Posted by: beninmwangi | April 16, 2007

Here’s Something You Didn’t Know…

This is from my myspace blog…

People always ask me what inspired me to get so involved in Africa or how did I wind up wanting to promote the African continent as a business destination.

This is a question that I get fairly often. Most of the time people from the States and sometimes every now/then from people that I meet and know from Africa. It seems like the questions, behind the questions could be “why should it matter that there are business opportunities and succesful entrepreneurs in Africa?” And “what do you know about Africa, anyway?” But, you know…my background’s not really in psychology or anything-thats just my take on these questions. Anyway though, this post is my round-about attempt at answering both questions. So comeon and let’s see if we can really just rap a tad and get to the bottom of it all. Be forewarned though, it’s a bit longish…Plus, ya know what..this is my myspace, so i’ma kick back and kinda lose the whole professional, academic, tie…the whole 9. So by the time we finish i’ma just have on my slippers, the robe, and oh can’t forget the tank- top…cause right now thats just how we doin this today ya figga deal me, doh?Now the year was September 1995, I was like a 3rd year sophmore at Morehouse College (I had just changed my major from engineering to economics-smart move, aye?). More importantly, my path seemed paved for the road of tycoonship( ). You see at 20 years old my partner and I had already started our own real estate biz. We were’nt making any $$$ yet but everyday our rolodex got bigger and bigger. It really felt like the tipping point was right in front of us…And that’s when it happened-my father found out that he had been chosen as a Fulbright Scholar to teach physics at some univeristy in Ghana, it was the University of Cape Coast, for like 17 months. He told me about it & and being the bad *#$@ that I was at the time, my thoughts were like… why you tellin me? To my Dad’s credit, for the next one to two months he worked on my mind with subtle, yet persistant suggestions. For some reason, we just wudnt hearin it thouugh…Then he finally was like if you don’t go you gon’ regret it possibly forever. Hmmmmm. Ok, my thoughts were like OK, I’ll keep that in mind. Timeout—You can probably surmise from my tone, that back then my Pops and I were not under the best of terms, lookin back on it guess it’s kinda natural for a young brother growing up in America to feel that way, once he feels like he can make it on his own—Back to the story—But next he was like on top of you regretting it if you miss out on this opportunity if you don’t go, I aint goin… now that was some psychology fo yo *&^$.

That day, changed my life forever, we made something kinda like a father and son agreement. Not gonna spill the beans on the contents here though, cause it’s a lil’ more personal. But, let’s just continue, shall we? The next day I spoke to all of my professors and my student advisor to make sure that my student status would still be intact upon my return, which would be in a year. They assured me that not only would it be intact, but that since my father was going under the Fulbright Program, in essence I would be doing the same thing, plus on top of that since the University of Cape Coast had such a strong reputation, any classes that I took would count for the normal credit hours…Man this thing keeps getting better and better is what I was thinking (because to tell you the truth, even though my Dad and I had the talk, somethin in me was like-you can still back out if you want-NOT) that’s when it hit me that the young lady who was kickin it wit me was in the dark. So I told her about it and back and forth, back and forth we kept goin on it. Cause we thought we was serious, ya knawmean? In the end we chose to stick it out and go the distance (technically we were already long distance deal to begin with-I was at the House’ and she was at..umm…somewhere else-outta state). So, we were about to go from baby-maybe I’ll see you on the weekend to like some ole- I’ll be gone til November, type stuff . This was October 95′-I think..Anyway where was I??????????

Oh, fast forward to November 95’…Since my dad and I were supposed to leave for Ghana towards the end of November my proffessors all agreed to let me take my finals a lil’ bit early. My recollection is that by the end of November everything was ready-my finals were complete, my father and I had taken our shots, physicals, passports, visas, then the goin away party, and all that other goodstuff.

So now, all we had to do was prepare our belongings for the long journey, that lay ahead. This took about another week, which worked out ah-ight, cause our departing flight was probably like that first week in December. Funny thing about it is even though it seemed like we had so much time and were so prepared on the day of the flight we were still runnin around like some headless chickens. Someone, who was helping us do like some final packing on the day of departice had noticed that there were a lot of opened packages in our luggages-you know like toothepaste, lip balm, hair pomade ( that was back when I had a full head of it). Our friend who just so happened to be from West Africa, was like where yall think you goin with dese opened packages….we was like-huh??? But what happened is we had overlooked the fact that U.S. customs & didnt allow those kinda things on international flights ( somethin to do w. international security…..). Inside the back of my mind was, “all these times Dad went to Africa (my father loves Africa and always has), how we gone forget this?” By the time we took care of it we were late for the flight. Matter of fact when we got to the gate the plane had already started pullin away from the terminal. We ran as fast as we could and the airline agent who was about to leave his podium somehow managed to stop the flight from leaving without us.

The flight was gruelling, from the time we left ATL. to the time we arrived in Ghana was like 24 hours-granted we had a 6 hr layover in Amsterdam-which we maximized to the fullest….[SIDENOTE: what started out for me as just a one year study abroad in Africa, slowly progressed into some real good bonding between me and my dad-it started in Amsterdam] by the time we arrived in Ghana we were so tired and dehydrated we didn’t know how we’d even make it off the plane. But we did make it off…that was the beginning…will be continued…

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