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.
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