Imagine There Were No Black Stars

I have been an admirer of John Lennon, ever since I heard his masterpiece, Imagine.

My fascination stemmed from how he could imagine the sort of things he imagined. And even to the present day I cannot bring myself to understand why anybody could imagine that there was no country and no people! My simplistic conclusion has been that the English singer and songwriter must have been very high on something at the time he composed the song.

Today, after a bowl of fufu and a bottle of beer, amidst watching a woeful performance from the Black Stars against Uganda, the imagination bug has afflicted me. What is worse, my imagination makes Lennon’s a light one. I am imagining that there are no Black Stars or to put it in plain language we should liquidate the Black Stars and have our peace.

I know you might have concluded by now that I am also high on something stronger than Lennon’s but in truth it was just a harmless bowl of fufu and a bottle of beer.

This dream was borne out of a sober reflection on the national team amidst the economic challenges facing the country.

There is no doubt that since its formation in the early years of Ghana’s attainment of statehood, the Black Stars have served as a nation unifier and brought the nation together at certain times when politics had sought to do the opposite.

The Black Stars have also provided a lot of visibility for Ghana and it is no more the case that Ghana is mistaken for Guyana as used to be the case. I remember an encounter with a German at the famous Pataya tourist city in Thailand. All efforts to let my new acquaintance know the location of Ghana proved futile.

Then from nowhere he shouted yes Black Stars. To cut a long story short, it turned out to be a long night and as we departed at dawn, my $100 note was intact as he picked the bill for all my misdemeanors.

As a nation, we have been entertained by the Black Stars sometimes with good performances and positive results. But it looks like levels have changed and things are no longer the same.

I am talking specifically about our shambolic experiences at the World Cup in Brazil a couple of months ago and the near disaster that occurred at the Baba Yara Stadium last Saturday but for the magnanimity of the referee.

These, coupled with the revelations before the presidential commission, gives, reason for us to begin to question the very existence of the senior national football team.

Did the nation set up the national team for the team and its management to serve the nation or themselves and the management? As it stands now, the relationship between the state and the Stars is not different from the proverbial stick that has the potential to pierce one’s eye. Thankfully, our elders have prescribed a remedy for this scenario- uproot it! And that is precisely the dream I am sharing with those who care to listen .

First is the chunk of the national cake that goes down the drain in the name of paying the Black Stars. A simple arithmetic will inform us that the resources expended and the returns we gain are not commensurate. The last time the team won anything for the country was way back in 1982 but their demands keep increasing all the time.

As if this was not painful enough, we are also breeding so-called stars who by their actions do not seem to have the nation at heart. They only ride on the back of the team and by extension the taxpayer and then when they get to the top they turn to spite us.

Imagine a player refusing to warm up and still pocketing $100,000 for no work done. This may be nothing elsewhere, but in a country where children still study under trees, cholera patients are housed at garages of health facilities and our mothers are selling under appalling conditions in all manner of places christened markets and electricity and potable water are the preserve of a lucky few, this is unacceptable.

Thankfully, it is not binding that we should have a national team at all cost and it will not be the only thing that others have and we don’t as a country.

We do not have submarines but others do. We do not have subways but others do. The Constitution of Ghana stipulates that there should be an Armed Forces, a Judiciary among others but does not say same for a football team. Finally, uprooting the Black Stars will also sit very well with the Biblical saying that if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.

John Lennon has joined his maker but if ever there is a remix of his classic, I request the inclusion of a line “imagine there were no Black Stars”. Aba, yabre mo!

The writer is the Head of Public Relations and Protocol, University of Cape Coast and a retired senior military officer.

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