A story is told of a world title fight involving the greatest – the legendary boxer Mohammed Ali. As was customary, Ali, being the challenger was summoned to the ring first but he refused to move. Instead, the Louisville Lip insisted on bringing up the rear – as it were – asking that the champ make his ring entrance first. Reminded that, the champ enters the ring last. Ali retorted, “By the time the night is done, I’ll be champ.”

You must be fully persuaded about yourself and have a certainty about your abilities, because bringing up the rear is a prerogative of a certain cadre or calibre of people.

When you get the final slot on the programme of activities of an event of a certain magnitude, the organisers must have faith in your abilities to sign off with a grand performance and give the event a befitting closure. To take up the final slot at an event that stretches for about seven or eight hours, you must bring your A-game. You could be left with a half-empty hall before you start your presentation – and a substantial part of that audience may be gone by the time you’re done.

You must be fully persuaded about yourself and have a certainty about your abilities, because bringing up the rear is a prerogative of a certain cadre or calibre of people. There’s an old African adage among the Yoruba that says, Éégun nla ni kẹhin igbàlẹ.” A rough translation: “the biggest masquerade exits the sacred grove last.”

During the Égungun festival the masquerades parade the streets in their colourful garbs, wielding canes and speaking in guttural tones. There are different classes of Égungun or Éégun – the latter is a contraction of the former – and the junior masquerades are usually the first to make their appearances before the biggest or most important Éégun brings up the rear.

Coffee brewing…

When the programme of events for the 15th AKWAABA African Travel Market was revealed, and Ethiopian Day was scheduled for 18:00hrs on the third day of the 3-day event, it was ‘clear’ that by that time the hall ‘would’ be half empty. Surely by then everyone was sated and most would have left the hall. In any case, there shouldn’t be much to look forward to with some booths already empty by 15:00hrs. Maybe, that was the strategy – the fewer the people around, the better. Not a bad strategy. After all they say “Cut your coat according to your size.”

Former Mrs. Tourism Ebele Enemchukwu with another beauty queen…
Organiser of AKWAABA, Ikechi Uko as compere…

The Ethiopians were prompt on time. When I entered the conference hall at about 18:05hrs, it had been rearranged for a dinner setting and I barely found a seat. How did the Ethiopians do it? The hall was filled and extra seats had to be added to some tables. There were bottles of wine and water on the tables, while coffee was being brewed as the presentation went on – and it was simple and precise. Right after the presentation, it was time for food and the audience got a taste of injera and doro wat, with lentils along with a variety of Nigerian dishes to complement the Ethiopian cuisine.

Gluten-free Injera
Array of gastronomic delights…
Guests being served…

Business cards had been collected before the presentation began and as we rounded up dinner, the raffle draw took place. Winners emerged – and one of them was our friend, Mr. Didier Bayeye of Sun International who won an Ethiopian Airlines business class ticket and 5-night stay at Kuriftu Resort & Spa, Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian Airlines General Manager, Mrs. Firiehiwot Mekonnen graciously made it two business class tickets to accommodate Mrs. Bayeye. It was befitting. Didier and his wife, Shirley were both singles when they attended AKWAABA 2018. Somehow, they connected and about a month ago, they had their wedding.

Mr. & Mrs. Bayeye…
Presentation to the Bayeyes by Ethiopian Airlines GM…

Speaking of weddings, some 2,000 years ago in Cana, Galilee there was a wedding and a situation arose – they ran out of wine. Lucky for them, Jesus was a guest at the wedding and when the situation was presented to him, he made provisions such that they were astonished. Their source of amazement was simple. In that clime and in those days, you serve the best wine first. By the time you run short, the people are already drunk and you can bring the cheap wine. However, the wine Jesus provided was better than what they had before. In other words, the best was saved for last.

Dancing time…

The night was not done yet as we were treated to some Ethiopian music and dancing and sure enough, many joined in the celebration as Ethiopia brought the 15th AKWAABA African Travel Market to a befitting grand closure.

Image credit: ©Igbo Ogbobine 2019 for More Cream Than Coffee®

Disclaimer:

Now, this article is not an attempt to belittle the efforts of the various participants at the recently concluded 15th AKWAABA African Travel Market. Indeed, everyone held their own as they did there thing which ultimately made the travel trade expo such a resounding success.