First taste of abrokyire wahala
My joy knew no bounds when I received a call from a colleague journalist asking me to replace him at an international conference in Berlin being organised by Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN), in September 2003.
FIAN is an international human rights organisation that advocates for the realisation of the right to food and I happened to be a member of the Ghana Chapter, which is why I was selected to be at the conference.
It was going to be my first major travel to Europe, although I was going to be away for less than a week, so you must understand my excitement.
However, my excitement almost fizzled out when after procuring my Schengen Visa from the German Embassy, I was told that the Lufthansa flight was fully booked.
Bent on the Ghana Chapter of the network having a representation at the conference, the colleague I was replacing, Mike Anane, asked if there was also no slot in business class.
After it was confirmed that there was space in the Business Class, he countered; “Put him in business class then!”
Wow! So not only was it going to be my first major trip to Europe and Germany, but I was also going to enjoy my flight in Business Class, I thought to myself. And man, wasn’t I super excited?
Flight to Dusseldorf
Coming events cast their shadows, it is said, but let me add that it takes only the one who can foretell the future to know the events before they unfold.
So although I was not in the least disappointed during the smooth flight to Frankfurt as I was pampered in Business Class, little did I know what lay in store for me once I arrived at the airport.
Unknown to me, an earlier inaugural flight of the then Ghana Airways to the German city of Dusseldorf, which I was on, and for which I was not given a visa, was going to create problems for me.
That flight was embarked on in the same week I was taking a bride, in December 2002, but I took the chance, believing that I would be back way before my wedding day at the weekend as the schedule had indicated.
Indeed, although some friends and family members were sceptical about my travel, I had little choice because I was embarking on that return trip in the line of duty.
By God’s grace, all went well and we returned on schedule after performing all the funfair on arriving at the Dusseldorf Airport.
Before embarking on the journey we (journalists) were told that we did not need visas because we were not going to go into town, but we would just perform the ceremony at the airport once we arrived, after which we would return to Ghana. All we needed was our valid passports, we were told.
That was exactly what happened, but when we arrived, we had to go through immigration, where our passports were stamped, indicating that we were indeed in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The programme was very successful, after which we returned to Ghana and I got married over the weekend, despite the worries of all the nay-sayers. And what a marriage ceremony it was by God’s grace.
Gracing the occasion were the Alabaster Box, Soul Winners, Jude Lomotey, Rev. Tom Bright Davies and his team and a host of other musicians because I was also an entertainment reporter then.
Some guests even jokingly said they did not attend a wedding ceremony but a musical concert – Can you blame them after they had had their fill of dancing, especially during the praises time led by Elder Ken Appiah and the Soul Winners?
After all this, little did I know that my Dusseldorf trip was going to haunt me in the future. It was when I arrived in Frankfurt the following year for the conference that I realised the negative side of that trip.
I met an official from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) at the Kotoka International Airport, who was also attending the conference and so naturally we bonded and knew that we were all going to lodge at the same hotel in Berlin and then attend the conference together.