Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Year Day!

Today is the ONLY extra day one will have in the next FOUR years.
Beyond a (female) partner proposing to you, what are you gonna do today to make that difference in your life?
Only the Brits can come up with quaint things to do on this beautiful day. Here are some of my favourites, taken from:

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Unbearable Lightness of Blogging

Oh the tomes! The tomes I have written in my head, and in my heart. Not to forget on paper, as well!;-)
Regrettably, the proverbial refrain of work has hit -- truly, madly, and deeply. And rather intensely.
As such, blogging has been light, and promises to be for the next w eek or so. Please bear with me.
I am still around!
Enjoy the weekend,
Keep safe. Keep cool.

Friday, February 08, 2008

As the Week Draws to a Close in Accra: The Expensive Game, Where Talk is Cheap

The defeat of the Ghana Black Stars by the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon with a scoreline of 1-0 in their favour has gone to further shatter to smithereens the idea of the "host-and-win" concept. When my Cameroon colleague told me that Cameroon would beat us—and that the home crowd was nothing to write home about, I disbelieved her. Today, I bow my head in shame—not because she was right, but because Ghanaians hyped the success of the Black Stars too much.

I know that at times like this, we all become armchair coaches and pundits—and that's why blogging at this time is as instrumental in airing grievances!!!—and seek to twist and over-exploit the proverbial "hindsight is 20/20" till it's no longer funny.

But Ghanaians are wont to behave this way—and were always going to do some hyping. After all, we saw CAN2008 as the perfect opportunity to market the country—even if Ghana Tourist Board did little to sufficiently market it for us—and the beautiful game, as played by Africans. There were such high hopes—possibly excessive—of the players. Agogo, for starters, is a good player, but in the family's view, in the last game before our resounding trounce yesterday—in which we packed Nigerians home—he maximized an opportunity to best effect. The dribbling was absent—as was the good technical play. His angles could be a bit better—as in yesterday's game, when he headed the ball just slightly over the bar.

The little said of Pele's son brought on when he's not as experienced as the likes of Asamoah-Gyan (reportedly nursing an injury—as was Laryea Kingson) the better. That Ghana's "rock of Gibraltar"—John Mensah—red-carded in the Nigeria-Ghana clash, but cleared of one game into a putative final-that-never-was-for-Ghana was absent did not help the country in any way.

A discussion on CITI97.3FM today was heated—and for the right reasons. The UEFA-licensed coach and award-winning journalist/columnist Nana Ageyman attacked the literacy of our sports journalists that transmogrify, he believed, from "shoe-shine boys" to ones "behind a mike", and how they ask "stupid questions." His attitude, though decried by many, was, in my view, along the lines of what we should be asking ourselves at times like this—how responsible is our media towards tournaments like these, and, yes, how well-trained are they in generating a discerning view of the sports they report on. At what point do they cross from being fans to journalists? These are valid questions that need to be asked.

If there had, perhaps, been a more toned-down expectation of what the senior football team could offer, they would not be as crest-fallen as they, along with the nation, are.

I personally take consolation from the fact that the beautiful-yet-expensive game creates pundits from all of us, but always, we are reminded that talk truly is cheap. If not, the Ivorians would not have conceded a good four goals to title-defenders Egypt. I sent a text message to CITI Morning Breakfast Show host that too bad for Ghana, and let's rally behind the team to make it a "West African affair." I was hoping that the "ECOWAS-man" in me would come out. It wasn't to be--for Cameroon and Egypt in the final makes a nonsense of the ECOWAS nexus I had promulgated last Sunday, when we beat Nigeria, and Cote D'Ivoire qualified over fellow-ECOWAS country Guinea.

Yet again, we are all Africans.

May the best team win—and may that be one closer to West Africa—Cameroon!

Monday, February 04, 2008

As the Week Opens in Accra: We Were All (West) Africans Yesterday

I spent the better part of 4pm yesterday trying to craft this entry. To me, the day seemed like an all-African affair.

I had woken up to a beautiful harmattan-yet-dry day which, in retrospect, would augur well for the rest of the day. I would hear local station CITI97.3 FM reporting the build-up of excitement of the duel between Ghana and Nigeria.

BBC Worldservice would report on the imminent ousting of Chad's Deby; the station's Have Your Say would host one whole hour on Kenya and the violence there, trying to ascertain the extent to which it was an ethnic-driven conflict. Meanwhile, Saturday's news of Tanzania's Kikwete, newly-elected African Union Chairman, denouncing the crisis in Chad, as one which would see an "excommunication" of the country, only went to underscore--along with a BBC "From Our Own Correspondent" report on the recovery of Cote d'Ivoire five years after the 2002 coup -- that on Sunday, we were all Africans.

Then my Mum reminded me to check the Internet for the download of an interview granted me, Ndesanjo Macha, Sub-Saharan Editor of Global Voices and one John, a football consultant, a week ago on Radio Netherlands International.

Amy Walker, of Radio Netherlands, would ask me a few days before the interview on the significance of Ghana 2008 on Africa.

One of my more specific questions were on how football is a great "equalizer"--or not.

At 5pm on the dot, the whole family was seated behond the tv set, with the stage set for an explosive match between West African rivals of Ghana/Nigeria.

Ofcourse, Ghana would win--but not without enduring the (initial) rough game of the Nigerians; nor the 11th minute, when Yakubu missed the goal by inches; nor the free kicks awarded to Nigeria and Ghana; nor the red card handed to an irate John Mensah in the 59th minute--compelled to give his "captaincy" to Michael Essien. Neither was it without a yellow card to Nwaneri for kicking Hans Adu Sarpei; nor the 20th minute, when Quincy Owusu Abeye(sp?) missed a Ghanaian goal by inches; nor without the infamous penalty that secured a goal for Nigeria; nor without the Black Stars playing 10 men.

That the Algerian coach blew the whistle sometimes a bit too late, but contemporraneously overlooked some Nigerian "mistakes" only went to underscore the speculation that he was paying Ghana back for the Morocco game. Whether this was founded or not, it's clear that he overlooked some Ghanaian mistakes too.

Either way, it was always going to be about the goals--and boy did Ghana score. The videos I have posted attest to this. You will also see Nigeria--in the TV3 clip showing their penalty--and how they mocked Ghana's "kangaroo dance".

They got punished, if anything, for that alone.

But if we were to stop at the football for a second, it was not too hard trying to contrast the violence in Kenya with the jubilation over the "beautiful game." Whatever the case may be, it is a real shame about Kenya, plus the fact that it was not even able to enjoy solace from football by being participants in the CAN2008.

Long live West Africa. Long live ECOWAS! Long live Ghana.

Long live Africa.

Ghana's Winning Goal Against Nigeria's Super Eagles--Thankyou Dramani / Agogo!

Haminu Dramani slides the ball towards the mouth of the six-yard box from the left--only to have Junior Agogo rush on it and convert it into a second goal

Video Clip: Game Over! Ghana 2, Nigeria 1!

Yet another video clip recorded straight from TV3. A short clip illustrating the jubilation from the 40,000-packed-to-capacity Ohene Djan stadium after that game which was the stage for an explosive West African duel...

Video Clip: Michael Essien Scores Ghana's Equalizer & first goal in Heated Ghana-Nigeria Semi-Final Qualification Game


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