Coming to America…
This is Part One of a three-part blog post.
The 80s romance-comedy ‘Coming to America’ is a classic favourite for movie aficionados.
It is highly unlikely that those who were born in the era of VCDs, DVDs, flash disks and most recently Cloud Technology AKA ‘fungua server’ got to watch the movie on VHS Cassettes when it was oven fresh.
For their sake, here is a brief synopsis of the classic.
Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the prince of a wealthy African country and wants for nothing, except a wife who will love him in spite of his title.
To escape an arranged marriage, Akeem flees to America accompanied by his pernickety sidekick, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), to find his queen.
Disguised as a foreign student working in a fast food chain restaurant, he romances Lisa (Shari Headley), but struggles with revealing his true identity to her.
You may be wondering where this is leading, but care to indulge me as I draw parallels from the synopsis.
Early this year Saeed Abdirahman (Akeem), a Kenyan Somali of modest means who earns his daily bread by serving in the capacity of Director – Corporate Affairs and Business Development at ASCC Logistics, – CEO and founder of Sidoman Investment Ltd, like Commissioner Akombe, purposed to flee the country — not for safety reasons (Alhamdullilah) but for business.
But what is business without a little leisure?
Setting his plan in motion and accompanied by his Operations Manager (sidekick), Douglas Mwiti (Semmi), the duo set out from Mombasa on 5th September for Dubai where they were scheduled to attend a three-day field training.
Upon successful training and a pleasant stay at Conrad Dubai Hotel, Saeed disguised himself as a foreign student (Ha ha) and pulled an Akombe on Mwiti by escaping to Canada (then USA). Mwiti then proceeded to Kenya alone.
Parallels with the synopsis aside, ladies and gentlemen, this is my story and experience of Coming to America.
After leaving Dubai on the night of 8th September, aboard Air Canada for a 14hrs none-stop flight, I flew directly to Ontario, Canada which is one of the 13 Provinces in the country.
The long flight wasn’t boring, with a relatively old man – Canadian (of India origin) seating next to me.
He was funny, smart, decent and outgoing. In few minutes we were like we knew each other for ages.
He almost convinced me that we were the first to travel by that particular plane as it was “smelling factory paints” .
I had no option but to agree with him to make the conversation going and interesting.
With experienced quite old air hostesses who’s conversations with passengers was mostly punctuated with the majic words – please, sorry and thank you.
Notwithstanding, the other majic weapon AKA smile, the journey couldn’t be more interesting.
I arrived in Toronto (the capital city of Ontario) and travelled by road to Guelph then Ottawa (Canada’s capital city).
While I cannot purport to be an Ontario expert, having spent all of five days in the Province, I made some observations and drew these [subjective] conclusions.
Toronto is very large (comparatively), truly dynamic, and comprises the most multicultural and multilingual population of the country.
It isn’t the most picture-perfect city I have been to (although it has the most successful public architecture), but it has the most interesting people and best food of the three.
It also offers great vantage positioning for tours outside the city. For example, Niagara Falls is just about an hour away from Toronto.
Ominous, powerful, humbling, breath-taking and magnificent — these are the words I would hang on to as I describe Niagara Falls
Speaking of Niagara Falls, I was extremely humbled to behold this natural wonder.
Words cannot do justice describing the view from the Rainbow Bridge.
Ominous, powerful, humbling, breath-taking and magnificent — these are the words I would hang on to as I describe Niagara Falls.
Where words may fail, I hope that these photos bring out the feeling of “being so lost in nature”.
Guelph on the other hand is a small city which is about an hour’s drive from Toronto.
Surprisingly, on most travel sites, it doesn’t come top on the list of cities worth visiting in Canada — but Guelph is a magnificent city with a dynamic culture and beautiful limestone architecture.
Ottawa is a neat, well-planned city populated mostly by bilingual, highly paid government bureaucrats.
It’s got a few good museums but very little else to interest the casual tourist owing to limited support for diversity and creativity.
What I found awesome about this city though is that it is home to my very good friend superstar Somali musician Awale Adan.