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Football Comes Home to Ghana

For the past three weeks, soccer has come home—literally—and Ghanaians of all walks of life have not been immune to the excitement and ecstasy it has generated throughout the country. Did you have to be told that bloggers were also excited? Hardly!

Let’s begin with Ghana Barbz, who, though not an ardent fan of football, decided to welcome readers of her blog to the three-week tournament:

Welcome to Ghana football. The Ghana Black Stars are Ghana's football team. And yesterday was the opening game of the African Cup of Nations, which Ghana is proudly hosting. In our brand new Ohene Djan Sports stadium in Accra, the Ghana Black Stars took on the Syli Nationals of Guinea. And with a last minute (really, absolutely last minute) goal by Sulley Muntari, won the opening game with a score of 2 to 1.

She confesses elsewhere that she is “not such a big fan of soccer”, but

How could you not love a country that loves it[s] national team so much?

She talks a bit about the opening game of CAN2008, which saw the hosts – Ghana – playing their West African neighbours of Guinea. She, however, was far from impressed with the quality of the game:

anyway, for most of the game, I found it fairly boring. The whole first half, Ghana attempted to score and missed a number of times, thanks to a great Guinea goal keeper. Finally, Ghana scored, and the whole stadium went wild. And not only the whole stadium, but the whole country! There was yelling and cheering and car honking that went on and on for about 10 minutes after the first goal. It stopped only when Guinea scored the equalizer.

Criticisms by her family of the Black Stars over their apparent lethargy towards the game nothwithstanding, it was going to be fairly impossible to avoid the noise emanating from Ghanaians as Ghana scored the winning goal in the 90th minute:

I mean, even if you didn't own a television or have a radio handy, you would absolutely know exactly what was happening in the game, the collective cheering or booing or even sighing was impossible not to hear.

The jubilation was nothing short of awe inspiring. And that was only the first game.

The first game—indeed! Abocco—of Ghana Conscious—was a tad disappointed by the Ghana-Guinea game, but was emphatic about what it meant to Ghana:

After seeing my favorite Black Stars agonisingly hit the goal post three times in the opening game of CAN 2008 and remain deadlocked with Guinea, I began wondering if this victory was to be. We finally scored and then the Syli Nationale replied almost immediately. Just when I was about to give up, Sulley Muntari produced a moment of magic two minutes to time and scored the winner. Ghana's biggest newspaper, the Daily Graphic, said sometimes one is tempted to believe that God is a Ghanaian. Apparently, God was on our side, and Esther Smith would agree with her song ‘Yesu wo m'afa’. No matter how many heartbreaking missed chances we suffered, we would win in the end.

Abocco, however, took the celebrations to another level, by wondering whether it was possible to extrapolate Ghanaians’ attitude and devotion to the success of the Black Stars to their own private attitudinal change. His post is yet-another-reminder of how excessively-attached to religion Ghanaians are:

Ghanaians need to follow this Black Stars example. If a single game can drive us to change church fashion for a day, we need to embrace more important things like attitudinal change, discipline and patriotism. Churches should declare Ghana days, where we'll pray for God's mercy on oil, gold, cocoa and timber prices and ask God to touch the hearts of those who are embezzling our money. We should pray that God makes sure that our taxes and tithes are used in our best interest. We have seen the result of hardwork backed by support of onlooking citizens and loved ones. The same people who had fasted and prayed for the victory took to the streets upon affirmation of the victory to celebrate and praise the Most High God.

Finally, Maximus writes an open letter to the late Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah, about the ongoing CAN.

He starts off providing a history of the CAN:

The 26th African Cup of Nations begins in your homeland on Sunday and is the source of my excitement. Allow me to be late to congratulate you on your shepherding Ghana's Africa Cup of Nations triumphs in 1963 and 1965.

The point he makes goes to underscore—no pun intended— his sentiments about where the first President was going with his vision of sports, and the inspiration he had for the country’s football team:

You are really great, all the tournaments that Ghana took part in your tenure as president resulted in glory and more glory

That MTN is the headline sponsor of the Cup of Nations is no news for observers of the soccer fiesta. What is little-known is how other mobile operators in the country have sought to capitalize on it, prompting speculation in quarters of the media of so-called “ambush marketing”:

Osagyefo, there is nothing like opportunity. Every company and their competition has fine-tuned its marketing campaigns to suit soccer-crazy fans. According to Tigo, every sport has some football genes as per their “Be a true fan” campaign. The new celebration for goals is a shiver. Kwame, abi you can shiver like ripples in a river, it goes like “Brrrrrrrrrrrr”. Football is connecting us all like OneTouch and Ghanaians are hoping the Black Stars onetouch all their opponents on the way to victory. You know that bicycle kick that is affectionately called Milo? Nestle is hoping Ghana nestles the ambition of raising their game to championship heights. Guinness is still celebrating greatness. Zenith Bank even has a special account for the Black Stars because you can bank on them as winners. There is no stopping you Black Stars, GO! You gotta love MTN, they may very well be emptying their competition with their marketing.

He also makes a point about how MTN has gone overboard with its advertising:

Many street lights are adorned with our colours and flags are flying and beautifying our short skylines. Osagyefo, we are selling Ghana and selling out Ghana too. There are probably more MTN (Cup of Nations) flags than there are Ghanaian flags. How did that happen? Everywhere you go, MTN. MTN, everywhere you go. Go Black Stars go. Go Ghana go. Go everywhere, MTN is there. We love corporate Ghana, we love the billboards, the beautification.

These developments nothwithstanding, what is clear is that Ghanaians are comprehensively behind the Black Stars. Maximus’s exhortation to the late Kwame Nkrumah, whom he affectionately refers to as “Osagyefo”, only buttresses the point:

Even in the absence of the inspirational tornado, the Black Stars are expected to shine and shine bright. Osagyefo, be with us, pray for us, send us some luck and fight for us. You owe it to us, we continue to make you famous. Even our official song borrows from you, “Osee, osee, Black Stars ei, forward ever”

1 comment

  • You gotta love it – the atmosphere of Ghana reminds me of when Senegal played France during the world cup. I was in Nairobi at the time and the moment that Senegal won, the country went nuts and from that moment on we were all Senegal fans. It’s beautiful how the game of soccer brings us all together.

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