My first assignment at the Business and Financial Times was to visit the coastal city of Prampram to cover the launch of the airport extension. The new airport will be the largest in Ghana and thus is referred to as ‘Airtropolis’. During my assignment, the journalist I was partnered with had gotten left behind when he went to use the restroom!
Three weeks have passed since I have taken my first steps in Accra, but it seems that I’ve traveled all over the area. North to Kumasi, south to the coast of Osu, west to Cape Coast, and finally east to Pram Pram. Most of my trips have been for vacation, but my visit to Pram Pram was strictly business.
The adventure to the coastal city started with an invite by my co-worker Thomas to cover a story on the expansion of the Accra airport. I woke up at 5:30 am to meet him at the airport by 7 am, but not before having to bargain with several taxis to get there. I walked out to the street and was offered an outrageous price of 35 cedis (about USD$9) to get a ride to the airport. Annoyed, I walk back to the taxi station and was surprisingly able to find a driver to take me to the airport for 15 cedis.
When I arrived at the airport and met up with Thomas, we waited nearly two hours before it was time to leave. While we waited, the waiting room filled up with reporters from other media outlets who were all there to cover the remarkable event.
The bus ride seemed short but maybe because I had slept the entire way there until I was woken up by a series of road bumps. I sat up to see the ocean to my right and a town to my left. We drove down a very bumpy road before arriving to a building where there were many cops surrounding a car and I thought that a celebrity was arriving.
Thomas and I entered a meeting room and my eyes shot to the kente cloths worn by about 10 men. Before I left American, my Twi instructor explained that kente cloths are worn by chiefs and even showed my classmates and I how to put them on. When I realized that there were many chiefs in my presence, I felt very honored.
After a short speech from the chiefs and minister about the future of the airport as a potential ‘airtropolis’, or rather a large expansion of the airport, we got back on the bus to see the location of the potential airport. The bus drove in line with about eight or so cars while the police escorted us. We went down the bumpiest road I’d ever driven down. As we went over each bump, I felt myself being thrown out of my seat. While some would be scared and anxious, driving on the bumpy dirt road reminded me of home, where my friends and I would intentionally find backroads in the outskirts of the city to explore.
At one point the bus stopped at a military camp and Thomas had went to find a washroom when suddenly everyone was getting on the buses and driving off. I ran onto the bus and immediately called Thomas because he was nowhere to be found! The bus was speeding back to the main road and I started to panic as my partner-in-crime was being left behind. When other journalists realized that he was gone, they repeatedly assured me that I would be safe and to not worry. Little did they know that the problem wasn’t that I was alone, but was the fact that we had left Thomas by himself as we were driving what felt like 100 miles per hour in the opposite direction.
We drove another hour or so before getting off the bus once again. It was hard to comprehend what was going on because there were so many people who were all yelling and I didn’t have Thomas with me. I managed to make conversation with a man named Raymond who told me he went to Columbia University in America. It felt comforting knowing that he was familiar with where I came from. Our conversation was interrupted by loud yelling and one man pulled out a large map; I had a feeling that we were lost. I’m still not sure what conclusion they came to, but the next place we stopped at was the hotel that the minister was at and I was reunited with Thomas. After a quick interview and a few photographs taken, Thomas and I finally made our way back to Accra.