailor, but I am ALWAYS a lady. Like Fela said, “If you call am woman, African woman no go ‘gree… she go say I be Lady o…”

Love,
Adjpants

OOTD: Sunday Slayage

Hey pumpkins!

It’s my favourite day of the week YAAAAAASSS! I’m a Christian and God is totes my homeboy. Come Sunday, you’ll usually find me breaking it down in the aisle. I’m turning into one of those disrespectful church aunties who cut in and start singing “Igwe” when everyone else is still singing “Jehovah you are the most high.” I’m currently in the market for one of those lacy handheld fans and a tambourine. I’ll carry them in my purse in case the Holy Spirit shows up unexpectedly. Don’t try me.

I like to dress up for church. My look is feminine with a touch of vintage glam. Get into today’s OOTD!

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Cute, non? I went for this adorable floral shirt from H&M (a little black vest underneath because #boobs), paired with a black pencil skirt from Primark and snakeskin heels from M&S. I’m so in love with mixing prints nowadays. Just adds a bit of whimsy. I accessorised with my mum’s Australian pearls, which are older than I am. They’re handy in case Pastor preaches on something scandalous and you need to clutch your pearls real quick.
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And there you have it. As it says in the book of Divas, chapter 1 verse 1: Thou shalt SERVE. Happy Sunday dolls!

Love,
Adjpants

Weekly Nailgasm: Ombre Tribal

Hey boos!

It’s been a while since my last nail art post, so I wanted to kick off my Weekly Nailgasm series again! What better way to sashay back to nail art glory than with this chic ombre tribal print?

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Better GIT IT. I love ombre so much, whether it’s on hair, fabric, or nails. Speak not to me of trends! I don’t know whether ombre is still “in” or not, and I don’t care. I adore it and I intend to wear a disrespectful 34-inch ombre Mongolian weave to my 70th birthday paree. You’re all invited.

Ok! So for ombre nails I like to select three complementary colours. It’s super easy- I just paint each third of the nail a different colour, working fast so none of the colours dry before the next one goes on. This makes it easier to muddle the colours a bit at the transition line.

I always start with a good base coat- my fave is Sally Hansen’s Double Duty. For this design I used the following three colours:

“Beach Bum Blu” by Essie
“How do You Lilac It?” by Rimmel
“Shorts Story” by OPI

Once the base was dry, I used a black nail art pen to create thick graphic lines. All you need for this step is a steady hand and your imagination (wine helps, too). I let the lines dry and then I added some highlights with a white nail art pen and “Golden Nuggets” glitter by Essie.

Let the whole shebang dry and then finish with a good quality top coat- my favourite is Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. And there you have it!

I loved this design so much that it inspired me to create this cute painting. That’s right. I’m my own muse, bish. YAAAASS for matching your nail art to your wall art!

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Hope you liked it, dolls! Look out for more Weekly Nailgasms coming soon. Hugsies.

Love,
Adjpants

Accra Update: Two Weeks In…

Hey!

It’s Adjpants, your Fierceness and Slayage Correspondent, coming to you live from Accra, Ghana. I wanted to give you an update on my adventure so far. Hoooo my garsh- moving “home” when you’re essentially a foreigner in your own country is NOT EASY. It’s been a stressful couple of weeks. After two days holed up crying in a darkened room, I thought it was time to put on my big girl pants and share my ongoing story. If I can help even one person who’s going through the same thing, I’ll consider this a job well done.

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So! We’re now two weeks in- here’s what we’ve learned so far.

1. Taxi Drivers Are Thieving Knobjockeys.

I just… I can’t. Taxi drivers in Accra have left me so unable to deal, like I’m fresh out of being able to deal and there is no chance of stock replenishment. They are the bane of my effing life here and I really wish I had a car. Any rich Uncles reading this who want to buy me a Camry, please #CallMeMaybe.

I have previously only spent short periods of time in Accra/been on family trips with our own car. So this level of f*ckery is new to me. The taxi drivers will cheat you on sight. Yes, even if you speak Twi they can tell you’re a foreigner and they will double or triple the price. Haggle them down mercilessly- I usually like to cut the number they give me by half, take off a couple of cedis, and start bargaining from there. Even then, sometimes you’ll get to your destination and they’ll claim not to have change so you have no choice but to overpay. This happened to me the other day and I straight out lost it. We almost came to fisticuffs and I am normally such a peaceful, jolly person. So lesson learned- carry small notes and an old lady bag of change if necessary.

Another tip: if you’ve managed to haggle the price down in Twi, don’t then get in the taxi and start talking to friends on the phone in Queen’s English. You’ll notice the driver peering at you as if you lied to him, and suddenly there will be loud claims of how the agreed price needs to increase due to traffic/time of day/the crisis in Syria. May God smite them all with herpes. Also ladies? Always sit in the back seat. Some dudes are pervs.

2. People Have No Filter and Zero Chill.

Lemme tell you a story, paint you a little word picture. I met a friend of a friend the other day, nice gentleman, friendly and fun. I thought huzzah new friend, right? Wrong. He called me and we were chatting away, and suddenly out of nowhere he asked, “Are you watching your weight?” I was like, “…Um, no…” He replied, “Don’t you think you should be?” I was like O_O and he chirped into the icy silence, “I mean, don’t you think it’s getting too much?”

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WHUT.

Do you see why I am so unable? What fresh hell is this? And this sort of piping hot nonsense is commonplace. People here are for the most part, pretty judgmental. Which would be fine if they were using their inside voices- but they’re not. They’re telling you their opinions at every opportunity. I’m sure there will be many more of these occurences. Just keep an eye out for the headlines: “Crazed Non-Weight-Watching Ex Londoner Cuts Man In Public: Says She Regrets Nothing”

3. Slow Your Roll- You’re The Only One Rushing.

Coming from London where my life was a constant race against the clock, I find the slooooow pace of life in Accra maddening. I’m used to the big city where people will throw you into oncoming traffic if you’re walking just a touch too slowly. Here everything takes forever. FOREVER. There’s a general laid-back attitude to most things which can be so effing frustrating (some things need urgency bruv). It’s been driving me insane but then it hit me. Why am I hurrying when nobody else is? Why am I rushing to be on time for an appointment, when the person I’m meeting has no intention of being on time? I’ve been told that I need to relax, slow down, and just accept things as they are. I might have to do that, but not because I agree with constant delay and inefficiency. Because I don’t want to die of stress and or/rage.

4. Don’t Expect Everything To Make Sense.

There are so many things which just don’t make a lick of sense. Examples below:

How can I be asking a salesperson a question, and they can’t be bothered to answer me because they’re chatting to a colleague? How can it then be other customers who step in and try to help, while the salesperson continues to ignore my increasingly loud questions?

How can Accra be just as expensive as London? People tell me the prices for things and I just want to flip tables.

How can Ashanti be on this sign for the omotuo (rice ball) special at a local chop bar?

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This is a switch to turn on the air-conditioning, isn’t it?

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No, it’s not. It’s for the water heater. Is this life?

*Puts fingers on temples and sighs* Just don’t expect things to make sense.

5. The Kindness of Strangers Is Heartwarming and Awesome.

Moving to a new country can be extremely difficult and heartbreakingly lonely. I came here knowing almost nobody, and I thought I would just have to fight it out myself. BUT GAWD (I love how my people do that, just be halfway through a sentence and suddenly scream out to the Lawd)! See the way God is set up, he sometimes places people in your path to show you the way.

When I moved to Accra, someone blessed me with this golden piece of advice: join the Ahaspora mailing list. This group is made up of awesome young African “returnees” who have come to make Accra home. They have a huge network, and they’re a resource for almost everything you could ever need. Advise on housing? Done. Recommendations for good legal advice? Yes. Where to get your nails did? No problem. When I first moved to Accra, I went out on a limb and sent out an email introducing myself to the group. The response was overwhelming; within minutes I had invites to lunch, general friendly greetings and even some potential job opportunities. Chile if you’re moving to Accra, GET ON THAT LIST NOW.

My advice would be to reach out to people, and keep your heart open. I’ve already made some new friends, and I can’t thank them enough for welcoming a stranger with open arms. They’ve checked in on me, taken me out for cupcakes, welcomed me into their homes and given me a wealth of advice and support. Y’all are the real MVPs.

So darlings that’s it for now. Keep your eyes peeled for more Accra Updates! And anyone else who has recently made the move back, or is thinking about it? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re all in this together.

Love,
Adjpants