Letter from Africa: Ghana's own goals?

 
Ghana fan in Brazil

In our series of letters from African journalists, Ghanaian writer Elizabeth Ohene, a former government minister and member of the opposition, tries to remain upbeat after a turbulent World Cup for Ghana.

I am trying to look on the brighter side of things just as President John Dramani Mahama has been urging all of us Ghanaians to do and stop being pessimistic.

I did not question the word of the coach of our national football team when he made his selection for Brazil 2014.

I concentrated on the announcement that electricity supply would be regular during the course of the World Cup competition.

Fans arrive before the Group G match between Portugal and Ghana at Estadio Nacional on 26 June 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil Ghana sent an official delegation of about 650 fans to Brazil
A Ghanaian fan listens to live commentary on the radio at the soccer village in Accra, Ghana as others watch the Ghana Portugal Group G FIFA World Cup 2014 preliminary round soccer match taking place in Brazil on a public screen Many fans were disappointed with the team's poor performance
A child poses with a vuvuzela as Ghana supporters react while watching the FIFA World Cup 2014 football match between Ghana and Portugal on 26 June 2014 in Accra. But some of them tried to keep their morale high

When the power supply went off in my part of town 10 minutes into the second half of the Ghana-US match, I did not complain, I did not curse.

I simply tried to find a way of answering the sneering headlines around the world that our government was having to buy extra electricity for the duration of the World Cup.

When we lost to the US, I kept my head down and followed our president's injunction to be positive.

I even started turning off the power to my deep freezer, as the electricity company had been urging all of us to do during the matches, as an energy-saving measure.

line

Ghana at the World Cup

Andre Ayew, Michael Essien and Fatawu Dauda of Ghana walk off the pitch after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Portugal and Ghana at Estadio Nacional on 26 June 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil
  • Failed to win single game
  • Lost 2-1 to USA
  • Drew 2-2 with Germany
  • Lost 2-1 to Portugal
  • Last in Group G
line

It was the least I could do as my contribution to the Brazil effort.

When a group of fans on their way to Brazil ended up spending days at the airport here in the capital, Accra, whilst the football was being played, I was not depressed.

The then-deputy minister of sports had told the country the government had money to sponsor some fans to go to Brazil, though it would select them from members of the governing party, the National Democratic Congress.

Ghana's Kevin-Prince Boateng looks up as he eyes the ball during the group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Ghana at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, on 21 June  2014 Kevin-Prince Boateng was expelled from the team for indiscipline

I did not have the heart to begrudge these young party supporters, or foot soldiers as they are called here in the local parlance, the opportunity of a lifetime to watch the Black Stars play at a World Cup.

When we played Germany, I was positive.

This was the team that had done the demolition job on Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal; and against Ghana, they struggled and were lucky to escape with a draw.

'Attractive jersey'

When the value of our currency kept falling these past how many weeks, I turned my deep freezer off all night. It was the least I could do.

I travelled outside Accra and the state of the roads was horrendous and just as I was about to start cursing, I heard on the car radio the amazing story about the government having sent more than $3m (£1.8m) on a chartered plane to Brazil to pay appearance fee to the players.

Before I could regain my breath this was followed by the story of two senior players being expelled from the camp and of fights between players and officials.

Ghana made the headlines everywhere and became the butt of every unfunny joke in the world and I still turned off my deep freezer for two hours during the night.

Ghana's Sulley Muntari (L) clears the ball away from Germany's Thomas Mueller (2nd L) and Toni Kroos during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza on 21 June 2014 Sulley Muntari was also sent home early
Majeed Waris of Ghana and Ruben Amorim of Portugal compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Portugal and Ghana at Estadio Nacional on 26 June 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil At least Ghana had the best kit at the World Cup

We lost the match against Portugal but I concentrated on the design of the Black Stars' kit.

To my positive, unbiased eyes, Ghana had the most attractive jersey at the tournament.

We came back home earlier than we had planned but I said to myself at least people will sleep in their own beds and not have to slum it in some dormitory in faraway Brazil.

Then the news breaks that about 200 Ghanaian fans are seeking asylum in Brazil and they claim to be running away from intra-Muslim violence here in Ghana.

How can I say this in the most positive way?

Ghana's fans cheer prior to the Group G football match between Portugal and Ghana at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on 26 June  2014 Supporters of Ghana's governing party were sent to Brazil

By all means stay in Brazil if you want; maybe the lights stay on all the time there, maybe water flows in the pipes, maybe all their roads are smooth, maybe their currency is strong and prices do not change every day.

But religious violence in Ghana? You should find a different story for your asylum application.

What is the positive angle when these asylum-seekers are selected from supporters of the governing party?

I have been around the world and I can say there is no country I would rather be than Ghana.

If you would like to comment on Elizabeth Ohene's column, please do so below.

 

More on This Story

Letter from Africa

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
 

Comments 5 of 9

 

More Africa stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • MouseEscape the rat race

    Burnt out? Meet the workers who took more than a vacation - and changed their lives

Programmes

  • (File photo) A man dressed as Father Christmas with a sleigh and a reindeer Click Watch

    A website which tracks Father Christmas, plus other sites and apps to keep you entertained

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.