Sunday, 27 January 2013

Ghanaian to challenge for UK Premier? 

The Creative Arts and the Two Million Cedi Conundrum

The Creative Arts and the Two Million Cedi Conundrum
In the latest restructuring of government business, the President has created a Ministry of Culture, Creative Arts and Tourism which presumably merges the old Ministry of Culture and Chieftaincy and that of Tourism. Even before the Ministry is properly set up it has to confront the strange case of the two million Ghana cedis which was earmarked for the creative arts industry in the 2012 budget.

The issue is a very simple one. The Ghanaian creative arts sector has been crying for government support for years so it came as welcome relief and a good sign for the future when the 2012 budget allocated two million Ghana cedis to the creative arts. It is important to quote the exact words of the relevant paragraphs in the budget:

“1232. Ghana can benefit immensely if it begins to tap the creative sector of the economy, particularly those of the music and film industry. But this will require an evaluation of the potential of the creative industry to contribute to the growth of the economy. Beginning in 2012, therefore, Government will collaborate with the music industry to identify the potential of the industry through an impact assessment study. The study will be used to support the preparation of a medium term strategic framework that will guide the development of the industry. Government will also support the organisation of the 2012 Ghana Music Fair”.

“1233. An amount of GH¢2.0 million has been allocated to support the creative arts industry in 2012”.

The best that can be said about the wording of these paragraphs is that it is very confusing; paragraph 1232 appears to allocate the money to specific activities, namely the organisation of the “2012 Music Fair” and an “impact assessment study” probably as a response to the need to “evaluate the potential of the creative industry to contribute to the growth of the economy”, as expressed in paragraph 1232, but no agency or organisation is given the responsibility to carry out these tasks. The common interpretation of these bewildering sentences taken together is that the money was meant for the “creative arts industry” as stated above.

This view was reinforced by government officials as well as industry players who explained at different forums that the money was meant for the creative arts sector as a whole. According to a Graphic Showbiz report in September last year, the President mentioned the subject when he made “a policy statement in Accra on the direction of the country for the next four months. He told the nation that his government appreciated the potential of artists and it was in recognition of this that the last budget allocated an amount of GH 2million to the creative industries. He went on to indicate that his office was working towards an acceptable way of disbursing the funds”. Indeed as Vice President, Mr. Mahama had given the same assurance to the Ghana Culture Forum which is a network of all the organisations in the sector at a meeting at the Castle in June last year.

As the various organisations waited for the Ministry of Culture and Chieftaincy to come up with the means by which arts associations could source the funds, it emerged slowly that the Musicians Union of Ghana – MUSIGA – had succeeded in collecting the whole of the two million cedis. We know as a fact that neither the Castle nor the Ministry of Culture and Chieftaincy authorized the payment of the money to the musicians union. The other organisations were understandably angry at this turn of events and sought explanations. The Ghana Culture Forum sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in August when rumours started emerging of the fate of the money. As at this writing no official explanation has been provided as to how one organisation got its hands on the money and how it was able to do so without any authorization from the sector ministry or the Castle.

So, what happened? Several explanations have been proffered including the “justification” that the money was solely intended for the Musicians Union, which would mean that the President and all other state officials who said otherwise were mistaken. Another explanation is that the Musicians Union had written a proposal for which the government had responded with the two million cedis in the budget. If the government intended the money for MUSIGA alone the budget statement and subsequent government pronouncements could have made this clear beyond any doubt. Even now, it is not late for the government to make that statement if indeed the money was intended solely for MUSIGA.

One of the development imperatives facing the arts community is unity of purpose and action. It has been suggested by arts practitioners and policy makers that artists should come together in order to strengthen their voice within the national space. The Ghana Culture Policy makes the same point and that document was seen at the time President Kufuor signed it in 2004 to provide a solution to the perennial disunity and mistrust in the artistic community. Now, the two million cedi conundrum is poisoning relations between the artistic groups with the drip-drip of misinformation and suspicions.

That is one reason why the new Ministry has to start its life with a clear statement on the two million cedis. This being Ghana, there are some people who consider any investigation into the matter as some kind of muckraking and prefer to let sleeping dogs lie. The dogs are not sleeping; they are yelping furiously in the undergrowth. There is another reason why the matter cannot be given to God in the usual Ghanaian way. How did MUSIGA get hold of the money? Information in the public domain is that MUSIGA did not go through the Ministry of Culture and Chieftaincy as must be the case when public money is being disbursed and it has to be established how this was done.

The artistic groups are quick to explain that they have nothing against the Musicians Union but the right thing must be done both in the implementation of the government’s intensions in allocating the money and how it was disbursed. This is why the first act of the new Minister must be to investigate this matter thoroughly and do the right thing in order to start with a clean slate.


Last week saw the start of this micro-mini column where books I or Diary readers are reading will be given a mention. I received quite a number of calls about the first featured book, MY GHANAIAN ODYSSEY by Baffour Agyeman Duah, published by Digibooks. A frequent question was whether only books written by Ghanaians will be featured and the answer is no. For example, this week I have revisited one of my favourite authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who created Sherlock Holmes, the great fictional detective. Such classics, including books by Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare and all the greats of English Literature classics are available for free from the Project Guttenberg website for download.

A word about Project Guttenberg: according to Wiki, “Project Gutenberg (PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks. It was founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books. The project tries to make these as free as possible, in long-lasting, open formats that can be used on almost any computer. As of January 2013, Project Gutenberg claimed over 40,000 items in its collection”. What I can add is that it is a book lovers’ paradise even if its collection on Africa has a distinctive colonial flavour.

Aftermath of Accident on the Spintex Road

The picture you see here is what remains of a ghastly accident Saturday evening on the Spintex Road in Accra. It was preventable. A truck with a long trailer had been parked on the road for weeks, according to witnesses. There was no waring of any sort on a road that is notorously dark at night.

On Saturday night a tro-tro minibus ploughed straight into the trailler of the parked truck and three people died on the spot, according to witnesses I spoke to.

Today, the truck has been towed away. Could it not have been towed away all those weeks? And look at this: after towing away the truck and the wrecked bus they left this dangerous debris on the road. Tonight a motorcyclist or even a small vehicle will run onto the stone and glass; disaster will ensue then it will be swept away. That is how things are done here.

Monday, 21 January 2013


In the words of the old Negro Spiritual part of which is also the title of a powerful book by James Baldwin, “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No More Water – the Fire Next time”. Last week Monday, it looked as the final fire had arrived in Ghana. In a 48 hour period from Saturday to Monday there were so many fire outbreaks that the Chief Fire Officer promised to hold a press conference to address the subject in mid-week. Devastating fires usually happen somewhere, on some distant land which looks like a planet in another galaxy. You read about it or see it on television, shake your head and move on. But when you see your neighbours’ houses completely gutted it is an altogether different experience. It is horrifying, bizarre and incomprehensible in its biblical finality. 

It happened on our estate at around midday on Monday. I was not at home so I missed the full extent of the drama but even when I got home around 7pm there was more than enough to send the stomach into cartwheels; two adjoining houses lay in complete ruins being shells of their former selves. One of them had been previously covered in beautiful creeping plants, perhaps the pride and joy of its owner. Ironically, without being an expert, I can see that those beautiful plants, now parched and withered in the Harmattan haze, could have been the fuel that speeded the fire on its murderous journey around the house.

Due to legal implications we will not go into the possible cause of the fire in this specific case, but it is almost always the case that such outbreaks occur as a result of human error; however the lady of the house says they have no idea how the fire started. According to eyewitnesses, the fire started behind one of the houses and people nearby thought it had been quenched when neighbours helped to douse the original fire source with water. Unfortunately, the fire appeared to have “climbed” a nearby tree and torched one of the roofs. The only person at home in the second house was a mother nursing a very new baby and she was barely able to move herself and her baby out of harm’s way minutes before they would have been overcome by smoke inhalation.

Frantic shouts and screams brought the entire estate to the fire site and then the drama of the bigger national tragedy began to unfold. Officially, the number 192 is supposed to be the emergency one-stop telephone number for FIRE. It means that when a fire breaks out and you find a phone all you need to do is phone the magic number 192 and help in the big shape of a red fire engine will be on its way. Fat chance! Neighbours called, shook their telephones, cursed, changed telephones, used I-pads and galaxy tabs – every modern contrivance of electronic communication at hand was pressed into service but 192 was dead as a doornail. Then somebody had the presence of mind to call the police emergency number – 191- which worked. I am generally critical Ghana Police but on this occasion they responded and in style. They arrived within minutes and escorted two water tankers provided by the estate developer to help even before the firefighters, whom the police had called, arrived.

According to eye-witnesses, for two hours it appeared as if the post-Noah Armageddon had arrived on the estate. In a sign of the times and the solid arrival of citizen journalism on these shores, later in the evening I saw no less than ten video recordings of the event captured by onlookers on their mobile phones. It looked dreadful as huge flames leapt out of windows of houses I see every day across the road from my side of the street. For some strange reason, hours after the Fire Service engines had left, presuming their work done a new outbreak started in one of the houses, which is where things were when I got home in the evening. Frantic calls to 192 failed again and again and neighbours had to call police emergency and personal contacts to get through to the Fire Service. The firefighters went away after about an hour. Let us call that Fire Visitation Two. Curiously, I learnt the following morning that Fire Visitation Three occurred at one o’clock in the morning when the fire smouldered back into life.

Two obvious questions arise. Number one, why does the fire emergency number not work? Second, how come the fire erupted again and again hours after the fire engines had left the first and second times around? In the heat of the moment, trying to get answers appeared to be a petty distraction but one of the firemen told me that the fire erupted again because combustible material had been “hiding” under the ashes somewhere in the room and such material could have smouldered back into life. It is not an acceptable explanation.

I am not a fire expert but I think it is reasonable to expect that when professional people do any work they have a standard assessment procedure that enables them to conclude that their work has been done, especially in order to assure the public of their safety. This was not the case on Monday evening on the estate. The fire returned flaring through the now broken windows and threated nearby houses in the night. Maybe it is not the fault of the firefighters; it is possible that the engines were needed elsewhere.  During Harmattan we are all supposed to be cautious because the tinder-dry atmosphere spreads fire with ruthless speed; the Fire Service and various local and national authorities mount campaigns but to no avail. That is because words are not enough.

There has to be a more robust approach towards preventing fires and other accidents and catastrophes in our lives. Most of these things can be prevented with a combination of education, laws and regulations – all of which are in woefully short supply in Ghana. For example, all telecom companies must be required by law to keep enough lines open to ensure that there is NEVER any congestion on emergency numbers; we know they can do it because re-charge numbers are never out of coverage area! Secondly, how come estates and communities lack water points and hydrants from which water can be tapped to fight fires? Modern estates are being built all over Ghana and it should be a requirement for them to include such preventive facilities in their designs.

In the case of the Accra-Tema area, city authorities have to ensure that fire service facilities are developed in response to the way the twin cities are developing. Take the Spintex Road: there is a gas cylinder manufacturing plant along the thoroughfare. We can assume that there is gas stored there for testing purposes. Within a one kilometre of that factory there are two gas filling stations in addition to numerous petrol selling points which are opening at the rate of one every couple of months. There are factories and furniture shops all over the street. There is no fire station anywhere in sight despite it being one of the most congested roads in Ghana.

Reports in indicate that there were 150 fires in the past week. In Noah’s time there was water. We have been promised the fire next time. It may not come from Hell but made right here by our own hands and negligence. Indeed, it is already here – the Fire This Time.


Beginning from today, Shelf Life will be a constant one-paragraph feature about books, mostly the books I am reading. But readers can join in the fun by telling Diary readers what they are reading or want to read. I am currently reading Baffour Agyeman Duah’s recently launched memoires MY GHANAIAN ODYSSEY published by Digibooks and available at Legon Bookshop, Silverbird at Accra Mall and leading book stores in Ghana.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Supreme Court Case Study: Bush v. Gore

For obvious reasons, many Ghanaians are interested in what happened in the best known recent election related case at the US Supreme Court. I found the following summary on the DUMMIES website and thought to share it.

Perhaps no event better illustrates the power of the United States Supreme Court than the resolution of the 2000 presidential election. Just when you thought the separation of powers issue had been settled once and for all, the Court stepped in to adjudicate who had won the biggest political contest of all. Legions of Court watchers, law professors, media commentators, and armchair legal analysts across the country thought the Court's willingness to step into the fray was a major misstep. Still, somebody had to decide who's in charge!

Background info

Election night 2000 was a cliffhanger that went on for weeks. Many people went to bed that night thinking that Al Gore had won, only to discover in the morning that George W. Bush had been declared the winner. In fact, the election was simply too close to call. Several states were up for grabs, but in the end it came down to one: Florida, where Bush's younger brother, Jeb, was governor. Florida electors were unable to commit themselves to either Bush or Gore owing to the closeness of the vote. Brush fires erupted in several precincts where the candidates' surrogates traded allegations about various improprieties. Recounts were started, then stopped as Republicans and Democrats wrangled over what standards to apply. It was more than a little chaotic.

The Court steps in

The Supreme Court actually interposed itself into the election contest three times. Only the last two are known as Bush v. Gore. In the first of these cases, Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, the Court hoped to end the election crisis by putting a stop to the Florida Supreme Court's decision to extend the time for certifying the vote past the period set by state law. But by the time the Court began hearing arguments in the appeal on December 1, the certification had already occurred. The embarrassed justices sent the case back down to the Florida Supreme Court, instructing the lower court to rewrite its opinion so that it would not create a conflict between state and federal law.

A week later, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount of ballots. Unlike its earlier decision, however, this one was not unanimous. With the Florida justices split 4-3, the U.S. Supreme Court once again exercised its discretionary appellate review jurisdiction and granted certiorari, or review, to Bush v. Gore. The day after the Florida Supreme Court had ordered a recount, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay, or delay, in enforcing the Florida Supreme Court's order. The U.S. Supreme Court justices, too, were narrowly divided, 5-4. The five justices voting in favor of the stay were the same five conservatives who had been moving the Rehnquist Court to the right for more than a decade. The first hearing of Bush v. Gore telegraphed to the nation what would happen if the Court took further action in the case.

The Court's third and final intervention in the 2000 presidential election came just days later. In its unsigned opinion, the Court explained that it had voted 5-4 to put a stop to the Florida recount. Allowing the recount to go forward, the Court said, would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back down to the Florida Supreme Court, which had no alternative but to dismiss it. The presidential election of 2000 had been decided, in essence, by the vote of one Supreme Court justice.

Needless to say, the George W. Bush camp was jubilant. Al Gore supporters were incensed. Many people were simply happy to have things settled. But others worried that the Court had gone too far. In the past, in landmark cases like Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which put an end to legal segregation, and United States v. Nixon (1974), which led to the first presidential resignation under threat of impeachment, were unanimously decided. After Bush v. Gore, the concern was that the Court had not only overreached itself but undermined its authority by not speaking with one voice. That split decision, 5-4, suggested that Bush v. Gore was a political, not a judicial, decision.


Bush v. Gore wasn't the Court's first foray into the realm of king making. The election of 1876 pitted Samuel J. Tilden, the Democratic governor of New York, against Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican governor of Ohio. After the votes had been counted, it seemed that Tilden had won the popular vote and had 184 uncontested electoral votes to Hayes's 165. The magic number was 185 electoral votes. Twenty votes of the Electoral College were still up for grabs, however — all but one of them in the southern states of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. (The exception was Oregon. They always have marched to a different drummer.)

The Twelfth Amendment stipulates that in a contested presidential election, "The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and the House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted." Because in 1876 Congress was equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House set up an electoral commission to decide who would become president. The Senate chose three Republicans and two Democrats to sit on the commission, and the House chose two Democrats and three Republicans. The remainder of the commission was to consist of five justices of the Supreme Court. The bill setting up the commission named two Republican justices and two Democratic justices, but let those four select their own nonpartisan tiebreaker.

The only truly neutral member of the Court at the time was David Davis. But Davis resigned from the Court almost immediately, leaving only Republican justices as alternatives. Joseph Bradley, seemingly the least partisan of those remaining, was selected as the final member of the commission. To no one's great surprise, the commission voted along party lines, selecting the Republican Hayes. Democrats, who were mostly Southerners, cried foul, claiming that Davis, and perhaps Bradley, had been subjected to political blackmail. When the uproar threatened to derail the orderly transfer of power, a deal was struck. The Republicans agreed to withdraw the federal troops still occupying the South in the wake of the Civil War, to appropriate funds for Southern improvement, and to appoint at least one Southerner to the cabinet. In return, the Democrats agreed not to delay Hayes's inauguration. It was a flat-out political deal, and ever since its implementation, the Court has been criticized for having played a part in what many saw as outright log rolling.

And the winner is . . .

Why, then, did the Supreme Court agree to get back into the fray after the election of 2000? In a sense, the justices had no choice. When the contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore proved too close to call, the contestants resorted to a series of lawsuits in an effort to settle the matter. These suits proceeded simultaneously in the state court system and in federal court. The cases largely concerned the matter and manner of vote counting (and recounting) in the pivotal state of Florida. There were charges of voter intimidation, ballot rigging — all manner of political shenanigans. Something had to be done.


Saturday, 12 January 2013

OPEN LETTER TO VODAFONE CEO: Things will change!

Dear Vodafone Boss, I don’t often correspond with people in your rather exalted position and I am sure you are not used to receiving mails from strangers. However, in a way I am not a stranger because I send money to you every month and since the money does not return to sender I assume that you receive it, even if without any gratitude. It doesn’t matter because the money is in return for something, and it is that something I wish to talk to you about.
Normally, I would not address this letter, which I am also releasing on Facebook, to you but I have no choice. Or, put another way, the choices available to me do not work. Try calling one of your own helplines and see how the whole set up is designed to wreck your health for at least a couple of days after the experience. The other option, indeed the only feasible option is to brave the traffic to get to a Vodafone shop or Call Centre where you would meet a lot of exceptionally friendly people except that friendliness is not enough. What one requires is effective assistance which they are not set up to provide. It is obvious to a veteran of your Call Centres like me that customers and frontline workers alike are victims of a cruel and possibly clueless management practice.
This is what happens: Customer Service (this is a misnomer, of course) informs customer that the fault has “been reported”. They know and the customer knows that the whole thing is an empty routine because what it really means is that there is no more the staff can do for you so your fate is now in the lap of the gods – gods meaning headquarters (HQ) or somewhere - sinister and unknowable. Normally, any reasonable human being should have faith and trust that HQ/gods would react within a short while to a distress call from a person whose money you collect without fail every 30 days. However, in order for our relationship to benefit you while possibly bankrupting me, of which more anon, you have inserted a caveat, to wit, that you have fourteen days within which to respond.
In practice therefore, if my fault is reported on the first day of the month your engineer can stroll in on the 15th, walk around a bit and disappear as happened to me a few days ago. That means the 14-day clause has been satisfied and you can lean back in your chair and have a drink or a cigar or whatever you do to amuse yourself. This means I am free to report the fault again, which becomes a fresh case and of course Vodafone has 14 days to respond. And so we go on in our merry way until the end of the month, when of course you collect your monopoly money having passed “GO”. And it is real MONOPOLY money but treated like worthless paper in a board game. According to the new unilaterally imposed regime, I would have to pay you 65 Ghana cedis even if I am unable to use a single kilobyte. This is what is going to happen to me this month.
I am your broadband customer with a contract for you to supply me unlimited Internet usage at 46 Ghana cedis every 30 days. Recently and without any discussion, you have raised the amount I have to pay you to 65 Ghana cedis while at the same time placing a cap of 15 gigabytes on my usage. This is not only unfair but possibly illegal, unless of course there is a small print designed as usual to cheat your own customers. You know you can get away with this blatant cheating and abuse in Ghana unlike say, in the UK because here consumers are not able to guarantee their own protection: we have no watchdog groups, our politicians are chasing more power and glory and the regulator is under no pressure to regulate on a regular basis. We are on our own.
Now, to get back to my specific situation, I started experiencing unusual problems in the first week of December. My calls to your telephone helplines went through alright but I never did manage to speak to one single real human being. This is how it works when you call a Vodafone help line, as I explained in my column three weeks ago: “It goes something like this: if you want English press one, Akan press two, Ga press, Hausa press…etc. You press. Then it goes on: if you want administration press one, accounts press two; you press. It continues: if you are calling for mobile press one, for landline press two. You press. Then, if you are calling about broadband press whatever. Eventually after a lifetime of this rigmarole you are ordered to press zero to be connected to an operator. You press zero and wait. You are then informed that “your connection to the operator failed”! Lately, an additional joke has been devised. After taking you through the whole shebang the voice instructs you to send an SMS with your name to some telephone number. No stand-up comic could devise this routine.
Dear CEO, I have to explain that I depend on Internet access for my work and that means in Ghana, Vodafone’s FIXED broadband is the best on offer. Unfortunately, it is a monopoly since Vodafone took over lock, stock and barrel from Ghana Telecom. If I had access to the Internet, I would quote some of the flowery promises about improved services Vodafone made before it bought GT at rock-bottom price. On the contrary, Vodafone appears to have inherited and carried on the worst work traditions of GT without infusing any of the promised efficiencies in its work. Since my work depends on the Internet, the lack of access due to my current difficulties means my eventual bankruptcy. As you well know, it is only a bad parasite that kills off its host; it is a bad company that bites off the proverbial hand that feeds it.
As I have said, Vodafone has good people who are eager to help but beyond receiving customers’ money and “reporting” the problem, they are powerless, and one gets the impression that they are as frustrated as the customers and feel unable to do anything about it. Three weeks ago when I went to one of your shops for help, it took the local manager more than one hour before she could speak with a god at HQ, and even then she had to use her personal influence to be able to speak with someone at the next level of responsibility. Elsewhere, this sort of management gap would lead to a legitimate question: is this company fit for purpose? Your company gets away with it in Ghana and only in Ghana.
But things will change. Two weeks ago I put information about my personal frustrations with Vodafone on social media and within minutes a torrent of similar complaints came flooding in from scores of people suffering in silence. Someone reported a Vodafone tweet that said dissatisfied customers can go elsewhere. I can’t say whether that is true, but the official lack of responsiveness and the 14-day clause amount to that. In any case, we have nowhere to go if the issue is about landlines or fixed communications because Vodafone has a monopoly. That is the crux of the matter. But Boss, things will change.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Last Day of Christmas

Today is the last day of Christmas, or to put it more precisely the last day of the Christmas festive period. In some Christian traditions January 6th is an important day, but even in secular Western societies this is the day the Christmas tree and all decorations are removed.

Fittingly, this afternoon the Ghana Association of Writers will organise the first GAW Sunday and get-together to usher us into the new year and also brings the curtain down on Christmas.

Those in Accra who can make it are invited to PAWA HOUSE, ROMAN RIDGE from 4 to 7pm.

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Saturday, 5 January 2013

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What do Ghanaian movies say?

I watched a Nigerian film last night and was impressed by its bold attempt to address a serious issue - the caste sysyem that exists in parts of the country. In that system a group of people, similar to their Indian counterparts are described and condemned as outcasts.

It just ocurred to me that Ghanain movies are not addressing the big social, economic and political issues of the day. Even the old formula of boy-meets-girl to which our movies are stuck can still explore the big themes.

I have to admit I don't watch movies much so maybe I am missing something?

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Friday, 4 January 2013

Will Every Ghanaian Support the Black Stars?

I have just noticed with horror that the new year is already four days old and I am in danger of losing one of my firmest resolutions for the year, namely to nurture this blog..... I am redeeming my own pledge from this moment...

Yesterday I heard a comment that really alarmed me about the direction in which Ghana is moving, or perhaps I should say Ghanaians are moving. The alarm sounded in my brain because it was the exact mirror image of a similar statement I hear in 2006. At the time I was teaching development communications at the African University College of Communication and the World Cup was around the corner. I was so excited at Ghana's debut at the global competition that I had already resolved to write a book about it.
One day I raised the World Cup and Ghana's participation in the event as a discussion topic in class. My expectation was that we could ALL take Ghanaian's support for the Black Stars for granted. How wrong could I be? You have to understand where I was coming from. I had been away for Ghana for 15 years and was unaware of how the political situation was forging a new culture in our country. I had assumed that everyone, no matter their political party or ethnic origin could be counted on to support the national team.
One of the students who was in the category of "mature student" told me she was not going to support the Black Stars. I thought she was either joking or was against football and the World Cup hoopla in general. Then she explained that she did not want the Black Stars to win because if the did the NPP and President Kufuor in particular would take the credit which would in turn bolster support for their party. I discovered later that she supports the NDC like a religion. With time her rather skewed view of nationhood faded from my memory until yesterday when an inveterate NPP supporter told me that he could not support the Black Stars because President Mahama "will do politics with a good showing".

If you consider other factors such as the ethnic origins of these two people and the unyielding partisanship they bring to national affairs we ought to be scared because these are not some lonely way-out views. In 2006 when I sampled opinion in the same class I discovered a significant minority of students shared her views and from my discussion with a few other people yesterday it is likely that Black Stars support might be less than expected in some areas of the country.
It need not be like this. There is life beyond the political divide and I hope that the collective political leadership of Ghana will hear the alarm bells and provide the leadership away from this deep division and its consequence. Uniting behind the national team is one strategy to achieve this objective. In 2006 I lobbied Mr. Kwamena Bartels who was the Minister of Communications at the time to use Ghana's participation in the World Cup to promote national unity. Eventually the Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama was alerted to issue a statement calling for national support for the Black Stars.
The time has come for us to unite behind our team.