It’s almost impossible to take pride in much of what Africa has to offer. Until last Friday, I couldn’t readily point to anything that made me a proud son of Africa. But thanks to the stellar organisation of the World Cup Draw in South Africa, that has changed.
I am not going to go around the world thumping my chest quiet yet, but I just felt I should put it on record that the South Africans put up a world class show, comparable to similar events that have taken place in Tokyo, Paris and Berlin.
There wasn’t a glitch – the power stayed on, the microphones worked like they should and the event was well-co-ordinated. The artistic performances were great – they drummed and danced like Africans love to do but there was nothing corny about what they did. Watching the ‘Umoja’ was exhilarating. They also made very good use of the best technology to wow the global audience that had tuned in to see the ‘show’. That animated 3D mascot which suddenly sprung out of the large screen was a masterpiece. And the footage of animals playing football – some expressing agony, others delight – was excellent.
With a show like that the South Africans have silenced all those who said they couldn’t host the World Cup.
I compare what I saw last Friday to the draw for the CAN 2008 tournament in Accra I feel a little ashamed to be a Ghanaian. It was embarrassing. I could never watch a playback of the CAN 2008 draw. But I’ve watched the World Cup Draw for a second time. I will watch it whenever I get the opportunity because it was such a delightful ceremony. Watching it gladdens my heart and fills me with joy in the knowledge that there are human beings on this continent who are making very good use of their brain cells, thinking out of the box and literally telling the rest of the world that “we are Africans but we are different – we don’t settle for just about anything and demand applause.”
As an African, I felt great pride. If it were easy to do so, I would give up my Ghanaian passport for a South African one. Now, if I see a South African with a ‘vuvuzela’ I won’t tell him to stop the noise. I’d urge him on because he and his countrymen truly deserve to blow their horns.
A display like what the South Africans put up does mean, however, that the African has arrived. Far from that. South Africa’s pride cannot be Africa’s pride because Africa is not one country and the rest of the world knows that. You will hear people saying that Africa is ready to host the world but they know which side of Africa is hosting the world. It’s not in Nigeria and it’s not in Ghana. We can borrow some of the South African pride but it’s not enough to be spread around the continent. Much of it will go to South Africa and its citizens.
So in spite of what we saw in South Africa last Friday, we must acknowledge that we still have a very long way to go as Africans. The wars must end. Diseases must be conquered. And our leaders must stop thinking like they have empty coconut shells for heads. There is so much that needs to be done to bring the rest of the continent to the point where most of the countries on the continent can put up a show like the South Africans did. And we should get there quickly. If the rest of Africa starts to think like South Africa does, it will be an important first step.