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Luton by bus or Accra by ‘Trotro’?

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I know this may be a weird title but as you read on, I’m sure you would come to appreciate why I chose to give such a heading to cap my recent experience in the UK.  I could have given it a heading to reflect how cold the weather was but that would be rather predictable, and by now I am certain that readers know I am anything but predictable. If waking up one day in sunny Accra to decide to go to the cold winters of UK the following morning with no adequate preparations isn’t impulsive, then nothing is!

My first Virgin experience!

Ever since meeting Olympic medalist and Chairman of the Laureus Sports, Edwin Moses some years back, I have developed an interest in the Laureus World Sports Awards and nurtured a desire to cover the awards. But in spite of getting accreditation to cover the last two editions, I was never able to do so. When I decided within a short period to cover this year’s awards in London, Virgin Atlantic became the airline of choice as a result of a growing relationship with the airline in Ghana.

After writing severally about the various services that Virgin Atlantic offers both in the upper class and economy class, I was dying to experience it for myself and I must say I wasn’t disappointed. Onboard my Friday morning flight to Heathrow I knew my first experience with Virgin was going be good once I received my menu from the cabin crew. This was the first time any airline had offered me a menu to choose from in an economy class. Also, I was in premium economy class which means I had some much needed extra leg-room for my very long legs.  Back to food: for starters, I had the Welcome Cocktail, a tasty fusion of fruit juices served with or without vodka (hmm I went vodka just to calm my nerves). I stayed away from the beers, wines and spirits though. Then came the garden salad with shaved Parmesan cheese; needless to say, my palate was now ready for anything!

For my choice of a main meal with fresh bread, I opted for chicken thigh escalope with tomato stew, jollof rice and sautéed spinach and carrot. I enjoyed my meal I couldn’t help but wonder how the roasted chicken thigh served with barbeque sauce, potatoes and vegetable salona, or the beef massaman curry with white rice and mixed vegetables would have tasted. Yes call me Oliver Twist, I wanted them all.  Although the serving portions were small for a 6.4 ft African like me, together they filled my 6-pack belly just fine.  After a pause for the chicken thigh and jollof rice to digest, it was time for something sweet, vanilla mousse with sponge cake and strawberry.

With a delighted tummy, it was now time for some entertainment and virgin media/ entertainment gave me a wide array of some of the latest film releases, TV programmes and music to choose from. As a sucker for comedy my first option was ‘What’s Your Number’ and surely, I had a good laugh. After one movie I listened to some Rihanna and struggled to sleep till the afternoon tea before landing arrived. Normally afternoon tea in Ghana would be strange to me but I knew I was heading for the cold in London so it sounded only natural to play along. I still don’t do coffee so I had some tea with cheese and tomato sandwich, and a chocolate cake to seal the deal.  Before landing I also received some wine gums and mints to keep the mouth fresh and to conceal all the tasty food I enjoyed.

Cold welcome to London

408813 10150590444267381 379985283 nOnce we landed, the coldness of London winter stared me right in the face but luckily I came a bit prepared with some of my old warm clothes, even including a bubble jacket. In fact, I even had my winter gloves, though I wasn’t proud wearing them. They were smelly as I had turned them into gloves for my very ‘camp’ workouts back home, in my room.

The coldness of London almost got even colder for a moment when I was detained by immigrations because my passport was expiring in a few weeks time. I had to answer several question about why I was in the UK and when I was going back. I popped my colour and boldly replied, “I am I UK for 9 days to cover the Laureus World Sports Awards”. I surely made it seem like I was an important personality but the official wasn’t still not buying my bluff. She asked me to sit down for a while and then went into the office to find out if I could stay in the UK. She came back, asked for my return ticket and I showed it to her. Needless to say, she knew I had no cause to overstay in that cold weather.

With immigration out of the way I had to find my way to Luton where I would be staying with my friend and publisher of Ghanacelebrites.com, Chris. Got myself into the Underground train service to King’s Cross and connected with another train to Luton. If you guys read ghanacelebrities.com, then by now you would probably know that Chris is a bit loony, so I was surprised that he made me wait for him in the cold at the station for some few minutes before he came to pick me up. Needless to say I was happy when he showed up, and I quickly rushed into the warm car and headed to his apartment.  Although I was very tired I couldn’t sleep immediately as we chatted about our favourite and not so favourite Ghanaian celebrities. We ordered some pizza and drinks – a true welcome to ‘Aburokyire’.

I had an even colder welcome to the UK the following morning when I woke up to see that it was snowing as forecasted the previous day. But there was an eventful moment coming up soon that would make some people on the internet very happy. As Chris got ready to leave for work I was making a video of the level of snow in the car park and I thought it would even be better footage to capture Chris shoveling into snow to pave way for him to move his car. Unfortunately for Chris and a fortunate Kodak moment for me, he slipped on the ice and needless to say, the video because the first image I shared online. I uploaded the video unto YouTube and with the amazing internet speed it felt effortless – hmm how I wished my internet was that good back home!

Time to look crisp for Laureus sports awards!

The weekend in Luton was full of Doner kebabs and Chinese food, and also a trip to L.U Barbers, a Ghanaian owned barbering shop so I could get a nice haircut and look normal for the Laureus Sports Awards in London on Monday.  It was nice meeting the group of Ghanaian barbers and having conversations about Ghana together, of course from different perspectives. It seemed that Woyome and his judgment debt scandal was what everyone had on his mind back then. But what I had on my mind was how I would look after a haircut from barbers that seemed to have more Caucasian and Asian clients. Thankfully, I came out looking good and ready to face the awards.423278 10150590527607381 1815521963 n

On Monday, I got on the bus and headed straight to London late afternoon to have enough time to finalize my accreditation for the awards in the evening. I got to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Uniquely situated in the shadow of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye, and finalized my registration. I then had some launch and went into the press centre to catch up with some work as well as interact with some of the pressmen from other parts of the world.

Soon it was time to get ready for the red carpet event of the awards ceremony. With a transparent tunnel stretching from the car park into the hall for the awards, I knew I was in for an impressive event and I wasn’t disappointed. The pen in the tunnel was segmented into zones for the various media houses from all over the world to cover the red carpet. It was amazing seeing some sporting legends such as Arsene Wenger, Rudd Gullit, Edwin van der Sar, Boris Becker, Alex Fergusson, Lennox Lewis as well as actors Thandie Newton and Clive Owen a few centimeters away from me.

As I witnessed the over 2-hour red carpet event, I wondered if I would ever experience a red carpet of that magnitude in Ghana. Everything was well coordinated; there were even special assistants to take the warm clothes off the stars the moment they arrived so they would look ready and good for the red carpet. The clothes were well labeled with the names of the owners and then sent to into the main hall, where the ceremony was holding, and then placed on the allocated seats for the various guests, while they walked the red carpet for photos and interviews.

After the red carpet, those of us who did not have accreditation into the main hall had to move to the conference centre to watch the ceremony on live screens. And after winners were announced, they were brought to the press room for interviews and photos. I enjoyed my dinner while watching the ceremony on the screens and I was particularly happy there were two awards for Africa. The winners on the night were:

Sportsman  of the year- Tennis Player Novak Djokovic

Sportswoman  of the year – Long-Distance Runner Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya)

Best Sportsperson with a Disability – Runner Oscar Pistorius (South Africa)

Action Sportsperson of the year – Surfer Kelly Slater

Team  of the year- FC Barcelona

Comeback of the Year – Golfer Darren Clarke

Breakthrough of the Year – Golfer Rory Mcilroy

Lifetime Achievement Award – Sir Bobby Charlton

After the ceremony I stayed in London and linked up with British-Nigerian singer/composer/producer Jiff The General and ended up crashing-in at the apartment of his friend for the night. Whew!

Now time for fun and humiliations in Luton

With my main agenda for coming to the UK over and done with, I could now look forward to having some fun back in Luton, of course only as far as the weather would allow me. With Chris having his off days from work, he was available to drive me through town and I saw a bit more of Luton. We went to the Luton City Centre often to places like the mall and cineworld cinema where we watched Adam Sandler’s comedy flick, ‘Jack and Jill’.

We also went to PC World, where I met my first mortification. Pretending to be a ‘big boy’ with my visa card I thought I could shop like a superstar for the absolute necessities.  So knowing how we both needed good photos for our websites Chris and I decided to buy a Canon EOS 1000D and Sony NEX 5 on my card. After the salesman had made us a good offer on SD cards and failed in a desperate attempt to get us to also buy cases for ‘our cameras’ we proceeded to his desk to make payments.  He took my visa card, swiped it into his computer and returned it to me saying the transaction couldn’t go through. We tried again and the result wasn’t any different. The machine I didn’t say that I don’t have sufficient funds so the salesman suggested that perhaps I had exceeded my daily allowance on my card.  But I knew that couldn’t be the case since it was the first time I was using the card on my arrival to the UK. He suggested that we should try billing just one camera to see if it would go through and it returned the same result.  Now completely ashamed, I told him to hold on to ‘our cameras’ while we dashed out to call my bank in Ghana to sort out the issue.

I called the bank and found out I had a daily allowance of only 500ghc and I had to increase the ceiling at the bank before leaving Ghana. With all my shopping ideas hanging in the balance, I tried frantically to get the bank to increase the ceiling for me, to forestall any future embarrassments. I was told to hold on for a confirmation call in a few minutes. The few minutes seemed like hours as I wanted to go back to PC World to redeem my image.  Of course by now Chris was making silly jokes about how broke I am back in Ghana and I needed to put him to shame as well. As we laughed at the whole incident and in particular the way a rep from Sony snapped a photo of me buying the Sony NEX 5 for his website, I got a call from my bank saying that ceiling had been increased and it would take effect the following day.

Now evident that I couldn’t buy my camera, we decided to go back to PC World to buy Chris’ Canon camera on his card. We explained the situation to the salesman, not because we needed to but just so he wouldn’t refer to us as some broke boys from Africa once we had left. We paid for the camera and went home with some of our pride redeemed. Chris was quick to try out his camera only to reveal his lack of technological savvy. Of course, I showed him how to fix the lens and all, and he was happy to test shoot.

Getting lost on the bus and missing Accra ‘Trotro’

426117 10150590463477381 280368726 nSo now, back to why I chose such a heading for this article. With Chris being off from work and taking me round town, I had not used much public transport within Luton, and with my experience with a ‘Black Cab’ in London, any kind of taxi was not was not a choice of transportation for me anymore.  However with Chris back to work and my days in Luton drawing closer to an end, I had to do some shopping for Ghana. This meant I had to find my way to the mall. I am terrible with direction so although I had been to the mall severally, I couldn’t find my bearings there and so had to call on Chris for direction and the schedules for the bus to the city centre.

Fortunately there was a bus stop in front of the apartment so I didn’t have to walk that long in the cold to wait for the next bus.  Once on the bus I paid my fair to the city centre and thank goodness, I didn’t miss it since it’s a popular stop. I wished the story would be the same on my way back. I got off the bus and went straight into the mall to buy some items for myself, friends and family back home.  After shopping, I grabbed a quick bite from an Indian restaurant before heading back to the bus station to find a bus back to the apartment.

I got on the bus and paid for the fair to street where the apartment was located but sadly the bus made a stop on my street and passed without me noticing. I started getting worried because I knew I had to get off a few blocks from L.U Barbers and we had already gone pass it. When it became clear that I was in an unfamiliar territory I called Chris to say that ‘it appeared I was lost’. The stupid boy laughed his head off when I told him I was near the Luton Hospital. He asked me to get off at that bus stop and head back in the opposite direction so I got off the bus.

 

As I waited for minutes without any bus in sight I contemplated grabbing a taxi even if it was metered because I was getting very cold, and I was looking like a refugee with my luggage. Finally a bus showed up.  I told the bus conductor the name of my street and pointed it out to him to alert me when we got there because I had already missed my stopped. As it turned out, it was the same bus that was making a return journey and so the driver could make me out. He told me not to worry and true to his word he took me to my stop this time around.

When I got home I quickly dashed into the bathroom for a warm shower. As I bathed, I said to myself that this would never happen in a ‘trotro’ back home in Accra.  In Accra, at every bus stop, the ‘ trotro mate’ (bus conductor) would scream out the name of the location to make sure if anyone would get off the bus.  Even in London, the buses make an announcement before the next stop and at each bus stop so why was it different in Luton? Yes, I guess I’m looking for an excuse for my daftness. In fact to show that I am not daft, I went to the mall the following day for more shopping and made my way home this time around.

Bye Bye Luton, hello Homerton!

423329 10150590464502381 1400101769 nIf you are wondering why I had to go shopping in Luton when I knew I was going to stay in London for a few days before heading back to Accra, the answer is simple; I enjoy convenience and Chris had offered to drive me to London from Luton. So I didn’t have to think about carrying my heavy bags onto a train to London.

We grabbed some chicken and chips with some drinks for our joyride and keyed in the Homerton address of my friend, Ohene Darko into the TomTom Navigator and off we went to London.  After a few wrong turns we located Ohene’s apartment.  Ohene, a gospel musician that I did some publicity for a while back, assisted me to carry my bags inside after Chris had left. As it was my first time meeting Ohene, we spent some time catching up on Ghana and his music before I went to bed.

The following morning, I set off to Brixton to meet a family for some stuff to take back home to my uncle – typically African!  When I got back I ate some food and had some rest because I wanted to go to Dalston Street Market with Ohene later in the day.  When I woke up, I freshened up and got on the train with Ohene to go check out the popular Dalston Market and also to meet with another friend to collect more stuff for family back in Ghana.425732 10150590473977381 1656589872 n

At Dalston Market, I looked around just to check out some Ghanaian market and I was particularly excited to see Moni Matters music store, where Ghanaian music was buzzing out of the speakers and also on sale just like you would find it in Kantamanto or any music distribution outlet in Ghana.  I checked out the collection and I must say it was impressive. From the market, we went to McDonalds to grab something to eat and also wait for my friend to bring the items I was going to send to Ghana for her. After the tasty treat and the meeting I left with Ohene to see his music studio in Hackney.408145 10150590479412381 1733903793 n

At the studio, I met with Ohene’s collaborator, OT who is also a musician, producer, graphic designer and the man responsible for Ohene’s music videos including ‘Nsesa Beba’.  As Ohene worked on some songs he was producing, we talked about the music scene back home in Ghana as well as other matter. Soon I had to head the studios of Hot Digital Radio in Leyton for an interview with Teddy Abrokwa. It had been ages since I last saw Teddy, a good friend of my older brother.

While on air, we talked about Ghana’s entertainment scene, my work and more.  The Ghana Black Stars had also lost out on the third position slot in the 2012 AFCON to Mali that night so that was also a point for discussion in the studios. I certainly had fun and after the show, the producer, Daniel Swizzlebeats Cobbina drove me back to Ohene’s apartment. Surely my last night in UK had been eventful.

Time to go back home

So soon it was time to head back to Ghana and I packed all my stuff ahead of my evening flight.  It had been a cold short stay and I couldn’t meet as many of the people I wanted to meet, nonetheless I had enjoyed it. I seemed ready to go back home but I still didn’t have my camera following the shameful incident at the Luton PC World. I was determined to get a camera before going home so Ohene suggested that we go and check out the newly built Westfield Stratford shopping centre to see if I would get my camera.

We got on the train to Stratford and it was interesting to note that Ohene had not yet been to Stratford in spite of living just a few minutes away for so long.  So our visit to Stratford was as much of an excursion for me as it was for him. From the little information I gathered, the Startford Mall was build for the 2012 Olympic Games and so I wasn’t too shocked at the beauty and magnificence of the edifice, because I know London wants to make a grand statement with the Olympics and I hope that statement would be reflected also in the tally of medals.423052 10150590519437381 574081314 n

Surprisingly, one of the first shops I saw was Black by PC World and I wasted no time to go in to search for my Sony NEX 5. Sadly, although the camera was on display it was out of stock in the shop and the only way I could get it was to order it from another branch and pick up the following day. However since I was leaving for Ghana in a few hours it wasn’t going to be possible.  So I had to go for my second option of a Canon EOS 1100D. This time there was a rep from Canon in the shop who snapped a photo of me with my new camera for their website. By the way I haven’t seen the photo yet so if you come by the photo on any Canon website send me the link.

With my camera issue now sorted, I went through the mall for some window shopping before heading back to Homerton to get ready for the airport. Had my last warm shower in the cold and dressed up to brace the cold from Homerton to Heathrow. Ohene whipped up his special vegetable salad with some French bread for us to eat before we left for the train station. Ohene helped out with my luggage till the final change in circuit to Heathrow Airport.  I immediately proceeded to check in when I arrived at the airport and made my way to the boarding gate once check-in was complete.

As I sat waiting for the boarding call I was just anticipating what my return affair with Virgin Atlantic was going to be like.  Well, I found out it wasn’t any less of an experience than my flight to the UK was. As usual I started with some cocktail and this time, I thought to make travelling at night and arriving in the morning less stressful I could do some gin and juice. Then I started the meal with Tomato and Cucumber with seasonal salad leaves, and packed it with Cape Malay Chicken curry with sweet potatoes and rice. Also on the menu was Braised beef cobbler with mashed and green beans; and African sweet chicken curry with mixed rice.   For dessert, I had Gu Chocolate and orange mousse served with tea.

My entertainment came complete with the humorous Jonny English Reborn and The Adventures of Tintin, both movies I was waiting to see at some point. I tried to sleep a bit but as usual with little luck. How at all do people manage to sleep in an airplane? Before landing, breakfast came in the form of fresh fruits, cinnamon Danish pastry, yoghurt drink and tea.

When we landed I felt the sharp change in weather almost immediately and as I went through the immigration I started sweating. Clearly I was back home in Ghana, home sweet home. Nothing said welcome back home like going through customs, feeling like you owed them a favour instead of going through standard checks. Any way I was back home and that was all that mattered.

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No show from Sista Afia and more catfights, as cast of ‘GH Queens’ gather for ‘Reunion show’

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Just as it was reported during the premiere event for ‘GH Queens’ sometime in April, some stars from the pseudo-reality TV show were again missing from the Reunion show, which started airing on Friday. Yes, the fiesty Sista Afia and Fantana will not be making an appearance on the three-part special reunion show on Akwaaba Magic (DStv channel 150). (more…)

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Coachella through the eyes of an African

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Ameyaw Debrah at Coachella 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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