Mar 15


How ABBA Made My Day

Daily Guide March 15, 2014

Cameron Doudu

K1: Koo, do you like pop music?

K2: Not particularly. I remember the first time I heard the Beatles sing. I was so amazed that people were making so much fuss about a group of boys who sang like girls.

K1: Ah, but I remember you had a glint in your eye when you were pressing a certain young lady to your bosom whist dancing to She loves me, Yeah!Yeah! Yeah!?


• Well, the Beatles sort of grew on one. I mean, one could hardly go anywhere in those days without hearing their songs being played. Remember the “twist”? It was around at the same time, and one could dance to Beatles music with that – it proved one was sort of doubly “with-it”!  I must admit, though, that the Sergeant Pepper’s album of the Beatles was really very good.

• But why are you asking me whether I like pop music? You’re not forming a group?

• Hahahahaha! A group of old crows’ voices? No. I just want to tell you an odd story. I recently watched a movie on TV called Abba — Dancing Queen. It was a film about one of the most famous songs recorded by the Swedish pop group, Abba. The song was released in 1976 and I heard it for the first time in circumstances that have made it unforgettable to me.

• Young lady involved, right?

• Wrong! Unlike you, it isn’t only young ladies who populate my memory bank!

• Oh? What could it have been then?

• Well, it was like this. In June 1976, General Idi Amin Dada, the dictator of Uganda, came prominently into the world news when he welcomed hijackers from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, to Entebbe airport. They had hijacked  an Air France plane, flying from Israel to Paris via Athens, with 250 people on board. You will probably remember that Israeli commandos made a sensational raid on Entebbe Airport to rescue the passengers?

• Yes, I do remember. But where do you come in? Were you on the plane, peripatetic journalist that you are?

• No! No! As the story hit the headlines around the world, ITV in London mounted a programme on Idi Amin, and they invited me to London to give them my views on Amin.

• Some people are lucky, eh?

– Well, one works hard to achieve recognition, doesn’t one? After I’d done the programme, I stayed on in London for a bit. That is how I ran into a Ghana Airways pilot, who was well known for his loud mouth. He teased me in public, asking me, “So you too, big man like you,  you can’t buy a car for your wife? I saw her the other day, standing by the roadside, trying to hail a taxi!” I was badly stung by this, for I had been trying to get my wife to learn how to drive, so that she would be able to use my car when I travelled abroad.

However, she was always too busy to take driving lessons, and whenever I tried to teach her myself, we ended up quarrelling. So, on hearing what the pilot said, I told myself that there was only one thing for it: buy my wife such a nice car that she would be forced to learn how to drive it.

Well, I looked into the newspapers and found an advertisement for a car that seemed ideal: a left-hand-drive BMW 2800 that used both petrol and gas! I used all the money I had earned on the trip to pay for the car, which, at the time, was at the top end of BMWs. And since the company from which I bought it seemed to specialise in exporting cars, I paid extra for it to be shipped to Ghana for me.

My last day in London was terrible – I had to organise the money for the car and try to get to Heathrow Airport to board a plane for Luxembourg, all in the space of a few hours. In fact, I missed the plane! I then had to fly to Brussels instead, to try and get to Luxembourg by train from there, in order to arrive in Luxembourg in time for an important meeting of the Consultative Assembly of the European Community and the African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) Group, whose Ghana representative I happened to be.

Sleeping on the train was impossible, because of the onerous day I’d had in London. So I began to tune my radio from local FM station to FM station, in line with the towns we passed. Suddenly, out of the mainly hopeless noises I’d been forced to listen to, exploded Abba, singing Dancing Queen! It was particularly beautiful at that time of the morning and it acted like a balm to my restless soul.

The short end of the story is that the London company that was supposed to ship my wife’s car for me, didn’t do so. It deliberately went out of business and the next time I visited Britain, there was no trace of it. I involved the police, but good old super-efficient Scotland Yard could do f-all about it.

Just imagine how I felt, after having endlessly extolled the car’s virtues to my dear wife. But whenever I recall that episode and become bitter or morose, I remember the golden voices of the Swedish angels called Abba.

And I calm down: for if that hadn’t turned out to be such an awful day for me, would I ever have discovered Abba?

And isn’t the pleasure I have derived from Abba over the years more valuable than the cost of the car that never arrived in Ghana? I mean watching that film, even after so many years, brought tears of joy to my eyes….• Ei Koo, I like your philosophy: something lost, something gained, huh?

• Absolutely. Everything is relative, Koo. As Albert Einstein tried to teach us – not with much success, I fear!


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