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Ghana 2008 and the Spirit of Nationalism

Ghana 2008 and the Spirit of Nationalism

At long last, the golden jubilee 26th Africa Cup of Nations – Ghana 2008 tournament has come and gone. Even though Ghana could not grab the gold, she was able to snatch the bronze medal; and the nation is patriotically richer than ever before.

But one legacy bequeathed Ghanaians by the tournament which must never be allowed to desert us as a people is the Spirit of Nationalism. And the 23 young players out of 22 million coaches, who carried the entire nation on their fragile shoulders and sweated under supreme pressures from January 20 to February 10, 2008, were the twinkle, twinkle Black Stars of Ghana. The stylish Stars did the trick with their superb “soccerlistic” skills and crowned it with their “kangaroonistic” acrobatic legs and pinching fingers to stride. It was simply titillating and infectious like flu. It did not take long before other African nations, starting with the almighty Nigeria, began to make photocopies of their copyright dancing steps. No piracy here, please! Michael Essien of Ghana is the originator, initiator and inventor of “Kangaroonistic” dance in Africa and in the world of soccer. Any body who wants to duplicate that dance must obtain permission from him. Period!

What shall we tell the gallant 23? “Ghana Black Starts, “Ayikooo!” Bravo! You have chalked up what Napoleon could not have achieved.” And we should always keep this African proverb at the back of our minds: “Those who did not take part in the warfare always have the pleasure to fume and critisise the battalions that they did not fight hard enough.” Do not blame them, for they know not how monkey sweats.

As matter of fact, Ghana did very, very well. To be able to crush Guinea 2 – 1 ; pip Namibia 1 – 0; demolish Nigeria 2 – 1; massacre Cote d’Ivoire 4- 2, before finally going down 0 – 1 against Cameroon under some technical mishaps and “huhudious” officiating conspiracy, it was not a mean feat at all. In other words, with exception of Namibia, all the countries that Ghana crushed like empty shells on the way before snatching the Bronze medal are super power nations as far as football in Africa is concerned. Just go and look at the FIFA ranking of those countries on the continent before the commencement of Ghana 2008 tournament.

About 20 years ago, in 1987 to be precise, this author watched an American film at the Executive Theatre of the then Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) in Accra. (I don’t quite remember the title of that film). But in the film, a little boy of about five, living with his mother was naughty in some way. It was as if the boy intentionally poured some water on the dinning table and his mother was mad. The mother started scolding him. She nagged and nagged and made insinuation to the boy’s father who was not at home at the time. Suddenly, this tiny boy flared up, looked at his huge mother in the face and retorted: “Mum, why are you nagging at me like that? Don’t you know that I am an American?” The mother was so shocked and spell-bound that she could no longer utter a word thereafter.

How do some nations on this planet of imperfection manage to infuse or inculcate the spirit of patriotism into their citizens to the extend that, even when they go wrong in one way or another, most of their citizens are still prepared to defend them or even lay down their lives for their countries? At what age do they start pumping the sense of patriotism into the minds of their citizens? And what returns do such patriotic citizens expect back from their nations?

Fired up by this “holy” spirit of nationalism, some Ghanaians went to the extent of not only draping themselves in national colours, but adorn their dogs, cats, rams, goats and fowls, with Ghana flags – all jubilating in support of the national team – the Black Stars. Even some foreign nationals in Ghana or visitors who just came in to witness the event were so infested with the Ghanaian spirit of nationalism that they started competing to prove that they were even more Ghanaians than the Ghanaians themselves. (We say they are more catholic than the Pope himself). It was just fantastic!

In August 2007, the Ministry of Information and National Orientation formally launched the National Orientation Sensitisation Programme at the Accra International Centre. It is relevant to quickly refresh our memory of the Five Pillars of the National Orientation which were unveiled on that occasion: 1. Proud to be Ghanaian; 2. Patriotism and a Spirit of “Ghana First”; 3. Positive and a “Can – Do – it “Attitude; 4. Productivity and Accountability and 5. Dedication and Discipline.

One is yet to conduct a scientific survey to determine the impact of the programme on the population. Nevertheless, through casual observation so far, it will not be out of place to opine that since the launch of the National Orientation programme, coupled with gradual but deliberate and sustained efforts by the Ministry to conscientise people about the need to do things in a certain way as a people, slowly but progressively the spirit of patriotism or nationalism is being rekindled in the minds of many Ghanaians. It can be concluded that at least, the Pillar N0 1, “Proud to be Ghanaian” has virtually taken roots in the hearts of many citizens of this loving country of hospitable people.

Do you remember that during the tournament, the Minister for Information and National Orientation, Hon Oboshie Sai Cofie, had to issue an official statement, reminding the entire nation that any time the national anthem was being played or sung, every body ought to remain standing and quiet until the anthem was over? That was a simple but profound national orientation instruction. So, even in our anxiety to display the depth of our patriotism, it is important to take note of such basic ethics of nationalism.

Although it is the Information Ministry which initiated the policy, it needs the collaboration of other institutions such as the National Commission on Civic Education, the Ghana Education Service, Commission on Culture, Commission on Children, the Churches, Mosques, the Shrines as well as individual parents and teachers to be able to effectively executive it for the success of the National Orientation programme in the supreme interest of the nation.

At this juncture, it is imperative to say a word of appreciation to all Ghanaians from the President of the Republic to the truck pusher at the Sodom and Gomorrah market for the massive support accorded the National Team. Ghanaian Parliamentarians made better noises than even the Supporters Unions who were paid to make noises. For those Pastors who cast away their orthodox cassocks for a moment and put on dresses in national colours to preach with their congregations blowing horns in the churches all dressed in national colours, God has taken note of the holy spirit of nationalism that descended on them.

Our Muslim brothers and sisters as well as the traditional worshipers could not be outdone in the massive support for the Black Stars. Did you see that man who always went to the stadium with live guinea fowls? How about those who carried R.I.P.coffins of certain countries and opponent players? They were all part of psychological supporting strategies. As for those who do not believe in the existence of God, God still loves them any way.

But if prizes were to be awarded to individuals or groups of best supporters of the Black Stars, Ghanaian women would have cleared all at stake hands down. Ghanaian women do not only know how to play football but they can analyse soccer and support the national team in grand styles. My goodness! I saw women of all shapes and sizes from toddlers to octogenarian supporting the Black Stars from January to December non stop. It was incredible. Apart from supporting the Black Stars as a National Team, Ghanaian women instantly established women supporters unions for every individual Black Star player.

Here is the list of Women Supporters Unions for all 23 players of the Ghana 2008 tournament:

1. Sammy Adjei – Women Supporters Union

2. Hans Adu Sarpei – Women Supporters Union

3. Asamoah Gyan – Women Supporters Union

4. John Paintsil – Women Supporters Union

5. John Mensah – Women Supporters Union

6. Anthony Annan – Women Supporters Union

7. Laryea Kingston – Women Supporters Union

8. Mihael Essien – Women Supporters Union

9. Manuel Agogo – Women Supporters Union

10. Kwadwo Asamoah – Women Supporters Union

11. Sulley Ali Muntari – Women Supporters Union

12. Andre Ayew – Women Supporters Union

13. Baffour Gyan – Women Supporters Union

14. Bernard Yao Kumordzi – Women Supporters Union

15. Ahmed Apiamah Barusso – Women Supporters Union

16. Abdul Fatawu Dauda – Women Supporters Union

17. Nana Akwesi Asare – Women Supporters Union

18. Eric Addo – Women Supporters Union

19. Alhansan Illiasu – Women Supporters Union

20. Quincy Owusu-Abeyie – Women Supporters Union

21. Harrison Afful – Women Supporters Union

22. Richard Kingson – Women Supporters Union

23. Hamidu Draman – Women Supporters Union.

These women supporters unions can be found in every home in Ghana today. And it was their singing, dancing and artistic antics alone that provided the necessary energy for the Black Stars to die for the nation. Any challenger?

Closing ceremony

Ghana has succeeded in proving to the entire world through the Africa Cup of Nations that Africa is a continent of beautiful cultural heritage. The simple but profound closing ceremony was exceptional in the history of the tournament. Only one person could have taken the trophy to the podium to be handed over to the winning team. But this simple act was dramatized with four solid bodybuilders a.k.a macho men, carrying an innocent pretty little girl like a huge queen mother in a palanquin was fabulous.

The smiling sweet “black angel” was adorned in royal ornaments of gold and colourful kente headgear with traditional touch. The multiple “fontonfron” divine drummers stirred the foundation of African culture and the Egyptian champions could not help but to try their own hands on the drums and dancing like ancient Pharaohs. When their floating spirits were appeased, they solemnly and respectfully collected back the magnificent sparkling trophy they brought from Egypt from the fatherly hands of the President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E.J.A. Kufuor.

Fellow country men and women, even if Ghana could not fulfill the goal of “Host and Win” dream, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) has done the nation proud. The tournament has elevated Ghana to the zenith of World football pyramid. There is no country that is worth its name in the world today can say she has not heard of a country called Ghana in West Africa.

What must be done now as a nation is not to cry over spilt milk or engage in blame game. We must admit our little, little organisational short falls such as accreditations, ticketing and the potato-like fields of our magnificent stadia. The current Black Stars must be maintained and sustained so that they can remain in form at all times. There is a need to inject fresh blood of first class strikers into the team. As for technical and medical aspects of the team, I leave to the experts. If we do our home work very well, use creative visualisation techniques and petition God to be our Guide, come 2010, Ghana can win both the African Cup Nations in Angola and the World Cup in South Africa at ago. Remember that he who laughs last…