By JEMILA ABDULAI
Many supporters of Ghana’s Black Stars often liken their relationship with Ghana’s national football team to a bad (maybe even toxic?) romance.: we love, believe, hope, trust, support and boast about how amazing the Black Stars are; some of us even write about them. All this to no avail – the team still cheats (on) us…with none other than ‘failure’. Then proceeds the usual heartbreak cycle – disbelief, tears, anger, questioning, and finally, acceptance.
The thing is, right after we accept that our relationship isn’t all that it’s cut out to be – and that we deserve better – along comes another football tournament that has us loving, believing and hoping all over again. Our love interest seems to improve for a while (think World Cup), before it’s heartbreak all over again. It’s like a never-ending cycle. But I guess that’s what you sign up for when you declare yourself a patriot. Or is it?
A Disappointing Track Record on Delivery
My belief in Africa’s potential is no secret, nor is my love for my country Ghana. However that has never stopped me from calling us out on our mishaps when the occasion requires it, and that’s certainly not gonna stop anytime soon. Call it tough love. This is one of such occasions. Until further notice, I have put the Black Stars on a timeout. It’s not them, it’s me. I need space. I have no interest in what they do/don’t do, who they play/don’t play, or which victory dance they come up with in the off chance that they make it past the semi-final stage of a tournament (in true heartbreak fashion, that’s a big lie, I still care).
The point is, like many Ghanaians I have emotional investments in Ghana’s national team (and maybe even a financial stake – how do they pay them?) and it seems this particular relationship isn’t as rewarding as it should be. The Black Stars are not playing to their potential. At all. We always excuse them saying, “Oh next time. World Cup dey,”, but in over three decades they haven’t even picked up the African Cup!
True, the fact that we don’t miss a heartbeat in firing our coaches post-tournament probably doesn’t help for growing team spirit, chemistry and all the technical stuff- inconsistency wrecks havoc on any relationship – but is that really an excuse? Anyway, as I said, I have no further interest in the Black Stars until they step up to the plate and act like the Stars they are instead of lounging in their current identity as black starfishes (courtesy Wanlov). No, there are many other bad romances in town to ponder about.
Ghana’s History of Poor Delivery on Public Services
I was only half joking with that tweet. Hands down, the Electricity Corporation of Ghana wins the title for “bad boy” in the romance department. This is a company which has cheated on Ghanaians for decades and in numerous formats that we’re not even surprised anymore. Even when our very own Anas Armeyaw uncovers undeniable evidence that ECG’s loyalty to the Ghanaian public has been compromised, we still can’t seem to get unstuck from our toxic relationship. But how can we? While some of us suffer, others prosper. In the case of ECG there are many “other women” – ECG employees who profit from poor electricity services, black market sales, companies which make millions but don’t pay a pesewa in bills, and – surprise, surprise – our very own government. When does it all end? When do we dish out tough love – show all our nonperforming leaders, agencies, representatives that they are not as irreplaceable as they think?
“The fact of the matter is this: we (the people of Ghana) are as complicit in our continuing bad romances, as the other parties. True, it gets very complicated when heartbreaker and heartbroken are one and the same. But ultimately, we continue to foster the mediocrity inherent in these bad romances.
We reach that level of acceptance for how things are without trying to change things for the better, telling ourselves that “This is how it is and how it has always been”. True to Robert Green Ingersoll’s words, we have become a republic of mediocrity where genius is dangerous. So, after going back and forth numerous times in our various bad romances, one has to wonder when we will wake up to the fact that we are worth so much more and deserve so much better? Have we married mediocrity into the fabric of our society or is there hope yet that we might have an awakening; a moment where we finally get that we only get as much as we give and that in order to become the nation we claim to want to be we’re going to have to demand more of and from ourselves? Until then, I guess this is the part where we sing ourselves to sleep with heartbreak songs: Oh Mediocrity, Till When Do we Part?
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.