Michael Jackson Has Left Us So Much More than We Can Imagine: So Why Is the Media Focusing on Michael’s Negative Side?

Photo for possible web

I often do not do follow-up posts because I write extensively about my subjects, and my position is usually clear and complete when I post a new topic for discussion. Tonight, I am however doing a follow-up post on Michael Jackson. I am not interested in giving you information about the details of programs leading to his burial. I am rather posting my sad feelings about media treatment of the great Michael Jackson even before he is buried.

michael-jackson2

Michael Jackson’s legacy is indisputable and unprecedented, and there is no disputing his powerful effect on the world. There has never been anyone who has changed the world through their talent like Michael, and for a long time, there will never by anyone else. Maybe it took his dying to get the media to finally put him upfront for everyone to see the limitless possibilities he’s left us with. While tens of millions around the world are mourning and celebrating this great American, the media is doing all it can to focus our attention on what they term was Michael Jackson’s “dark side.”

article-1195652-057FEE85000005DC-679_964x510

Today, I watched Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson praise Michael for what he’s done for America and the world. Usher was also on Larry King Live via satellite, and what a refreshing feeling when even he reminded everyone to stop focusing on what they think Michael must have done wrong. Usher refocused the attention on mourning Michael, on comforting his family and his fans instead of focusing on what the media wants us to see as Michael’s weirdness. Every human being has the potential of being weird, especially so if you are a “Michael Jackson.”

article-1195652-057FEEFA000005DC-705_964x582

Who does not have a dark side, I keep asking myself, and when did Michael Jackson proclaim to be a priest? He was a human being who was bigger than life, and like any human being, he was affected by those around him, and sometimes that effect was negative. So, what if Michael was not the most righteous person on earth? I beleive we should first bury him, comfort the grieving family members, praise him for what he’s left the world, and celebrate his greatness just as he is being celebrated around the globe. It is sad to know that Michael who has given so much to the world for more than four decades, from the cradle to the grave is still being destoyed even while his body is under investigation.

article-1195652-057D74A5000005DC-499_964x812

Michael transcended race, culture, geographical boundaries, and age. He was the greatest among his contemporaries, and unlike any other popular musical artist, Michael was loved by tens of millions in every part of the globe. And yet other artists who did not achieve as much as Michael, artists who were more drugged than Michael did not undergo the kind of scrutiny Michael is being put to even while he is yet to be buried.

s-OBIT-MICHAEL-JACKSON-large

Please let us celebrate Michael Jackson, the King of celebration and music, of language and dance, the power for innovation and style. Michael introduced dances and music with the diversity of performance that had never before been done. He was one of a kind, and deserves to be honored despite whatever imperfections he had. The greatest news for all of us is that no one is free of flaws. What we have done for other celebrities who were just as imperfect as Michael was, should be done also for Michael Jackson. Michael burst into the world through singing and dancing for us even as a child; let him leave in peace. Michael Jackson is forever, and his fans and family deserve to remember him for the great human being that he was. He lives forever!

flowers

Tears, Idle Tears
— by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Rose

A Rose for Michael

Advertisements

Michael Jackson, the World’s Most Influential Musical Icon Died Today, June 25, 2009- Poo-poo-Wlee-OH: A TRIBUTE for a Life Well Spent

Photo for possible web

MICHAEL JACKSON–He Sang for the World His Entire Short Life-

Michael images Michael Jackson, the Child Star—

(From Wikipedia Files)-Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, and died today on June 25, 2009. He was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene at the age of 11 as a member of The Jackson 5 and began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group. Referred to as the “King of Pop” in subsequent years, five of his solo studio albums are among the world’s best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).


thriller-michael-jackson


I was driving home from State College when my daughter called my cell to tell me that Michael Jackson had died. It was about 6:20 pm, today, June 25, and all I could do was to weep while driving. I called my older children to tell them the news, and at my son’s home, the entire room exclaimed, sighed, and shouted with shock. Unbelievable that such a hero should die so young, we agreed, unbelievable, the news is today.

Michael in concert

In my home village, the sacred drummer  would have climbed to the high drum before the village square, and he would have pounded “Klan-Klan-Teh,” which means (Grave-grave news) in the Grebo Language. The horn blower would have also been authorized to accompany the drums with the “Poo-le-peh-leh-Wlee,”the sound of the horn that announces the grave news of such a warrior, and the townswomen, both renowned and lowly, would have begun the official wail of the town, “Poo-poo-Wlee-Oh,” all of which are symbolic of the grave news in the town. This would signal to the world that today, a hero and a great man of the world has just died. Michael was a great man of the world, unarguably, a great man of the world. Today, both great and small people in the greatest and the least countries, the great and lowly will all celebrate, mourn, and just stand in awe of the great things Michael has taught us both in music and about life. I was in high school when I listened to a child singer who alone touched the hearts of every generation. After decades, he continues to touch the world.

michael-jackson2

Today, despite all the controversies, the media fights, the things many did not like about Michael, he remains for us the greatest musical icon ever to walk this earth. He may not be remembered for what he really was and is, but he has left us much to ponder. When someone can be real to himself no matter what even while influencing the world, that is a good thing. For those of us who are artists, Michael was and continues to be an inspiration to what is possible when a little talent is nurtured. To Michael’s family and fans, we say, it’s okay, don’t weep, just celebrate. To Michael, I say thank you for a short life well spent. You gave to the world all that you had; sometimes they hated you, but most of the time, the world loved you. May your soul rest in peace.

michael-jackson(11)


Michael Jackson may be dead today, but he is forever. He lives in the world. As an African woman, I know that he left us Africans with the knowledge that anyone can be anything they want to be if they can work hard enough for it. Among the most influential black people in the world, Micheal will forever stand at the top of that list. He changed the world like no other person could, teaching us to accept and to care no matter what. Michal Jackson is forever. May his soul rest in perfect peace!

MUSIC, WHEN SOFT VOICES DIE

MUSIC, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heap’d for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

———- by: Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822)

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

EVERYBODY DIES: for Michael

—– Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Everybody dies. Everything dies.
Everything we know will die someday.
The flowers and the trees also die.
Michael Jackson is dead, so the air says.
Even the leaves along the roadside
as we drove by, sighed deep
just to know that Michael is dead.
For me, it is only tears, only tears,
that the child-singer we grew up
loving is now no more.
It does not matter what the world says
or does or writes and questions, Michael
we love you. You have changed the world
in ways no other has ever or will ever
change the world.
Rest from your labor, Michael, rest in peace.

WORLD REFUGEE DAY- JUNE 20, 2009: How Many Refugees Does the World Still Need? You Tell Me…

Photo for possible web

Here comes another World Refugee Day to be celebrated or commemorated around the world, most particularly, in the West, where there are less refugees than in the so-called third world and developing countries. With more violence springing up and more people pumping up dictators and war lovers, the question is: “how many refugees does the world need?”

The UNHCR or the United Nations Refugee Agency claims that this day, June 20, 2009 is set aside each year to commemorate the heroic endurance of refugees who have been victimized by violence around the world. UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie appeared alongside UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres “to call on the world to recognize millions of victims of conflict around the world not as a burden but as a potential gift.” This is a good thing.

As a former refugee myself, I appreciate this kind of effort by Angelina Jolie. I only wish there were many more rich, caring celebrities, world renowned people, Presidents of powerful countries, dictators or former dictators out there who care like Angelina. Despite her many efforts, her passion, she alone cannot accomplish what each of us working together can do to end world violence that causes refugee crisis. We cannot cry about the plight of the Iranian people without connecting what that new violence will do to create more refugees.

Photos For Mom 248

This shot was taken during my 2008 visit to the Liberian Buduburam Refugee camp that was home to more than 45,000 Liberians for nearly 20 years.


We cannot love the war in the Middle East without understanding how any war there will cause more commemoration of refugee days. There is a correlation between dictatorship, poor governments, big powers not doing anything to curtail injustice around the world and refugee crisis. When I fled the war in Liberia nearly twenty years ago, I was not declared a refugee nor were any Liberians. But by the time we’d fled in 1991, there were, according to news reports, 250,000 Liberians dead from the bloody civil war and wanton destruction. Ten years later and fifteen years later, the UN has not raised the figure of dead. Today, there are tens of thousands of Liberians still in refugee camps at the end of a fourteen year civil war. Are we celebrating those too? Are we celebrating their courage, their endurance, and if we are, why can’t we pressure the UN to give to Liberians who want to go home the minimum resettlement they need to return? Why give them a hundred dollars to return to devastation, thereby keeping them in refugee camps for another decade. Why?

refugee-spie-1

March 23, 2009 by abluteau:There are millions of refugees around the world. Some of them are in camps, like these children in Chad, but many are not. Often, families get separated as they flee violence or natural disaster

A video of America’s Angelina Jolie, whom we all adore, including myself on her one woman efforts is being watched, but who’s really listening?


There are 45 million official UN confirmed refugees in our world today, not counting the millions of displaced, dislocated, unregistered, real people, mostly women and children who have had to abandon everything to flee death in their homelands. We need to not commemorate this sort of pain; instead, we need to STOP this sort of pain, stop it, stop dictators from being created, stop them from staying in power, stop pumping them up until it is too late, stop rebels from attacking innocent women and children, stop big and powerful countries from profiting on the blood of innocent people, stop Africa from being destroyed, stop the violence currently in Iran, in Iraq, in North Korea, everywhere. We need to stop talking and celebrating what we think we have done. We need to stop sleeping unless we can stop the carnage that is destroying our world. There is no need for us to have a “World Refugee Day” year after year. There should be no refugee if we can remember the horrible violence that is destroying our world.

CHAD REFUGEESblogs.mirror.co.uk/developing-world-stories/c.

This World Refugee Day like in previous years, everyone will congratulate one another again on the achievements the world has made, and the UN, of course, will give reports about their needs and the plight of refugees. The UN will also separate the goats from the sheep, the “refugees” from the “not so refugees,” and will reduce the number just so we don’t look bad, so we don’t appear to be so evil as to sit while other human beings in Dafur and other parts of the world die.

Pakistani-refugees  More than 45m Refugees in the World!

These pictured above are not called “Refugees,” but displaced, get it?

According to National Geographic, in 2003, there were 35 million refugees in the world, most of them women and children. These often talented, very educated, innocent people around our globe were forced to flee their homes, towns, cities, villages simply because some politicians around the globe in connection with the powers that be caused them to be caught up in wars and other violence. Today, according to the United Nations Agency, UNHCR, there are 45 million refugees around the world. But let’s just imagine that this is the figure that fits the United Nation’s description of the word, “REFUGEES.” Remember, the word refugee or the status of a refugee depends on the United Nations willingness to declare a nation’s real people, “Refugee.” The UN does not play around with this word. They can decide that two hundred thousand people who fled Liberia into neighboring countries when the Liberian civil war first erupted “were not refugees” because the UN did not yet see them as refugees, but “DISPLACED PERSONS,” get it?

WITH THIS CALENDAR ON THE UNHCR SITE, YOU SHOULD LOOK FORWARD TO MORE REFUGEES

Select another year-range:
Weekday     Date     Year     Name    Holiday type    Where it is observed
Wed    Jun 20    2001    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Thu    Jun 20    2002    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Fri    Jun 20    2003    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Sun    Jun 20    2004    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Mon    Jun 20    2005    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Tue    Jun 20    2006    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Wed    Jun 20    2007    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Fri    Jun 20    2008    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Sat    Jun 20    2009    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Sun    Jun 20    2010    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Mon    Jun 20    2011    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Wed    Jun 20    2012    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Thu    Jun 20    2013    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Fri    Jun 20    2014    World Refugee Day    United Nation day
Sat    Jun 20    2015    World Refugee Day    United Nation day

Photos For Mom 258

These are refugees I met in the Buduburam camp outside of Accra, Ghana. Many still need to return home.

How many countries will fall into refugee crisis before the world pays attention to real people’s needs instead of to politically charged stories? How many millions around the world will die in refugee camps around the globe before we make refugee issues a priority like we make the needs of richer countries?
Today, the UNHCR’s number of refugee stands at 45 million, but the real number will never be known. You must remember with me and account for the millions who are displaced across the borders of their countries, displaced for years in other countries, people who have no country anymore, who cannot return home even if they wanted to. And as you remember, realize also that there are dictators, warlords, like Liberia’s Charles Taylor who are making fun of peace and justice by evading the truth of their war crimes. We need to set aside time to bring them to justice. Remember that there are millions in the Dafur region, in Chad, in Iran, in Iraq, and all over the world who continue to suffer as a result of violence.

Photos For Mom 257

As we slow down our pace in the free world and reflect on refugees around the world, I am reminded of one refugee who waited nearly fifteen years to return home, and on the brink of her return, died.

My young sister-in-law, Ora Sansan Wesley Dixon, who was a vibrant, industrious young woman died just two weeks after she and I stood together in Buduburam, talking about the need to return home to Liberia. Sansan, as we affectionately called her was a hardworker who despite years of the war, having lost her mother and many family, made a small life for herself in the infamous Buduburam camp in Ghana.

Photos For Mom 260

The things that refugees acquired over nearly two decades can fit in a small space of a truck if they survive or acquire anything at all.

Photos For Mom 255 My late sister-in-law, Oral Wesley Dixon in the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Accra, Ghana. May her soul rest in peace as we commemorate World Refugee Day.

The lack of medical facilities caused her to suddenly become ill, and died of conditions not quite explained just a couple weeks after the photos below. As you may observe in the photos, I am standing before the truck that was supposed to take the few possessions of dozens of refugees back to Liberia in the UNHCR’s attempt to repatriate Liberians. Liberian women had gone on strike early that year, but never got what they needed to survive their return to the devastated Liberia.

Many had decided it was no use staying in a country where they were not wanted, and were leaving. On the trucks were old beds, chairs, pots and the few belongings refugees could for over a decade. Sansan had also paid for her own few possessions to be placed on the truck. There was no money to take them, so family members had pitched in to fly her back home in August after her things were sent to Liberia. Family had made room for her. She was among the lucky who still had family that cared about her or that had survived fourteen years of warfare.

She offered me food that afternoon, my aid, Enock, refusing to eat from someone who had so little, he said. But Ora insisted to no avail. Enock, a Ghanaian was so saddened, tears welled his eyes to see the sort of condition refugees lived in. There was one small stool, the entire little shack, empty of all of Sansan’s possessions. She was her happy jubilant self, but deep down, she was hurting and she told me so very easily. She’d lost everyone, including her mother whom we wept for as I tried to stay focused on the purpose of my visit to the camp: to be a consolation to her and to her friends. The life of a refugee is more uncertain than anything any of us knows. I knew that for months as I fled in the bushes in Liberia. But when that war fled from in 1990 was supposed to be over, and after all these years, people have to pay for their own repatriation, then why are we celebrating their strength? I am not saying that the UN is doing nothing; I am saying that the UN and the world can do more.

Photos For Mom 254 Ora Sansan Wesley Dixon who died July 2008, nearly a year ago at Buduburam Refugee Camp near Accra, Ghana. May Her Soul Rest in Peace and the Almighty Shine His Eternal light upon her.


For me, Ora Wesley Dixon represents the face of the refugee crisis. In her last days in the Buduburam Refugee camp in Ghana, she had learned to survive, to make a life, got married, found a job helping other Liberians, putting herself through school as a preparation to return home. But her life was cut short by lack of medical care. She may not seem like the poster child of war refugees in tents in the dessert, but she’d already been there after more than ten years of refugee life. She had seen it, but she never lived to return home. She had packed, but never returned.

Today, according to Liberian journalist, Ekena Wesley, there are about 10,000 Liberian refugees still in Ghana alone, with others scattered around the world.

As I conclude this post, I know that there is much more that the world can do to end world violence and bring peace to most of the world’s refugees. There must be more than one Angelina Jolie in the world. All of us in our own small ways can bring the refugee crisis to the world’s attention. There are many more refugees whose plight is much worse than the Liberian, the Sierra Leonean, the Chadian or even the Middle Eastern Crisis. There are worse wars that have lasted decades, like the Colombian war that is more than forty years old. We need to cry out until there are no more refugees or displaced people around the world. We can do it if we are united. Thank you.

United States TSA Denies Delta Airlines Direct Flight to Monroiva, Liberia: This is a Blessing In Disguise

Photo for possible web

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has denied Delta Airlines direct flight to Monrovia, Liberia and to Nairobi, Kenya. In a June 3 statement,  the TSA said, “due to noted security vulnerabilities in and around Nairobi, and the failure to meet international security standards and appropriate recommended practices established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at the Roberts International Airport in Monrovia, TSA is currently denying air service by Delta to Nairobi and Monrovia until security standards are met or security threat assessments change.”

The decision to deny Delta permission to fly directly to Nairobi may or may not have a strong basis, but my blog discussion will focus only on the TSA decision against Monrovia, Liberia. This is because of my experience as a Liberian immigrant and my experiences with travel to Liberia.

Delta

Liberians are shocked, and of course, it is obvious that many Liberians would be disappointed in this decision. Liberian nationals and immigrants living in the US as well as other international travelers desperate to fly directly and cheaper to Monrovia would love to get a relief from the desperation they face when they have to book a ticket to Monrovia. There is a high demand for flights to Monrovia, and with each demand comes higher ticket prices. Try booking a ticket to Monrovia, and it is like striking a steel wall with another piece of steel. From my experience, you sit at the computer for weeks, trying to find a suitable airline to a country you so love. So, anyone can understand how desperate Liberians and international travelers to Monrovia can be and how desperately we need relief.

DSCN0299

–My beautiful baby sister, Margretta Yeeyee Jabbeh Meeting me at the Roberts International Airport near Monrovia

Besides these travelers, it is inarguably true that Liberian officials and the President of Liberia would love to have such a reputable airline as Delta introduce direct flights to Monrovia. This would give the impression that things in Liberia are improving and that the country is ready to move toward a great future. Maybe this is one more need for window-dressing. Maybe this is a real desire on their part. Whatever their motive might be, one cannot argue that the move to deny Delta this opportunity is a blessing in disguise and is good for the country and for travelers right now. It is also a good thing for Delta. But you do not have to agree with me. Just keep reading on.

DSCN0347

——Parts of Monrovia- Photo by Wyne Jabbeh

The TSA here in the US may have its faults, and their faults are numerous. In fact, I have regularly been targeted at airports each time I fly, and everything I carry on me is examined with double eyes for whatever reason or the other. My suitcases are always among the “random” checked baggage, something that is surprising. It does not matter where I travel to, throughout the US, to China, to South America or within Africa, they usually stamp the “SSSS” on to my ticket. Often, they examine me as though I were a specimen, and all my private documents are poked at, including my medications. I often have to be at the airport at least two hours before since I expect to be the victim of unnecessary inspection. But I don’t despair, and since I love the job they do to keep us safe most of the time, I really don’t mind. I also love the special attention they give me, and simply smile my way through. After all, I have nothing to hide. But you know, I’d prefer they found the right person to search instead of me, who is such a peace loving woman.
But I believe in the TSA and what they do to make us safe in the air and on the ground. I believe in the TSA’s need to monitor which countries, cities, regions of the world American planes can fly to, and if Monrovia is found unsafe or the airport is found unready, can anyone argue against that?

Try checking with international travelers, Liberian immigrants returning home or even Liberians traveling back and forth wherever they want, and find out what they know about the Roberts International Airport. Then find out from travelers of Delta Airlines between any country where they fly directly from the US to Africa, and discover for yourself their opinions about the sorts of planes Delta flies to Africa, the process of booking and checking in passengers, and the sub-standards for Africa compared to the high standards they have for European or American cities.

Photos For Mom 198

—Beautiful West Africa- 2008

But before we discuss Delta, let’s first get down to the issue of the Roberts International Airport. Do not despair, it is not all bad. The folks at the airport, receiving and sending you off do not mean any harm. They are simply doing what they used to do before the war. Corruption and bribing still abounds. Someone has to do something about the craziness at the airport, and I hope the Delta denial causes the government to probe into this and put an end to the corruption and the craziness with checking in and departing the country at that airport.

DSCN0327

—The burnt down E. J. Roye Building and the Centennial Pavilion in the background

The Roberts International Airport needs attention if it is to compete for international airlines, and that improvement begins not only with the rebuilding of infrastructure in order to accommodate the after-September 11 standards, but also with airport personnel attending to travelers at the airport. During my 2008 visit home, I was shocked to note that airport workers were engaged in all sorts of tricks in order to obtain bribe from me. They ceased my passport upon entry, claiming that a passport that I was approved to travel with from the US was outdated. I informed them that I was entering the country and that I would buy a new passport. I also told them that my passport was valid since it had just been renewed by the Liberian Consul General in the US, but they just pushed me around, yelling, and treating me like a criminal until I demanded to see their manager. When the manager, a woman took one look at me, she ordered them to release my passport to me immediately so I would get out of the airport. I was spared the opportunity of giving them a bribe this time.

Upon departure, again, my passport was ceased. I had bought me a new passport, but was told by check-in agents that I needed to use my old passport that had been stamped throughout my trip in order to validate myself on my way out. This was in keeping with international standards and laws,  the first person who checked me in told me. I was traveling with Kenya Airlines to connect in Accra, Ghana to Delta. After I had been checked in, I proceeded to immigration, where my passport was again ceased, and I was lectured by some agent, and again tricked that I needed to pay a fine for coming into the country with an old/valid passport. I was delayed, and of course, there were others being delayed by this same craziness. Around me in the small room, were crowds of travelers who were confused about what was going on, people passing through, and I wondered.

This craziness must end if Monrovia is to compete for and with international airlines. The denial of Delta to begin direct flights to Monrovia this month is a something that should make the Liberian fficials stop and do something drastic to regulate the airport workers and bring sanity to traveling to Monrovia.

Finally, Delta Airlines is a point I will conclude on. Delta is not ready to go to Liberia, I’d say. First of all, Delta needs to improve its standards for this very important transatlantic trip. Delta is not ready for Liberia. Why am I saying such a horrible thing, oh God?

I used to be the greatest Delta fan. I flew Delta at least a dozen times a year until last July, 2008, when I flew with Delta to Accra, Ghana. I have never ever flown Delta since then, and my mileage points are still waiting to be claimed. I had the experience of my life that made me cry, kept me stranded another day in Accra, cost me unnecessary hardship, and made me so desperate for cash, my son had to wire money to me in Ghana.

Photos For Mom 001

—Monrovia, 2008- Meeting with Cuttington University Officials

On my flight to Accra for a two week poetry teaching experience, I traveled alone on July 4th instead of with the group of Pan African Literary Forum (PALF) Creative Writing team. The first awkward thing I noticed at the airport in New York was that the Delta flight was so overbooked. We had to fight for a place on the plane since way too many passengers had been booked. Of course, others were left behind in New York. On the plane, I noticed how substandard the plane was with only one working restroom for the back cabin. This plane carried about three hundred passengers. But that was the better side of my journey.

On my return trip to the US via the Kotoko International Airport in Accra once more, I arrived at 7 a.m. on August 4th for a 10:30 flight. That should have been enough time, you’d say. After all, I had confirmed my trip, and had obtained my confirmation via internet in Accra the day before. When I arrived at the airport, there was a pandemonium. Delta had overbooked once more, but here, the game was different. The airline attendants did not care whether a passenger was confirmed or not. They had preselected who would and who would not travel through another corrupt selection. So, those of us arriving at 7 am were told that we were too late. We were given the run around to check this and check that until 8 am. Then they shut the gate for checking in. Others who had better connections got our places on the plane, and we were left stranded. After all the shouting and confusion, I was told to go and rebook for travel the next day.

After the initial shock wore off, and I was left in the crowd of confused travelers, I tried to pose my arguments to the agents. I was ill, and had already been in Accra two days on my connection, and my medications were out. I took my case as far as to the Manager, went to several offices, requesting that my original seat be given me since the plane still had yet to arrive. I met with a team of managers, broke down and wept, called Delta USA, but all my pleas were to no avail.

I then took up the matter for Delta to give me accommodation since I arrived at the airport at 7 am for a 10:30 flight, but they refused to check me in. The airline agents had in their corrupt deal claimed that I arrived at 8 am. What if I had arrived at 8 am? Wouldn’t two and a half hours have been sufficient for someone who had booked and was confirmed?

So, what did they do to accommodate me? Nothing. By noon, I dragged my luggage back to town, returned to my hotel and pleaded with hotel clerks to recheck me in. I paid for another day and waited for the next Delta flight to come in. The day of my travel, I was at the airport at 4 am for a 10:30 flight. I was shocked to note that in order to give seats to the wrong passengers, Delta agents in Ghana told their friends to arrive that early. So, I went through check-in, and was upgraded without any cost to me. The agents thought that this would calm my frustrations. If they could do that, why couldn’t they do what was right in the first place?

Photos For Mom 177

So, here was I in First Class with others like me who had been left behind the day before. Everything should have been great- right? No.

The agents on the plane knew better than to be fooled by non-first class passengers being given a one time opportunity in first class. The plane was already delayed by five hours so the agents were probably tired and angry. They were so rude to us, refusing to give us the same treatment real first class passengers were given. But that was not bad enough until we arrived in New York six hours delayed for no weather or apparent reasons.

We had missed all of our connecting flights, naturally, arriving close to midnight instead of at 5 pm. After customs, we were told to find our way to some

Ramada Hotel, and if we could speed up there fast enough, we would find rooms. If we delayed, we would be out of luck again. With so many passengers from our flight and other delayed Delta flights, it was another rush. Handicapped passengers could not make it fast enough, of course. I was one of the few lucky ones to get one of the last rooms. That night, there were dozens of African and other international travelers with small children who were stranded in the hotel lobby. Some of them were with children, with their Delta vouchers in their hands. But they had no food or rooms to sleep in.

Yes, we need a great airliner to travel to Monrovia, but Monrovia and the airline must be ready to do the job according to international standards. The TSA is a great security monitor, and it is making the best decision for all of us. If the quality of services I have described is what Monrovia is to expect, then this is a good time for both Delta and Liberian officials to reassess their mission and purpose. What do we want in an agreement between Delta and Monrovia? Do we want to travel safely or do we simply want to travel?

A TRIBUTE TO AIR FRANCE 447 VICTIMS- A Horrible Tragedy: Please Find those Black Boxes

Photo for possible web

When a Plane Crashes in the Middle of the Ocean, We Are Left Helplessly Grieved—


victims_1415510c

Compostie of some of the victims. From top left: Neil Warrior, Jose Souza, Graham Gardner and Arthur Coakley. From bottom left: Aisling Butler, Jane Deasy and Eithne Walls Photo: MARK ST GEORGE / PA

May Their Souls Rest in Peace—

Two days ago, we awoke to very sad news that a French airliner, Air France 447 was missing en route to Paris from Brazil. Then not too long after that, news came in that the plane had possibly crashed in the middle of the Atlantic, that long flight between the continents. Now, it is clearer to us that those 228 passengers and crew, including eleven children have all perished. This is a sad day for everyone who loves human beings no matter where they come from.

Anne and Michael Harris, American couple living in Brazil

Anne and Michael Harris, Americans living in Brazil, Perished.

Dr. Aisling Butler of Ireland, crash victim (Ap photo)

Dr. Aisling Butler of Ireland, also flying on Air France

FRANCE BRAZIL PLANEGrieving family members

There is a somber kind of hopelessness to realizing that your beautiful family or friends who took off on one of the most reliable means of travel in the world have joined a small number of crashed victims in the history of aviation. Everyone knows that flying is safer than driving, and yet each time I board an airplane, I am aware that something might happen, and I might not get off alive. What a scary thought, but let’s take a moment to think of the numerous family members, and friends who have lost so many good people.

Air_France_F100

When a plane crashes anywhere, and so much life is lost, everyone is at a loss for what to do. The living simply can stand around and mourn, try to make sense of the senselessness of the crash. Those responsible for investigating the crash examine all the theories, search for the Black Box in order to discover the last signs of trouble and communication prior to the crash. The painful thing about a plane crashing in the ocean is the feeling of the lack of closure. There are often no bodies to claim or bury, and forever, one might keep looking for closure.

Brazil PlanePhoto of young, Lucas Juca of Brazil who also went down with the plane.

Photos of grieving families at the airports both in Brazil and in Paris can be heart breaking for anyone. Families can only comfort one another.

Air France as an airliner is a familiar plane to me. Twice, I have flown my family members, including my late mother and my father-in-law on that airliner from Africa to the US. I too, have had to fly Air France and its Sister or cousin airline, Air Afrique.

But I am a skeptic about all of the instructions given to passengers during the take off. Maybe this is because I have flown way too many times or because I know about the inevitability of a crash, and that most plane crashes mean a death sentence for most passengers. So every time I hear these carefully and legally worded instructions, I wonder how fit the plane is, how sober the pilots are, whether or not they have the experience to fly the plane. I often wonder if they have had enough sleep, whether they are paid well for their difficult job, and whether the stewardesses are also trained for any kind of emergency.

Often, I simply bow and say a good prayer for myself, the pilots, the entire crew, fellow passengers, and turn my life over to God. I have stopped worrying, but I still have my wondering mind about the connection between the poor world economy and the running of safty

In my own grief for the victims of Air France crash, it is my hope that the families will find closure, will overcome their grief, will cherish the memory of their loved ones, and will move on into the future. I also hope that the families and friends will work hard to make the French and Brazalians find the Black Box.  I hope the French government will not call off the search for the Black Box. Let them not quit looking for it. The Black Box will help investigators determine whether the crash was natural, human error or a terrorist attack. Planes that are equiped to fly across the globe do not just vanish out in the thin air.  I hope the French will not be clumsy about quitting the search. We owe that much to the victims and their families.

Let us conclude this reflexive tribute on John Donne’s powerful poem:

Holy Sonnet X: Death Be Not Proud by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have callèd thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which yet thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more, must low
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men
And dost with poison, war and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Say a prayer for these, will you? May their souls rest in perpetual peace and may their families be comforted.