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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Black cofeee, no sugar no milk

(Crazy week, living on adrenalin and popcorn so why don't l share this article l wrote 8 years ago for TEMPO magazine with you?)

Sorry the first paragraph was missing when posted

Perhaps, it is time to tell you about my first trip to Ghana in 1995. It was some months to the 1996 Nations Cup Competition scheduled to hold for the first time in post apartheid South Africa. I was part of a crew that was supposed to document the preparations and spirit in the sixteen countries that qualified for the championship. Ghana was one of them, so my colleague Kunle a cameraman and were to go to Accra. Now I must tell you about one of my favourite nay, my favourite person a certain old Ghanaian called Mr. Laud (pronounced lord). Aside from being a sweet person one of my greatest fans and of course the only one who can read my hand writing, he is also one of the unluckiest people I have ever met. It is a running joke amongst us all that he had seen all the ill luck there is to seen in one lifetime. He has fallen off a moving train and a Molue and an okada and survived all. He has lost his money to tricksters, fake landlords and 419ers. He has been robbed often and thrown out of his house too many times to recount, actually, his last house was burnt down with all his possessions on one occasion and his wife left him overnight. Worse has happened that I don't think I should mention, that is, if I haven't said so much already. We love him and we never forget his birthday, for he was born on the 13th of February! The point for this story is that our Mr. Laud had wanted to return Ghana forever but every time he saves up enough money and is ready to go, something unlucky happens to stop him. So, it was decided that for that assignment he would go with us both as guide and as a treat to him. We flew whilst he went ahead with our money by road. He was to book our hotel, get a car to ferry us around, set up our interviews before we arrive.

On arrival at kotoka Airport in Accra, Mr. Laud was waiting quite all right but he had only arrived Accra hours before us. He had spent four days on the road; he was arrested, jailed and robbed by the customs officials. I had a hundred dollar note on me and we had a one-week assignment to carry out, Should we get back on the next plane to Nigeria? Not so, Ms Iyanda. I was young, eager, stubborn and determined to do the work {I have changed ko? ;-)} I persuaded Kunle to see it as a great adventure, secure in the erroneous belief (and seconded by a Mr. Laud who had not
been to his country in over a decade) that my silly hundred-dollar note will take us far because I thought the Ghanaian economy was still lying cold in the grave.

It did turn out a great adventure; we stayed in a seedy little room, which had no lock, no water, a rickety fan and insects galore. We lived on a diet of garri, salty water and fried fish with occasionally watery beans and yam for the week. We had to get Mr. laud's cousin to drive us to the city centre everyday from where we walked, lugging cameras and bags to book interviews, do interviews and film the sights, We did run into interesting people, some coke heads and prostitutes at our hotel and Mr. Laud's sister but my most enduring memory is that of this hopeful footballer who ran the length of the bridge near the central market every night at 9 pm. I noticed him on our second night on the way to the fried fish place; he had to train in the nights because he worked during the day. His hope and determination was humbling for me, he did not even have running shoes.

The sports minister was out of town when we arrived but by the day before we were scheduled to leave he returned. We decided to see him since we had completed almost all our assignment but his interview. It was a risk, since we knew that meant a day and half of starvation and a slim chance of getting past protocol. Alas, we were ushered into his office without much ceremony. This man received us and gave us a jeep to take us to Obuasi Goldfields (50kms of great scenery from Accra) to film the football team and the new stadium of the company. We had our
first decent meal of the week at Obuasi, returned to Accra, conducted the interview (teeth clenched as l had PMT on top of our woes) and the minister gave us a car to take us the airport on time to catch our flight back to Nigeria. Incidentally, we never used the materials we laboured for in Ghana because; Abacha pulled Nigeria out of the championship. However, we still share fond laughs over that hundred-dollar trip to Ghana from which I returned thinner, darker but victorious. It was black coffee no sugar, no milk but oh what an adrenaline rush.


princess said...

Ok so am first! what my prize funmi? First time om ur blog too and am loving it. Am one of ur admirers and love ur programme-New Dawn.
Will definitely be back here to read more.

wienna said...

Wow...what a life Mr Laud had, so whatever happened to him after d trip? Did he return with u guys back to naija?

Mr.Fineboy said...

This story was funny...how unlucky can one guy be? Great blog...

catwalq said...

I remember a trip I took with youth in Eckankar for a seminar in Accra. We were a team of about 22 ranging in ages from 17- 25 and we were determined to cross all borders till we got to Ghana.
It was such an interesting trip especially for my friend Blessing who had missed us at the car park and had had to proceed to Ghana on his own. He arrived in Accra after having left Nigeria with a full pocket and two travelling bags with a jute bag filled with
clothes and no money. I will never forget the look of bewilderment on his face as he recanted his experience at the borders. With each word, he would crack us up.
Anyways, we all pitched in some funds for Blessings and we took turns organising his meals.
One day, we wanted to buy rice and stew from the buka and the lady asked us which meat we wanted. Blessing pointed to this huge piece and requested it. We should have known something was off with the look the woman gave us but she shrugged anyways and put on his place.
Completely starved, Blessing picked up the piece and bit into the huge piece of TATASE. I have never laughed so hard in my life at his reaction.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@princess, welcome to the family babe!

@wienna, he did return to Nigeria but soon after made it back to ghana were he lives in relative peace. l havent spoken to him in years but l am going to look for him now and let you know how he is doing.

@ catwalq, girl you and l must meet when ever you come to 9ja.

dolly said...

It's indeed black coffee with no sugar.... what a wonderful experience

I love your programme New Dawn but I don't really have time to watch it

Great blog