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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Stephen Appiah: A Patriotic Ghanaian and Humanitarian


An October 23, 2010, news item, sourced to Citifmonline.com and published on Francis Akoto’s oft-accessed and -read Ghanaweb.com, titled “Stephen Appiah’s Library Is An Instant Hit in Chorkor,” evoked such pleasant and invigorating feelings in me, I would have remained interminably restless, for good reason, had I not sent in a rejoinder to the aforesaid piece.

Stephen Appiah’s bold step in promoting education in one of Accra’s most underprivileged communities is not only an avant-garde phenomenon among past and present footballers of Ghanaian lineage, it is a testament to this genial and ever-smiling footballer’s exemplary display of patriotism and love for Mother Ghana.

Stephen Appiah, ex-captain of the Black Stars of Ghana, under whose leadership the nation first qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, has always been a good citizen of the land – from his days with local side, Accra Hearts of Oak, to his days as member of the national soccer team to his days as leader of the Black Stars.

Despite a litany of injuries that almost ended his playing career, Stephen Appiah made a spectacular recovery to take part in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, coming within a whisker of sending Ghana to an unprecedented semi-final berth at the tournament, except for the self-seeking act of one self-seeking player! By his actions on and off the field, Stephen Appiah has thrown down the gauntlet for other well-remunerated sports personalities to fetch: that while it is okay to seek and achieve personal wealth via one’s discipline, it is even better to give back to the poor communities to which one is intricately and irrevocably linked – whether communally or consanguineously.

Ghana is blessed with many footballers fortunate enough to ply their trade in the best European leagues in contemporary times. And many of these players earn weekly wages in the range of 20,000 to 120,000 pounds sterling! It is thus startling and disappointing to know that very few of these players ever return to invest in their local communities, let alone engage in philanthropy. Have these players forgotten about the overwhelming support they received from fanatical fans while minnows with their respective local clubs just a few years earlier? Some of these fans would spend a tenth of their monthly salaries each week to see these players in action – until providence opened doors for these same players to move to the richer leagues of Europe, Australia and North America. So, how could these now-famous stars ignore their origins? Such actions are as egocentric as they are un-Ghanaian!

Reading through the array of comments under the aforesaid Ghanaweb.com piece brought to the fore the ever-insalubrious inter-tribal hostilities that have now become the penchant of many Ghanaians. Very sad, indeed. Instead of focusing on Stephen Appiah’s exemplary patriotism and humanitarianism, a few people hijacked the discussion, as is their modus operandi each day on Francis Akoto’s uncensored Ghanaweb.com, turning it into another ignominious Ewe-Gã-Asante melodrama.

We need to grow up, folks! Of what relevance was Stephen Appiah’s background to his philanthropic act? So, what if he were Asante? Could an Asante not be expected to build a library for kids in Accra, a library likely to be patronized by Ghanaians of all ethnicities? What if Stephen Appiah were Gã? Would it matter at all in an all-encompassing discussion about poor kids who desperately needed a place to spend their after-school hours and weekends, which will, in turn, keep them from getting into trouble?

Football will not build a nation’s intellectual base; education will! That Stephen Appiah chose to build a library is certainly a better investment in the nation’s future than if he had donated one thousand soccer balls and hundreds of soccer boots to local schools in Accra! In a country where there are hundreds of educationists and intellectuals, yet we seem to perennially make the wrong decisions regarding education and academic curricula at all levels, a good deed such as Stephen Appiah’s should evoke sentiments of pride and gratitude, not those of antipathy and insolence.

By choosing Chorkor in the Ablekuma South Constituency of the Greater-Accra Region for the library, Stephen Appiah has demonstrated immense wisdom: the poor areas of Ghana may lack basic structures and amenities, but the people living in these places are no different from Ghanaians living in well-heeled communities. Stephen Appiah, perhaps, understands the aphorism that we are only as strong as the weak among us. And not only has Stephen Appiah provided a library for kids to spend their after-school hours to gain priceless knowledge, he has provided jobs for a few Ghanaians as well. And with his clothing store employing a few more citizens, Stephen Appiah is an embodiment of what every privileged Ghanaian should desire to become: patriot, humanitarian, employer.

It is this writer’s prayer that other renowned Ghanaians from all walks of life will emulate Stephen Appiah’s act and build libraries in the avalanche of penurious communities that make up the Ghanaian landscape. The early inculcation of the love of learning in each child is a surefire recipe for his or her future academic success, leading to a society of learned people. Without a strong backbone of educated and informed citizens, the country has no political and/or economic future, which is why Stephen Appiah’s efforts must be celebrated and emulated by other affluent Ghanaians.

Source: Daniel K. Pryce

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