Wednesday, 22 September 2010

What does Mandela have in common with Paloma Hotel? Only me..

There is a running joke in my family that some people will just not stop teasing me about. When I was about 8 I met Nelson Mandela...and he gave me money. Of course no one believes this particular pyramid of nonsense because a) I have never seen Mandela in my life, and b) it IS a pyramid of nonsense. My detractors say it was a 'figment of my imagination'. But what an imagination, then! I'm still baffled as to why I would have imagined it because at that age I hadn't even heard of Mandela. It was a year later when my cousins visiting from New York left me a copy of the biography, Nelson Mandela: No Easy Walk to Freedom. I used to think that one day I would meet him for real, and he would crack a joke that only I would get, and then I would turn around and exclaim triumphantly, 'See?! He remembers me from that last time!' It remains one of the great mysteries of my childhood, this supposed 'figment of my imagination'. Oh well.

At age 7 I had the biggest accident of my life whilst playing with my best friend. I fell off her back and landed head first onto a huge rock that was stuck in the earth. In that split second while blood gushed out and soaked my school uniform, I think I may have had an out-of-body experience. It felt like I'd left my body and was watching the bloody heap on the ground with a detached interest. It may have been the shock of it that made it seem pain-free at first. Of all the repercussions of that fateful day - the unmissable scar on my forehead which I would later proudly display as some sort of proof of my street-cred (as if), the good-natured teasing of my friends and family - my 7- year old self never thought that that unfortunate incident would signal the end of my friendship with my best friend. Life goes on.

At age 8 whilst visiting my cousins in Accra, they convinced me to join them in sneaking out of the house to go to a game show being put on for kids at Paloma Hotel. In our respective homes you NEEDED to have permission to do that sort of thing, and especially at that age an adult would have inevitably accompanied you. That, of course, was what we wanted to avoid...hence the sneaking out. We executed our exit beautifully, went to Paloma, played games to our hearts' content and even won prizes from other competitions! I don't know WHAT we were thinking when, having managed to sneak back in unnoticed, we left ALL the evidence of our escapade on the living room carpet in plain view of all, and rested our weary bodies under the huge table in the living room whereupon we fell promptly into sweet slumber. Oh. My. God. What an amateur mistake! All that admirable sang-froid gone in that moment when we gave in to sleep...and gave my uncle ample time to come home, work out what had gone on, rouse us from our sleep and deliver some whacks to our bums for going that long a distance by ourselves, crossing busy streets and generally endangering ourselves.

Of course we cried copious amounts. But imagine my impressive stories of mischief when I went back to Kumasi and recounted my adventures to my brother and cousins...!