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.