Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Turning Point returns with Sinking Sands, another Ghanaian movie

"How long will you endure abuse?" Last year, I Sing Of A Well, took the African movie scene by storm and this year, it received a massive 11 nominations at the Africa Movie Academy Awards. Its director, Leila Jewel Djansi flew to Ghana earlier this year to continue working on her next movie project, Sinking Sands. Recently, Leila sent me the trailer for the movie. “Sinking Sands” is about a couple, Jimah (Jimmy Jean-Louis from Haiti) and Pabi (Ama K. Abebrese from Ghana) in a loving marriage which turns into one of violence and abuse when Jimah becomes disfigured in a domestic accident. The movie also features Chris Attoh, Akosua Agyepong, Yemi Blaq, Doris Sackitey, Grace Nortey, Eddie Coffie, Julia Djansi, Amanda Jissie, Afi Dzakpasu, amongst others. It looks very promising.

Watch the Trailer for the movie

Jimmy Jean-Louis, the 'Heroes' star and also the main man in 'Phat Girlz', is the leading actor in this movie. Alongside Jimmy, is Ama K Abebrese, a known-face to OBE TV viewers in London who also acted in 'London get problem'. Chris Attoh appears in his first Ghanaian movie not directed by Shirley Frimpong-Manso while I believe this is also the movie debut of the Ghanaian songstress, Akosua Agyepong. It's been a while since I saw Grace Nortey in a Ghanaian movie. I believe she still has it. Amanda Jissie, popularly known as Mandy Jay, is also in the movie and it was reported that she's been appointed Leila's manager in Ghana. Never heard of Julia Djansi, seems she may be related to Leila?

“Sinking Sands” is a psychological drama which tells the story of a couple, Jimah and Pabi in a loving marriage which turns into one of violence and abuse when Jimah becomes disfigured in a domestic accident. The movie is produced by Tonita Perry with DOP by Adrian Correia. The film was financed through The David Djansi Memorial Film Fund and its Australian associates, the feature is produced by Turning Point Picture and distributed by Neoclassic Films Studios. It is slated for a Fall 2010 release. The movie features music by Agya Koo Nimo. Go and watch it! :-)

Here's another teaser for the movie

Official trailer

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chocolate city baby! A DC weekend

I returned from a weekend trip to Washington, DC today. DC is definitely my favorite city or metropolis in Yankee. I love how 'international' it is, with the embassies based there, you find a great diversity of people, cultures and backgrounds. With Maryland and Virginia adding to make the DMV, there are also a lot of Ghanaians and Africans in the area. DC also has a lot of universities, and in essence, students and young professionals. Though DC traffic is among the worst in the nation, the public transport system is on point. It's definitely a place I'll want to live at. I had been in DC mostly for DiasporaCamp DC 2010 and also to check on some job opportunities. It turned out to be a little more than that. Supremo!

I arrived at Dulles Airport Thursday evening and my cousin, Adwoa, picked me up. I hadn't seen her in 6 years, the last time we saw each other, we were both in Ghana. I went with her to Falls Church where she lives, and after settling down, we went to dinner. We ended at some Latino joint where I had 1.5 burritos. I was hungry! Food is much more appealing than sleep. Just had to throw that out there because my 'tapeworm' said so. I had come to DC to eat Ghanaian food. Since the Bay Area's only Ghanaian restaurant, Tropical Paradise, went under, I needed to experience one.

On Friday, I set out to Arlington, Virginia to meet an employee of Jacobs Construction (Nettey) that my friend Kobina had put me in touch with. Adwoa gave me her Metro Smart Trip Pass which came in handy. I missed one bus which made me late. I found out that Nettey was an old student of KNUST JSS like me and knew of my mother (my last name gave me away). There are only 4 people in this world with my last name. Cute huh? Had a good conversation with Nettey about the construction industry, job opportunities and Ghana in general. I left Arlington to meet another MIT alumni, Sharlina, at the Metro Center. Hadn't seen her in 4 years and we talked about what we'd both been to. I didn't enjoy the fact that she supported Uruguay against Ghana in the Mzansi Mundial though. Why would I? Would you? :-)

I trekked to Silver Spring, Maryland to meet Nii, who's also part of the DiasporaCamp DC organizing team. While on the Metro, I realised one major reason I love DC. "I see a lot of black people". In fact, I had taken two flights to get to DC and not seen many gorgeous women. DC changed all of that. Anyway, Nii and I went to run some errands and buy supplies for Saturday's event. Before we got together with some other team members to plan for Saturday, I saw two fine 'African-American' damsels who looked African. "Nii, I should go invite these ladies to DiasporaCamp DC tomorrow". "You mean, you should go use DiasporaCamp DC as an excuse to go and pick up these ladies right?" :-) I met a female Nigerian psychic (clairvoyant) who I asked if I'll be successful in this venture. She accompanied me to meet the ladies and I did the do. Too bad they had other plans for Saturday or else we could have completed the deal. Next time.

We had dinner at Tabaq, a Mediterranean restaurant on DC's U Street. We ended up at their Penthouse which had a really nice ambience. Nii, Clare, Kaushal, Kishor and I discussed some logistics for Saturday's DiasporaCamp and my other friend Nii A came to chill with us, as well as Shara and Katrina, who were also going to be helping out. Some of Nii's friends also came through. Tabaq had some two female black DJS (they were fine too) doing their thing. Too bad we had to leave to pass by Nii's Nigerian friend's birthday dinner. I met a Facebook friend Tolu Mide at the dinner. You should check out her music. Nii, some of his friends and I ended up going to the Policy club which was nice. We didn't party really late because we had to wake up early to run more errands before going to the DiasporaCamp.

Wake up early we did. We made a Safeway run and got to the DiasporaCamp just before 8am. The venue, Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies in DC, was undergoing some renovations which disturbed some of our logistics. The event started 30 minutes late because the attendees were late and run very smoothly. A full review and entry about DiasporaCamp DC will come soon. After the event, I joined other BarCamp attendees, including my friends Tina, Aida and Lolan went to Bukom cafe, a Ghanaian restaurant. Bukom cafe is one of the major DC attractions for me. I wasn't happy with the amount of waakye they gave me and some of the ladies (led by Tina) I was with used their womanly power to get me more food. Super huh? You bet. Bukom Cafe is in Adams Morgan, one of the busiest night neighbourhoods in DC. One nearby building had a Uruguayan flag flying from it that Tina pointed out. I was looking for a lighter to burn it, some ink to soil it, a pen to poke it. Just do something to it. Sorry, I don't like Uruguay right now and I am not sure when that will change. SUAREZ!

We left Bukom Cafe for a Kojo Antwi concert in Takoma, Maryland. Yes, Mr. Music Man was in town. Concert was advertised as from 10pm to 4am. I knew Kojo Antwi wasn't going to be on stage till 1am at the earliest. We arrived at the concert after 11:30pm and true to form, the concert hadn't started. African music promoters! Koby Maxwell, an Ghanaian musician based in the DMV area, got me into the concert for free. The damage would have been $30-40. This was after he'd performed. I felt terrible missing his performance. Papa Shee, another Ghanaian musician am friends with, followed. Kojo Antwi appeared on stage at 1am and performed for 3 hours! It was great but long. Many guests left before the concert ended. Kojo performed with a whole band, and gave an admirable effort, though his back-up singer didn't pull her weight. I had a blast at the concert, danced the night away. Didn't take a picture with Kojo though, wasn't too keen on that. I did meet Mzbel for the first time and got her phone number. For business, not pleasure. I got home to Nii's place at 5am.

When I woke up, it was 3pm. My hope of attending a Ghanaian or BlackAfrican-American church in the DMV area flew out the window. Out the window, we could see it raining cats and dogs. I thought it only rained like this in Ghana. An hour later, the lights/power/electricity went out. What! We don't get lights off in Ghana when it rains like this. What a yawa country Yankee is! The lights did not return. What is we gonna do? No television, no internet, no airconditioning in the global warming summer sweltering heat. I was supposed to go join Adwoa for an ice skating expedition. I ended up not going, but going to get African food at another Ghanaian restaurant, Sahara Oasis with Nii. I met my friend, Tina there and my cousin, Leon, joined us later. All the buildings on Sahara Oasis' side of the road in Hyattsville didn't have light, but the buildings across from them did. Weird. I had some fufu with goat meat at Sahara. Yummy. Since the lights were not returning till the next day, Sahara didn't have the Kojo Antwi concert afterparty like they had planned. Adwoa came to get me and we returned to Falls Church, Virginia.

Monday came with two Museke-related meetings. I trekked across DC to Takoma again to meet Derek, a Ghanaian with Harambee. We discussed the history of Museke and the way forward and some potential investment. Very productive conversation. Watch out people, Museke dey come out big. Before Derek left, Jacqueline, who I'd never met, joined us. Jacqueline hails from Cameroun and is behind Afroziky. Jacqueline has been helping us with Museke since she stumbled upon the site in 2009. We talked a little more about the investment possibilities with Derek till he left. I discussed the future of Museke with Jacqueline. We had a good time getting to know each other more as the plan was to collaborate even more moving forward. A lady approached us for help on her blogging assignment and we ended up talking about Shakira, Waka Waka and African music.

An Odadee, Kwashie, who is the webmaster for (Museke Online Africa Music Awards) came to grab me as we had scheduled a radio interview with Komla the Odadee (Emmanuel) at in Alexandria. It was a nice reunion as we chatted about the DiasporaCamp,, amongst other things. My brother, Kofi, texted me saying he had listened to us online and we received feedback through Facebook too. You should check out, an African radio station, as well as The New Ghanaian, a Ghanaian community newspaper based in the DMV. Kwashie and I left Alexandria for yet another Ghanaian restaurant, Ghana Cafe. Yes, three Ghanaian restaurants in 3 days. Beat it.

I was going to have dinner at Ghana Cafe with Adjoa A, Adjoa P and Adwoa U. Three female Monday borns (Adwoa) and me at dinner on a Monday. You can't make this up. Adwoa U and Adjoa A are cousins, Adwoa U being my cousin and Adjoa P, a mate from MIT. We found out that Adjoa A and Adjoa P both lived in the same Silver Spring apartment complex. Adwoa U grew up in Canada and North Carolina, Adjoa A grew up in Pennsylvania and Adjoa P grew up in New Jersey. We chatted about growing as Ghanaian-Americans (and Ghanaian-Canadians) in America. I also learnt from Adwoa U about how the heck we both got the "Dutch U last name" that we have. You know how we Fantes do. It is quite an interesting story. See me in chambers for details. I had waakye again, which was much better than what I had at Bukom Cafe but more expensive. Adwoa U had fufu and peanut soup and the Adjoa had peanut soup. We also had some scrumptuous kelewele. Why am I even telling you this? Tell me you didn't want to know :-) Samiya, another member of the DiasporaCamp DC team who was in Kenya while the event was going on, came by Ghana Cafe to see me and we talked a little about the upcoming Kenyan referendum, who studies African studies in American universities, amongst other things.

I was so freakin tired on Tuesday morning but I had scheduled a meeting with Kwaku, Nii's friend who worked at Clark Construction. I went to Clark's offices in Bethesda to discuss job opportunities at Clark and we had a nice conversation about going back to Ghana, growing in the construction industry, etc. I left Bethesda to Farragut North, where I met a Stanford alumni, Kaeche, for lunch. We had some Thai food and caught up. I had planned to go to the World Bank to see some friends who worked there but time was working against me. I headed straight to Falls Church where I prepared for my trip back to California. Adwoa U took me to the airport after she'd prepared a little "going away food package" for whiles I was travelling. Aww. What a caring cousin! Women, take note lol. It would be so great to live with someone like Adwoa, who eats little. :-)

This was a fantastic weekend. It reignited every thing I love about the District of Columbia. How soon I head up there, no one knows. I have a few ideas but we'll take it day by day. I'll miss you Chocolate City. When I saw that "DC commercial" on TV, I knew DC was calling me. It's like destiny's child to be there. We go dey see.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy birthday Nelson Mandela! Lira and Soweto Spiritual Singers Madiba Tribute (Museke)

South Africa's Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest statesmen to ever live. One of the highlights of the recent Mzansi Mundial, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, was when Nelson Mandela was ridden in a golf cart around Soccer City in Johannesburg, before the final. Nelson Mandela is 92 today. In this tribute, Lira and Soweto Spiritual Singers sing "(Something Inside) So Strong".

"(Something Inside) So Strong" is one of Nelson Mandela's favorite songs. The song was written by British poet, songwriter and singer, Labi Siffre. It was a 1985 anti-apartheid anthem.
Lira and the singers were performing at Sony’s 3D experience pavilion “3D world Created by Sony” at Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg, on 4th July two weeks ahead of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s birthday on July 18th.

Watch the performances here

Lira performed a special happy birthday song for Nelson Mandela two years ago at the occasion of his 90th birthday. Go to her Museke page to listen to the song - "Lira Happy birthday Mandela". Also, check out Brenda Fassie's popular tribute to Mandela called the Black President.

Join us in saying "Happy birthday Nelson Mandela!" and "Thank you Madiba!"

Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. Give 67 minutes of your time on Mandela Day to help build a better world.

Lyrics for So strong

The higher you build your barriers
The taller I become
The farther you take my rights away
The faster I will run
You can deny me
You can decide to turn your face away
No matter, cos there's....

Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Though you're doing me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong

The more you refuse to hear my voice
The louder I will sing
You hide behind walls of Jericho
Your lies will come tumbling
Deny my place in time
You squander wealth that's mine
My light will shine so brightly
It will blind you
Cos there's......

Repeat Chorus

Brothers and sisters
When they insist we're just not good enough
When we know better
Just look 'em in the eyes and say
We're gonna do it anyway (4x)

South African language lyrics :-) (help please)

Because there's something inside so strong
And I know that I can make it
Tho' you're doing me, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong

Repeat Chorus

Brothers and sisters
When they insist we're just good not enough
When we know better
Just look 'em in the eyes and say
I'm gonna do it anyway (4x)

Happy birthday

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DiasporaCamp DC 2010 - Financial innovations for African small & medium-scale enterprises

Building on a successful 2009 event, DiasporaCamp returns to DC on July 24, 2010.
DiasporaCamp DC '10 will be held at the Kenney Auditorium, School of Advanced International Studies - Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, bringing together the African Diaspora to exchange ideas on doing business in Africa. On July 25, 2009, about 80 young Africans and people interested in Africa congregated in Washington, DC for BarCamp Diaspora '09 to exchange ideas on entrepreneurship, innovation and development under the theme "Investing our talent where it counts. Through a breakout session at the event about healthcare in Ghana, a healthcare-focused NGO called REACH-Ghana was formed. Many attendees also have partnered to work on ongoing projects as a result.

Join us at DiasporaCamp DC '10, under the theme "Financial innovations for African small & medium-scale enterprises".
When: July 24, 2010 from 9am - 6pm
Where: Kenney Auditorium, School of Advanced International Studies - Johns Hopkins University
1740 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC

You may participate online at the conference website if you are not close to the Washington DC area

DiasporaCamp is a BarCamp with a focus on African Diaspora, primarily African affairs and issues. A
BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering where attendees meet for discussions, demos and networking. Unlike a typical conference, at a BarCamp everyone is both a speaker and a participant. The content is provided
by all attendees based on their interests, unified under the theme.

DiasporaCamp DC '10 is a FREE event for anyone who is interested in using their skills, talent, and resources to benefit Africa. African entrepreneurs and people with an
active interest in African affairs are encouraged to attend. The focus will be on access to capital to fuel these entrepreneurial ventures, business ideas and projects. Panelists and speakers will include Joseph Obi of USAID, Dr. Philip Auerswald of George Mason University, Nii Simmonds of Nubiah Cheetah and Magogodi Makhene of Zenzele Circle.

DiasporaCamp DC 2010 is sponsored by the GhanaThink Foundation, and African Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies - Johns Hopkins University. It will run from 8am - 6pm at the Kenney Auditorium, School of Advanced International Studies - Johns Hopkins University at 1740 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC.

Register/RSVP today on the DiasporaCamp DC '10 Eventbrite page.
You may also contact us for sponsorship opportunities.

If you are interested in organizing a breakout session, let us know, especially if you have special needs.

See videos and photos from BarCamp Diaspora '09.

See you there!

Friday, July 9, 2010

God is still a Ghanaian (and superstitions)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this post, I pray God will forgive me if I step on His toes in any way. I am trying to hammer some points home and He knows my heart. A good number of times last month, I heard people say God is a Ghanaian. Obviously, they said this in a good way. Some non-Ghanaians got in the act. Why? Ghana had reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup with an interesting story. I am superstitious and I believe in God.

Some people define GHANA as God has a nation ahead, God has anointed Nkrumah already, etc. Tina Sampong defined GHANA as 'God help Africa now, Amen!'. Ghana's national anthem starts with 'God bless our homeland Ghana'. A very popular video of the Black Stars surfaced before the Uruguay game with them singing and dancing. You know what they were singing about? God. Gospel. Religion. Ghana is a religious country.

I am a religious person. Before the tournament, I had spoken to a friend who is not religious. He tested my faith, I had to reason out this Stanford kid, why I believe in God and why I am a Christian. I did the best I could. I wasn't able to make a Christian out of him but I sure knew he was a believer. In something. We discussed how people could make something happen by believing that it would happen. Tenets of belief and faith exist everywhere and even science says so. So coupled with my faith and religious belief, I had picked up the idea that belief goes a long way. It became my mantra. It still is. More on this later.

Before Ghana played its first game at the Mzansi Mundial, I had decided to wear my yellow Black Stars jersey for every game. I prayed before every game and sang Nana Boroo's Aha yɛ dɛ as well. I'm sure a lot of Ghanaians were praying. We played on a Sunday and many Ghanaians and Africans had been to church that day. I didn't go to church myself but I sure did pray. I sang the most relevant gospel Black Stars jama I knew - "God bless our homeland, Ghana ei! Nkunimdie yɛ yɛn deɛ a!; Osee, osee, Black Stars ei, forward ever! Osee...; Osee, osee, Black Stars ei, forward ever!" The Black Stars left it late, but they won.

Our next game was against the Socceroos and it was on a Saturday. Sure, the Seventh Day Adventists had been to church that day but how many Ghanaians prayed for a victory that day compared to Serbia? I am not banking our draw on that fact, but I'm just saying. We were confident after picking up three points against Serbia but were ruing the fact that we had to win through a penalty. With God, all things are possible. All things are made possible anyway possible too. After the Australia game, I realised I had worn my yellow Black Stars jersey inside out. Shoot! We drew because I wore the jersey the wrong way. My fellow viewers didn't tell me to wear it correctly, they thought I did it on purpose. Yes, I made Ghana draw on purpose too. Tsssccchhheeeew. Don't mind me. :-)

The German game beckoned and Ghanaians feared the worst. We saw this on Facebook, Twitter and through our conversations. The game was on a Wednesday, as far possible from Sunday as one can be. :-) We lost the German game. However, God proved to us He (or she) was Ghanaian. How else can you explain the fact we lost to Germany and Australia beat Serbia so we could qualify? And then we drew USA, a team every Ghanaian believed we could beat. It made it look like that Australia draw was a blessing in disguise. If we had beaten the Aussies, they'll surely have had almost no reason to beat Serbia and our chances of being second would be minimal. But God made us draw. And then He made us lose to Germany while He did an Australian job to make sure we faced the USA instead of England. Was this in the hands of the Black Stars? No, it was God. Best believe. God is truly a Ghanaian. He's the only one who could write this script. If you followed the whole World Cup, you'll agree.

You might be thinking 'get out of here with that God stuff'. The story gets better. The Uruguay game arrived and this is where I believe God showed He was indeed a Ghanaian. We bossed most of the game and then we scored a crucial goal at a crucial time. Because God works in mysterious ways, Uruguay pulled a goal back through Forlan. This is where Ghanaians started to show their true colours. "Oh no, not again?" "We are not going to throw this game away, are we?" "Where is the goal?" "If we go to penalties, I will not watch". "We have to score now". "Who will take our penalties?" Me, I only started praying during extra-time. And then the prayers were answered. God is truly a Ghanaian! Tweduampɔn yɛ Ghananii ampa! VIM!

We had been awarded a penalty in virtually the last minute of the game, in extra-time. What drama! God likes to be dramatic sometimes too. God was coming through, He had found a Lucifer in the form of Luis Suarez who wanted to impede the progress of His people. Luis Suarez basically snatched Ghana and Africa's dreams! He punched our drive, burst our bubble, questioned our faith. He was like, "let me see, what these people are really made off. Instead of granting you success, I'll test you". This is not God speaking, this was the 'Lucifer'. Sorry, Suarez, just postulating here, I am sure you are a nice guy. Guess who was going to take the penalty? The jama dancer. The ring leader. The moniker after whom "Yes, We Gyan" was named after. The one who had gotten the Black Stars and their massive support this far. His one goal was finally here. But God had another idea.

He was like, "Let me test the resolve of my people. Let me show them some adversity and see how they deal with it. Let me test their faith. Let me question their belief." So He did. He made Asamoah Gyan miss the penalty. This was the test. How did God's people do? How did Ghanaians do? How did the Black Stars supporters do? We failed. Pɔtɔɔɔɔɔɔɔɔɔɔɔɔ! Pɛkyɛɛɛɛɛɛɛɛɛɛ! We failed the test. Zero percent!. You could see our collective spirit die after that penalty hit the bar, into the air and vanished our dreams into thin air as well. You couldn't get a single Ghanaian to say 'VIM' then. God is truly a Ghanaian. He tested us and our true character showed. We gave up. The belief was only there when the times were great. We were there for the ride. We were there for the show. We are there for the dancing, singing and the collection.

Once our spirit was broken, there was not much God could do to save His people. When Asamoah Gyan was about to take the penalty, the folks I was watching the game with and myself held hands in front of the TV, ready to rejoice when he scored. We just stood there and watched. And did not pray. I don't know why we didn't pray but we didn't. After that Gyan miss, I think "God Has A Nation Ahead" gave up. Asamoah Gyan picked himself up and converted his spot kick but we were probably busy cursing him out while he was keeping us in the game. Stephen Appiah tornadoed his kick into the net, the Uruguayan goalie touched the ball but couldn't keep it out. John Mensah, the pastor of the team, the Rock of Gibraltar, struck the most confident pose of any penalty taker in Ghana's history but gave away his chance. Dominic Adiyiah missed his penalty and Ghanaians read his lip saying, "Awurade mawu" - God, I'm dead. Ghana died shortly after.

So folks, God is a Ghanaian still. I hope this tournament serves us a lesson for us. We must learn to deal with adversity in the right way. It should not break our spirit and we shouldn't only claim God during the good times. We must pray unceasingly and believe forever. Our faith must not be shaken. God will help Africa now if we help ourselves.

Recapping the Black Stars shine at the Mzansi Mundial

I know the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is not over but I am not waiting till July 11, 2010 to talk about the Black Stars' tournament. It's been a week since the Black Stars crashed out of the Mzansi Mundial, after solely carrying Africa's charge through to the knockout stages. I have finished mourning. The Black Stars made Ghana and Africa proud. They knew they had a job to do when they changed the inscription on their bus to 'Hope of Africa'. You could hear it in their interviews. The Ghana flag was redesigned with the African map replacing the Black Star. The Black Stars became known as the BaGhana BaGhana of GhAfrica. Well done, Black Stars, you made us all proud. Let's recount your journey.

I blogged about before the tournament - "I believed that when the boys camped together and built chemistry, they'll do well. And we saw how they made Afria proud in 2006." "The boys have been together and I know they are shiing jama at this very moment waiting to go do Ghana and Africa proud. They need the fans to believe with them and support them in prayer." "If we start that way (a win over Serbia), there's no telling how well we will do because our confidence will keep on building.". Sure, Michael Essien was missing, and Sulley Muntari was banged up, but there were just a couple of Black Stars. The boys came into the tournament with VIM and played all their games with it.

Before the Serbia game, I was so excited. In fact, I woke up way before my alarm sounded. I had sensed the Black Stars were going to do something special that that excitement didn't allow me to sleep. I had spent the days before the game singing along to Nana Boroo's Aha yɛ dɛ. When Asamoah Gyan scored that penalty against Serbia, I shouted 'Laduuuuuuuuuuuuuuma'. Laduma is what South Africans shout when a goal is scored. It wasn't just about Ghana, folks, it was about being one of the African teams. The Black Stars became the first African country to win a World Cup game on African soil. I watched this game alone in my friend's house in North Carolina in my yellow Black Stars jersey. After the win, people started claiming the one goal project. Ghana had won by a lone goal and the new slogan was "Yes, We Gyan".

I watched the Australia game in LA with a couple of friends. I expected another win. The Socceroos scored first and we were all watching how the Black Stars would react to being down. Soon after, their pressure paid off as they won another penalty off a handball. Asamoah Gyan coolly sent us ahead to more shouts of "Laduma" and Black Stars fans everywhere must have been sensing a kill. The kill never came and we settled for a point. After the game, I wondered, is the One Goal Project an Asamoah Gyan penalty with the theme, "Yes We Gyan"? Many Ghanaians felt so. "We can't score from open play". "The team is not good". "Germany will kill us like they killed Australia". "We won't win anymore penalties and then what?"

The date with the Germans arrived and that 1993 Bochum debacle felt like yesterday because Ghanaians wouldn't let sleeping dogs lie. The fact that Serbia had just beaten Germany 1-0 in the last match didn't seem to matter much. Many of us knew all we needed was a draw but feared the worst. The worst did come, actually, it wasn't the worst because we only lost 1-0 instead of 4-0. Maybe the collective VIM was too great, because how else can we explain Australia beating Serbia 2-1 to make our loss feel like a win? When was the last time you lost something and actually felt like celebrating? That's what happened on June 23rd. I watched our game at Stanford in a student lounge and the other TV had the Serbia game showing concurrently. Delirious delight by design is how I'll define Australia winning and Ghana losing at the same time. The loss made sure we'll be second and have a date with the US national soccer team in the quarter-finals and then Uruguay or South Korea in the semis. VIM. :-)

Saturday, June 26, arrived and saw me and two Stanford Ghanaians trek to Oakland to join other Black Stars fans to watch the USA game. During the trip, I imagined how I'd feel making that one hour trip back if the Black Stars had lost the game. But I believed the Black Stars would win. Kevin Boateng shut up the naysayers by finalling proving Ghana could score from open play with a 5th minute goal. The US came back like every American institution would (with a penalty no less) but there was Asamoah Gyan again to save us. In extra-time. With a goal from open play. "All, we are saying, give us more goals". We shiied jama during the game, with intermittent shouts of "Ka sɛ vim, vim, afei momma me vim". We rejoiced in seeing Alexi Lalas cry. ESPN's Mike Tirico, who had the nerve to say Ghana had 20% of its population under the poverty line after our Serbian victory, didn't cry. The talk was of how the US blew an opportunity and nothing about Ghana. But why should that surprise any of us? We are always underrated, even by ourselves.

After the yanking of the Yanks, Ghana's Black Stars had made the quarterfinals, joining Cameroun in 1990 and Senegal in 2002 as the only African countries to do so. We were not satisfied. We looked up and saw Uruguay and knew we would take them down and become the first African side to get to the semis and hey, maybe, win the World Cup. The 'realists' were not buying that though with the Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain ahead of us. The game versus Uruguay was going to be July 2nd, 2010, a day after the 60th anniversary of Ghana's Republic. The talk of BaGhana BaGhana had surfaced, together with the redesigned Ghana flag. History was going to be made by the usual suspects, Ghanaians. The pride of Africa. The hope of Africa. The yada yada blah blah.

I watched the Uruguay game together with some other Africans at Stanford. Andre Ayew, the embodiment of vim and the son of Ghanaian legend, Abedi Pele, was suspended. His replacement was Sulley Muntari. Sulley was expected to be Ghana's star but got injured before the World Cup and had to be benched. He had had run-ins with the Black Stars coach, Miloan Rajevac and the management. He was not fit though he had won the treble - UEFA Champions League, Italian Serie A and Italian Cup, even if he wasn't a major star at Inter Milan. Muntari started against Uruguay and made our first-half domination count by scoring a goal right before half-time. Happiness be what? Africans were hugging all over the world. We had one foot in the semi-finals.

Diego Forlan, half of Uruguay's dangerous duo, pulled his team back into it with a fine goal. The Black Stars laboured trying to get a winning goal but it wasn't forthcoming. When we almost finally got it, the other half of Uruguay's dangerous duo, Luis Suarez, was punching the ball out of his own net in the dying embers of extra-time. The referee spotted it, gave him a red card and whistled for a Black Stars penalty. Asamoah Gyan, who had scored two penalties for Ghana earlier in the Mzansi Mundial, stepped up to the plate. Yes, We Gyan. His shot powered off the bar into the air. The game vanished into thin air too. No, We're done. We didn't survive the penalty kicks. The Black Stars' journey was kaput.

We started looking for answers. Luis Suarez became the most hated villian. Asamoah Gyan was rueful even though he converted our first spot-kick. Stephen Appiah, the unfit old captain, who had wanted to take that last-minute penalty, converted his too. The current captain, John Mensah aka Rock of Gibraltar, took a golf pose infront of the ball and kicked it right the Uruguayan goalie's hands who had already read him. Dominic Adiyiah, one member of the victorious Black Satellites who won the World Youth Cup just a year before, took a better spot kick that the goalie saved. The new Black Star 'rock star' didn't even get the chance to take his. The dream was done. We had just woken up from a bad dream. Or so we hoped.

I'll tell you what though, for me the VIM is still there. It's probably the reason I haven't been able to cry and why I haven't had trouble sleeping. The Black Stars did well, in my estimation, they didn't go as far as I thought and believed they would go. We should be upset. We had a chance to do something special. We should be happy we made some history but we should be unhappy we didn't get the job done. This is why we should be motivated to do even better. We remember how it felt when we had gotten to the quarterfinals, we should all we can to feel that way as often as we can. That's why we shouldn't stop saying VIM. So, VIM!

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