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Gliding on the odweanoma mountain; Ky Kwahu experience

Tue, 14 Apr 2015 Source: Obeng, Samuel Kwasi

By Samuel Kwasi Obeng

obengsamuelkwasi@gmail.com

This part of our trip to Kwahu for the paragliding festival was very exciting for me; climbing the meandering Kwahu scarp for the first time with my co-workers on board a bus amidst cries of fear from some of them who, perhaps, could not believe the bus could still maintain its balance along the narrow stretch of untarred road at that height without fallen off the mountain and getting to know the acrophobic characters among us.

As I sat close to the window of the bus, having a vista of God’s wondrous works, my heart appreciated Him in the highest but my mind went into my cerebrum and brought into thinking how that wonderful experience all started. Quickly, my face grimaced with smiles as i appreciated the Hon. Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs. Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare.

She has really shown care to the National Service Personnel in the Ministry. So far, the Ministry has held two major events - National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFAC 2014) and Kwahu Paragliding Festival since we started national service and we have been part of all these events. I recall last year December 24, she invited all the service personnel into her office for a small party, motivating and encouraging them in their various future chosen careers. It was very unfortunate I missed that moment but certainly not the next hang out moment at Alisa Hotel in Accra.

Early on, she had invited six service personnel to her office to catch a glimpse of two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion in 10,000 metres, Haile Gebrselassie who was paying a courtesy call on her before the launch of the Millennium Marathon at Alisa Hotel later in the day. Because her office was small to contain the service personnel and Haile Gebrselassie and his entourage, only yours truly had the privilege to be at that meeting because I had to do some paparazzi work. She however directed the chief director of the Ministry after the meeting to prepare the bus for all the service personnel who wanted to be at the launch. We hanged out with her and the Mayor of Accra, Mr. Alfred Oko Vandapuye after the launch and that was where she revealed to us that we would be at Kwahu with her for the paragliding festival.

Such a mother! That news was the icing on our cake. I have decided to appreciate her in this piece not because I have once benefited from her pecuniary benevolence and like Oliver Twist I want more but because it’s very rare to find people of high positions in our society care much about their subordinates, especially little ones like us who are just passing through the Ministry in the name of National Service.

Now let’s hark back to the trip; at Nkawkaw, at the foot of the Kwahu scarp, we could see paragliders in the air like birds. From our viewpoint, they looked tiny and that gave us a fair idea of how tall the Odweanoma Mountain is. In fact we couldn’t wait to get to the apex of the Mountain as the excitement was gradually boiling up on reaching the Kwahu ridge.

In about 30 minutes time, we were atop the Odweanoma Mountain. We got down from the bus and hurried ourselves to the take-off point of the paragliders. ‘Wow!! Such beautiful scenery’, voices chorused. One could see the whole Nkawkaw town on standing atop the Odweanoma Mountain. It’s really a sight to behold.

Quickly, the ladies started posing for pictures and selfies. The guys followed suit. There were few pilots at the take-off point when we got there. One pilot, a female tried on three different occasions to launch herself but to no avail and some spectators couldn’t spare her the only one reason average Ghanaians resort to when all efforts at success prove futile ; ‘ni fie nye’, implying that one evil person from her home is thwarting her effort at success, they speculated. I thought she would be spared that superstitious Ghanaian belief because she is white but no ooh! She was in Rome and she must not just do what the Romans do but feel the impact of their beliefs too, I second guessed them.

Fifteen minutes later, the pilots with their paragliders behind them started pouring in. A band behind us gave rhythm to our excitement; as we applauded and cheered the pilots for a successful launch, the fresh original Ghanaian tunes from the band forced out a body movement in conformity to the tunes. Not even the white man whom I thought was not accustomed to the tunes was spared the impact of its infection as he wiggled his waist with his hands up off tune to Kwabena Kwabena’s ‘Koto sa’ to the admiration of some of the spectators.

Soon the sun was shining at its best. Some took cover under a tent. Others also stood at places where the full impact of the sun couldn’t reach them. The media and those of us who had turned camera men/women by the virtue of the fact that we had camera phones were busy taking pictures of the pilots as they launched themselves. At some point, I felt disappointed, but it was short-lived on seeing a Ghanaian receive a prep-talk before going on a tandem glide. Many more Ghanaians followed suit but as passengers.

Thanks to the Hon. Minister for disclosing at the opening of this year’s paragliding festival that the training of local pilots is going to be the priority of the Ministry to reduce the cost of organising the event. This was one of my recommendations in my article “It’s Easter!! It’s Kwahu Paragliding!” and I think it’s in the right place. This would also put the Ministry fully in charge of the festival.

I must say that seeing the pilots launch themselves into the air was really an exciting spectacle. What made it more exciting was at the climax of the launching of the paragliders, when i almost felt like the pilots have already fallen off the cliff until i was made conscious by the applauses and cheers from the spectators; that signified a successful launch.

In my excitement, I got a nudge behind, i cocked my head and it was a co-worker, “it’s lunch time bro”, he said. We moved ourselves to the receptive facility. The place was busy with music and revellers eating and chatting among themselves. We sat in three groups and I got my biggest disappointment of the day. It took the chefs close to an hour to serve the first table with food. I was on the third table and we never got our order apart from the drinks. Finally we have to make do with anything around to reduce our hunger after waiting for close to four hours.

That was a big minus and the hardworking organisers must please take note of that and rectify it in subsequent editions of the festival. Not only did customers complain about the time they used to serve the food but the food itself. At the launch of this year’s Foodfest at the Coconut Groove Hotel in Accra on April 8, Dr. Addo, the resource person used Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to underscore the sine qua non of food to tourists. Therefore in packaging our tourism products, we must ensure that the food, the time and how it is served meet the satisfaction customers/tourists. Dr. Addo ended the presentation with two quotes. One made a good impression on me and I want to share with owners and managers eateries – losing a customer is more expensive than losing a meal; food for thought.

Before we left Kwahu, some of my colleagues managed to descend the Odweanoma Mountain to have a view of the beautiful rocks underneath it. I tried but couldn’t go far.

The Atibie-Kwahu enclave is a place to relax from the hurly burly city life. The enclave is replete with natural attractions that are so refreshing for the city man who has been drawn away from nature because of modernisation. Borrowing some themes from Romans 12:2 in the Bible, we must not conform to the stressful and rut city life but be transformed by the renewing of our minds with visitations to natural attractions dotted all over the country. By so doing we’re not only putting into effect our pledge to service mother Ghana through domestic tourism but enriching our lives too.

Columnist: Obeng, Samuel Kwasi