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Ghana 2008 and the Spirit of Nationalism
Finally, the Golden Jubilee Tournament of the 26th Africa Cup of Nations – Ghana 2008 has come and gone. Even though Ghana couldn’t clinch the gold, they managed to snatch the bronze medal; and the nation is patriotically richer than ever.
But one legacy left to Ghanaians by the tournament that must never leave 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 frail shoulders and sweated under supreme pressure from January 20 to February 10, 2008, were the glittering, glittering Black Stars of Ghana. The stylish Stars did the trick with their superb “soccerlistic” skills and topped it off with their acrobatic “kangaroo” legs and pinched fingers to walk. It was just exciting and contagious like the flu. It wasn’t long before other African nations, starting with the almighty Nigeria, started making photocopies of their copyrighted dance moves. No hacking here, please! Michael Essien from Ghana is the creator, initiator and inventor of the “kangaroo” dance in Africa and in the world of football. Any organization wishing to reproduce this dance must obtain its authorization. Period!
What shall we say to gallant 23? “Ghana Black Starts, “Ayikooo!” Well done! You counted what Napoleon couldn’t have achieved.” And we must always keep in mind this African proverb: “Those who have not participated in the war always have the pleasure of ranting and criticizing the battalions they have not fought enough.” Don’t blame them, because they don’t know how the monkey sweats.
In fact, Ghana did very, very well. To be able to crush Guinea 2 – 1; pip Namibia 1 – 0; demolish Nigeria 2 – 1; Massacre Ivory Coast 4-2, before finally losing 0-1 against Cameroon under some technical glitches and “huhudious” refereeing plot, it was no small feat at all. In other words, with the exception of Namibia, all the countries that Ghana crushed like empty shells on the way to snatching the bronze medal are footballing superpowers in Africa. Just go and see the FIFA ranking of these countries on the continent before the start of the Ghana 2008 tournament.
About 20 years ago, in 1987 to be precise, this author saw an American film at the Executive Theater of the Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) in Accra. (I don’t quite remember the title of this film). But in the movie, a little boy of about five years old, living with his mother was mean in a way. It was as if the boy was intentionally pouring water on the dining table and his mother was going crazy. The mother started scolding him. She nagged and harassed and made innuendoes at the boy’s father who was not home at the time. Suddenly this little boy flared up, looked his huge mother in the face and said, “Mom, why are you pestering me like this? Don’t you know I’m American?” The mother was so shocked and bewitched that she couldn’t say a word afterwards.
How do some nations on this planet of imperfection manage to instill or instill the spirit of patriotism in their citizens to such an extent that even when they are wrong in one way or another, most of their citizens are still ready to defend them or even lay down to sacrifice their lives for their country? At what age do they begin to instill a sense of patriotism in the minds of their citizens? And what returns do these patriotic citizens expect from their nations?
Ignited by this “holy” spirit of nationalism, some Ghanaians have gone so far as to not only drape themselves in the national colors, but adorn their dogs, cats, rams, goats and poultry, with Ghanaian flags – all jubilant in support of the nation team – the Black Stars. Even some foreign nationals in Ghana or visitors who had just attended the event were so infested with the Ghanaian nationalist spirit that they started competing to prove that they were even more Ghanaians than Ghanaians themselves. . (They are said to be more Catholic than the Pope himself). It was just fantastic!
In August 2007, the Ministry of Information and National Guidance officially launched the National Guidance Awareness Program at the Accra International Centre. It is pertinent to quickly refresh the memory of the Five Pillars of National Orientation which were unveiled on this occasion: 1. Proud to be Ghanaian; 2. Patriotism and spirit of “Ghana First”; 3. Positive and a “Can – Do – it” attitude; 4. Productivity and responsibility and 5. Dedication and discipline.
A scientific investigation remains to be carried out to determine the impact of the program on the population. Nevertheless, through a simple observation thus far, it will not be out of place to state that since the launch of the national orientation programme, coupled with gradual but deliberate and sustained efforts by the ministry to sensitize people to the need to things in a certain As a people, slowly but gradually the spirit of patriotism or nationalism is revived in the minds of many Ghanaians. It can be concluded that at least Pillar No. 1, “Proud to be Ghanaian” has virtually taken root in the hearts of many citizens of this hospitable people-loving country.
Do you remember that during the tournament, the Minister of Information and National Guidance, Hon Oboshie Sai Cofie, had to issue an official statement, reminding the whole nation that whenever the national anthem was played or sung, everyone had to stay up and quiet until the end of the anthem? It was a simple but profound national orientation instruction. So even in our concern to display the depth of our patriotism, it is important to take note of this fundamental ethic of nationalism.
Although it was the Ministry of Information that initiated the policy, it needs the collaboration of other institutions such as the National Commission on Civic Education, the Ghana Education Service, the Commission on culture, the Commission on Children, churches, mosques, shrines as well as individual parents and teachers to be able to execute it effectively for the success of the national guidance program 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 market truck pusher of Sodom and Gomorrah for the massive support extended to the national team. Ghanaian parliamentarians made more noise than even the fan unions who were paid to make noise. For those pastors who for a moment threw off their Orthodox cassocks and put on national colors robes to preach with their congregations blowing horns in churches all dressed in national colors, God took note of the holy spirit of nationalism that has descended on them.
Our Muslim brothers and sisters as well as the traditional faithful could not be outdone in the massive support for the Black Stars. Have you seen this man who always went to the stadium with live guinea fowl? What about those who carried RIP coffins from certain countries and opposing players? They were all part of psychological support strategies. As for those who do not believe in the existence of God, God still loves them.
But if prizes were to be awarded to individuals or groups of top Black Stars supporters, Ghanaian women would have settled all the odds with flying colors. Ghanaian women not only know how to play football but they can analyze football and support the national team in style. My God! I saw women of all shapes and sizes, from toddlers to octogenarians, supporting the Black Stars from January to December nonstop. It was amazing. In addition to supporting the Black Stars as a national team, Ghanaian women immediately created women supporter unions for each Black Star player.
Here is the list of Female Supporters Unions for the 23 players of the Ghana 2008 tournament:
1. Sammy Adjei – Union of Female Supporters
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 – Supporters’ Union
14. Bernard Yao Kumordzi – Women Supporters Union
15. Ahmed Apiamah Barusso – Union of Women Supporters
16. Abdul Fatawu Dauda – Union of Women Supporters
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 – Union of women supporters.
These unions of women supporters can be found in every household in Ghana today. And it was their singing, dancing and artistic antics that provided the energy for the Black Stars to die for the nation. A challenger?
Ghana succeeded in proving to the whole world through the African Cup of Nations that Africa is a continent with a magnificent cultural heritage. The simple but profound closing ceremony was exceptional in the history of the tournament. Only one person could have mounted the trophy on the podium to present it to the winning team. But this simple act was dramatized with four strong bodybuilders aka machos, carrying a pretty, innocent little girl like a huge queen mother in a palanquin was fabulous.
The sweet smiling “black angel” was adorned with royal gold ornaments and a colorful kente headgear with a traditional touch. The multiple divine “fontonfron” drummers stirred the foundations of African culture and the Egyptian champions couldn’t help but try their hand at drumming and dancing like the ancient pharaohs. When their wavering spirits were quieted, they solemnly and respectfully retrieved the magnificent, sparkling trophy which they brought from Egypt from the paternal hands of the President of the Republic of Ghana, HEJA Kufuor.
Fellow countrymen and women, even though Ghana could not achieve the goal of the ‘Host and Win’ dream, the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) did the nation proud. The tournament elevated Ghana to the zenith of the world football pyramid. There is no country that lives up to its name in the world today can say they haven’t heard of a country called Ghana in West Africa.
What needs to be done now as a nation is not to cry over spilled milk or engage in a blame game. We must admit our small, small lack of organization such as accreditations, the ticket office and the potato fields of our magnificent stadiums. Current Black Stars need to be maintained and supported so that they can stay in shape at all times. It is necessary to inject fresh blood from top-class strikers into the team. As for the technical and medical aspects of the team, I leave it to the experts. If we do our homework very well, use creative visualization techniques and ask God to be our guide, in 2010 Ghana can win both the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola and the World Cup in South Africa. Remember that whoever laughs last…
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