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Ameyaw Says

How I missed my flight in Lagos: the food, the traffic or the ‘moronic’ airport security?

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It appeared that my recent trip to Lagos, Nigeria to cover the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) was doomed when I found out last minute that my flight had not been booked in spite of getting an accreditation to cover the awards days ahead of the ceremony.  Since I didn’t want to miss out on the action and prior plans to meet some friends and colleagues during the period, I decided last minute to buy a ticket for Lagos. I packed some few items and rushed to the airport so I don’t miss the only flight to Lagos that would allow me to cover the awards that same evening. Fortunately I got to the airport on time to buy my air ticket and to check in with my colleague, Ebenezer Anangfio of Ghanacelebrities.com. As the last Ghanaian delegation to leave Accra, we were constantly in touch with some of our colleagues who were already in Lagos to keep tabs on events in Lagos. Finally we got onto the plane and in 40-50 minutes were had already arrived at the Mutala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. We went through immigrations smoothly and it was interesting to note that the officer who inspected my travel certificate had not seen the document type before in all his duties as an immigrations officer. My passport had expired and I had applied for a new one that was taking forever to arrive, so I had to go for a travel certificate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a few days earlier to allow me to travel to Nigeria for the awards. After all the checks we collected our luggage and immediately looked for a private taxi cab to take us straight to the Eko Suite Hotels in Victoria Island for the awards. Immediately we arrived, we found a safe place to keep our luggage and went straight to cover the red carpet ceremony. After a few fashion photos on the red carpet it was time to head into the main auditorium for the ceremony. We weren’t allowed to take our cameras into the hall because apparently some networks had publishing rights on the ceremony. Clearly an inconvenience for Ebenezer and me because we had just arrived from the airport and didn’t even know where we were going to stay for the night and our luggage was left in the care of people we didn’t know at the reception area of the hotel. Luckily Ghanaian film maker, Leila Djansi was staying at the Eko Hotel so we took her key and sent our cameras and luggage to her room. Needless to say, with the stress of coming to the awards ceremony straight from the airport, hunger and the stress of accommodation on my mind, I didn’t really enjoy the ceremony. I felt tired and each time a presenter or award recipient went on stage to talk unendingly, I cursed myself.  Between the awards, speeches and performances, the ceremony lasted well over 4 hours – only in Africa! Before the last award was announced we rushed to the hotel room to pick up our cameras and luggage so we wouldn’t miss out on photo moments after the ceremony or even miss our bus, since we had been informed by our coordinator that our hotel was in Maryland, quite a distance from the venue. Right after the ceremony we took shots of some winners, conducted a few interviews and got on the bus to our hotel in Maryland. We arrived at the hotel after 2AM but sleep was an option only after we had found something to eat.  We went to the restaurant and we were advised by our colleagues who had stayed in the hotel for some few days to go for the Eba and Egusi stew option. We ate and had some drinks together and had some conversations before heading to our rooms to get SOME MUCH NEEDED SLEEP. After tossing and turning on the bed, as Ebenezer and I had to share a room with our colleague, Francis Addo from News One and Daily Guide, I finally had some sleep at around 5AM. Just as I was beginning to enjoy the sleep, and possibly start snoring, the phone rang saying it was time to leave the hotel for the airport. Cranky and all confused, I woke Francis up to find out what was going on. I had booked my return ticket for the following day so I wasn’t leaving for Ghana that day.  Francis and the rest of the Ghana group had an early evening flight and Ebenezer’s flight was much later in the evening. We all woke up, packed our bags and dressed up ready to leave.  When we got to the reception we found out that the call was meant for the Kenyan delegation which had their return flight in the morning. Needless to say, I couldn’t return to sleep and we spent the rest of the morning chatting, sorting out pictures and breakfast came in between. Since I wasn’t leaving with the Ghana group, I decided to look for accommodation at a central part of Lagos so I could meet fiends easily and also have easy access to the airport when leaving the following evening. I called my Nigerian pal, Augustine to come for me so I could look for a cool hotel. Since Ebenezer’s flight was later in the evening he decided to come with us and stay till his flight was due. Augustine found a place for me in the chaotically busy area of Ojodu Berger but I settled in quite well because I was indoors mostly after Ebenezer had left for Ghana. The following day I arranged for to meet a number of friends from social media and colleagues in the media before leaving Lagos for Ghana. Fortunately most of them came around at the same time and so we had a group meeting at a bar across the street, where we had some drinks and tried more local Nigerian dishes. This time I went for pounded yam and Egusi stew. In between the meetings, I had a quick visit to the office of Ultima Studios, producers of the hit Project Fame West Africa series. I was then left with one more meeting before heading to the airport and back home to Ghana; at least that was what I thought! My last meeting was with budding Nigerian rapper, Luni whom I had done a few features on back home in Ghana.  He arrived with Bolaji, a PR and advertising practitioner that I had been communicating with via emails also.  They decided to take me to dinner and later drop me off at the airport so I packed my bags and set off to have my last meal in Lagos. We drove to a Government Reserved Area in Ikeja where we spotted one of Bolaji’s favourite hangouts, Brown’s. Brown’s is a scenic lounge with lots of functional spaces and a smell that whets your appetite even before your food arrives.  And by the number of times that the issue of food has already appeared in this feature, I’m sure you can tell by now that I love my food, even if you couldn’t tell from my heading! So where does all the food go? That’s a subject for another day. I ordered Chicken Cordon Bleu, a delicious French classic made from chicken rolled around ham and Swiss cheese. Bolaji pressured the chef to serve us quickly since we were in a hurry to go to the airport before 9.15 pm. The food arrived and as I started enjoying my Chicken Cordon Bleu with sautéed potatoes I even forget I had a flight to catch.  We finished eating by 8pm and rushed off to the airport. After facing the hectic Lagos traffic, we arrived at the airport at around 8.30pm. I immediately checked in my luggage and headed to the security area for the final checks. I met a long queue of passengers from other airlines and clearly there was no way I could catch my 9.15 flight to Ghana if I joined that queue. I was advised to bypass the line and use the fast track queue.  But the security at the queue turned me back in spite of telling him my flight was leaving soon. So I got onto the queue and tried to get ahead a few people by telling them my flight had started boarding. But still I had a very long way to go to get to the immigrations and body scan. I got out of the queue severally to explain to the security my situation but they turned me away each time I did, and very rudely too. I even got one security lady to explain the situation to them but they still wouldn’t listen. When I heard the final boarding call I angrily approached the security again and when I said they just made the final call, he asked me why I didn’t come out of the queue earlier to tell him. I explained that he turned me away five times already and he called me a liar. I asked him to ask those behind me for the number of times he had turned me away and he shamefully noticed his stupidity. If he hadn’t admitted that I had the right to bypass the queue, I wouldn’t have the nerve to refer to the airport security as ‘moronic’ as my heading suggests. With the security out of my way I went through the body check and rushed to the boarding gate but sadly the airline had closed off their gate. I could only stand and look around gutted, and of course curse the airport security! I explained to the airline officials and they offloaded my luggage. I tried to rebook for the early morning flight but was told it was already full.  Confused and not knowing what to do, I called my friend Onyeka to come get me and find a place for me to stay so I could come early in the morning to try and get a free space in the morning flight to Accra. Not long after that call, Luni called to check if I was already in Ghana and I broke the funny news to him, that I am still at the airport. Since he lived very close the airport he offered to come for me to spend the night with his family. Onyeka was already on his way, so we decided that he would pick me from the airport and drop me off. When I got to Luni’s home, I had some good hot bath and an interesting chats with his dad and younger brother about the whole incident before heading off to bed. In the morning I went to the airport with Luni to book the evening flight and then went out and about the make the best of the day. We attended the Creative Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria at the British Council, a monthly forum that explores the provision of learning and networking platforms for Creative Entrepreneurs to shine in their chosen fields of work. Three months down the line, they seem to have excelled at growing the interest of Nigerians in the Creative Industry. The edition we attended centered on topics like funding, strategic planning and managing business growth. Speakers of the day included Akin Oyebode, Head of SME Banking at Stanbic IBTC; Tunde Ladipo of Verify Consult; and Ayeni Adekunle [AyeniTheGreat] founder and CEO of BHM/Publisher of Nigerian Entertainment Today who presented a case study on the success of Nigerian Entertainment Today. Ayenithegreat shared how his experience as a journalist with Encomium, Punch and This day newspapers, culminated into thenetng.com.  Attendees included young entrepreneurs with concept ideas, startups, established professionals looking for new revenue channels, bloggers, artistes, media practitioners and executives from various corporations seeking integrations and partnerships of excellence within the creative industry. After the seminar we accompanied Bolaji to a meeting, where we had dinner before heading back to Luni’s place to get ready for the airport. Nothing was going to make me miss my flight again; not even FOOD.  I got my luggage said bye to the family and headed straight to the airport. This time I checked in and went through the body check two clear hours to departure! And when I got home took shower, ate and slept!  ]]>

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