Let me start by saying I know very little about football or soccer or whatever you want to call it. I really don’t care who wins or loses, and so I am not the right person to be writing anything about the World Cup. Every four years, I pretend like I don’t care about any of it, only to get a dose of the World Cup Fever. I choose some obscure African team (Last time it was Senegal) and hold my breath until they are eliminated.
This year has been no different. Two games ago, I chose to put my money on Ghana and see where they end up. Little did I know that they would be facing team USA in the first elimination round of the tournament. I am sure many readers or people who know me fairly well are assuming I am taking some sort of anti-American stand, trying to merely antagonize the jingoist amongst us, and perhaps there is some truth to that, but really it is pretty simple- I love underdogs and I love a good narrative.
The giant empire built on the blood and sweat of West African slaves comes back to the motherland, this time not to rob her of her people, but of the glory of the World Cup. Tiny Ghana, the hope of Africa, stands tall and defeats the clumsy Goliath on their home turf (well close enough) to the roar of a continent soaked in blood and pain. Africa stands proud in the eyes of the world. People across the land in tiny villages find hope that, although it may only be in a game, they are the equals of the mighty global bully. A bit dramatic? It is the story each of us know well. Like I said I love the underdog and the narrative of these games. If you don’t weave in the drama who cares about a 1-0 match.
I will watch this game and cheer on the Black Stars, and just to appease my fellow country men, if the USA team wins, I will cheer them on for the rest of the tournament. Till then go Ghana!
The game is over now, and although a few week ago, I could careless about this world cup, I am suddenly thrilled. I know it must sound trite and clichéd, but after having lived in Africa, I know that there is something special, real, and vital about the place that never leaves you once you have been there.
It is that something special, real, and vital that is now burning slowly from a small ember into a roaring fire. I am sure many people will jump on the band wagon now and cheer for Ghana; that is not only a good thing. It is a great thing. It is not only great for Ghana or Africa or all people living in forgotten "developing" countries, but it is great for all of us to think of the people living a life that is different from ours, but somehow more authentic. Somehow more true to the human spirit.
In Africa tonight I am sure there are many smiles and many songs. I only wish I could be in the streets, in the villages, amongst the people rejoicing in the hope that Africa is finally on the world map, not as a place of doom, corruption and squalor, but as a place of unmatched beauty and spirit.
This song is for the Black Stars...