During our trip to Ghana, we traveled to the city of Ho where were met a man named Crafty. Crafty was the maker of many fine pieces of African artwork which he sold in his store and in his home. After our visit with Crafty, he invited us to a ceremony where we could have the opportunity to see and experience African dances. The mc of the ceremony was a young man named Victor who was no older than twenty. He introduced all of the dances to us and gave us insight into why the dances were the way they are. He and the other dancers, who were also quite young, were very talented and skilled. During a break between dances, Victor invited me over to sit beside him. He was very interested in me and our group. He was a very easy person to talk to and I believe it was due to our close proximity in age. We discussed his dancing background. He told me that he has been dancing since he was a very young child and it is something that he really enjoys doing.
Aside from being a great dancer, he is also a great drummer. Drumming is another skill he was able to master when he was young. Victor also expressed a desire to teach others what he has learned throughout the years. This really impressed me because I have never met anyone who expressed a deep desire to teach at such a young age. Victor also expressed great interest in coming to the United States to attend college. He is eager to continue his studies as well as teach others about his culture. As a young person, I can identify with Victor in wanting to continue his studies as far as possible. Like me Victor understands that knowledge is power. Victor’s motives are much deeper than wanting to acquire knowledge. He also wants to use his time in the United States to educated people about his culture. He knows of the many misconceptions people in the west have about Africa and Africans. He feels if he can teach us his ways then we would understand Africans better. He also expressed frustrations with his plans to come to the United States. I was not the first American to talk with Victor about his dreams. He told me that he has met many people from the United States that said they could and would help him but every time he tried to contact them he would receive no response. How long he has been trying to come to the United States was unclear to me but I hope that one day his dreams will be fulfilled.
Football a.k.a. soccer to those of us in the United States, is the single biggest sport in the world and in Ghana. It so happened that during our stay in Ghana, the nation was the host country of the 2008 African Cup. The whole country was very excited not only because they were hosting the huge event, but also because they felt that their team, the Black Stars, had a legitimate shot at winning the tournament. I had two separate experiences with fans of the Black Stars while in Ghana. The first experience occurred when we attended the actual football match between the Black Stars of Ghana and the Brave Warriors of Namibia. This was a once in a lifetime experience. Once we entered the stadium, all I saw was a sea of red, yellow, green, and black, which are Ghana’s national colors.
From the time the Black Stars entered the stadium to the time we left, the stadium was very loud. Everyone was up and cheering. Some were waving their flags proudly and others were blowing their horns. I decided to stand up and join the cheering because I figured that I would never get another opportunity to attend an event like this. As I was cheering, the fan in front of me who had his face and hair painted started waving his flag wildly almost hitting me with it. I knew that he was very excited about the game so I decided to imitate him by waving my flag wildly actually hitting the fan a couple times. The guy turns around and we start to get into a little “flag fight” during the game. It was all fun and games as this fan and I went back and forth. The interactions between the two of us made me realize how much more involved the fans were. The same guy I was fighting with was trying to direct people in cheering. He even orchestrated our section in the wave.
Another fan I interacted with was behind me. This man was the type of fan who appreciated good football and sportsmanship. Even though his team was the Black Stars, he conducted me and others around me to join him in standing during the playing of Namibia’s national anthem. Some fans like the man with the painted face and hair did not care to stand and did not heed the fan’s request. The man behind me also tried to explain a couple of calls to me that I did not understand. He was very helpful until he hit me in the eye with his flag while celebrating the goal that was scored by Ghana. When he realized that he had hit me he became very apologetic. I did not hold it against him because I knew that he was just excited his team had scored a goal. I was excited too. I cheered like I was a native Ghanaian.
My second experience with football in Ghana was on the day the Black Stars took on the Morocco Lions de l’Atlas or Lions of the Atlas. We did not attend this game in person but we watched the game in a restaurant with many other fans. As soon as the game started all eyes were on one of the two televisions that were in the restaurant. I noticed that there were many people there who did not even order any food. I do not think that management minded because they were also into the game. When Ghana scored their first goal the whole restaurant erupted. People were jumping up and down and shouting at the top of their lungs. I was caught up in the moment as well, screaming and giving high fives in excitement.
Around three minutes after the Black Stars scored, I left the restaurant and was a bit surprised at what I found outside. People were in the streets celebrating. Passing cars were blowing their horns while people hung out the windows. The excitement lasted for about another twenty minutes before people began to settle down. As I was walking down the street looking at items in different shops, Ghana scored another goal and the streets erupted once more. People were once again jumping around in excitement. One fan even jumped on a moving car and was almost run over. One excited fan came to me and gave me a hug while another tried to sell me a whistle to blow. When I asked her how much the whistle was so told me it was one cedi. I told her that I only had 60 pesewa. She was so excited that she took all that I had and ran to get the whistle for me. At that particular moment I felt like a true fan that was part of a community. This woman did not want me to be without any celebratory piece if I was cheering for the Black Stars. On the other hand, she might have just wanted to make a sell. The celebration lasted for a while. My experience with football in Ghana is one that I will never forget. To me, game days felt like a big party that the whole country attended.