The children who came here were a nuisance – we don’t want them here anymore. With that single statement, Sefakor demolished the yuletide treat planned for and by our team of three adults, three children and one baby in Africa’s first airplane restaurant!
If you harbored any dreams of showing your children what eating in an airplane could mean, forget it! You are in for a rude awakening. The high profile two month old restaurant does not allow children; at least not during the last Christmas-New Year holidays. Infact you will be driven away like a leprous soul by manager Sefakor, standing at the entrance to the aeroplane like an old colonial soldier!
It started with the Missus conducting an internet search for La Tante’s telephone details to make enquiries given the loud promises made to the children by the son of man. Perhaps, not finding it should have alerted us that this somewhat exotic concept of an aeroplane-restaurant in Ghana was not all that it promised! Not ready to give up, I personally paid a visit to La Tante a day or two prior to the above debacle. “You can bring the family, they said and no, you don’t really need an advanced booking.” I left grinning from molar to molar, mightily satisfied that I was going to score maximum points with the family. So much so infact that I extended the invitation to Dr. Ernest Asiedu – who apart from being a key ally in the struggle, also has an eleven month old son to impress!
By 700pm, we all descended in pomp and pageantry – dressed to kill. For two out of the three children, this would be their first foray into a real aeroplane. This was no cartoon business. And for the first, even though she had been on an aeroplane before, her age had been such that to put it mildly, the experience was nothing to write home about as she barely remembered anything. This long promised treat therefore meant a lot to them – to see, feel and taste at first hand for themselves and to give me my next batch of stories with which to hold them enchanted for the next few weeks. Ernest drove all the way from Tema, having deployed inferior communist tactics to wickedly deny other children (nephews and nieces) clearly salivating to be part of the party! Your mother will be coming for you tonight, so as for the aeroplane, it is only baby and I! In a Skype chat a few hours before, the son of man had boasted to other allies in faraway Scotland that Ghana was indeed the place to be that night in La Tante!
As we climbed up the staircase to the refurbished green DC 10, IPADs and digital cameras had a field day. We were making and recording history live, totally oblivious of the little gatherings of adults and children that were either standing at the entrance or descending dejectedly. We had hardly landed at the entrance when Sefakor emerged at her child-unfriendly best.
“We are not allowing children inside anymore. When we let them in, they were a nuisance. And their parents too cannot control them.” Why did your officials not tell me when I came in here yesterday to make enquiries? The missus then started to interrogate the issues further. I could not believe my ears as I climbed down the staircase, too disappointed to say anything further. We discussed how in other settings, entire business concepts were built around using the pulling power of children to entrap adults to spend. On my own, I would not find eating at La Tante such a thrill. We reflected on how others made provision for little play areas for children, in order to give the family a reason to come. We expressed anguish about how in a holiday season for children/family, a restaurant looking for business could take such a decision and not have the courtesy to pre inform potential customers that their children would be ruthlessly turned away if they dared to show up! And we reflected about the totally unprofessional manner in which Sefakor had gone about her business.
After a brief caucus, we decided that it would be too much of an anticlimax to drive back home with nothing to show for our exertions. Thus humbled, we proceeded meekly to Imperial Peking Chinese Restaurant to tend our emotions, exercise our jaws, and share warm laughter. Midway through dinner, Aseye brought it all painfully home when she walked up to me and asked, “Papa, why did the woman at the aeroplane not allow us to go inside?” In 2014, I must find good money, put these children on a proper aeroplane while they are awake, and fly them to an unforgettable location! Enough is truly enough!