14. New Years Eve in Accra.
When I finally got back to my hotel in Accra, I ordered my go to meal, Chicken Kebab with french fries and salad, then caught up on all the sleep I sacrificed to the adventure fun time Gods over the past week. When I felt I was rested enough to get going again, it was 8pm the next day, New Years Eve; my favorite holiday. I was excited to be in Ghana for New Years Eve, but I didn’t have any solid plans. There were several parties going on but I elected to go back to the Polo Beach Club. My love of Ralph Lauren may have a little but to do with it but mainly because of the beach and their whole set up. Normally I refuse to go to the same club or party situation 2 weeks in a row. I think it’s over the top lame. However, I knew this would be my last chance to go to a party on the beach with this set up. Nowhere in Los Angeles is there a club on the beach with a pool and tons of cabanas. No where on the southern California coastline, in fact.
When I stepped out to call a cab, I ran into 2 guys that appeared kind of irritated. They were trying to get an Uber but the driver was doing the Ghana half step. My plan was to tip the doorman so he could magically make a taxi appear minutes later. While the doorman was working his magic, the 2 guys and I talked for a bit and figured out we were going to the same place. Might as well share this taxi that was about to magically appear. CJ, Albert and I are on our way. This ended up being a very eye opening experience. Albert and CJ are from London but they are Nigerian. I’m OJ, from Los Angeles and I don’t know where in Africa I’m from, but I know Im West African for sure after living out “Slavery: The Prequel.” However, a few months back I ordered a DNA test from AfricanAncestry.com. This service is different because they aren’t the feds, as far as I can tell, first and foremost. Secondly, their results would give me both a country and ethnic group. This appealed to me because I know that Africans did not draw the current country borders of Africa; Europeans did when they put together the Berlin Conference in 1884. I didn’t want to have to keep on guessing what my true heritage was, nor deal with the feds. AfricanAncestry.com seemed like the most logical choice. But I didn’t get my results back before I left. I explain all of this to CJ and Albert, during our ride and they were really supportive. I love this damn place!
As we are talking we pull up on a police stop. Police, no problem, I do this all the time in America. I do what we Black people in America usually do to survive the encounter when the police officer looked in the car with his flashlight. Hands up, you can clearly see I’m not hiding anything, I’m being cool and I’m not a threat to you at all. I looked the officer in his eye, said hi; friendly OJ in full effect. But for whatever reason he looks like he suspects something but confused at the same time. I look over at the taxi driver, he hasn’t looked over or moved once. Eyes forward. The officer then moves his flashlight to the back seat, Albert and CJ look up at this man and both openly do not want to be bothered. They go back to Instagram or twitter or whatever they were doing with their respective lives. The officer then comes back to the front seat and opens the door. We have to get out of the car.
Damn, same thing here too? Alright, I don’t know what’s going on, but whatever. I’ve been through this enough times. We all got out of the car except for the driver, which I thought was strange, but alright. We get patted down and the officer asks us if we have any drugs. Nope. He checks the car again with his flashlight. Meanwhile the taxi driver has not moved one inch. The police officer asked him one question I couldn’t make out, shrugged his shoulders and told us we could go.
I’m super confused. CJ and Albert are unbothered by this and shrug the whole thing off like it never happened. The driver wasn’t annoyed. At this point I didn’t know what to think, but I have a few questions. I have to figure out why all of this just happened the way it did. Albert and CJ explain to me that probably happened because the officer thought my behavior was suspicious. “Wait, what? Suspicious of what exactly? I showed him my hands and everything,” I replied. It turns out they too were confused as to why I was showing my hands and making it clear that I didn’t have anything I wasn’t supposed to have and not breaking the law. Everybody is confused, even the driver, it was the only time he showed any interest in our conversation.
Then it occured to me that they might not be familiar with the special relationship between Black people and the police in America and how awful it is. So I explained how most police officers in America are racist, hate Black people, will get violent with Black people and even shoot them if they can find a reason to say their life was in danger. They are looking for a reason most times. Sometimes there is no reason. They don’t even care if they are on camera when they do it. So I did what I did so he could see I wasn’t a threat and I was visibly unarmed. That usually reduces suspicion and certainly lowers the chances of us getting pulled out of the car like we did.
Everybody in that taxi was in disbelief. They heard about Black people being killed in America by police officers, but they didn’t know that’s how it went or how often it happens. My reaction shocked them and threw the police officer off. They didn’t know how Black people in America behave or react that way when interacting with the police. Then CJ says, “Damn man, I’m sorry you have to live like that.” I wasn’t offended, but I was definitely very embarrassed. “Yea, it sucks.” That’s all I had. But now, I too, cannot believe I live this way! I’m now sitting in that front seat partially in shock myself and slowly realizing that I have to go back to that in 2 days. Damn.
All of a sudden, from the back seat I hear “… he is such a bitch ass nigga!” I’m nosey, so I turn around and ask “damn? That sounds serious! Who’s a bitch ass nigga?!” When I turned around initially, they gave me a look that gave me the impression that they weren’t sure that I felt that they could use “the n-word” until I made my inquiry. I’ve never gotten that reaction from any Black person before. I couldn’t believe that they thought that for one second. I didn’t know it was a thing; I didn’t think it was possible. But here I sit, surprised.
That’s when I decided that I was pretty much over having eye opening experiences, new realizations, chances of perspectives, all of it. I’m done. Im mentally exhausted. Two back to back in less than 3 minutes? Nope; I’m finished. I have reached a limit I didn’t know existed. Figuring out I hit my limit was too eye opening itself! Dammit! I cannot endure another one for the rest of the time I’m here. Nope. I’m totally over it. I have enough to last me until I come back. I need time to process how I feel.
I then decided to be the decider and decided that if I have another eye opening experience on that night I was going to drink it away. I definitely had another eye opening experience that night, I definitely drank it away with another cup full of Hennessy because, again, no tequila in sight somehow. I can’t remember what happened. I only remember thinking, “Not again!?? Pour up!!” It’s New Years Eve! It’s party time! The only thing I wanted in my life at that point was good times and for Africa to somehow be introduced to one of my good friends, Don Julio. Not that Patron situation, Africa has been through enough.
Tequila being impossible to find isn’t the end of the world so I definitely had a very good time! Fantastic, in fact. Top 5 New Years Eves ever. The whole scene was perfect. The club had a lot more people than the first time I was there. I chatted up Black women from across the world all night. I gave the bartender a big tip so I got the last cup of hennessy before they ran out, completely.
I split that with Albert, I didn’t want to drink away every last memory from that night. I did drink away some crucial information, however. Such as CJ’s name might not be CJ at all. It might be some other form of an abbreviated name with a J in it, like my own. I’m terrible at remembering names on top of the fact that I was very drunk. I hope I got it right; but if not, sorry to that man.
In the movie of my life, a good portion of the movie would be scenes of me having the time of my life with strangers I’ll never see again. That’s who I am as a person.