Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chocolate city baby! A DC weekend

I returned from a weekend trip to Washington, DC today. DC is definitely my favorite city or metropolis in Yankee. I love how 'international' it is, with the embassies based there, you find a great diversity of people, cultures and backgrounds. With Maryland and Virginia adding to make the DMV, there are also a lot of Ghanaians and Africans in the area. DC also has a lot of universities, and in essence, students and young professionals. Though DC traffic is among the worst in the nation, the public transport system is on point. It's definitely a place I'll want to live at. I had been in DC mostly for DiasporaCamp DC 2010 and also to check on some job opportunities. It turned out to be a little more than that. Supremo!

I arrived at Dulles Airport Thursday evening and my cousin, Adwoa, picked me up. I hadn't seen her in 6 years, the last time we saw each other, we were both in Ghana. I went with her to Falls Church where she lives, and after settling down, we went to dinner. We ended at some Latino joint where I had 1.5 burritos. I was hungry! Food is much more appealing than sleep. Just had to throw that out there because my 'tapeworm' said so. I had come to DC to eat Ghanaian food. Since the Bay Area's only Ghanaian restaurant, Tropical Paradise, went under, I needed to experience one.

On Friday, I set out to Arlington, Virginia to meet an employee of Jacobs Construction (Nettey) that my friend Kobina had put me in touch with. Adwoa gave me her Metro Smart Trip Pass which came in handy. I missed one bus which made me late. I found out that Nettey was an old student of KNUST JSS like me and knew of my mother (my last name gave me away). There are only 4 people in this world with my last name. Cute huh? Had a good conversation with Nettey about the construction industry, job opportunities and Ghana in general. I left Arlington to meet another MIT alumni, Sharlina, at the Metro Center. Hadn't seen her in 4 years and we talked about what we'd both been to. I didn't enjoy the fact that she supported Uruguay against Ghana in the Mzansi Mundial though. Why would I? Would you? :-)

I trekked to Silver Spring, Maryland to meet Nii, who's also part of the DiasporaCamp DC organizing team. While on the Metro, I realised one major reason I love DC. "I see a lot of black people". In fact, I had taken two flights to get to DC and not seen many gorgeous women. DC changed all of that. Anyway, Nii and I went to run some errands and buy supplies for Saturday's event. Before we got together with some other team members to plan for Saturday, I saw two fine 'African-American' damsels who looked African. "Nii, I should go invite these ladies to DiasporaCamp DC tomorrow". "You mean, you should go use DiasporaCamp DC as an excuse to go and pick up these ladies right?" :-) I met a female Nigerian psychic (clairvoyant) who I asked if I'll be successful in this venture. She accompanied me to meet the ladies and I did the do. Too bad they had other plans for Saturday or else we could have completed the deal. Next time.

We had dinner at Tabaq, a Mediterranean restaurant on DC's U Street. We ended up at their Penthouse which had a really nice ambience. Nii, Clare, Kaushal, Kishor and I discussed some logistics for Saturday's DiasporaCamp and my other friend Nii A came to chill with us, as well as Shara and Katrina, who were also going to be helping out. Some of Nii's friends also came through. Tabaq had some two female black DJS (they were fine too) doing their thing. Too bad we had to leave to pass by Nii's Nigerian friend's birthday dinner. I met a Facebook friend Tolu Mide at the dinner. You should check out her music. Nii, some of his friends and I ended up going to the Policy club which was nice. We didn't party really late because we had to wake up early to run more errands before going to the DiasporaCamp.

Wake up early we did. We made a Safeway run and got to the DiasporaCamp just before 8am. The venue, Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies in DC, was undergoing some renovations which disturbed some of our logistics. The event started 30 minutes late because the attendees were late and run very smoothly. A full review and entry about DiasporaCamp DC will come soon. After the event, I joined other BarCamp attendees, including my friends Tina, Aida and Lolan went to Bukom cafe, a Ghanaian restaurant. Bukom cafe is one of the major DC attractions for me. I wasn't happy with the amount of waakye they gave me and some of the ladies (led by Tina) I was with used their womanly power to get me more food. Super huh? You bet. Bukom Cafe is in Adams Morgan, one of the busiest night neighbourhoods in DC. One nearby building had a Uruguayan flag flying from it that Tina pointed out. I was looking for a lighter to burn it, some ink to soil it, a pen to poke it. Just do something to it. Sorry, I don't like Uruguay right now and I am not sure when that will change. SUAREZ!

We left Bukom Cafe for a Kojo Antwi concert in Takoma, Maryland. Yes, Mr. Music Man was in town. Concert was advertised as from 10pm to 4am. I knew Kojo Antwi wasn't going to be on stage till 1am at the earliest. We arrived at the concert after 11:30pm and true to form, the concert hadn't started. African music promoters! Koby Maxwell, an Ghanaian musician based in the DMV area, got me into the concert for free. The damage would have been $30-40. This was after he'd performed. I felt terrible missing his performance. Papa Shee, another Ghanaian musician am friends with, followed. Kojo Antwi appeared on stage at 1am and performed for 3 hours! It was great but long. Many guests left before the concert ended. Kojo performed with a whole band, and gave an admirable effort, though his back-up singer didn't pull her weight. I had a blast at the concert, danced the night away. Didn't take a picture with Kojo though, wasn't too keen on that. I did meet Mzbel for the first time and got her phone number. For business, not pleasure. I got home to Nii's place at 5am.

When I woke up, it was 3pm. My hope of attending a Ghanaian or BlackAfrican-American church in the DMV area flew out the window. Out the window, we could see it raining cats and dogs. I thought it only rained like this in Ghana. An hour later, the lights/power/electricity went out. What! We don't get lights off in Ghana when it rains like this. What a yawa country Yankee is! The lights did not return. What is we gonna do? No television, no internet, no airconditioning in the global warming summer sweltering heat. I was supposed to go join Adwoa for an ice skating expedition. I ended up not going, but going to get African food at another Ghanaian restaurant, Sahara Oasis with Nii. I met my friend, Tina there and my cousin, Leon, joined us later. All the buildings on Sahara Oasis' side of the road in Hyattsville didn't have light, but the buildings across from them did. Weird. I had some fufu with goat meat at Sahara. Yummy. Since the lights were not returning till the next day, Sahara didn't have the Kojo Antwi concert afterparty like they had planned. Adwoa came to get me and we returned to Falls Church, Virginia.

Monday came with two Museke-related meetings. I trekked across DC to Takoma again to meet Derek, a Ghanaian with Harambee. We discussed the history of Museke and the way forward and some potential investment. Very productive conversation. Watch out people, Museke dey come out big. Before Derek left, Jacqueline, who I'd never met, joined us. Jacqueline hails from Cameroun and is behind Afroziky. Jacqueline has been helping us with Museke since she stumbled upon the site in 2009. We talked a little more about the investment possibilities with Derek till he left. I discussed the future of Museke with Jacqueline. We had a good time getting to know each other more as the plan was to collaborate even more moving forward. A lady approached us for help on her blogging assignment and we ended up talking about Shakira, Waka Waka and African music.

An Odadee, Kwashie, who is the webmaster for MOAMAS.com (Museke Online Africa Music Awards) came to grab me as we had scheduled a radio interview with Komla the Odadee (Emmanuel) at SunlightRadio.com in Alexandria. It was a nice reunion as we chatted about the DiasporaCamp, Museke.com, amongst other things. My brother, Kofi, texted me saying he had listened to us online and we received feedback through Facebook too. You should check out SunlightRadio.com, an African radio station, as well as The New Ghanaian, a Ghanaian community newspaper based in the DMV. Kwashie and I left Alexandria for yet another Ghanaian restaurant, Ghana Cafe. Yes, three Ghanaian restaurants in 3 days. Beat it.

I was going to have dinner at Ghana Cafe with Adjoa A, Adjoa P and Adwoa U. Three female Monday borns (Adwoa) and me at dinner on a Monday. You can't make this up. Adwoa U and Adjoa A are cousins, Adwoa U being my cousin and Adjoa P, a mate from MIT. We found out that Adjoa A and Adjoa P both lived in the same Silver Spring apartment complex. Adwoa U grew up in Canada and North Carolina, Adjoa A grew up in Pennsylvania and Adjoa P grew up in New Jersey. We chatted about growing as Ghanaian-Americans (and Ghanaian-Canadians) in America. I also learnt from Adwoa U about how the heck we both got the "Dutch U last name" that we have. You know how we Fantes do. It is quite an interesting story. See me in chambers for details. I had waakye again, which was much better than what I had at Bukom Cafe but more expensive. Adwoa U had fufu and peanut soup and the Adjoa had peanut soup. We also had some scrumptuous kelewele. Why am I even telling you this? Tell me you didn't want to know :-) Samiya, another member of the DiasporaCamp DC team who was in Kenya while the event was going on, came by Ghana Cafe to see me and we talked a little about the upcoming Kenyan referendum, who studies African studies in American universities, amongst other things.

I was so freakin tired on Tuesday morning but I had scheduled a meeting with Kwaku, Nii's friend who worked at Clark Construction. I went to Clark's offices in Bethesda to discuss job opportunities at Clark and we had a nice conversation about going back to Ghana, growing in the construction industry, etc. I left Bethesda to Farragut North, where I met a Stanford alumni, Kaeche, for lunch. We had some Thai food and caught up. I had planned to go to the World Bank to see some friends who worked there but time was working against me. I headed straight to Falls Church where I prepared for my trip back to California. Adwoa U took me to the airport after she'd prepared a little "going away food package" for whiles I was travelling. Aww. What a caring cousin! Women, take note lol. It would be so great to live with someone like Adwoa, who eats little. :-)

This was a fantastic weekend. It reignited every thing I love about the District of Columbia. How soon I head up there, no one knows. I have a few ideas but we'll take it day by day. I'll miss you Chocolate City. When I saw that "DC commercial" on TV, I knew DC was calling me. It's like destiny's child to be there. We go dey see.
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