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From Luton with heartbreak and plenty wahala!

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When I received my nomination for Best Online Media in the 2012 Ghana UK Base Achievement (GUBA) Awards, I was beside myself with joy because it was the first time that my blog, www.ameyawdebrah.com had been nominated for anything.

Of course later on, I would be nominated for the National Youth Achievement Awards and the Ghana Fashion Awards.  A good year for me? Needless to say, I was feeling lucky! I made my flight arrangements for November 9-26 so I could attend the GOBI Awards in UK and as well cover the Ghana Music Awards Europe on November 24. Little did I know the trip would be filled with eventualities and ‘heartbreaks’. Well, and a lot of food also!

A new experience with Virgin

I guess by now, it is obvious that my airline of choice to the UK is Virgin Atlantic. After having my first Virgin experience earlier in the year, I was looking forward to my trip with my ever-ready palate for good food.  My flight was scheduled for 11 am, so got to the airport by 10 am and after checking in and going through customs I made my way to my Premium Economy seat.

Immediately I sat down, I was asked for my choice of drink and even before the plane would fill up, I was sipping on my orange juice. Soon, we took off and needless to say, all that was on my mind was what could be on the menu.  The cabin crew finally delivered the menu revealing a tasty selection of traditional and contemporary cuisine with a choice of red or white wine from Berry Bros and Rudd, one of UK’s most innovative wine merchants, boasting five Masters of Wine.  Also on offer was a selection of complimentary drinks throughout the flight, including beers, spirits and soft drinks.

Ok, now over to the food! For starters, I had smoked salmon and marinated potato salad with sour cream; and for the main course I opted for Chicken filled with sautéed mushrooms with red pepper sauce, potatoes au gratin and broccoli.  And of course I couldn’t help but wonder if I could request for the Spinach ravioli with mushroom cream sauce and Parmesan cheese, and  the pan-fried panga fish with jollof rice, tomato stew, palava and kelewele in addition. After all, there weren’t that many people onboard the flight; surely the was plenty to go around. Soon came the yummy dessert, Tiramisu, an Italian cake with coffee sauce.

Also adding to the wining and dining experience was the use of  silver cutlery set, plates and glasses.  Now I can’t wait to try out Upper  Class. Enough of the food, there was more to enjoy on the flight beside the food. The Virgin Media in-flight entertainment as usual had an impressive list of movie releases, TV shows , music and games to choose from.  I was also excited to discover  the  new touchscreen tablet-based Virgin Atlantic in-flight entertainment system, known as Vera Touch.

The Samsung device also gives passengers the option of movies, TV shows and music; only on a wider screen with crispy clears pictures.  Before the entertainment on the v-port started, I watched the first episode of  ‘Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23’ on the Vera and continued my viewing pleasure with ‘Total Recall’, ‘American Reunion’  on the v-port.

Then it was back to the Vera for  ‘Two Days in New York’, in fact I was spoilt for choice. In between  the movies I skimmed through ‘Electronic Earth’, the smash hit debut studio album from British singer-producer Labrinth. And yes, I played  one of my favourite songs of the moment, ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’, which features Scottish star Emeli Sande, over and over again on the Vera device. Before landing, I warmed myself up with a cup of tea and delicious finger sandwiches with chicken and coleslaw and cheese and tomato. I sealed it off with a chocolate cake as a braced myself for the cold weather in London.

…and then the wahala began!

After touching down, our captain announced that we had to stay on the tarmac for some time because our terminal was engaged by another flight due to an eventuality at Heathrow. After about 20 minutes, it was all systems go and we finally got out of the plane and made our way to immigrations. I was cleared by a pleasant lady at immigrations, who wished me good luck with my GUBA Award nomination. I thanked her and made my way to collect my luggage.

Since the GUBA Awards was holding in London the following day, I had made prior arrangements to stay with a friend in London for the award ceremony and then move to Luton to stay with my ever generous host, Chris Vincent (the menace at www. ghanacelebrities.com). I got on the underground train and headed to Finsbury Park and later connected to Black Horse Road where my friend was ‘supposed’ to pick me up. Fortunately I had some little talk time on my UK SIM card so I texted him from the time I arrived at Heathrow to the time I got on the train and also when I connected from Finsbury Park.

I was a little worried when I never got any replies but I thought my friend was just waiting for me to arrive at Black Horse Station so he would come and get me. I called immediately when I got to the station and there was no answer. I called  few more times and when there was still no reply I started sending more SMS till I ran out of credit and could only use my free T-Mobile ‘call me back’ lifelines. I kept waiting in the cold, hoping to have a call or see my friend pop up but nothing happened after an hour. I was tired from the long flight and soon became frustrated, contemplating how I was going to spend the night.

The thought of checking into a hotel for the night came to mind but then I wondered how easy it would be with no prior booking and of course whether my wallet would allow it. (LOL) As I waited for answers, Chris called from Luton to see if I had gotten home safely and to his surprise I was still in the cold at  Black Horse Road station. He suggested that I head to Luton instead and I agreed because it was my best option. I was gutted because if I had gone straight to Luton from the airport I would have been home relaxing by then.

I got on the bus and headed to King’s Cross /St. Pancreas and then connected on a East Midlands Train to Luton. Fortunate for me, it was fast track and the first stop was Luton; so my journey seemed shorter than usual. I took notice of that terminal so I would use it whenever I’m heading to Luton. I called Chris when I got to Luton station and he came for me and we stopped by a ‘food joint’ to grab some doner kebab.  We got home and had some chit chat before heading  off to bed for some much needed rest. Of course only after I had taken a warm shower.

….and now the heart break and more wahala

When I woke up, the only thing on my mind was the GUBA Awards; how to make my way to the ceremony, what to wear and of course the big question – would I win? I spent most of the day watching TV catching up on Xfactor USA and The Xfactor. In order to make it to the awards on time in London, I started getting ready by 4pm so I could catch the 4.45 bus to Luton Town Centre in order to catch a train to King’s Cross.

I put on my Kwab Asamoah Kustom Look suit without the regular pants because it is was light and I couldn’t stand the cold around my vital organs down below. Instead I wore the jacket over a pair of black Marks & Spencer jeans. I made my way to the bus stop by 4.40pm to make sure I didn’t miss the bus. When it was 50 minutes past the hour without any trace of the bus I got worried, and needless to say I was feeling cold.  It appeared that the 4.45 bus wasn’t coming and I had to catch the next bus, which was scheduled for 5.47.

The GUBA Awards was scheduled to start at 6pm, and I wanted to be there on time. Now apparent that I would be late, I was torn between going back to the apartment to rest a bit and waiting at the bus stop in the cold for the next bus. For some strange reason, I chose the latter. Finally the bus arrived and I made my way to the train station, bought my ticket and headed to King’s Cross. I then connected via the underground and headed to the Vauxhall Train Station.  I then started looking for the City Plaza Hotel, the venue for the GUBA Awards.

Luckily I asked for directions from a gentleman who was also heading towards the ceremony and together, we found our way to the venue. Although I was late, the ceremony had not started so I  checked in and made my way to my table. I was really impressed with the organization of the awards, the seating arrangement was classy and I was fortunate to be seated next to a friend from cyber space, Emily who was also nominated for Best African Fusion Designer for her Bubushiiky brand.  So I wasn’t bored on my table;  we had a good chat as we both waited for  the announcement of winners in our categories.

Unfortunately neither of us won our category. Myjoyonline won my category and I wasn’t too disappointed at all. I knew I was up against some serious competition, I was just heartbroken because I  came all the way to UK and didn’t win. And of course I had to deal with the sharp teeth of Chris when I go back to Luton; he told me from the onset that I was wasting my money by coming all the way to the UK for an award that he was almost certain I wouldn’t win. After majority of the winners were announced I decided to leave the ceremony in order to make it back to Luton on time. Of course I had my eyes set on catching the East Midlands Train for another fast track ride back ‘home’.

When I got to the Vauxhall Station it was announced that the line connecting to King’s Cross had been closed by the fire brigade and we had to wait for almost 20 minutes before a train finally arrived. I immediately headed to the terminal where I hoped to find the East Midlands service but sadly it was closed and I had to use the long route. Oh what a wahala!

After what seemed like a never ending journey, I finally arrived in Luton. By this time I had stuffed my stomached with the cupcakes which were included in the GUBA Awards gift bag to sweeten my night of ‘heartbreak’.  I called Chris to come pick me up and the first thing he did was to ask whether I was bringing the award home either for myself or for his ghanacelebrities.com, which was also nominated in the same category. I initially answered and the affirmative but after I burst into laughter, he realised there was no win for either of us.

I got home and after enduring Chris’s dry humour, I had some rest and prayed that I will at least win the Ghana Fashion Award for Contribution to Fashion, which comes off later in November,  to wrap up what has nonetheless been a good year. Hint hint Santa!

…an end to the wahala?

Well with a few days left in Luton before I return to Ghana, I certainly wish there will be no more eventualities. Waking up one morning to find out my laptop had given up on me, surely should be the last wahala I suffer while in the UK. I had to buy a new laptop which I had not budgeted for, hence affecting my shopping plans. So if I don’t get you a gift when I return to Ghana, don’t blame me; thank God I arrived home sane!

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Ameyaw Says

Coachella through the eyes of an African

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My second showing at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival confirmed to me the sheer diversity of talent and music that gets showcased each year. But Coachella is more than music and arts, it is a celebration of cultures, the spirit of people, fashion, and more. If you’re a conservative African,  then expect some cultural shocks as the festival doesn’t hold back in celebrating life and accepting it in all of its forms.

The festival embraces queer and intersecting groups, so seeing raunchy and over-the-top costumes from festival-goers is to be expected. Some of the washrooms on the festival grounds are even gender-neutral, so expect to see both women and men queuing up to use the same washroom.  Marijuana has been legal in California for many years, so you should also expect people to smoke at free range; without much care for those who don’t.  If you’re able to look beyond all these as “an African”, then you too can have a swell time at Coachella!

 

After seeing Burna Boy and Mr Eazi perform in 2019, when I had my first experience of Coachella,  I felt proud as an African.  I also noticed how the African festival-goers (from mainly across the United States and the United Kingdom) watched with some pride the performances from Mr Eazi and Burna Boy on the Coachella stage. So when the lineup was announced for 2000 to include Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and Aya Nakamura, I was happy that Africans were becoming a regular on the festival’s lineup.  Sadly, Covid-19 didn’t let that happen in 2020 and 2021. In fact, I almost entered a $2,000 bet with my colleague blogger, David Mawuli that when the festival returned, there would be a Ghanaian artist on the lineup. Thank goodness I rather spent that money on a bonus hunt online casino. Well, at least I won $120 back!

 

When the lineup was announced for 2022, the only African on the main stages was Black Coffee, while fellow South Africans,  Major League DJZ scheduled for The DoLab tent. So when I attended weekend two of the festival, I made sure to watch Black Coffee’s set. He played on Day 1. Unlike the Burna Boy and Mr Eazi sets, that I witnessed in 2019, the audience at Black Coffee’s set was not predominantly Africans. It was a global audience. The crowd was as thick as it was energetic.  It was also exciting to hear the 2022 Grammy Award Best Dance/ Electronic Album-winner, incorporate remixes of some authentic African rhythms in his set.

 

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Arooj Aftab, Coachella 2022, Friday 04-22, Gobi, Performances, Weekend 2 Credit/Provider
Beth Saravo

On Day 1, I also showed some interest in Pakistani vocalist Arooj Aftab, who won the Grammy this year for Best Global Performance.  A lot of Africans had tipped ‘Essence’ by Wizkid and Tems for that award. So, I had to find out for myself what makes Arooj Aftab tick.

 

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With these two performances of interest out of the way, I stuck to my plan of focusing on big acts that I haven’t seen performing before because, with the grand nature of the festival and the sheer size of the venue, it is simply impossible to experience everything!

 

The Empire Polo Club is a 78-acre polo club, which leases out its polo grounds for the festival. The venue is so huge that festivalgoers walk for several miles before getting into the main entrance to the festival grounds. When accounting for land used for parking and camping, the event covers a footprint of over 600 acres!

 

Across the grounds, several stages continuously host live music. The main stages are the Coachella Stage, Outdoor Theatre, Gobi Tent, Mojave Tent, and Sahara Tent; in addition to the smaller Yuma stage and Sonora stage. Each stage was unique in appearance and suited for the lineup of artists on it. The big stages had elaborate settings to create various visual aesthetic attributes needed to project the individuality of the artists and make festival-goers enjoy their performances even better.

Ari Lennox, Coachella 2022, Coachella Stage, Friday 04-22, Performances, Weekend 2

 

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I missed Ari Lenox’s performance at Afrochella in Ghana this past December so, I had to experience her set especially after all the buzz she generated on social media with her visit to Ghana.  The sultry singer hit the stage, giving fans a look and performance to remember. The D.C. native hit the stage in a jaw-dropping gold ensemble to perform several ‘woke female’  themed songs for her fans.

Anitta proved why she is a sensation in the Latin world and beyond, with her high octane performances. The Brazilian singer changed into three different sexy outfits that accentuated her figure as she rocked them in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

 

Baby Keem, who recently won a Grammy for best rap performance, was one of the up-and-coming hip-hop performers at the festival. One of the highlights from his set was bringing on label boss, Kendrick Lamar, a little over 30 minutes into his set. The rappers, both in all-black ensembles, performed together for the final two songs including “family ties.”

 

I ended Day 1 with Harry Styles who literally brought disco to the desert! One of the biggest highlights from the set of the “As It Was” singer, was bringing Lizzo on stage to perform a song from the One Direction archives.  It was fun to see him perform with so much energy, and he was very interactive with the crowd too.

 

Day 2

Giveon, Performances, Saturday 04-23, Weekend 2

 

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On Day 2 I kicked things off with a performance from R&B singer, Giveon. I was late in getting to the venue but was happy to at least see him perform his hit song ‘Heartbreak Anniversary’ before he left the stage. I then visited The Do Lab stage for some electrifying DJ mixes and performances.

 

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Grammy-winning rapper, Megan Thee Stallion showed all the hot girls and boys of Coachella how a superstar commands a stage during her hour-long set. She opened her show with “Megan’s Piano” wearing a black and silver spacey one-piece with futuristic glasses on. She and her backup dancers shook everything they had, and the crowd went wild as expected.

 

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Rapper, Isaiah Rashad opened his set with a powerful pre-recorded film acknowledging recent speculation about his sexuality. In a collage of media footage and audio, commentators react to a video of Rashad leaked this year,  showing the rapper being intimate with two men.  He gave fans back-to-back performances of his hit songs amidst cheers and a lot of support.

Billie Eilish, Coachella Stage, Saturday

When I saw Billie Eelish on the Coachella lineup in 2019 I didn’t know her back then, so I didn’t attend her set, but days after I found out she was the new it-girl and she later went on to sweep the Grammy Awards the following year. So, this time I simply had to experience her, and I did! Her 90-minute set featured songs like “NDA,” “Therefore I Am,” “idontwannabeyouanymore” and “You Should See Me In A Crown.” She had a small accident when she fell onstage while singing “Getting Older.” Later on during her set, Eilish brought along her brother Finneas O’Connell for an acoustic cover of her single “Your Power.”

21 Savage, Coachella 2022, Performances, Sahara, Saturday 04-23

I closed the night with a little bit of 21 Savage!

 

Day 3

 

On Day 3 I was physically worn out from all the standing and walking, so I didn’t want to do too much. I circled my day around a few acts.  I kicked off with Brixton rapper Dave, whose set was attended by a huge UK crowd that cheered him along throughout his performance!

 

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He recreated his “Alex From Glasto” viral moment from 2019 by picking a fan from the crowd to join him on stage to rap a verse from ‘Thiago Silva,’ his 2016 hit with AJ Tracey.  He also performed his hit song ‘Location’ which features Burna Boy. Dave’s set was one of my favorites!

 

Since I had seen Doja Cat recently at Day N Vegas, I only saw the tail end of her set, as I wanted to go to the Coachella Stage on time to get closer to the headliners Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd. I wasn’t so sure when they were announced as the replacement of Kanye West but seeing them back-to-back made so much sense, and the energy was just what was needed to bring Coachella to an end!

 

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Swedish House Mafia started things off, dropping hit electronic dance music tracks back-to-back, punctuated by fireworks and pyrotechnics.  Their set lasted about 55 minutes. When they played their most popular song, “Don’t You Worry Child,” they dropped the music entirely at the key moment to allow the crowd to sing the chorus in unison.

Swedish House Mafia x The Weeknd, Coachella Stage, Performances, Sunday 04-24
Credit: Jacob Mulka

The Weeknd then rolled through with a crowd-pleasing list of hits, including “The Hills,” “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming.” He was amazing on the night although his set lacked a lot of the theatrics and stagecraft and special guests.  He closed his set with a slowed-down version of his mega-hit “Save Your Tears.” Then Swedish House Mafia rejoined him and they closed the set, and the 2022 Coachella experience, together with the song “Moth to a Flame.”

 

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Ameyaw Debrah wants to sue Kanye West for pulling out of Coachella, after he spent over $3000 planning his trip

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Ghanaian blogger, Ameyaw Debrah is looking to sue someone over Monday’s news that rapper, Kanye West had pulled out of the upcoming Coachella Music and Arts festival…and Kanye for now is the obvious choice!

According to the blogger, he has spent almost $4,000 in booking flights and a hotel for the two-weekend festival in Indio, California, which runs April 15-17 and April 22-24.  He pointed out the unusually high prices of accommodation in the area due to the festival.

In a video posted on Ameyaw TV, Debrah cited possible mental stress from spending so much money, and not getting what he paid for in the end.  He however hopes the Kanye’s replacement can make up for his troubles.

According to reports from Variety, reps for West and the festival did not immediately respond to requests for comment as to why the rapper pulled out of the festival.

The reason for his cancelation was not immediately clear, although a source tells Variety that he had not rehearsed or prepared for the appearance. While West played a full set, accompanied by Drake, at the Los Angeles Coliseum in December, Coachella is North America’s largest music festival and by necessity runs a very tight operation. West also pulled out of a planned headlining appearance at the 2020 festival — which ultimately was postponed until this year due to the pandemic — mere days before it was announced, sources confirmed to Variety at the time.

Yet there are many other reasons why news does not come as a shock, as West’s unpredictable and combative behavior in recent months put a question mark over his appearance even as it was announced in January; he had been barred from a planned appearance at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards due to what was described as his “concerning online behavior.” West canceled the closing dates of his 2016 “Saint Pablo” tour and was hospitalized for mental-health reasons shortly afterward, following incidents that were similar in ways to his behavior in recent months. West has said many times that he suffers from bipolar disorder.

Coachella’s first two nights will be headlined by Harry Styles and Billie Eilish. The festival essentially hedged its bets on West by billing EDM titans Swedish House Mafia in an unspecified spot on the lineup, listed at the bottom of the official announcement poster, leaving open the option of the group replacing him as Sunday’s headliner in the event he pulled out. With the festival just 11 days away, that seems a likely scenario.

Rumors had been circulating that Travis Scott would be joining West for the performance, but TMZ says that he will not be appearing either. Scott has been keeping a low profile since 10 people died in a rush toward the stage during his headlining performance at his Astroworld festival in Houston in October.

Such an appearance would be on-message for West, who in recent months has been publicly embracing such ostracized celebrities as Marilyn Manson, who is accused of sexual assault, and DaBaby, who has made unapologetically homophobic comments in recent months.

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‘I hail you’- Kelvynboy reacts as Sarkodie requests for his “Down flat” song to be played in a club in London

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Ghanaian rapper, Sarkodie is all about helping bring the young ones in the music industry up. (more…)

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Africans don’t trust each other – my experience with an Ethiopian taxi driver in Las Vegas

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Ameyaw Debrah at palazzo gondola

My recent trip to Las Vegas, Nevada came with many experiences, as I put myself out there to explore the city a lot more than I did in my previous two visits. My first time in Vegas was for one night only, to attend the Miss Universe finale in 2017.  My second time was for the Day N Vegas festival in 2019, which also brought me back for a third time this year.

On day-two of Day N Vegas, I had an experience that corroborated the belief of many Africans, that we do not trust one another.  Due to Day N Vegas, most of the area around the Las Vegas Festival Grounds was closed to taxis and rideshare apps such as Uber and Lift, which made it very stressful to get a car whenever I closed from the festival and headed to my hotel room. It meant that after walking and standing at the grounds for hours, we had to walk quite a distance to look for cars.

My experience was even made worse when the data on my AT&T phone number kept failing, meaning that after all the stress covering the concerts, I couldn’t use Uber to request for a ride.  On the night of day 2, I discovered that there was a pick-up point for taxis within the Circus Circus Hotel, Casino & Theme Park. Sadly the taxis were not coming in as rapidly as I would have wished for. I was the third in line, but it took over one hour of standing in the queue till I finally got a taxi.

When the taxi came, I got in but when the driver asked for the address I was going to, I couldn’t remember the location of my hotel. I mentioned the name of the hotel, but the driver wasn’t familiar with it and insisted that he couldn’t take me if I didn’t get the address for him. I wasn’t willing to waste the hours of standing and waiting to be turned down by any driver. My internet wasn’t working, and I tried to ask him to use his internet Ito locate the hotel, but he was indifferent. I told him “lets go to downtown and I will know where my hotel is,  because it’s not far from the Fremont Street”.

Finally, he agreed and moved on. Then he started a conversation with me, once he suspected I was from Africa. I told him I was from Ghana when he told me he was Ethiopian. He asked about my visit and thought I was a ‘new rich African’ when I told him I was in town for Day N Vegas.

When, I finally arrived at my hotel I tried to pay with a card. Since it was a metered cab, I could see my fare right in front of me, with a POS device for payment. But I noted it was slightly expensive paying with  a card compared to paying cash, so I told the driver that I would rather pay with cash, after all I am African!

Then surprisingly he asked me how much I would pay him, the meter said $18 so I said I will give him $20 but he screamed “no $25!” I then gave him a $100 note to which he retorted, “are you sure it’s not fake?”.  I said no, laughed it off and collected my change.

Watch my vlog on the experience below:

Interestingly, the following night, I had internet, so I ordered for an Uber ride after the Day N Vegas finale, and again the driver was Ethiopian. This time it was a younger driver and we had an interesting conversation about Africa and the civil war in Ethiopia.

I had noticed that there were a lot of Ethiopians in Vegas. Most of the African restaurants listed on Uber Eats are Ethiopian and most of the drivers were too. When I pointed it out in our conversation, he told me that Vegas has the next biggest concentration of Ethiopians in the USA after the DMV tristate.  I also found out that affluent Ethiopians like to buy Mississauga Real Estate styled homes in the USA.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 68,001 people reported Ethiopian ancestry in 2000. Between 2007 and 2011, there were approximately 151,515 Ethiopia-born residents in the United States. According to Aaron Matteo Terrazas, “if the descendants of Ethiopian-born migrants (the second generation and up) are included, the estimates range upwards of 460,000 in the United States.

Some Ethiopians living in the US enjoy using exquisitely designed Ten Point Crossbow in archery games. Football is the most popular sport in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian national football team called the “Walyia Antelopes” won the 1962 African Cup of nations and in 2013 Ethiopia qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 31 years.

Other sports played include basketball, volleyball, and tennis. Ethiopia has a tradition of medal-winning runners: Abebe Bikila, Belayneh Dinsamo, and Derartu Tulu. Haile Gebreselassie has set several world records.

Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in education, with primary school net enrolment tripling between 2000 and 2016 to the current 100 per cent.  Although most children enroll in school, many do not complete their education: 85 per cent make it past Grade 5 and 54 per cent past Grade 8. Progress has been enabled through a sustained government-led effort to reduce poverty and expand the public education system equitably. This has been backed by substantial increases in national education expenditure and aid to the sector, as well as improved planning and implementation capacity at all levels. According to Boardingschools.ca, there is a good number of Ethiopians having higher education in Canada.

Ethiopian national identity is grounded in the long history of Christianity and Islam in the region, and independence from foreign rule since antiquity.

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How to make money online as a blogger or content creator

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With over 15 years of covering entertainment in Ghana and beyond under my belt, I still cannot get over comments on social media that suggest that many Ghanaians don’t understand the concept of blogging. (more…)

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People & Lifestyle

Accra – Lome – New York, an amazing experience with Ethiopian Airlines

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Ahead of my trip to the US, I looked online for an affordable ticket that would be within the budget or total planned expenditure for my trip. I saw an Ethiopian Airlines flight that was at a very good price and not too many stops.

 

Although the flight connected via Lomé, Togo I decided to give it a try because the flight hours were very interesting. I would leave Accra at 10.10 am and arrive in New York around 7 pm. It would be my first travel from Ghana to the US, that sees me arriving on the same day of travel. So, I went ahead and booked the flight on my new favorite booking site, Fareboom.

 

This was the second time flying Ethiopian Airlines, after going to Brazil with a chartered flight for the World Cup in 2014. So I was looking forward to my first real experience on the airline that prides itself as “The new spirit of Africa”

 

Just a few days to the flight I had a call from the country manager for Ethiopian Airlines about a post I had made. In our conversation, she asked about my son. I told her I was in fact going to the USA in a few days to see my family on Ethiopian Airlines. She asked about my flight details. When I told her I was in economy, she offered to upgrade me to business class so I could have a better experience. Well, I couldn’t turn down such an amazing offer. She told me to remind her a day to my flight so she can confirm for me, and she did just that!

 

On the flight day, I went to the airport early so I would not be found wanting due to the ever-changing travel protocols. When I last visited the US some two months ago, having a vaccination card was not a mandatory requirement, but now it is if you are travelling from Ghana!

 

I boarded the Asky flight to Lomé after a quick breakfast experience at the Adinkra Lounge as part of the perks of my business class upgrade. The 25-minute flight was very smooth, and the business cabin was very relaxing. I was served some welcome drink when we took off. Since it was a short trip there was no meal service on the flight.

 

On arrival at the Lomé–Tokoin Airport (also known as Gnassingbé Eyadéma International Airport), I made my way to transfers and went through two security checks as I made my way to the Ethiopian Airlines gate.

 

Soon they announced boarding and I majestically made my way into Cloud Nine (Ethiopian Airlines’ Business Class). This was my first time in the business cabin of a Boeing 787 8 (twin jet). The 2-2-2 configuration is beautiful, comfortable, and spacious. I was welcomed with a welcome drink by the very pleasant crew.

 

Soon we took off on a trip that would last for over 10 hours. But it was smooth every step of the way. I checked out the blockbuster movie offering, and I was immediately drawn to “Locked Down” because I had the cast members talk about the movie on the Graham Norton Show just after the COVID-19 lockdowns, so I decided to watch that first.

 

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When it was time for lunch, it was such a treat! The service felt like having a four-course meal at an exclusive restaurant. In fact, this was my first time seeing a service like that.

The starter pack came with Injera Salmon (a roll of smoked salmon), Mediterranean Couscous with Balsamic Grilled Vegetables and a Pacific Rim Coastal Salad.

 

The next meal came on a serving trolly/ cart, and it was an Ethiopian National Dish.  This consisted of Doro Wot (Ethiopian Spicy Chicken Stew), Tibs Firfir (Ethiopian Style Spiced Stew Mixed with Fried Beef and Injera), Ater Alecha Wot (Split Peas Stew with Turmeric), Yebeg Alicha (Turmeric Lamb Stew) and Gomen Wot (sautéed kale). I tried them all for the culture. My favorite was the Doro Wot.

 

For my main, I opted for Chicken Ala king with Riz Pilaf and Steamed Vegetables. I really enjoyed the chunkiness of the chicken breast, yes, it’s my favorite part of the chicken. I closed lunch with some cheesecake for dessert.

 

After lunch I completed my movie and then reclined my seat into flatbed mode and slept a little. The angle lie-flat seat allows passengers to recline to a near 180 degrees, with a footrest to put your feet up. My earlier self-made cocktail of orange juice and vodka also helped me to knock off about 3 hours of the flight.

 

When I woke up, I listened to the music offering (from pop to R&B and Afrobeat) and started writing this post (or at least the skeleton of it). A little over an hour-twenty minutes before landing, it was time for a Hot Light Meal dinner. I started with Ye Ayeb Ena Siga Dabo (Teff tortilla stuffed with Ethiopian minced beef sauce pressed in oven with cheese and sesame seed). Again, there was a Pacific Rim Coastal Salad with some crispy fresh bread to go with it.

 

For my main, I chose the Pan-fried Chicken Breast, Chicken Jus with Sautéed Mixed Mushrooms, Mashed Potatoes with Garlic, Boiled Broccoli and Pumpkin. This was simply yummy; I loved the flavors of the potatoes.  I then indulged in some Assorted Fresh Seasonal Fruit Selection and a roll cake.

 

After the dinner and drinks, I just sat back, relaxed, and waited for us to land.  Not long after, the captain brought the flight to a smooth landing, and I made my way to immigration and then to baggage claim. As I got into an uber and made my one-hour-drive to Newark, New Jersey, I had good memories of the flight and how the amazing crew made sure I was comfortable throughout the journey. In fact, I was so satisfied, from the food I ate on the flight, that I didn’t eat again till I went to bed. I can say for now that no flight serves food like Ethiopian Airlines.

 

I really hope that I do get a similar experience on my return trip to Ghana, I don’t want to do economy again….hahaha!

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AfCON 2021

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