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Ansu Fati: From Guinea-Bissau suburb to Barcelona’s Camp Nou4 minutes read

He was just 7 when he first came to Spain and his startling talent meant he was invited to join Barcelona’s prestigious youth academy

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Ansu Fati: From Guinea-Bissau suburb to Barcelona's Camp Nou

Ansu Fati has made a long trip from the fields of Guinea-Bissau, where he played as a child, to Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium where the 16-year-old is playing with some of the biggest stars in the world.

Fati has made a stirring start to the season, scoring just two minutes into his full La Liga debut on a magical night when he hardly put a foot wrong in front of over 80,000 astonished Camp Nou fans who gave him a standing ovation as he left the field.

He was just seven years old when he first came to Spain and his startling talent meant he was invited to join Barcelona’s prestigious youth academy ‘La Masia’ aged 10.

It was an incredible achievement for a boy from a country that has never been known globally for football. 

In Sao Paulo, his home neighbourhood in the rundown suburbs of capital Bissau, the children yell “Ansu Fati, Barca player!” as they run around on ochre soil, under the tropical trees. 

Malam Romisio, who coached Fati as a child, told reporters how the boy used to play football wearing only socks or plastic sandals, easily dribbling the ball past bigger, stronger teammates.

When Fati made his debut with Barca’s first team at the end of August, the coach switched his allegiance from Real Madrid.

Ansu Fati: From Guinea-Bissau suburb to Barcelona's Camp Nou
Barcelona´s Guinea-Bissau forward Ansu Fati (R) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona against Valencia CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 14, 2019. (Photo by PAU BARRENA / AFP)

“If he continues like this, he will be a great player,” he predicted.

In Guinea-Bissau, Fati is a source of national pride.

Born on October 31, 2002, he lived in Bissau until he was six.

In the house where he grew up, Fati’s uncle Djibi Fati shows photos of the footballer as a child, dressed in traditional clothes, recalling how others used to tease him for his love of bread and butter.

“Every time he came back from playing football, he would ask for it,” he recalls.

Family divided, reunited in Spain –

When he was still very small, his father, Bori Fati, went to Portugal to look for work, later settling near Seville in southwestern Spain.

Bori picked olives, collected empty glasses in nightclubs and even helped build a high-speed rail track, recalls Amador Saavedra, who befriended him in Herrera, some 100 kilometres north of Malaga.

It was only when the Communist mayor of Marinaleda, a nearby town, hired Bori as a driver and helped him financially, that he managed to bring his young family over in 2009.

“It’s a very beautiful story,” said Saavedra, 53.

Bori ended up training his young son at the Peloteros football school, which is free for thousands of children in Herrera and the surrounding towns.

Cheerful but quiet –

When Fati arrived, he quickly caused a sensation on the football pitch, said Jordi Figaroa Moreno, his first Spanish coach.

Ansu Fati: From Guinea-Bissau suburb to Barcelona's Camp Nou
Former coach of Bissau-Guinean football player Ansu Fati, Jordi Figueroa looks at trophies at the “Peloteros” football school, in Herrera, Sevilla, on September 18, 2019. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

“He had a gift,” he told reporters.

“The difference between him and his teammates was just huge, both technically and tactically. Among the youngsters, it’s rare to find children who can play as a team, but he had everything.”

Jose Luis Perez Mena, who runs the Peloteros school, described Fati as “very spontaneous” and “very cheerful” as well as “extroverted, but very quiet”.

His stellar success “has not gone to his head”.

Within a year of arriving in Spain, Fati joined Sevilla. In 2012, at the age of 10, he was enrolled in Barcelona’s youth system.

“Ansu was one of the youngest players ever to have entered La Masia,” said Marc Serra, his first coach at Barcelona.

“From the day that he arrived, he was different, the type of player who invents football.”

‘Mind-blowing’ –

In August, the teenager became the youngest player to score for Barcelona in La Liga. This month, he became the club’s youngest player in a Champions League match.

Ansu Fati: From Guinea-Bissau suburb to Barcelona's Camp Nou
(Photo by SASCHA SCHUERMANN / AFP)

Spain’s national coach Robert Moreno described Fati’s debut for Barcelona as “mind-blowing”. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde spoke of him as a “balanced boy” who is “at ease with himself”.

“We want him to learn to know himself, to know the first division, so he sees that it is hard and how much work and dedication it will take to succeed,” he said.

Speaking to Spain’s Onda Cero radio last month, his proud father said he had taught Fati to “be respectful and happy with everyone”.

“Every day I tell him: ‘This is your job: when you have the ball, turn towards the goal, don’t look anywhere else, and just shoot.”

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Culture & Tourism

10 Safety and Security Tips You Should Note as You Travel this Christmas

How to stay safe during your travels this festive period.

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Safety travel tips for the holidays
A young woman pulls her luggage as she's about to travel. Photo credit: Shutterstock.

You can’t wait for Christmas to come. You’ve made or are currently making plans of how to make the best out of this Christmas season away from home in a vacation you’ve dreamt about all year long. December is finally here, you remember how you’ve googled the best destinations to travel to and how you finally made a choice. It’s a wonderful feeling.

There’s no doubt that travelling during the festive period can be a whole new level of excitement. However, it’s easy to lose your guard and get caught up in the thrill of Christmas adventures and/or shopping. While you get busy thinking about living your best life away from home, make sure that you don’t neglect travel security with these safety tips.

While you are preparing for your December vacations, like many, you may think you have it all sorted. Do you really have everything sorted out? Let’s look at a few things’ travellers like you should consider when travelling

Here is a list of 10 safety and security tips that may come in handy as you make final preparations for your December getaway.

Pre-travel research

As you begin to book your travel, research the destinations you will be visiting beforehand. Take note of risky areas and places you would need to seek out assistance for. Familiarise yourself with emergency numbers and take note of specific country restrictions such as electrical outlet wattage, local customs, traditions and holiday schedules.

The idea here is that while you’d be a stranger visiting the place, probably for the first time, you don’t want to end up being embarrassed or be robbed of a valuable possession. So, research and get a deep insight into the area, the people and be sure of the places you must avoid while vacationing there.

Pack smartly as you travel this Christmas

Only take what you need for the trip and where possible, leave valuable jewellery, clothing and other items at home. According to worldaware.com, “While you should leave unnecessary valuables at home while travelling, it’s important to know how to keep important items as protected as possible”.

Do not leave your valuable items like jewellery in checked bags. They should be in your possession either within your hand luggage or better still, in a waist belt or neck bag. It is equally ideal to have a change of clothes in your hand luggage. This will come in handy if your checked bag(s) gets missing or stolen.

Communicate with family during your trip

As you plan to make that trip, it is also important you tell family and friends about your travel plans and share your itinerary with them beforehand. Make plans for how family, friends and acquaintances can contact you while you’re away. Check-in periodically with family/friends as a basic precaution.

communicate with family and friends as you travel
A young woman makes a phone call while travelling. Photo credit: Shutterstock

During your vacation, you may change hotels, get on a cab or use other means of transport. You can always share your location with family and friends using the share location feature of Google Maps. If you’re using any cab/ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft, you should also share your trip with a few family members or friends.

Arrive early at the airport on your travel date

Allocate plenty of time to pass through security checkpoints as high travel volume during the holidays is likely to increase delays. Ensure you have obtained all necessary documents prior to departure including country-specific visas. Where you’re not clear, ensure to get clearance before the day of your trip. Call the airline you’re using or call the agent that helped with your flight/hotel booking.

Prearrange transportation throughout your trip

Typically, this is best done through your hotel or host. App-based rideshare services are also often an acceptable method of travel, though this can vary by location and local restrictions. If using taxis, make sure they are officially licensed. Remember to always share your transport routes and destinations with family and friends.

young man hails a cab while on vacation
A young man hails a cab while on vacation. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Don’t stick out or draw unnecessary attention while on vacation

People who look like they’re from out of town are especially vulnerable to crime, so try to blend in as much as you can. Be discreet when looking at maps and approach people carefully if you need to ask for directions. Maintain a low profile to prevent drawing attention to yourself and avoid obvious displays of wealth.

Travel in groups this Christmas

It’s pretty much easier to rob one person than a group of people. So, where possible, plan your trips and vacations in a group. Asides being safer, travelling in a group could be much more fun than you could have travelling solo especially if visiting a foreign language country. So, before finalising your travel plans, find out if there are any organised group packages to your chosen destination.

africans vacationing in group
Africans vacationing in groups. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Know your surroundings and stay current

When on vacation, you should be extra sensitive. If something or someone seems out of place, listen to your gut instinct and remove yourself from the situation or seek help. Stay informed of what’s happening in the area you’re travelling to. 

Never carry a lot of cash on you as you travel

Avoid carrying and using too much cash while travelling. As you make plans for your Christmas vacation, consider obtaining a pre-loaded debit card not tied to any of your bank accounts back home. Always keep a small separate amount hidden somewhere on your person in case of emergency. Avoid carrying valuables including tablets, laptops or expensive cameras when out for the day.

Be wary of public Wi-Fi while on your vacation

When you use public Wi-Fi, hackers looking to steal valuable information can access your data including credit card information. If you do need wireless internet service, set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that will allow you to access the internet securely while travelling. You can learn how to stay safe or set up a VPN while using public Wi-Fi here.

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Culture & Tourism

6 of the best travel destinations in Africa

Africa is beautiful. Discover places you wouldn’t believe are in Africa.

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best africa travel destinations
Pyramids of Giza. Photo Credits: Jacques Sierpinski / Aurimages

There is no gainsaying that Africa is mother nature’s favourite as the continent is blessed with immense natural and mineral resources. From deserts to savannahs, rainforests to mountains and waterfalls, name it, the mother continent has it all. No wonder the continent caught the attention of European navigators and explorers who could not resist the diverse richness of Africa. 

The continent plays host to the widest variety of natural wonders, fauna and flora as well as peoples and cultures. Among the many endowments are the natural and historic destinations spread all over the continent. Here is a list of 6 natural destinations you just cannot afford to miss.

10 African Destinations you must visit

The Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, South Africa

The canyon which could easily be adjudged the most beautiful canyon in the world stretches a distance of 25 km to the north of the Drakensberg. This beauty of mother nature is located in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. The canyon, which consists mostly of red sandstone is located in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. According to Wikipedia encyclopedia, the highest point of the canyon, Mariespskop is 1,944 metres above sea level. This is about 6,378 ft. The lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 561 metres (1,841 ft) above sea level. Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world and the second-largest in Africa. It is also presumed to be the largest green canyon on earth because of its lush subtropical foliage. 

Now, you may wonder, why it made the list as one of the best travel destinations in Africa. Well, here are a few of the reasons:

  1. Bourkes Luck Pothole: the impressive rocks of the Bourkes Luck Potholes offer tourists an exciting view as it is close to tourists’ viewpoint. 
  2. Hippo Trail: this magnificent trail into the Blyde River Canyon is worth every second of your time spent on hiking on it. So, lace up your hiking boots and hit the Hippo Trail. 
  3. God’s Window: need just the perfect photo souvenir to take home from the Canyon? Then think no more! Get your phone or camera and walk down to God’s Window for your beautiful pictures. You’ll get the opportunity of capturing panoramic views that spread all the way down to the Kruger National Park. You can even see Mozambique from this point! 

Ensure you wrap up your stay in South Africa with a tour of the Blyde River Canyon next time you visit.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania 

You have denied yourself a great deal of adventure and pleasure if you are a safari lover but have not visited the beauty that lies in the East African country of Tanzania. Tanzania’s oldest and largest national park, Serengeti National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It hosts the world’s most spectacular annual wildlife migration, which comprises of about two million wildebeest as well as thousands of Zebras.

It is also credited for hosting Africa’s largest lion population, with an estimate of 3000 lions. Other wildlife in the Serengeti includes buffalos, elephants and giraffes. The Serengeti National Park will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. 

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Located in Namibia, in southern Africa, is the Etosha National Park. The country’s flagship reserve is best known for the vast dry pan for which it is named. It’s prominent for its role in preserving black rhinos, leopards, elephants and lions. The best time to visit Etosha is during the dry season. Any time from April to October is perfect. But tourists can also visit during any other time. There are both government-run camps and exclusive camps for accommodations.

Siemens National Park, Ethiopia 

Formed by the massive erosion that affected the Ethiopian plateau for many years, the Siemens National Park has transitioned from erosion rubble to one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. Adorned with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp cliffs, Siemens National Park is home to a number of rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the Walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world. 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating they say. So for you to fully capture the idea  and appreciate all that Siemens National Park has in stock then you should start rescheduling to include Ethiopia on your travel to-do list 

Yankari National Park, Nigeria

The large wildlife park which is located in the south-central part of Bauchi State, in Northern Nigeria covers an area of about 2,244 square kilometres. It is home to several natural springs. It is also famous for the many varieties of flowers found there. 

For decades, Yankari National Park formerly a reserve, has played host to thousands of tourists. The park has been ranked as the most popular tourist destination in Nigeria. Because of this, the park plays a significant role in the development and promotion of tourism and ecotourism in Nigeria. It is one of the most popular eco-destinations in Africa.

Kruger National Park, South Africa 

Located in the Northeastern region of South Africa lies the Kruger National Park. This park which is widely adjudged as one of the largest game reserves in Africa is famous for its high density of wild animals. These animals, referred to as the big 5, are lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. But the park is not the exclusive reserve of the big 5 as hundreds of other animals also inhabit the plains of the park. It covers an area of 19,485 km. Kruger National Park is the right destination for your getaway trips if you really want to walk on the wide side.

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Art

Millions of fans thrilled with Cardi B’s Africa tour

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Cardi B attends the Swisher Sweets Awards Cardi B With The 2019 "Spark Award" at The London West Hollywood in West Hollywood, Calif.(Photo by Billboard: Leon Bennett/FilmMagic)

It was all buzzing in Lagos and Accra during the weekend as Cardi B visited. 

Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar, popularly known as Cardi B was on a 2-nation African tour from Friday 5 December to Sunday 8 December.  She performed in Nigeria on Saturday and in Ghana on Sunday. 

There is no doubt the Grammy-Award winning rapper enjoyed every bit of her time in the 2 West African countries. She kept millions of fans all over the world thrilled with her energetic activities which she regularly updated via her social media posts.

In Nigeria, the 27-year-old’s performance went down on Saturday night at the Livespot Festival, held at the Eko Atlantic City, Lagos.

Performing alongside Cardi B at the festival was Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Teni, Patoranking, Joe Boy, Niniola and a host of other Nigerian artistes.

The beautiful rapper dressed in Nigeria’s national colours from hair to toe, to deliver an electrifying performance to the delight of her teeming Nigerian fans. 

She performed some of her hit songs like ‘I like It That’, ‘Girls Like You’, ‘Bodak Yellow’, ‘Money’ among others.

The Chief Creative Director of Livespot36 – the organizers of the festival, Dare Art Alade, while speaking at the largely-attended festival said:

“We know how much love the fans have for Cardi B and this was one of the reasons we chose to give fans a special experience to see the queen of hip-hop live in Lagos. However, we also are aware of the massive appeal of some of our Nigerian music acts. The show will definitely have been incomplete without these music stars, and this is why we all had a great time at Live Spot Festival”.

Cardi B who was quickly nicknamed Chioma B in Nigeria did not just come to Nigeria to perform and leave with her paycheck. She showed massive love for the country and her beautiful people. She visited motherless babies’ home with several gifts.  

She also had a swell time clubbing in some of the famous clubs in Lagos. At one of the clubs, she reportedly splashed a whooping 3 million naira. 

Nigerians do not waste time in returning any love shown to them. The comely rapper genuinely showed her love for Africa and this easily gained her endearment from millions.

Cardi B left Nigeria on Sunday to Ghana where she was received with equal love and energy. 

However, some Ghanian celebrities had earlier complained that they were snubbed by Cardi B when they came to her hotel to have a ‘Meet & Greet’ with her and she did not show up but she later cleared the air on what happened, saying she was not informed about the meeting and immediately promised to meet the guest celebrities.

She is expected to return to the United States on Monday.

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