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Opinions of Thursday, 25 June 2020

Columnist: Mary Nays

What if I had died?

File photo File photo

...there I sat on an ‘Okada’ for the first time.

The day started very early for me as usual but this day’s routine was not the usual.

The usual is to rush doing house chores and running off to work. On this unusual day, I did rush to do house chores though, but it was not to run to work. It was to catch a bus to the big city of Accra.

Regina Honu - CEO of Soronko Academy- had shared a post some days earlier on LinkedIn about a Vlisco Women’s Month event. I was really interested in attending this day’s program for 2 reasons. The program was all I had on my mind as I sat on the bus.

What were my 2 reasons? The first and most important was that it was a women’s event. Yeah, I was hoping to connect with other women in business. The second is really interesting, it was simply because the event was being organized by Vlisco...hehe. At this point, let me make a confession to you, yes a confession.

As a young girl, I had heard of ‘Garment’ so many times from elderly women I knew. In fact, ‘Garment’ was what they called their most valued and cherished clothes from Holland. They adored them and those clothes were kept like an investment. Fast forward, it was years later that I came to know that Vlisco clothes were those cherished ‘Garments’. Interesting!
Now back on the bus. The programme was slated to begin at 2pm. Thanks to God, I was able to make it to the World Trade Centre, Accra before 1:30pm.

We sat and waited for one hour before the programme started. The delay in starting was beginning to look to me that the programme would not close early as I had anticipated. The waiting period however afforded me the opportunity to network a lot more before the start of the programme.

The programme finally started and quickly I forgot all my troubles of the long wait. It was awesome and so insightful. Let me share with you a few insights from the 2 main speakers for your benefit. Are you ready?

Speaker One: Freda Obeng Ampofo - Founder and Chief Mixer of KAEME - spoke on ‘Thriving With All You’ve Got as a Female Entrepreneur’. What inspired me the most was to know that she worked a full-time job during the day and worked on her business at night. She did this for several years so she could fund her business herself. Whilst funding is a big issue in Entrepreneurship, she chose to work extra hard so she could break this difficult barrier of funding.

Speaker Two was the powerful Dzigbordi Kwaku-Dosoo - Founder & CEO, Dzigbordi Consulting Group. A woman you can’t help but admire; tough within, beautiful without! She spoke on ‘Nurturing Business Relationships: How to build the right network to grow your business’. Let me summarize for you what she said:- Learn to introduce yourself with your personal story and never again by your name and what you do. People quickly forget the latter; but your personal story sticks with them.

I was so excited being there and receiving all the knowledge that was being shared that 4pm quickly passed by. I knew I was supposed to leave soonest to be able to get to the airport to catch my flight back to Kumasi (The plan was to travel by road in the morning and return by flight in the evening). I couldn’t just leave yet; I wanted to feature in the group pictures, which kept me there till about 4:30pm.

Hmmmm… the saga begins!

I hopped onto a taxi quickly in a rush to get to the Kotoka International Airport to catch my flight. Take off was at 6:30pm and check-in would close an hour early.

This was the usual Accra. The traffic was terrible and to make my case worse (so I thought at the time), the clouds started to gather. Every commuter wants to beat the rains and make it home before the outpour begins. The traffic situation got worse and cars won’t move at all.

My heart was pounding and I suddenly became a great timekeeper; no second could slip by me without my notice. I was getting more confused as to what to do. A friend I had called suggested I catch an ‘Okada’ (Okada is a motorcycle taxi. The name originates from Nigeria and it is now commonly used in other West African countries). I could not wrap my mind around it in the beginning. I only gave it a thought when I realized there was no way I could make it to the airport before the flight took off as check-in would have ended, if I couldn’t make it in time.

I stopped an ‘Okada’, paused for a moment thinking if I was about to make a mistake but somehow managed to mutter some words to the rider that he needed to get me to the airport asap. He put a helmet on me and asked me to sit down because I was still standing after he put on the helmet. Guess what? I was waiting to receive a tutorial on how I was supposed to sit on the ‘Okada’

Before I could say “Jack”, he rode off with me still figuring out what to hold on to. On every curve, I knew that was my last second on earth since I practically could see myself falling off the ‘Okada’ and he probably won’t turn to check if I was there or had fallen off.

The most interesting part of the less-than-7-mins “life-long” journey was the loose helmet that hung on my head. It felt so loose that I had tilted my head in a style that would not let it come off. It was only on arrival at the airport that I actually remembered he had earlier buckled the helmet and there was no way it could ordinarily fall off. Oh boy!

The rains were scheduled right on time to pour a little on me before I rushed inside the building to go through check-in formalities. Just when I ran to the boarding area, there sat the passengers.

Unknowingly to me, the flight had been postponed to one hour post-departure time. As the clouds gathered to give rains from Heaven (My Hallelujah belongs to God), an announcement was made that the plane could not fly until the weather situation got better. That was why I was still allowed to go through check-in and boarding formalities.

As I sat down to catch my breath and to wait patiently, I smiled gleefully while I teased myself in my head, “So what if I had died?”

Mary Nays
Founder Mary Nays Solutions / Female Founders Ghana