Fred and Donanne Hunter flew north from South Africa in order to cover the enstoolment of the Asantahene on Ghana. A passport problem landed them in Paris. Finally grit succeeded in getting them back to West Africa.

Enstoolment welcoming committee

Enstoolment here we come! We flew into Ghana from Paris. Despite itself, Accra was a place you had to love. Vital laughing people filled its streets. So did snarled traffic and the insistent blaring of horns. On every corner stood buildings splotched with scabs of flaking paint, caused by the city’s nearness to the ocean. The pungent perfume of sea salt floated on the sea breezes; so did odors of cook fires, decay and uncollected garbage.

Expecting to spend several weeks in Accra, we made inquiries. Two waifs, we went to a dinner party at the home of an embassy officer. There we met not only the American Ambassador and his wife and several influential Ghanaian couples. We also dined with a Texaco executive; he offered to rent us an unoccupied house “out by the airport.” We jumped at the offer. We were tired of hotels. A house would be just the place to prepare for our trip inland to Kumasi.

The Texaco house turned out to be a Victorian era structure. It had broad screened porches with wide eaves and room enough for us to spread out. I could pace while I wrote dispatches and Donanne need not sit quietly in the same room, as she had to do in hotels, or take refuge in the lobby. A houseman lived in a small accommodation behind the house and, strangely, a seemingly endless procession of local people crossed the rear of the property on a path there. Our first night in the house we went to bed with a definite feeling of contentment.

We awoke knowing that we were about to die. It was pitch dark. Where were we? In bed somewhere. We were both sitting up, our hands on each others’ arms. A monster the color of night was bearing down on us. It came at us with a roar. Could we scramble under the bed? The roar was so incredible that the house began to shake. It grew louder. Help!!! Louder! LOUDER!! It came on fast and heavy, like a something that would flatten us. Like a jet-powered steamroller of noise.

It passed over us. We hugged each other. Holy Hannah! What the hell was that? We laughed. How close were we to the airport?

The Lufthansa jet – the one that had brought us back to Africa – flew south every morning at 4:30 a.m. We never got used to the roar. But we discovered the reason Africans traipsed through the back of the yard. Behind the row of trees that edged the property stood a fence. Beyond it was the end of the runway.

We got ready to go to Kumasi.

Next post: First some background on the enstoolment process.