Originally Published, November 2014
The 2014 FIFA World Cup did not just offer sizzling atmosphere and mesmerizing moments for the global celebration of the beautiful game; it also was a mural of disappointment. When the street art by Paulo Ito in Rio de Janeiro showing a starving young boy being served a football to eat went virile on the World Wide Web, people in other countries thought it was symptomatic; it pictured people’s personal struggles with their governments. It was time to say; “We don’t eat footballs!”
The protest movement of Brazil kicked against attempts to gloss over the monstrous presence of suffering in the country, exposing, in the process, the growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots.
The football fans in Kumasi showed the way the other day, when they bared their teeth towards the Black Stars and their officials. They were not unusual; they represented nearly all of us in one way or the other.
What we share in common with those fans in Kumasi is that as a nation we need better planning in all that we do in order to ensure the citizenry a modicum of respect and decency.
“…the last time we were close. This time the world will know we were there.” Was this part of an advert run to support the teams representing the African continent? We did indeed prove we were there.
For those nations which feign planning, the tournament became the center stage for demonstrating what infantile disorders that kind of attitude conveys.
The Cameroonians led the way with protests and then “goat fights” on the field of play, but the Ghanaian contingent of players and officials was not outdone. What caused the raising of eye-brows are the reports of fracas between officials and players; of Ghana government flying a large amount of cash into Brazil, and of hundreds of economic migrants travelling to Brazil as supporters.
If it is true that a plane-load of people were flown to Brazil and back without watching any match because of “late arrival”, then such stories poke holes in any talk or semblance of seriousness on the part of organizers and Ministries, Departments and Agencies-MDAs that were responsible for overseeing our participation in this particular tournament.
Whilst our participation in the world cup was built on many-sided discipline, the decisive basis and criterion for measuring our preparedness and success are not just our early exit from the tournament; it is all the stories surrounding this particular trip to this tournament.
Excellence is a powerful transforming force that brings endurance not only to individuals and groups, and sustains change, but also to nations and businesses as well. When infused into the national fabric, it ignites powerful transformation which continues until great dreams and visions are accomplished.
It is true that Ghana’s future is bright and we need to let our youth know this; unfortunately, however, the average mind stands confused about several years of political rhetoric and what is genuinely critical about the national economy…
It is not best practice in governance, for a President of a nation to, from time to time, apologetically burnt back to reassure and promise to do what good research and planning by MDA’s ought to have done.
Talk about the repair of the Adomi Bridge, for example. The project to temporarily replace the bridge took a couple of years to conceive and plan, plus at least two years of sensitization of both the travelling public and the people of the Volta Region.
In spite of all this, it took a veiled threat by the chiefs and youth of the Volta Region, for our President to promise to do what good research and planning ought to have generally suggested, that is, alleviating the suffering of the people who travel over the river. Is it absurd to speculate that MDAs sometimes intentionally plan poorly? The incentive for planning poorly is very strong. It enhances corruption and the covering up of the misuse of government funds since no one is held accountable. Since it heightens the speculations of corruption amid mismanagement, why doesn’t government take steps to curb such practices?
Challenges to Economic and Social Care
And this time round, President Mahama has to take it upon himself to calm our nerves by instituting a commission to investigate the dirty things that happened before and after our participation in the World Cup.
With corruption like an open sewer spread glaringly in our face in every segment of our society, the decent space to set our foot, without the risk of getting soiled is fast dwindling. Lawlessness is steadily creeping in.
As one of the gatekeepers of the nation, I firmly believe that the time has come to institute safeguards for the citizenry. We are heading towards the wrong direction and we need to pull back, as a nation. I do not say this to peddle the slogan of political activists or any particular political party.
If the sordid revelations being poured out at the Commission sitting on Ghana’s participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup are anything to go by, then we must understand the plight of the nation. Our sense of shame seems to be eroding pretty fast.
Who can or must protect the interest of a gullible or undemanding or timid public indefinitely? We must be on the alert to help protect our own interest.
Why did we move the national team from Accra sports stadium to Kumasi, and from Kumasi to Tamale sports stadium? So after Tamale, which stadium will host the Black Stars?
Rather than shift venues for the national team, our interest would be better served with government taking steps to mitigate the spiteful manner in which our sense of decency and decorum was trampled under feet by some officials, some players and the numerous human parasites who were attached to the backs of the players like piggy bags in Brazil.
What happened in Brazil, in the minds of many Ghanaians, pictures what condition the nation finds itself in over two decades; in a web of plunder, despoilment, corruption, pollution and lawlessness.
We must be honest about the fact that the nation has fallen prey to its leaders and officials with no one to rescue it: a spoil for all, with no one to say, ‘give it back’. In our acquiescence to self-denigration we have delivered ourselves over to ” little idols” and in the process, turned ourselves into pitiful caricatures of what God intended us to be.We need a national policy driven by a sense of discipline that every party in power shall adhere to. We may be crazy about football, but we don’t eat football.