On Friday, January 14th, I placed a GH¢150 bet on the Black Stars to win their match against Gabon – to also afford myself an opportunity to watch the match in a live, raucous atmosphere. I got home stunned and emotionally drained!
The betting shop, on top of a two-story building, may have been part-built by its cash-strapped owner, yet completed by its desperate commercial tenants. It has all the architectural hallmarks of rushed masonry. It is fully painted Irish Paddy green – green totting desk, green TV metal grills, bedecked with green plastic chairs on precarious stealthy moral legs.
Atop the chairs sit an array of rowdy youth, mostly dressed in a riot of American-style Obroni-waawu T’shirts with far-out Caucasian fictional heroes, who do not give two hoots to even pretend to form allegiance with familiar Cape Coast cultural artefacts.
Already, noisy banter rage above the heads of the official national anthems which precede the match. When I was a boy, we stood at attention to affirm our patriotism or risk bare-knuckled rattles on our heads by any adult!
This, indeed, is a self-assured, no ‘Yawa,’ ‘gabbaless,’ unpatriotic generation. Dare rattle a head and see mayhem on yours!
‘GOOOAL!.’ I peel my peepers – no goal. Just teasing alarmism from a sixteenish boy. Across my left shoulder, another retorts combatively:
‘Awo eyɛ bɛlɛ. Black Stars behyɛ won trii nil.’ To wit, ‘you are stupid. Black stars will score them three nil.’
Ghana presses Burundi around the penalty box. A shot. A miss – yards off target.
A third youth, about eighteen, wearing a simple poor-boy’s version of Danshiki and Shalwar Kameez (long tunics worn by men in West Africa and the Indian subcontinent), stands directly above my right shoulder. He bellows jabs of mimicro-dropletsf potential Coro into my nostrils and right ear. His voice is both wastefully matured and authoritative:
‘Hwon Paa… Ghana botum ahyɛ goal a? Abra training na hwon ayɛ?’ For real, do you think Ghana could score? What training have they had?
Dede Ayew dribbles and shoots. Brilliant GOOOAL! Wild celebrations. From the many hostile comments so far, I am pleasantly surprised, so many youths there are actually enthused patriots. But I hold down my emotions. As the only curmudgeon here, I must be emotionally even-handed – the yardstick of patriotic legitimacy.
There are many hostile exchanges in the interim. It’s now 87 minutes to full time. Another pre-emptive shout of ‘GOOOAAOOL!’ These time it’s no crying wolf. Gabon scores. Danshiki boy now directly jams my ear drums and nostrils with sprays of Omicron witticism:
‘Afe dzɛ wɔ rɛ ba fie a both register neon Mo-Mo SIM card.’ They are going to return home to register their Mo-Mo SIM cards.
I am not amused. I catch the uncool virus. I am now flappable as hell – emotionally devastated:
‘Why do you have to comment on every single happening, yet you are only a youth? Do you not know it’s your patriotic call to support your country? If you have begun such antagonistic sentiments so young, what will happen when you reach my age?
I nervously assaulted my phone. I know not for what specific reason. Perhaps it’s introverted anger to stop myself tumbling into the abyss of completely losing my cool, to allow that child further ground, to lower me to the level of toxic patriotic decentredness that most Ghanaians, especially our youth, now shamefully exhibit.
It is 07:30 hours now; Saturday, January 15. The Black Stars will live to see another day, today Tuesday, January 18th, with a decisive win over minnows, Comoro Islands. Doubtless, they will be promoted to the next-16 group after frenzied mathematical calculations.
My dog, Shaggy, is the first ‘person’ I say ‘good morning’ to since my emotional mawing last Friday. I should have named this shaggy-coated two-year-old virgin lass, ‘Nyame Behyɛrɛ.’ God will reveal – a great traditional name for a self-respecting Fantse bɔdɔm (dog)!
But the hectic event has had me thinking. Reasons given by opponents of the Black Stars (B.S) include: their goalie wears pink!, Ghana Football Association (GFA) is inefficient and corrupt – hence, poor footballing by the B.S., Ghana needs an African coach.
I agree with all above-mentioned charges, if not so sure if the colour of our goalie’s Jersey has any baring on his competence! I am also firmly against the appointment of a non-Ghanaian/African coach. I resent the Kwesi Nyantakye, Kurt Kraku, Randy Abbey GFA, MoYS Mafia corruptions which have totally damaged Ghana football.
But if Ghana’s national self-interest is what we truly seek, what principled commitment and faculty do some of us show supporting other nations’ teams against our own?
Mustn’t we progressives – Pan-Africanist/Nkrumaists, socialists and national patriots – rather make an intelligent distinction between damning and resisting Ghana’s internal incompetences, corruptions and contradictions, from the converse imperative of supporting our nation to success despite all those corruptions?
Must we absurdly throw the baby of perceptions of incompetence/corruptions with the bathwater of patriotism for national cultural success and socio-economic development? Must those ‘against’ the Black Stars be so conceited?
To conclude, this general apathy against the Black Stars by the youth and general citizenry, is a spill-over from the blatant daily corruptions and incompetencies of our intellectually and athletically stale, lame, financially cannibalizing: politicians, prophesying pastors, Council of State; tendentious, riotous parliamentarians.
Crucially, the lack of national patriotism is a structural spill-over from our patchwork of incongruent western constitutions, imposed via a direct surrender of Ghana’s political sovereignty.
The Ghanaian people have resented all these since the imperialist ouster of Nkrumah/CPP in 1966. They are highly opposed to NPP/NDC incompetence, state capture and treasonous sale of all Ghana’s wealth to the very western states Nkrumah/CPP wrestled our Independence.
They demand the retrospective trial, jailing and execution of all corrupt, incompetent, treasonous past presidents, MPs, former economists and ministers of finance, for causing the total collapse and indebtedness of Ghana to western and Chinese capital @ circa $415 billion in 2022.
The Ghanaian people are fed up with the creative footballing failures of the Black Stars, the GFA ABD Ministry of Youth and Sports.
The author, Kofi Hagan (Kofi of Africa), is a prize-winning journalist, and Media & Cultural Studies lecturer/researcher.