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Ghana 2008 and the Spirit of Nationalism
Finally, the golden jubilee 26th Africa Cup of Nations – Ghana 2008 tournament has come and gone. Although Ghana could not win the gold medal, she managed to win the bronze medal; And the nation is richer in patriotism than ever before.
But one legacy passed down to Ghanaians through the tournament that must never be allowed to be abandoned as a people is the spirit of nationalism. And from January 20 to February 10, 2008, 23 young players were Ghana’s Twinkle, Twinkle Black Stars out of 22 million coaches who carried the entire country on their delicate shoulders and sweated under immense pressure. The stylish stars performed the trick with their exquisite “socceralistic” skills, crowned by their “kangaroonistic” acrobatic feet and pinched toe moves. It was as straightforward and contagious as the flu. It didn’t take long for other African nations to photocopy their copyrighted dancing steps, starting with the almighty Nigeria. No piracy here, please! Ghanaian Michael Essien is the originator, initiator and discoverer of the “Kangaroonistic” dance in Africa and the world of soccer. A person who wants to imitate that dance must take permission from him. Period!
What shall we say to Shaurya 23? “Ghana Black Starts, “Aiku!” Bravo! You have accomplished what Napoleon could not.” And we should always keep this African proverb at the back of our minds: “Those who have never fought are always happy to pounce and criticize the battalion for not having fought hard enough.” Don’t blame them, because they don’t know how a monkey sweats.
In fact, Ghana did very well. To be able to crush Guinea 2 – 1; pip Namibia 1 – 0; 2-1 drubbing of Nigeria; A 4-2 slaughter by Cote d’Ivoire, before going down 0-1 against Cameroon under some technical mishaps and “heartbreaking” official machinations, was no mean feat. In other words, with the exception of Namibia, all the countries that Ghana crushed like empty shells before winning the bronze medal are football superpowers in Africa. Before the start of the Ghana 2008 tournament, head on over to the FIFA rankings of those countries on the continent.
About 20 years ago, in 1987, this writer watched an American film at the Executive Theater of the then Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) in Accra. (I don’t remember the title of that movie). But in the film, the little boy, about five years old, living with his mother was kind of mischievous. It is as if the child deliberately spilled some water on the dinner table and his mother went mad. Mother started scolding him. At that time, she assaulted the father of the child who was not at home. Suddenly, this little boy flared up, looked his older mother in the face and replied: “Mom, why are you teasing me like that? Don’t you know I’m American?” The mother was so shocked and mesmerized that she could not utter a word after that.
How some nations on this planet of imperfection instill or instill a sense of patriotism in their citizens that, even if they go wrong in one way or another, most of their citizens are still willing or even willing to defend them. Lay down their lives for their countries? At what age do they start instilling patriotism in the minds of their citizens? And what return do such patriotic citizens expect from their nations?
Fueled by this “holy” spirit of nationalism, some Ghanaians not only dress themselves in national colors but decorate their dogs, cats, sheep, goats and birds with the Ghanaian flag – all cheering in support of the nation. Team – Black Stars. Even some foreign nationals or recent visitors to Ghana who witnessed the event were so moved by the spirit of Ghanaian nationalism that they started the competition to prove themselves more Ghanaian 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 Sensitization Program at the Accra International Centre. It is pertinent to quickly refresh our memory on the five pillars of national orientation unveiled on that occasion: 1. Proud to be a Ghanaian; 2. Patriotism and the spirit of “Ghana First”; 3. Positive and “can – do – it” attitude; 4. Productivity and responsibility and 5. Dedication and discipline.
A scientific survey is yet to be conducted to determine the impact of the program on the population. Nevertheless, by a casual observation so far, it would not be wrong to opine that since the National Orientation Programme, the Ministry has made a gradual but conscious and sustained effort to sensitize the people on the need to do certain things. As a people, a sense of patriotism or nationalism is slowly but surely reawakening in the minds of many Ghanaians. It can be concluded that at least, pillar N0 1, “Proud to be a Ghanaian” has literally taken root in the hearts of many citizens of this loving country of hospitable people.
You may recall that during the competition, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Honorable Oboshi Sai Koffi, had to issue an official statement, reminding the entire nation that any time the national anthem is played or sung, every person must stand. And quiet until the end of the national anthem? It was a simple but profound national orientation instruction. Therefore, even in our concern to display the depth of our patriotism, it is necessary to take note of such a fundamental ethos of nationalism.
Although the Ministry of Information initiated the policy, it requires the cooperation of the National Civil Education Commission, Ghana Education Service, Commission on Culture, Commission on Children, Churches, Mosques, Shrines as well as other institutions. Individual parents and teachers will be able to effectively execute for the success of the National Orientation Program in the highest interest of the nation.
At this juncture, it is imperative to commend all Ghanaians, from the President of the Republic to the truck pushers in the Sodom and Gomorrah markets, for the massive support the national team has received. Ghana’s members of parliament sounded better than pro-unions who were paid to make noise. Those pastors who throw away their orthodox cassocks for a moment and wear national colors and all the national colors to preach with their congregations blowing the horns in the church, God has taken notice of the holy spirit of nationalism that has descended in them.
Our Muslim brothers and sisters as well as traditional worshipers could not be outdone in their massive support of the Black Stars. Did you see that guy who always went straight into the stadium with a guinea fowl? What about those carrying the RIP coffins of certain countries and rival players? They were all part of psychological support strategies. For those who do not believe in the existence of God, God still loves them anyway.
But if the awards were given to individuals or groups of the best supporters of the Black Stars, the women of Ghana would have risked everything. Ghanaian women not only know how to play football but they can also analyze soccer and support the national team in grand style. My goodness! I saw women of all shapes and sizes from very young children to octogenarians supporting the Black Stars from January to December. It was incredible. In addition to supporting the Black Stars as a national team, Ghanaian women quickly formed women’s support associations for every Black Star player.
Here is the list of women’s pro teams for all 23 players at the Ghana 2008 tournament:
1. Sammy Adjei – Women’s Pro League
2. Hans Adu Sarpei – Women’s Pro League
3. Asamoah Gyan – Women’s Pro Association
4. John Paintsil – Women’s Pro League
5. John Mensah – Women’s Pro League
6. Anthony Annan – Women’s Pro League
7. Laryea Kingston – Women’s Pro Team
8. Mihael Essien – Women’s Pro Team
9. Manuel Agogo – Women’s Pro League
10. Kwadwo Asamoah – Women’s Pro League
11. Sule Ali Muntari – Women’s Pro League
12. Andre Ayew – Women’s Pro League
13. Bafour Gyan – Women’s Pro League
14. Bernard Yao Kumordzi – Women’s Pro League
15. Ahmed Appiamah Baruso – Women’s Pro League
16. Abdul Fatwa Dauda – Women’s Pro League
17. Nana Akwesi Asare – Women’s Pro League
18. Eric Addo – Women’s Pro League
19. Alhansan Ilyasu – Women’s Pro League
20. Quincy Owusu-Abeyi – Women’s Pro League
21. Harrison Aful – Women’s Pro League
22. Richard Kingson – Women’s Pro League
23. Hamidu Draman – Women’s Pro League.
These pro-women organizations can be found in every home in Ghana today. And it was only their singing, dancing and artistic acts that gave the Black Stars the energy they needed to die for the nation. Any challengers?
Through the Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana has succeeded in showing the whole world that Africa is a continent with a beautiful cultural heritage. The simple yet profound closing ceremony was exceptional in the history of the tournament. Only one person could have carried the trophy to lead the winning team to the trophy podium. But this simple act was dramatized with four burly bodybuilders aka macho men, carrying an innocent beautiful girl like a big queen mother in a palanquin was extraordinary.
The smiling sweet “black angel” was decked out in gold royal jewelry and colorful kente headgear with a traditional touch. Multiple “fontanfron” divine drummers stirred the foundations of African culture, and Egyptian champions could not help but use their hands on the drums and dance like the ancient pharaohs. When their floating spirits calmed down, they solemnly and reverently collected back the magnificent glittering trophy brought from Egypt by the father of the President of the Republic of Ghana, Heja Kufuor.
MEN AND WOMEN IN THE COUNTRY Although Ghana could not fulfill the dream of “Host and Win”, the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) has done the country proud. The tournament has catapulted Ghana to the top of the world football pyramid. There is no country in the world today worth its name that has not heard of a country in West Africa called Ghana.
Crying over spilled milk or engaging in blame games is what we as a nation should do now. We must acknowledge our small, organizational low-falls like recognition, ticketing and the potato-like fields of our grand stadia. The existing black stars must be maintained and sustained so that they can always remain in form. The team needs to inject fresh blood of first-class strikers. As for the technical and medical aspects of the team, I leave that 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 African Cup of Nations in Angola and the World Cup in South Africa. Remember he who laughs last…
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