Thursday, 3 July 2014

PMS: Ghana's World Cup and That Time of the Month

I swear I didn't make any of this stuff up. Not even the ridiculously unbelievable parts. It’s all true, I promise.

After a somewhat impressive performance by Ghana’s Black Stars at the last two World Cups, big things were expected at our third outing. If only we knew what was coming…

We lost to our usual whipping boys the USA and that wasn't even the worst thing about our tournament. There we allegations of match fixing with a video of certain football Administrators agreeing to bribe referee influence matches. In their defense, they were set up but as Micky Bricks said, "You can't con an honest man". This also wasn't the worst thing to come out.

Stories of unpaid bonuses and player agitations began to filter into the country but officials kept on denying them. I understand that a man is due his wages and no one would be happy if they weren't paid. What I didn't understand was why on the biggest stage players were more concerned about money than about playing. Forget about patriotism, it died long ago. Why not play for personal glory? Think of all the money you could make if you put up a great performance. Kevin-Prince Boateng moved from lowly Portsmouth to AC off the back of his 2010 performance.

I’m not sure what happened but the next thing we knew, there were rumors that our president had made available a chartered flight from Ghana to Brazil carrying in excess of $3 million (US not Zimbabwean). My first reaction was, “this is too ridiculous to be true”.

Turns out it was true. The news spread like wild fire on social media and foreign news outlets. Every news channel made time to mock the ridiculousness of the story. In this age of technology? The president confirmed he had sanctioned this transfer and some members of his cabinet didn't seem to see the big deal.

John Boye kissing his share of the booty

By this act, they had managed to caricature the whole nation till not one drop of respect was left to save face. One TV station, Globo, in Brazil managed to broadcast live the landing of the money plane by planting secret cameras somewhere. Apparently, the Brazilian government also insisted on counting the money so it could be taxed properly so the counting was also shown live on TV.  The sharing of the money was also shown live on TV. One player was shown kissing his share of the booty as he came out of the money room. The next day Ghanaians were the butt of all jokes on social media. The money plane saga was so incredulous that a Hollywood director is think of making a movie out of it. We lost to Portugal in our last game completing our disgraceful outing. There was still time for a bonus act as there was some controversy even about them coming home. It’s not like we didn't see all this coming before the tournament.
Meanwhile, back in Ghana, everyone was going on strike (or threatening to) due to unpaid wages. Polytechnic Lecturers at the time this post is being written have been on strike for 7 weeks. Not a single f*$k has been given about their strike. I’m not even sure the Government knows they are on strike because no serious attempt has been made to address their concerns. We can fly $3 million in 2 days to Brazil to satisfy under-performing footballers but can’t pay whatever pittance lecturers are asking for?

Then it was announced that on the first of July, Electricity tariffs would be increased by 12%, water by 6% and fuel prices were also expected to go up. This prompted a movement of social media #OccupyFlagStaffHouse which led to a demonstration. Police armed to the teeth tried to prevent this peaceful demonstration but failed. While the demonstration was going on, members of the president’s cabinet (Hannah Tetteh and Joseph Yammin) found time to mock the protesters further proving how far removed politicians are from the suffering of regular folks.

But this isn't my most ridiculous story of the past two weeks. Government has managed to secure a loan of $156 million to help support the educational sector. Part of the loan would be used for scholarships, new building and… wait for it… providing sanitary pads for female high school students. I swear I didn't make that up! This news sparked some hilarious comment and memes on social media to cap off a ridiculous couple weeks in Ghana. Given the way so many other government interventions have gone, you don't need too much of a stretch of the imagination to picture how this program will end.