Black Star Weekend

African football matchGoing to a football match in Ghana has always been on our bucket list for our time here. The roaring crowds, the passionate commentary, the electric atmosphere…and, yes I’m sorry to say, the vuvuzelas. While I’ve watched local games at the mine, the top of the list would be to watch a game at Kumasi Baba Yara Stadium. Kumasi stadium is regarded as the heart of Ghanaian football and the spiritual home of the national team, the Black Stars.

So you can imagine how excited we were when Bill’s work managed to get tickets to the Ghana-Zambia World Cup qualifier match for Brazil 2014! Woo hoo!

But first up, a confession. I’m no huge football fan, actually I’m not even a huge sport fan, so there was more than a pang of guilt when I knew so many die-hard fans couldn’t get tickets to the game. But I’m so thrilled we went.

Squeezed into a taxi to the gameThe afternoon started with a colleague of Bill’s and us squished into a tiny taxi, weaving our way through the traffic to as close to the stadium as we could get.

Souvenier hawkers

Anticipation building

Where's the gate??Then more weaving through the crowds and hawkers, selling the ubiquitous supporters souvenirs. The atmosphere was hectic, as we each clung to a child’s hand and pushed our way through the throngs of people, trying to find our gate. Past Army soldiers bearing machine guns and Police in full riot gear. Once inside, everyone, not just us, palpably relaxed, and the atmosphere took on more of a party feel. We wove our way up three flights of stairs, rewarding us with the finest view of Kumasi I’ve ever seen.

Kumasi, the classic view

To me, this is the ultimate view of Ghana. Red corrugated iron roofs broken up by the green of mango trees.

We settled into our booth, and soaked up the crowd.

Ghanaian crowd

Flag waving

yellow crowd

pointing crowd

The Zambian supporters were somewhat outnumbered!

The Zambian supporters were somewhat outnumbered!

I’m sorry I can’t provide you with anything much in the way of football commentary. All I know is that Ghana fielded a full international team with the exception of the goalie, who was from the local Asante Kotoko team. And somewhat embarrassingly, the only Ghanaian player we knew was the skipper, Asamoah Gyan, who famously dances Azonto [an awesome and wildly popular Ghanaian high life dance. Make sure you watch to 37 seconds and see the white guy dance too!] whenever he scores a goal. (Unfortunately he didn’t score, but Cecie did see him dancing Azonto at the Golden Tulip after the game!). A good roundup can be found at here.

While having the box was a cool haven to the crowds outside, we did feel somewhat removed from the excitement, so Bill and I kept sneaking out to soak up some atmosphere. Here is a snippet of the Ghanaian national anthem, accompanied by 20,000 vuvuzelas, and the start of the game!

About to begin

About to begin

Some shots of the game, it would feel a little remiss to leave them out:

Match1

match2

Lining up for a…

Goal 2

Goal 1

Goal!

The ubiquitous half time pee-stop.

Pee-stopThe end result was the Black Stars over the Chipolopo 2-1. Ghana needed only a draw to progress to a 2 stage play off, for the final 5 positions on Group D (Africa).

I always find it surprising at the end of a game, particularly one as important as this one, how quickly the crowd disperses, and makes their way into the night. We enjoyed the view from the third floor balcony, waiting for the crowds to move on.

Enjoying the viewAs usual, the black 4wds always get away first:

Black 4wdsThe thin khaki and blue line protecting the heroes of the night:

thin blue line

Team busBut the real highlight for me was this fabulous group of uni students who sang and danced after the game. It was irresistibly joyous. We couldn’t take our eyes away, and they sang for almost an hour…

And just a little more…

It was thrilling moment and perhaps a timely reminder of why we made this move. This really is Africa.

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4 responses to “Black Star Weekend

  1. Hello Chrissie, Thanks for the update. I watched the match online here in Aberdeen. We love our football in Ghana. It is our only saving grace with respects to national pride and sense of achievement as a people and as a nation. (Not much from our politicians and our economists). We feel good and great when we win or play very well but end up losing. In the same way, we become extremely desolate and despondent when we play badly or lose or both. I think I am beginning to get more information from you and your family on things that are happening in Ghana than most Ghanaian websites. To be honest, I enjoy the reading your posts and the objectivity it has on all issues it has covered including the criticisms and the frustrations one encounters living in Ghana (traffic jams, officials looking for bribes, people asking for favours, education system, pets etc. etc.). Keep writing!!! I can tell that your kids and your family are getting more involved in the Ghanaian ‘ways’ of doing things. I think your son was infront of the car without a seat belt……. that is the way I travelled mostly around town in car with my mum growing up. Not the safest way approved but with a bit of common sense it is ok if not perfect. Keep enjoying The Black Stars. We have a big match coming up in the next few weeks. It is likely that Kumasi will be the venue again, as The Black Stars have the best support in Kumasi. It will be the final leg of the qualifications to the 2014 World Cup. I think the draw is on Thursday in Cairo. If you can get tickets for the match, please try to attend the match. I think it is going to be a great event. As for that Azonto craze, please do not get me started. I do not know what and where the fun is on that. Perhaps, I have been away for far too long to appreciate that kind of dance. These are the guys who played for The Black Stars on Friday evening Starting line-up: Fatau Dauda, Daniel Opare, Harrison Afful, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Rabiu Mohammed, Andre Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah, Abdul Majeed Waris, Asamoah Gyan, Mubarak Wakaso. Michael Essien and Christian Atsu came on as substitutes Thanks again and keep writing. Felix, Aberdeen Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2013 22:54:42 +0000 To: felixmmensah@hotmail.com

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  2. Pingback: Leaving Kumasi: reflections, obervations and a list | six degrees north·

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