10869 feet high at 539 miles an hour 3 hours into my first flight to a city I’ve only first heard of in regards to this trip, Accra, Accra… how do you pronounce it?
The capital of Ghana West Africa for some cool, welcomed reason has its own check-in at the Delta terminal at JFK. No lines, no waiting, just “thank you sir have a great flight”. I learned a long time ago not to look at my bag as its being tagged and checked. Just turn and keep it moving worriless.
I’m through security and a quick visit to the Burger King. Now I'm boarding the plane.
Being a poet has taken me too many places I thought I’d never see like Boise, Idaho and Oswego, New York. I joke; I’ve been to about 20 states performing plus, Alaska, Montreal, Amsterdam… It’s been a good run.
I've had trepidation about this trip from the moment it was confirmed that I would be going for sure. Not fear of flying or being in a foreign land but like a fear that this would mark the end of who it is that I am as I know me to be right now, or not. Frightening. I mean Africa, the motherland. How is this not supposed to change my life? But might my desire for it change things with me keep it from doing so. Deep poetic, spiritual BS, huh? Its what I live on.
The few friends I hung with right before I was to go know that I had to be reminded that I was going to Africa in a few days or the next day. It’s like I was putting it out of my mind. One of my friends was like; “it’s not going to hit you until the doctor puts the first shot in your arm”. Got that… ah... no. It hurt though but No. There was no deep revelation, just a shot and the doctor warning me about everything. Really putting a fear in me about going. Someone said, “You feel it when you’re packing”. Nope, I checked the weather online, 84 and sunny, got out my summer clothes to go with my bug spray.
It did kind of hit me as I was leaving my mothers house and she stopped and prayed for me. She’d never done that before on a trip so I guessed it to be special. But it’s really hitting me now as I write this, 37,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, and 1,000 miles away from New York. Um, I’m on my way to Africa. At the very least it will make the world smaller and maybe… In fact I know that’s a good thing. Welcome Africa to the mind of muMs.
So we've landed.
Im in Africa, Akwaaba!! Welcome.
Im in Africa, Akwaaba!! Welcome.
We landed at about 7:15 am Ghanaian time which is 5 hours ahead of New York time. In other words Im tired. But the excitement of being here is keeping me up. As we go through immigration and show my passport the reality of being here is settling in.
We get our bags and head to customs. A very kind Ghanaian man quietly asks us “did anyone ask you to bring anything to Ghana?”
“Did you pack everything yourself?”
“Okay, so do you have any gift for me?”
Excuse me I say, “do you have a gift for me?”
Is he joking?
I realize at that moment that he is asking us for a bribe to let our bags go through. I smiled and in my best hustle-averting voice mastered in the Bronx, told him that I didn’t have any money at the moment and I’d be back after I went to the ATM. I was blown away.
So he lets us go through with our bags. Outside waiting for our ride, we see a lot of young Ghanaian men waiting around. We realize its about the phone. They offer to make a phone call for you for a price. A phone hustle. They also offer to help you with your bags, anything to make some money. They’re a little pushy. Well a lot pushy. they don't take no for an answer at all.
After a woman gets a little frustrated with one of them a large security guard comes by and tells him that he has to move. He shoves him out the way. The man resists and instantly the guard pulls out a little stick with a wooden ball at the end. He beats the man over the head with it. When it breaks he grabs the man by his collar and smacks him violently across the face. Oh shit! The man broke away and began to run away. The security man ran after him. It looked like two kids chasing each other in a yard. When he caught up to him he grabbed him by his shirt and smacked him across his face again and again and again. Her put hand cuffs on him and took him away. Minutes later the security guard was back at his post. No incident report, nothing.
Oh shit, where am I? Africa.