While en route to TED GLOBAL I stopped in Accra briefly for the fabulous 70th birthday celebration for Barbara Baeta (a.k.a. "Auntie Sika"). I've posted a few photos at flickr (betumi account). Suffice it to say here that it was amazing. At the Ridge Church service before the luncheon I was moved to tears as her family from the Volta Region spontaneously erupted into dancing and singing, and finally I felt free enough to join in with the others. She is truly beloved by those who know her. Soon I'll post a video clip I took during an interview a few days later in her home (on my return to the U.S. after TEDGLOBAL) when over some of the special birthday cake she'd saved me she shared a few memories of her 50 years as a professional in the food service industry in Ghana (especially of having coffee with Jimmy Carter and the time Queen Elizabeth II used Barbara's room as a dressing room.) For today I just want to mention the wonderful menu served to over 1,000 invited guests at the Trade Fair Center. There were 8 varieties of beers, from Star to Castle Milk Stout, a wide selection of wines from France, South Africa, Spain and Chile, a wide range of soft drinks from Flair Fruit Punch, Bissap and mineral water to Sprite, Coke, Malta Guinness, and Fanta. The salad bar featured over a dozen types of dishes of largely Western sources, from salami cups, stuffed celery with cheese, salad nicoise, potato salad with smoked chicken, smoked salmon, etc., etc. But the Main Buffet was my favorite: diced fish with prawns in tomato sauce; tilapia with atieke; grilled ginger chicken; lamb fricassee; Togolese meat stew; pink, saffron, vermicelli, braised and wild rice; couscous; gali (gari) foto; kakro and bambara beans; yam croquettes; light okro soup with yakayake; heavy fetrimi, akple and abolo.
My greatest sadness was that I had to grab my food before the serving officially began and gulp it down so that I could catch a flight to Tanzania. To my dismay I missed the luscious dessert table altogether, especially the tiger nut pudding, which is one of my favorites. Oh well, my greatest comfort is that I should be back in Ghana for 6 months beginning in January 2008.