Friday, April 22, 2005

The Chief Comes to Minnesota

Udeh-Ekeh speaks to GT's third grade class at Rahn Elementary School in Eagan.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my father came to the United States for the first time in over forty years, spending most of his time in California, where two of his sisters live. However, before he left for home in Nigeria, he made a special trip to Minnesota to meet my wife and his grandchildren. While it was a short trip, it meant the world to me and my family for him to be here.

We prepared for his visit by getting the house clean and planning a special reception on Friday night for which we invited may of our friends and local family members. We also planned on taking him around the Twin Cities to se some of the places we frequent, as well as showing him the kids' school, the Mall of America, and some of the city lakes. If we had time, we also planned on taking him to the Cathedral of Saint Paul- the place of my baptism. (My father is a devout Catholic.)

We planned on his arrival on Tuesday night but on the day of his flight there was a glitsch. He was to board a plane in Los Angeles at 5 P.M. PST, but around 7:00 our time we got a call that made out hearts sink. Udeh-Ekeh was not allowed on his flight because he didn't have his passport. Apparently, because his return flight to Nigeria was coming soon, and because he was planning of flying via Luftansa, he needed to get a transit visa in order to fly through Germany. My aunt had given up his passport to get the proper stamps and they would not be able to get it back until the next day. And, as you ca guess, you can't get on a flight without proper I.D. here in the states, even for a domestic flight. My father's passport was the only acceptable I.D. he had.

Fortunately, Delta Airlines allowed him to change his flight for the next day, even though the flight was booked through Priceline (normally non-refundable, no changes allowed, non-transferable.) UNfortunately, we lost a day to what was already going to be a short visit. We were VERY bummed about the situation, but at least he was able to change the flight and still come to Minnesota.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Fact Checking

Today I got another call from Jordan, the fact checker from GQ, who wanted to get some final details cleared up for my story. He called after I had just left a real estate office of an agent who I am trying to do some business with (if you didn't already know, I am a mortgage banker) and was on my way to pick up my kids from their school.

As I have been going through the process of having a major story being written about my life, I am somewhat surprised at how thoroughly the fact checkers go through a story to make sure so many of the details are correct. Jordan talked with my father (the Nigerian one) three time while he was visiting the States, each time for an hour or so. He also has spoken to my mother (California), my parents (Omaha), my wife, my sister Uju in Lagos, my brother Nnadozie in Orlu, my brother Chibuzo in Abuja, and my Aunt in California.

He was making sure that names were spelled correctly, events were in the right order, and going through every detail of the story to make sure that everything was factual. In fact, I even learned a few things due to the process. For example, ever since high school, when I began telling other people that I was adopted, I always said that I was three years old when my parents brought me into their family.

However in talking to my parents, Jordan was told that I was adopted when I was four years old. Seems like a minor detail, but I now remember that I was already four. Now that I look back, I see where that is right. My fourth birthday was the same day that Martin Luther King got shot, and now I remember that I was still at the foster home in Dubuque when those reports were on the television. I didn't really understand the situation that well at the time but I knew that Dr. King was an important man and that many people were sad. I also know that my fifth birthday was at my new home in Omaha.

Anyway- back to the fact checking. I have spoken with Jordan about five different times- three times for about an hour to ninety minutes, and the last couple of times for ten to fifteen minutes or so. He says that the layout is almost complete (including the layout) which means that after over a year, and three postponements, IT IS REALLY GOING TO RUN!!! (O.K. It's going to be the June issue, not May. But- at least it is finally going to run!)

I can't wait to see what it is going to look like.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


We have finally got the word that GQ Magazine is finally going to publish the story. Everybody in my family has been getting calls from a "fact checker" to make sure the details of the story that Jason is writing is accurate.

It will be out in the June issue, coming to a newstand near you in late May. It'll be a huge seller. You might want to get your subscription early! :)

Maybe now I can begin to keep this blog up-to-date on the story without feeling guilty of giving it all away. From this point on, I will do a better job of keeping this log updated.

By the way- did I tell you that my father came to Minnesota? I didn't???!!!

Man, do I have some catching up to do.

Update: I'm still trying to guess who will be on the cover when my story gets published. Obviously, it won't be Jessica Alba, eh? Done that!