‘Mad’ Jubilation After Stars’ Victory
Ghanaians on Monday made good the assertion in various circles that football is their true national religion and demonstrated further that the game had the potential to unite and lead them to the utopia they desire.
The ongoing 26th MTN Africa Cup of Nations, dubbed Ghana 2008, has however brought to light the extremes to which some of the country's citizens can go in celebrating some of the victories.
For instance, a 30-year-old man on Monday did the 'unthinkable' when he fetched a bucket full of water, undressed and had his bath in the middle of the road.
A number of women also joined the jubilation craze by striping and walking virtually naked at a popular drinking spot.
Minutes after the Senior National Soccer Team, The Black Stars, scored its first goal against the Atlas Lions of Morocco, the man and a number of other countrymen, irrespective of their tribal, political and religious affiliation, started celebrating the glaring victory in various ways.
Hundreds of onlookers were stunned when the Abeka-based man in Accra stormed the Fadama Junction section of the main road naked with a bucket of water.
In the full glare of several people, he had his bath as part of the celebration of Essien's goal. The odd development caused several minutes of heavy traffic jam in the area as onlookers cheered him on.
At a popular drinking bar at the Freepipe area near Abeka, three women also stripped. They were spotted in panties and braziers drinking their heads off and dancing at the spot, all in the name of the Stars.
The scene, obscene as it may look, surprisingly attracted a large crowd, part of which cheered as they danced scintillatingly.
In Takoradi, the Western regional capital, residents had their jubilation cut short when a resident of Kodjokrom was reportedly run over by a hit-and-run articulated truck.
The victim, popularly known as Taller, was an employee of a local timber firm. He met his tragic death minutes after the match as he was on his way to work. His mutilated body has since been deposited at the Kwesimintsim Hospital.
Until the tragic incident, residents were, as part of their jubilation, having fun with a dog dressed in the nation's colours with flying tie to match.
Reports from Tamale indicated that residents had such extreme celebration that there was shortage of chilled beer in the northern regional capital.
The story was not different from Techiman, where joyous taxi drivers reportedly picked passengers to their destination free of charge.
In Bawku, where a curfew had been imposed, residents who planned to jubilate on Tuesday morning had their expectation watered down when two persons suspected of beating some people in the area were picked by security agencies for questioning.
Due to the low level of jubilation by residents in the Municipality after the Stars' victory, expectations were that the jubilation would start yesterday morning (Tuesday), but due to the disturbances there was no show.
Despite the new curfew time (8:00pm) some residents came out of the house to express their joy after the match, while many stayed indoors for fear of possible attack or obstruction by the security personnel.
Interestingly, as thousands of his country-folk jubilated, a 23-year-old Kumasi-based porter was on Monday sentenced to five years imprisonment in hard labour for picking a German football fan at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium during the Egypt-Sudan encounter on January 26.
According to the story, Mumuni Muhazi, who went to the stadium on the said date to watch a match, picked the German fan of his passport and Sony-Ericsson mobile phone but he was seen by a witness in the case who alerted the complainant. He was subsequently picked by the police.
The accused pleaded guilty to conspiracy and stealing and was convicted on his own plea.
Alidu Amandi, 35, his accomplice, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and was remanded to reappear on February 18, 2008.
Even though some of the modes of celebration may seem bizarre, they go to tell the extent to which the people religiously hold on to soccer with the entire passion one can think of. By Bennett Akuaku, with files from the regions