Ok…so there is an epidemic of Football Fever in Ghana right now. 16 teams from all over Africa have gathered for the African Cup of Nations Football Tournament. Teams from Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin, Mali, Tunisia, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Guinea, Senegal, Angola, and of course the hosting Black Stars of Ghana are all competing to become the Champion of the continent.
The excitement has been mounting for many months, however, it seems that all the preparation was in the last minute. You could see the main roads improving during the last year and of course the construction of the incredible new stadiums were finished on time, or close to on time, but as for the thousands of streetlights put up, all of the clean-up crews picking up rubbish all day long, and the new paint jobs on all the moldy buildings those were all done one month or less before the tournament began. In fact they were still putting in streetlights a few days after the tournament began.
It is quite obvious that this major cleanup process which spans most of the country, since there are stadiums in Accra, Sekondi, Kumasi, and Tamale, was only done to impress the Cup of Nations visitors. The money was always there to clean up the country, or at least parts of it, it just wasn’t being done. Interesting eh? Even more interesting to see which improvements are sustained.
Anyway, for a long time I was the one always saying how ridiculous it was for Ghana to be hosting this tournament, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on football when there is still a significant number of people dying every year from easily treatable diseases. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on football while children are crammed into public school classrooms 2 to a seat. Spending millions of dollars on football and boasting of Ghana becoming a middle income country when there are still significant numbers of Ghanaians who are illiterate or are just struggling to survive because of so few options when it comes to social assistance.
the opening ceremony and the performance of the Black Stars thus far (3-0) has been really exciting. It really has been refreshing to have all the visitors around from all corners of Africa here with us. Many times during the tournament I have found myself feeling quite proud to be in Ghana at this time. It is a wonderful feeling to watch Ghana in the limelight. The place that will always have a special place in my heart. The place that has helped to shape me into the person I am is getting some attention from the world in a big way. It is a wonderful feeling when you see everyone gathered around a small television set at a kiosk watching the Black Stars or when you hear the villages singing all through the night after a big victory. This tournament is an excellent opportunity for Ghana to become more proud of herself. It is an excellent opportunity for Ghanaians to realize their potential and what they can offer the world.I am sure some of you would say that what I have shared is oversimplified, perhaps. Which perspective do you identify with?