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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.

The “Most Decorated Rapper in Africa” took the “promote your own” campaign a top notch further recently at a club in London when he requested for Kelvynboy’s “Down Flat” song to be played.

The song currently the number one song in Ghana, has had a lot of people dancing and participating in the challenge. This request by Sarkodie will also open the song to audiences in London who may not have heard the song yet.

When Kelvynboy first heard the news, he tweeted;

“So King @sarkodie requested at a club in London last night for #Downflat to be played for him!! Love like this!! Hail you 👑.”

Watch video below;

 

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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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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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Ameyaw Says

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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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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My super hectic first travel since COVID-19, and how United Airlines made it a little better!

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Ameyaw Debrah and family

When I decided to visit the US for family and a little work, I tried a number of flight options on various booking platforms but finally settled on what Fareboom had to offer.  It was my first time using the platform, based on the recommendation of my wife. New to the platform, I felt frustrated by the initial process, where my flight had been booked but was yet to be confirmed. And then when everything was about to be finalized, days before the takeoff, I had a call from Fareboom that I had to use my Facebook account to verify my transaction. Well I did just that, and surprisingly everything fell into place from there.

 

I did a multiple city booking on United Airlines from Accra-Washington-Atlanta for the first leg and then Atlanta-Newark for the second leg. The final leg was Newark-Washington-Accra. I also had a flight to Seattle in between my stay, but since I was going to do that with my son, I didn’t add it to my initial booking in order not to complicate things.

 

This was my first international travel since my last one in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. So, I wanted it to be as smooth as possible. Since my flight was on United Airlines, I downloaded the United mobile app, which offered great information throughout the various stages of my flight. In fact due to the convenience and effectiveness of the app, I started collecting my travel miles; the first time ever in my history of travelling around the world!  I booked my COVID-19 test with Leding Medical Lab at GHC250 and went to the Kotoka International Airport for actual test on my preferred date.  When the results were emailed to me, I then uploaded it on the United app and printed a copy also for the airport.

 

On the day of departure, I went to the airport about three hours ahead of my flight just to allow enough room for any eventualities due to the new travelling protocols. The process was pretty simple since I was well prepared for it. I saw the manager for United while checking in, and she offered to change my seat to one with more legroom. I had met her the previous week at the opening of the Adinkra Lounge at the airport.

 

I quickly made my way to the security check, after staying in a rather long queue. Pleasantly we were not required to take off our shoes this time, making the process a little less stressful or annoying.

 

When I boarded the flight, there wasn’t anything majorly different, apart from having to wear a nose mask all through the flight. I was given wipes to clean my hands and sitting area; and I also noticed there were hand sanitizers by the doors to the lavatories. I was a little tired so ate dinner and slept; or at least tried to sleep.

 

Hello America

 

We arrived in Washington Dulles International Airport early in the morning, where I had almost a 4-hour layover till my flight to Atlanta. Since it was my first port of entry in the US, I had to collect my luggage at reconnect after going through immigration checks. For some strange reason, even though I had only $10,000 on me, I was asked to go fill some documents to declare that I had such an amount on me. It was my first time ever travelling with that amount, and I thought I only had to declare when my money exceeds $10,000.

 

Once all that was sorted out, I called my aunt in Virginia so I could go and meet her to give her some stuff and then rush back to the airport for my flight to Atlanta. I got into an Uber using the airport Wi-Fi to go meet my aunt. After giving her the items, I freshened up a little and we started chatting about a lot of family matters. Before we knew it, I was already getting late for my flight so I got into a car and rushed back to the airport.

 

Fortunately I got back just in time to recheck my luggage in, and board the flight to Atlanta. I arrived in Atlanta and looked around to buy a SIM card like I normally do when I travel but sadly I couldn’t find any telecom company around.  After asking around frantically, I picked an Uber to my motel, Motel 6. This trip, I knew I was going to spend a lot of money in a short space so I decided to stay in motels to beat down the cost a little bit.

 

I stayed in Atlanta for 2 nights, did a feature for Ameyaw TV, met up with some friends and partied just a little bit and then moved to Newark, New Jersey.

 

In Newark, I checked into another Motel 6 for two nights. I was not impressed with my room compared to the pretty decent accommodation I got in Atlanta. It was dingy room; stained with the smell of smoke even though I told them I didn’t want a room for smoking at check in. by the time I checked out my clothes in my luggage all smelt like smoke.

 

I woke up the first morning with strange rashes all over my eyelids. My eyelids were stiff and had some burning sensations when I touched them. I applied a little shea butter and other creams on the lids, and in the next couple of days they would heal eventually.

I check out of the motel after two nights and picked up my son, Nathan to go visit my wife in Seattle.

 

First Time Flying with Nathan

 

I have always wondered how parents of very young children manage it when they fly together.  I’ve also noticed over the years that it is usually more fun and easier when kids travel with both parents, or with at least another older family member instead of just one parent. Since Nathan was born, I hadn’t travelled with him by air yet, and so I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately I was doing it all alone.

 

He was surprisingly well behaved when we got to the airport. We queued up patiently and went through the security checks brilliantly with his nose mask on, all the time. He even took off his shoes during the security check, even though he wasn’t required to do so, due to his age.

 

But the troubles started when we headed towards our boarding gate. He wanted to have anything he saw in the shops, from snacks to drinks, including alcohol. Most of the time, he wouldn’t even wait for me to pay for the items and would attempt to open them up. I got some snacks, water and candies just to calm him throughout the journey.

 

We sat and waited a bit for boarding to start but Nathan didn’t spare me! He was all over the place and simply uncontrollable. He started crying and throwing tantrums when I refused to buy everything he wanted.

 

Finally we got onboard and got seated. Fortunately, we were alone in our row. Nathan was quiet and well behaved before take off but started misbehaving shortly after. He would open the trays in front of him; and kick the seats here and there. I calmed him down a bit when I handed him some Haribos and snacks. Occasionally he would even throw some of the snacks into the general cabin. Goodness knows how uncomfortable I felt. In fact, I wanted to smack him a bit but of course I couldn’t, I was in America!

 

Thankfully he fell asleep and I got some respite for the almost 6-hour flight. I also tried to get a little rest as well. When he woke up he soon started with his tantrums and before the flight ended, I experienced one of the things I dreaded most  about traveling with kids.  Yes, Nathan urinated on himself without telling me he wanted to Pee and his pants were wet. Even worse, I had forgotten to pick an extra pair in his carryon bag. I took him to the lavatory and changed his underwear and got back to the seat.

 

Soon he got cranky and started crying about his tummy, and each time I gave him some water to cool him down. When we started to descend, he started crying about his ears because the pressure was building up in there. I tried to comfort him by hugging and covering his ear. Soon, I sensed that he had pooped, when I started smelling it. I held him closely so he would be still for the landing.

When we landed I couldn’t wait to quickly get off, so I could take him to the washroom to change him. Before getting out, most of the passengers kept praising Nathan for being well behaved and in my mind I was like what!!!!!? Anyway, I quickly dashed out and made my way into the family washroom to clean him up properly.

 

We made our way to baggage claim and there was even more tantrums from Nathan as we waited to collect our luggage from Alaska. When we got our bag, we headed out to look for my wife.  We were excited to see her, and after all the hugs and kisses we hit the road to drive for some few hours to Whidbey Island.

 

After days of family bonding and some small rest, we headed back to New Jersey. On the return flight, I was ready for all of Nathan’s tantrums. This time, I packed extra cloths in his carryon, just in case!  Well, the tantrums came in full dose and this time Nathan didn’t even sleep on the flight.

 

Thankfully, we made it to Newark around 11pm.  And, although I had said I would stay in motels to save money, I booked the Double Tree by Hilton hotel for the rest of my stay. So after collecting our luggage we ordered an Uber to the hotel for some much-needed sleep.  I took Nathan to his grandmother the following day.

 

Time to go home… angels and demons!

 

I used the rest of my stay to do some shopping, visit friends and family and also do interviews before leaving. I booked for a COVID test  ($139) in New Jersey on the recommendation of the United app. According to the airline I wouldn’t need this test if I stayed in the US for less than one week.

 

I was initially worried when I got to the lab and found out that my booking was not in their system, but I was re-registered and the test was conducted. In less than 24 hours I received my results via email and I uploaded it to the United Airlines website. I also paid $50 online for another test that would be conducted on arrival in Ghana.

 

My trip to the US had been short but full of expenses, and a lot of moving around so I was tired and couldn’t wait to get back home. On my last day before my flight home, I visited Rahway and observed a car show that took place there. When I posted the video on Facebook, a young man who runs a foundation that supports families of Ghanaian police officers, left a comment that he was close by and wanted to come meet me. I told him I was in Newark and I was leaving town the next day. He offered to come visit me early in the morning. My team covered the launch of his foundation in Ghana so I was familiar with his name and thought it would be great to see him before I left town.

 

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He called me in the morning, just before I checked out of my hotel, that he had arrived. So I went downstairs to meet him. The plan was for him to drop me off at my mother-in-law’s. So he parked and waited for me to finish everything and complete check out. But looking at the bags I had on me, we thought it would be better if he took me to the airport, instead of my mother-in-law. That way he could help me with my luggage. So we passed by my mother-in-law’s place for me to eat and say my farewell to her and Nathan, and then went straight to the airport.

 

When we got to the airport I noticed that I had left my backpack with my passport at my mother-in-law’s place. So we drove back to pick it up before heading back to the airport. At the airport, one of my bags was overweight when we weighed them, so I had to move some items from it into my other bag to balance things off. I then had to pay $200 extra for my iMac, which I bought for my video editors.  All this while, ‘my angel’ was waiting to make sure I had checked in all my bags. He gave me his credit card to pay for the extra $200 and also gave me $200 cash to keep. I was lost for words but I knew he was godsend.  Finally, I was able to check everything in, so I came out to say a final farewell to him, and I couldn’t thank him enough.

 

I eventually made my way to my flight to Washington Dulles, but not without some little incidence. The crew wanted to collect my carry-on luggage and check it in, for me to pick up when I arrive in Accra but I said no. I wanted to take it into the cabin and put it in the overhead locker because I had some delicate stuff in there and I wasn’t willing to offload them. So took my bag inside and luckily there was space in the locker for it, phew!

 

There was a little delay so when we arrived in Washington, there was a bit of a rush for most passengers who had connecting flights to catch. I had a little over 40 minutes before boarding time, so I took my time and had a long walk to the gate for our flight. Shortly it was time for boarding and I joined the queue for my zone.

 

When it got to my turn the flight manager looked at me and said ‘Mr Debrah how are you doing?’ I smiled and answered I was well. Unfortunately I couldn’t board immediately because I needed to show the results of my COVID test, as well as receipt for the one to be taken on arrival in Ghana.  So I joined another line to get everything validated before my boarding pass was stamped for me to get on the flight.

 

I went back to the flight manager who now allowed me to continue into the plane. I was just hoping that the lockers wouldn’t be full by the time I got to my seat; you know how traveling back home with Ghanaians can be.

 

Luckily I found space in the overhead locker opposite my seat. So I tucked in my luggage and took my seat quietly. I sat down quietly and waited for the flight to fill up so we can set off.  When the plane was almost ready to fly, I saw the same flight manager from earlier walking towards me. He asked me to collect my luggage and move in front with him, so I did just that.

 

Yes, he took me to the business class cabin and gave me a seat there. He introduced me to the purser and the rest of the crew for the business cabin, as a top blogger from Ghana, who was doing a lot of great work for the country. Wow, I was so happy because I really need some good rest.  I sat down and soon noticed that I had left my phones and passport in the pocket in front of my original seat in the economy cabin. I quickly rushed back there to pick it up and made my way into my new seat.

 

The purser had promised me an awesome cocktail so when the dinner service started, he brought me juices and spirits to for cocktail alongside the beef and potatoes I requested. I was really tired and needed sleep so after watching the new Mortal Kombat I leveled my seat into a flatbed and dozed off. Damn, the perks of business class!!

I woke up in the morning and ate breakfast, just before we landed in Accra.  When we got to Accra, we were the only major flight in, so it was smooth going through the COVID protocols at the airport, and being in business class meant I was amongst the first in the queue. However I found out I was also supposed to fill a health declaration form online. Since my details were not in the system when they checked for the declaration, I had to enter them using a tablet provided at the airport. On completion, I joined the queue and moved from one cubicle to the other until I got to where the actual COVID test took place. I then proceeded to go through the immigration checks.

 

I then moved to baggage claim to pick up my bags from the carousel. My iMac was the last to arrive since it was a box marked as fragile. When I got it, I moved on to pick my COVID test results and proceeded to the exit. Then came the experience from hell that ruined my fun business class highlight. Yes, I caught the prying eyes of customs, and apparently I had to pay duties on my iMac. I didn’t argue, I just wanted to just finish everything and go home to get some proper rest!

 

The customs officers asked me if I had an invoice for the computer and I said no, but I told them the price so they could use that for their calculations. When they gave me a seat I should have known I was in for a long wait. After about 30 minutes of nothing happening, some officers immerged looking to ascertain the weight of the iMac. Then it became a matter of whether they should weigh it with the box around it or not.

 

I was so infuriated because it felt like they didn’t know what they were doing. I soon started complaining that I was being delayed unduly. After over an hour I was given some forms to go and pay to the cashier. When I got there, there was nobody there. So I went back to complain and they found the cashier. When it was time to pay, I wanted to use my debit card but I was told they couldn’t accept it because my bank isn’t Ecobank.  Really? I had to go outside to find an ATM to withdraw almost GHc3,000.

Well I did and finally I was cleared to take my iMac home. Phew!

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