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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Weblinks July 2010


Monday, July 12, 2010

South Africa 2010 – Mission Accomplished!

The TwentyTen project set out on a mission to get African journalists to report sports and society from the African perspective. Hundreds of African media personnel applied to be involved in the project – 108 All Stars including photo, print and radio persons, were selected to participate in various workshops across the continent. These workshops focused on in-depth feature stories, which informed the choice of the Dream Team. It has been a great privilege for me to have made it on the final 18 journalists to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

My earlier assignments revolved round ‘sports alternatives for Nigerian youth who fail to make it on the pitch’, ‘raising the interest of Ghanaian football fans to patronize local league matches’ and ‘the tourism potentials of soccer, especially as Africa hosts the World Cup for the first time’.

I set out from Kumasi on Monday May 31 to join the Dream Team in South Africa.
It was very heartwarming to have been on-board the Air Namibia flight with a couple of Ghanaian ladies who were also taking the lead to be among the national supporters unions to cheer the Black Stars on.
Adored in their red, gold and green shirts, the ladies were at the center of attraction from the Kotoka International Airport through to the Oliver Tambo Airport in Joburg, where the photograph of Stephen Appiah among two other African football stars, welcomed travelers at the arrival lounge.Day one:

I arrived in Joburg on the morning of June 1 full of energy, excitement and expectation, except that the winter cold was not too friendly to me. Despite the heavy early morning traffic, I enjoyed the scenery of the city as I was chauffeured to my place of abode – flags of participating nations in the world cup lined some major highways, billboard ads depicting the country’s readiness to welcome the rest of the world, cars beautifully decorated with South African flags (that reminds me of Ghana’s hosting of the 2008 African Nation’s Cup!) and of course the buzz on radio championing the cause for South Africans to own the game…

The project managers had arranged that the team stayed in rented apartments and my residence was number 7 Kersboom Street, Randpark Ridge in Randburg – it was not really the type of accommodation I would have preferred you know – too quite, high security arrangements… kind of all alone lifestyle. And my area was not exceptional in this type o arrangement – driving past an affluent area called Sunhurst, I wondered whether the high-rise-electrified walls, high-tech gates with human and dog patrols were houses or prisons. But I later understood it was in the interest of inhabitants and I thanked God for blessing me with a real home in Ghana.

Later that afternoon, I joined other team members to drive through the city to pick some bits and pieces for our assignments. We ended up at a shanty near the Alexandra Township, south of Joburg – a direct contrast to what I had earlier seen at Sunhurst – they were truly worlds apart.

We met with some people, mostly from the Lipopo province of South Africa, hundreds of them sharing shanks in an abandoned ice cream factory. Life here is really awesome; water, electricity, good sanitation – all luxurious wishes. Most inhabitants here would surely want to go to the stadia at least to see the Bafana Bafana play but just cannot afford the state-subsidized match tickets. As we left the place, I continued asking myself about the future of the children in the area and what they would turn out to be???

I came back home in the evening to meet the family who had let out a part of their house to accommodate the team. Shane and Celeste Taylor were excellent and their 2-year old daughter Rebecca adorable – she simply increased my quest to go in for my first kid as early as possible. Aunty Catherine Mashamaite, the house keeper always came in handy and I knew my stay in SA was going to be exceptional, even though I was to do the cooking myself, can you imagine?

Day two:

Waking up from my warm bed did not come easy. I was still trying to take it easy on this Wednesday. Some team members opted to check out the Burundian community in Joburg and I joined them. To my surprise Troyeville was more of Ghanaians than Burundians and I felt like home – some chit chat with guys at Rasta’s salon on football and developments back home, paid visits to Ghanaian shops and learnt some stuff about Ghanaians living in SA.

Interestingly, the Ghanaian communities were more than ready to join other supporters unions from Ghana to cheer the Black Stars on to victory. Prince and Maxwell informed me how buses are being organized to transport them as a group to the stadia and their determination to defy the challenge of accessing match tickets to be part of the tournament. I was proud to have spotted a number of cars blazing the Ghanaian flag and others hanging on walls together with South African.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get hold of some fufu, banku, kenkey or any Ghanaian dish to feast my hunger at Troyeville due to some constraints. Therefore there was every reason for me to go back…

Day three:

Thursday was the official kick-off day for the project. All Dream Team members, virtual editorial team, project managers and sponsors assembled at the TwentyTen House for introductions, logistics, bla bla bla… and of course most importantly story idea brainstorming and assignments.

Some unprofessional soccer display and a barbecued lunch at the pool side added more excitement to the gathering. A late afternoon cruise through town and a window shopping experience was lovely but this was also a day of my first encounter with the South African Police.

Our driver seemed to have lost his way to the residence and had to make some turn rounds at Randburg. The police car trailed us and stopped us in the middle of no where… There were four of them: stopped our car, made us step out, hands on the car as their guns pointed straight in our faces for body search. I had heard about strict security arrangements ahead of the world cup but I had not expected this… you can trust I did not panic, just small sweet in the cold. In the end, all was cool, realizing we were only journalists from Ghana, Burundi, Uganda and Cape Town on site seeing in Joburg. We had a good laugh over dinner when we got home and toughened our skin and thought to step out again the following day.

Day four:

On Friday, I was beginning to get home sick. It was therefore in order that I took a trip to ‘Ghana House’ at Berea near Hilbrow. It was good to me home – good chat about football and all, snooker play here and there and most importantly familiar food to enjoy. The community was unhappy about the posture of the Ghanaian High Commission towards the World Cup, saying there has been little or no support in efforts to mobilize nationals to cheer the Black Stars on. As usual, decisions of the coach’s selection and preparations were questioned and argued upon, depicting the passion of people to be part of the game.

Other African nationals from Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Africa joined in the conversation and it was so beautiful to be in the midst of such richness in diversity.

Day five

The whole city was painted yellow as South Africa played Denmark in a World Cup friendly in Pretoria. It was a good day to cruise the city and have a feel of weekend in Joburg. I checked out the beautiful Soccer City in Nasrec (the biggest stadium in Africa!) and later to Orlando Stadium in Soweto. Later speaking Targwinei at the Orlando Butchery East Soweto, I was sad to have learnt that some local women were prevented from selling foodstuff around the stadia because McDonalds had bought the right to be the sole food vender at the stadium. Unfortunately this multinational is unable to offer the experience of tasting an African cuisine and most regrettably has curtailed the livelihood of many South Africans who should have benefited from the game…

Day six

Sunday was exceptional for me! I joined early morning service at the St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Yeoville – a congregation of people from all nationalities and it was interesting how the church was linking religion to sports, especially the World Cup. Later in afternoon, I was at a Burundian food joint at Berea to enjoy some African cuisine but the most exciting part of this day was the God First service at the MONTECASINO; that is what I call creativity to draw people closer the Lord. I can’t afford to miss the next service…

Day seven

I stayed in doors all day, sleeping and working on few stuff but also monitoring whatz up back home... I was excited at the Blacks Stars arriving and just couldn’t wait to see them qualify to the finals of the tournament.

Day eight

It was a day with the project Virtual Editorial Team… a very busy day was as the assignments got challenging but very interesting. Anyhow, I went to bed happy because the family of Mandela announced the legend would make a brief appearance at the opening ceremony of the World Cup.Day nine

Midweek and things were beginning to take shape, getting used to the environment and assignments going through. South Africans were on the streets with their Vuvuzela at Santon in a carnival to show support for the Bafana Bafana and also demonstrate how prepared and excited they are to host the world. This was an exceptionally good day for me as I was chosen to have the rare privilege of being hosted by Dutch Radio One through the SABC studios, just before the 2010 World Cup kick starts.

Day ten

The soccer excitement and euphoria builds up in Joburg where most of the World Cup related activities were happening. Alongside the FIFA organized World Cup concert, everybody run around, preparing for the opening ceremony of the historic FIFA 2010 World Cup… me too I can’t wait!

Day eleven

Finally, it is here! A great day is was for South Africa and the entire African continent. A celebration of beauty in culture and diversity of people! For me, I felt more than proud to have experienced the opening of the first World Cup on the soils of Africa and it was amazing how football could bring people from diverse backgrounds together to have fun and enjoy LIFE. My interview with Dutch radio one was wonderful and I said God bless my Africa! Ke Nako…

Day twelve

The excitement is still in the atmosphere but the African teams are not impressive enough. I’m beginning to get worried if indeed 2010 would be the Africa World Cup, especially after the Super Eagles refused to fly. Hopefully Ghana is going to through some light on the continent…

Day thirteen

The day did not really start well because my editors were on my neck for stories, a situation that compelled me to watch Ghana’s first match with Serbia in the office. But the stress was instantly relieved when the Black Stars made the whole African continent proud by recording the first African win in the start of the 2010 tournament. I just wished I could join the jubilation back home but I managed to scream Ghanaaaaa!

Day fourteen

I walked the streets of Joburg and Pretoria shoulder high. These are moments when you just want everyone to know you are a Ghanaian and everywhere I stepped I received congrats on behalf of Stephen Appiah and his boys.

Day fifteen

A very tiring day it was, getting closer to the great legends of South African football to understand their contribution to talent grooming in deprived communities. The weather was terrible this day but it was great.


I moved to Welkom, South Africa's interior plateau between the Vaal and the Orange Rivers in the Free State Province. The trip was to spend three nights looking at the life of the illegal miners here referred to as the Zama Zama. Unfortunately, the first night was disappointing as the Bafana Bafana failed to add spice to the holiday in South Africa.

Day seventeen

The World Cup is made of gold and therefore it indeed feels good to be in the city of gold. But like the galamsey chaps at Obuasi Ghana, life here in Welkom is not a bed of roses for the zama zama… I’m still prospecting the possibility of getting some grams of gold home!

Day eighteen

This was a day of hunting the illegal miners at old abandoned mines in Welkom for interviews. It was tough but eventually spoke to some of them. Illegal gold prospecting is hard but when you persevere, you become wealthy in no time but some die underground and others are maimed.

Day nineteen

Returned from Welkom very exhausted but had to sacrifice comfort for national interest in supporting the Black Stars to beat Australia. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the draw game, but I was content that there is still hope of Ghana to qualify beyond the first stage.

Day twenty

It was a boring Sunday as I tried to accustom myself at the new apartment in the Beverley Gardens. Later chose to hang out with friends at the House of the Ivoirians in Yeoville - enjoyed beautiful live music and dance over my favorite 'akyeke' and fish. But the fun was short-lived as the Samba boyz spoiled the party...

Day twenty-one

It was one of those Mondays when everything seems not to be working right. I went to the office hoping to finish up early on assignments but the power unit of my laptop will just not work. The whole day was ruined but I had to be in good mood to finish up all work.

Day twenty-two

For the first time since I arrived in South Africa, I had an SA headgear on in support of the Bafana Bafana as they played their last group match. They beat France 2:1 but unfortunately could not make it to the next stage of the competition. Many people were happy because the team was out in pride.

Day twenty-three

It was time to cool off visiting some tourist attractions in Soweto. The Hector Peterson Museum is home of history in South Africa’s Apartheid struggle and being here sad but raised my consciousness that change must be fought. Later had a great Pap meal at a Sowetan joint! The Black Stars unfortunately lost to the Germans but my heart was gladdened as Ghana still remained the only African team to go beyond the group stages of the tournament.

Day twenty-four

Day of shopping at the Pan African Market inside Alexandra Township; once again an opportunity to have a feel of the Africanism in South Africa!

Day twenty-five

It was my last working day for the 2010 Project... inspite of some challenges, I am excited to have worked with the Dream Team of African Journalists to produce stories about the continent in relation to sports. At the end of the project, I had produced six feature pieces for TwentyTen, one for Agfax radio and several news and feature pieces for Luv and Joy Fm.

I was most excited Ghana is on the lips of everyone in South Africa and indeed there cannot be any place like HOME...

Day twenty-seven

Time to head home… plenty thanx to all who made my stay here worthwhile… I will surely miss friends in Joburg, Pretoria, Orange Farm and Welkom. To all the special ladies I evangelized, please continue to stay in the Lord…Aftermath!

I watched remaining proceedings of the World Cup from home and like most Ghanaians and Africans my heart was down when Uruguay’s Suarez denied the Black Stars the chance to go to the quarter-finals of the tournament. Spain eventually won by beating the Netherland’s by a lone goal.

All hail South Africa for a successful hosting of the tournament and I say may Ghana win the Brazil World Cup in 2014!


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