Diskussion über Themen der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (EZ) in/mit Westafrika einschließlich (und vor allem) der politischen sowie sozio-ökonomischen Bedingungen in den Ländern und was EZ bewirken kann -- oder auch nicht -- oder ob sie aber nicht sogar schadet. ACHTUNG: In Ermangelung von Kommentaren lediglich Beiträge zu EZ-Themen. _________________________________________________________________

21. Juni 2006

Ghana at the World Cup in Germany: A diary

THE GHANAIAN TIMES, Wednesday, June 21, 2006, page 23


HERE is a sample the questions many of us here in Germany have had to answer since the events of June 17, 2006:
So what do you eat in Ghana? Which airlines fly to Ghana, is your music like Reggae, who is your President, do you have a King, is there a Football Academy, are the streets safe, what is the shopping like, is everybody there poor, what is on your television, can I watch satellite television, when I am there, do you have elections, will you win the match against the USA and qualify for the quarter finals, what do you worship, why are you called Ghana?

And there I was, thinking with the world having grown so small now, everybody knew about everybody. The Germans seem to know quite a bit about Ghana, after all, the Ghanaian community in Germany is quite big and the name Sammy Kuffuor still sends a buzz.

But then Germany is currently playing host to the whole world and therefore the people who you meet on the streets are as likely to have come from Ecuador or Poland or Brazil or Tunisia.

And all of them are wanting to know more about Ghana and it has become obvious that I did not bring enough material about Ghana: maps, kente strips, country information profile, etc. Is there a half-hour information documentary on Ghana or a definitive two page hand- out? Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Affairs, maybe you should have set up a stand here. I have been directing everybody to the Ministry of Information website and keeping my fingers crossed that it is up to date. I have made a discovery: even those who seek their information from the web are looking for something extra.
It is the Czechs who are asking the most questions. Losing to Ghana had not been on their agenda, but now that they have lost, they are very keen to know who we are, and so are their friends. Strange what winning one football match does. We have gone from part of the exotic brigade to one that needs to be taken seriously. Television companies are making desperate calls to their Bureau Chiefs to redirect crews to Ghana, they want footage of crowds in Ghana watching the Ghana-USA match. They want their cameras and famous anchors there to record the moment when it all happens. Suddenly the feeling is that Ghana will qualify and they want to know as much about us as possible.
One thing is certain: we are firmly on the map now with the footballing community and that according to FIFA, is half the world. While waiting for the next match, my group has made a journey to France (more about the train journey later). You know France is not doing particularly well so far in this World Cup; they might yet qualify, but two drawn matches is not what their teeming supporters were expecting. So when a group of five adults and two young boys clad in Ghana colours and holding Ghana flags enter France, what do we get?

The traditional chant for the France national team, "allez les Bleus" is adapted to "allez I' Afrique'. I did say we won it for Africa and if you doubted that, then come to the streets of the north eastern French city of Nancy. We are firmly on the map now and for all the right reasons and we better stay there.
I am hesitating about sending any curious Czechs to Ghana at the moment. Apart from the prohibitive cost of airfares to Ghana and other African countries, the Czechs are likely to be scandalised by the cost of our hotel rooms compared to what they are paying here in Germany.

And then there is the little problem of transportation. I don't think they can quite understand that the welcome package at the Accra airport will not include information on the train schedules nor the vital proviso that all train and bus public transportation on match days is free. For the moment, I shall simply keep them informed that Ghana is at the geographical centre of the world, the politics and the economy are improving daily, there are twenty million football coaches, the food is fine, there are many Kings and chiefs and there is President John Agyekum Kufuor.
I shall omit any reference to the chaos on the streets of the cities, the clogged drains and the fact that people can build houses without permits. I shall not mention the peculiar driving habits either. I am hoping that by the time of CAN 2008, our optimism shall match our reality. In the meantime, thanks to Captain Appiah and his mates, Ghana is firmly on the map.
Elizabeth Ohene is a Minister of State in the Office of the President of Ghana

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