No other African football team would ever come as far in a football World Cup, than the Ghana Black Stars in South Africa in 2010. This was the reason that their match against Uruguay in Johannesburg last night meant so much to so many Africans from Cape to Cairo. If they had beaten the South Americans, the Ghanaians would have become the first African team to advance to the semi final stage of a football world cup. Yes indeed, the pressure was on. The Black Stars were not representing Ghana but the African continent.
We in South Africa also rallied behind our newly adopted team, even christening them “BaGhana BaGhana” reminding ourselves that they needed our support just as much as Bafana Bafana (South Africa’s football team) did. And rally behind them we did. Ghanaian flags were displayed all around South Africa. We sent messages of support to our fellow Africans in the west. This, we said was a home game for Ghana. For a few days, all South Africans were Black Stars.
I am certain you know the result by now (unless of course you’re Paris Hilton and you’re languishing in Port Elizabeth’s newest “tronk” suite). Ghana lost to Uruguay in an agonizing match that was filled with drama right until the final moments.
Nevertheless, South Africa has already won. In 2008, xenophobic violence reared its ugly head and put us to shame. Presently, unemployment in South Africa is on the rise and some still blame our poverty on the fact that foreigners are taking our jobs. Many people are whispering fears that xenophobia in South Africa might increase after the World Cup. No one can be certain of this but what is certain is that the Ghana Black Stars and South African citizens tried to lay this ghost to rest. For a short while we:
• remembered that we are Africans;
• welcomed our brothers from Africa in the spirit of Ubuntu
• celebrated when Ghana played like champions and despaired when those penalties failed.
Above all we Africans, both on and off the pitch, displayed what Africans can do!