Once upon a time in Accra, I was a novice, a ‘Johnny-just-come’ as we will call it in the capital. Today, I am a travel guide, second only to Google map in giving you details of any location in Accra. It is a nostalgic memory I hold so dear.
But it has not always been like this. This episode of the story been told is a far cry from what the earliest ones were. Nevertheless, in fairytale-like fashion, the end is always better than the beginning.
Those days, some 20 years ago, Accra seemed like the land of Canaan spoken of in Biblical old before the Israelites inhabited it. It had the milk and honey tag to it. Yet, there was nothing creamy white or golden brown about the Canaan land to merit that attribute. Per what the people at the time identified, the reality was contrary to the scripts. Accra, then, was only a step better. The advent of high rise buildings ensured that.
And that was all; a few beautiful and decent-looking buildings. Because these buildings were few and sparsely located in Accra, no one dared disregard the high-held Ghanaian culture of cutting your coat according to your size. In this case, these buildings were coats more than 50 times our sizes and no-go areas.
I had gained admission to Accra Polytechnic. Even before that, every man and child in the village of Mmaampehia in the Brong Ahafo Region knew my name. This was partly due to my father’s reputation as the finest palm wine tapper in town. My antics as a skilled footballer in the village was the other reason though I must admit that my father’s legacy played a major part in my inclusion in matches in the first place. Therefore, my admission to a tertiary institution not to mention one in Accra was what cemented my status as the village champion.
Then, the admission protocols had to be completed. Amidst fanfare, the entire village led by the chief sent me off to the beauty and glamour of Accra. However, by the end of the day, I contemplated in tears if Accra was really that dream city my village friends and I so craved for or if it was actually hell. In what has become somewhat an unpopular fate nowadays, the process and monetary expenditure of school admissions overwhelmed me. I was stuck, stranded and awfully hungry. Just then, I remembered my mother’s God, the same God my Mmaampehia Sunday Schools teachers taught about. So I prayed.
And God answered. Jennifer Kaufmann, a German of American descent was in Ghana for work and had checked into Accra City Hotel (then Novotel Hotel). Seeing my plight and frustration, she approached me. She was God-sent. To cut a long story short, I ended up tucked into an executive bed in a suite in Accra City Hotel. Yes, me and Novotel Hotel! Kai! Of all the classrooms, parking space or store options that could be offered, an executive room in Novotel Hotel is what I got. My level ‘don’ change. That was the end of my story and the beginning of my life.
Today, Novotel hotel, Accra has re-branded to Accra City Hotel with improved quality. The experience of a stay there, I savour today as I sit on the terrace overlooking the plush Accra City pool as I savoured many years back. This morning, my breakfast was an Accra City buffet. The question of whether or not I enjoyed it is invalid. When you see scores of people dining at the Accra City restaurant almost always, that is testimony enough. What ‘kills’ me the most as it did then is the customer service. It was the first time I was on the other side those years back and what a feeling that was. Yet, many years on, having visited other top hotels in different countries, the Accra City customer service is still a standout. Room service is as on point now as then, or probably better.
That was it. I had made up my mind. There was no way I was leaving the promised land of Accra or Accra City Hotel, Accra. I am a Ghanaian and the least chance was not passing me by. I stayed in Accra and schooled, not in Accra City Hotel, though. Now, by the way, I do not know what goes into the rating of hotels in Ghana by the Ghana Tourism board, Jumia Travel and co. For me, Accra City Hotel Ghana is more than a 4-star hotel. It will rub shoulders with any of the five star hotels in Ghana.
I am a frequenter of both Mmaampehia and the Accra City Hotel. I have not forgotten my roots and am not giving up my found paradise anytime soon. If my story touches you the least bit, I will appreciate nothing more than another night’s reservation at Accra City Hotel. I see another Jennifer in you.