Ghana, a place for African-Americans to resettle
May 11, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Efam Dovi*
After passing the “Right of Abode” law, which grants African Americans an indefinite “right to stay,” Ghana became the first to open its doors to people of African descent to settle in the country. African-Americans and some Caribbeans have slowly trickled back but the process of obtaining a permanent resident status is long and frustrating.
In Prampram, a town just an hour’s drive east of Ghana’s capital Accra, many holiday houses line the shores of the South Atlantic Ocean. One of them belongs to Jerome Thompson.
Located only 500 metres from the water, Thompson’s house is resilient to the effects of the salt and wind. The floors, windows and doors are made of hard wood. His self-designed furniture is made from quality Ghanaian timber and hand-carved by local artisans.
“The ocean helps me fall asleep and wakes me up in the morning,” says Thompson, an African-American retiree taking a stroll on the beach where palm trees shade hand-carved canoes.
“Where else can I live this close to the ocean? It would cost me millions of dollars!”
Thompson, a native of Maryland in the United States, retired to Ghana 11 years ago. He first visited the West African country on a tour in 2000.
“I fell in love with Ghana and its people,” he recalled, during an interview with Africa Renewal. “It was good seeing black people, my people, in charge of the country (Ghana).”
That trip took him to many attractions across the country, including the Cape Coast Castle from where centuries ago millions of Africans walked through the infamous “Door of No Return” into slave ships bound for plantations in the Americas and the Caribbean, never to set foot in their homelands again.
But for their descendants, like Thompson, the sign that hangs on that infamous door today reads: “Door of Return”.
“I was so ready to turn my back on the United States,” he says, adding: “We did so much for the US, yet they don’t want to see us as first-class citizens.”
A feeling of belonging
Thompson is one of the 20 or so African-Americans and other people from the diaspora of African descent who have found a home in this fishing community, attracted by the beaches and the peace and tranquility the town offers away from the hustle and bustle of Accra.
According to 2014 estimates, more than 3,000 African-Americans and people of Caribbean descent live in Ghana, a country of about 26 million people.
Whatever their motives, Ghana, the first sub-Saharan Africa country to shake off colonial rule 58 years ago, has become the destination of choice for diasporans looking for a spiritual home and an ancestral connection in Africa.
While some returnees have gone through the emotional journey of tracing their families through DNA testing, for the majority who just come to visit, or to settle like Thompson, the feeling of being “home” on the continent is satisfying.
“It’s good to know that you came from some place and it’s not just a figment of someone’s imagination,” he says.
Claudette Chamberlain shares Thompson’s feelings of belonging. She was born in Jamaica but lived in the US and United Kingdom. Seven years ago, she moved to Ghana and built a five-bed guesthouse at Prampram.
“When I got off the plane, I just had this overwhelming feeling come over me,” Claudette says, adding that she realised then that Ghana was the place she wanted to be.
She misses her mother and siblings who still live in London but she doesn’t miss London. “Ghana is definitely home, I’m going to spend the rest of my days here.”
Chamberlain, a former dentist, says while her native Jamaica is more beautiful, it is not as peaceful as Ghana.
Currently, there are around 200 million people in the Americas identifying themselves as of African descent, according to the United Nations.
Millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent, and in most cases they experience racism and discrimination.
To promote the respect for and protection of their human rights, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015–2024 as the “The International Decade for the People of African Descent”, to be marked annually on 25 March.
Right of Abode
Ghana, from whose shores the majority of 15 million Africans passed into slavery, has invited its descendants in the diaspora to return home.
The country has had a long history, from the days of its first president, Kwame Nkrumah, of encouraging the return of persons of African descent to help with the continent’s development.
In 2000, the country passed a law on the ‘Right of Abode’, which allows a person of African descent to apply and be granted the right to stay in Ghana indefinitely.
And recently, the country set up a Diaspora Affairs Bureau under the foreign affairs ministry to provide a sustainable link between the Ghanaian diaspora and various government agencies to achieve development and investment goals.
But it has not been so simple for African-Americans and Caribbeans in Ghana.
Only Rita Marley, wife of late reggae icon Bob Marley, has been granted the indefinite stay, and that happened only last year.
Those who applied years ago are yet to receive any response from the interior ministry, whose charter states that the process should take only six months.
“It’s as if they don’t know that such a thing exists,” Thompson says of the personnel who handle the residency applications.
The Ghana Caribbean Association and the African-American Association of Ghana say they are engaging the appropriate government department on the matter.
But what Chamberlain wants, like many others with residency or work permits that are renewable every year or two, is a more permanent arrangement. She says: “I just feel I am coming home. So why should I be going through all this?”
More needs to be done to make returning African brothers and sisters feel welcome back on the continent if Africa is to benefit from their return.
Samuel Amankwah, the director of research at Ghana’s interior ministry, admits that the authorities need to engage more. “Those who left our shores are still our brothers and sisters,” he says.
“Offering Africans in the diaspora a right to abode in Ghana is a way of engaging for our common interest.”
When the late televangelist Myles Munroe visited Ghana in 2012 and paid a courtesy call on President John Mahama, then a vice president, he encouraged people of African descent living in the diaspora to take advantage of Ghana’s Right of Abode law and reconnect with the African continent.
Despite some initial setbacks, people of African descent continue to migrate to the continent, though not in the expected droves.
And like Florindo Johnson, who just retired from Delta Airlines this January, says: it is important to encourage more blacks to come.
Having flown in and out of Ghana for nine years, Johnson, a Caribbean who lived in Chicago, is retiring in Ghana to operate her six apartments in Prampram that she intends to rent out as holiday accommodations.
“I really want black people to come and see for themselves. It is disheartening that a lot of black people don’t want to come because of what they’ve seen in the media, yet white people come.”
The author, Efam Dovi writes for United Nations Africa Renewal Magazine
Ghana: African-Americans Resettle in Africa
May 10, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Efam Dovi
[caption id="attachment_18045" align="alignleft" width="285"] Photo: C.A. John and Clare
A resort on the Ghana coast.[/caption] In Prampram, a town just an hour’s drive east of Ghana’s capital Accra, many holiday houses line the shores of the South Atlantic Ocean. One of them belongs to Jerome Thompson. Located only 500 metres from the water, Mr. Thompson’s house is resilient to the effects of the salt and wind.
Two arrested over murder of 2 African Americans
May 7, 2015 | 0 Comments
The Police in the Eastern region have arrested two persons in connection with the murder of two African American women there. The two were killed Tuesday night and buried in shallow graves at Akwamu Fie in the Eastern Region. Deputy Regional Commander ACP James Azumah Abass confirmed the arrests to JOYNEWS. He said the two are assisting with investigations whilst the police are searching for more suspects. “It has been confirmed that the African Americans were murdered and buried in a shallow grave. The police with the help of health authorities exhumed the bodies and they are now at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital morgue,” the police commander stated. The Police in Akosombo Wednesday afternoon found the bodies of two African Americans killed after hours of searching. The victims had gone missing and a search in their room Tuesday afternoon revealed blood on the floor and a blood-stained cudgel, believed to have been used to hit them. The Acting president of the Akwamu Traditional Council dispatched over 70 people to complement a police search for the two missing persons. There were suspicions amongst residents that the two, a 75-year-old lady identified only as Mamlena and 69-year-old Nzinga were kidnapped and murdered. The two who are leaders of the African American community in Akwamu were recently accused by the Chieftaincy Minister, Dr. Seidu Danaa, of illegally acting as chiefs. They had been living in fear after threats on their lives and since a Ghanaian Osofo who lays claim to the stool (because he played a key role in its establishment of the community by the National House of Chiefs) forcibly moved to take over one of their houses. Their fears were heightened when their dogs were poisoned. Friends and relatives of the two didn’t see them Tuesday and all calls to them went unanswered. Alarmed, they broke into their room but found nobody except blood on the floor prompting fears they may have been kidnapped or harmed. Akosombo Divisional Commander, ACP Bosompem told Joy News a burial site had been found Wednesday morning and they were waiting for officials from the CID headquarters in Accra to help investigate. ACP Bosompem said they “suspect that something has been buried there,” and until the place is investigated “we don’t know what is in the ground there.” According to him, the site was found about 300 metres from the residence of the African Americans and plans are currently underway to exhume what is there. Private legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini late last year brought a suit on behalf of the leaders and against the Chieftaincy Minister whom they alleged had supported one Osofo to mistreat them using national security. The Osofo was named in the suit as claiming right to the symbolic stool and skin created by the national house of chiefs to reintegrate disaporians. Samson says that suit was withdrawn earlier this year after the Attorney-General (A-G) called for an amicable settlement. He said there was urgent need for protection for the people.
Rosario Dawson’s Adventures in Ghana, Celebrating Women and Her First Clothing Collection
April 28, 2015 | 0 Comments
JEANINE CELESTE PANG* [caption id="attachment_17794" align="alignleft" width="300"] This stick gave me a little stability while walking through the farm in the rain in the central region of Ghana,” says Rosario Dawson, who shares images of her recent trip to Africa here. “We were able to find natural essential oils such as ylang ylang, patchouli and cinnamon, as well as flowers that we use at our Studio One Eighty Nine events in Ghana. We hope that eventually the farm will be a source of cotton for use in our collection!” Adam Desiderio[/caption]
As dusk fell on a weekday last month, a four-wheel-drive barreled down a jungle path in the central region of Ghana, carrying Rosario Dawson, who, rubbed clean of makeup, less resembled a Hollywood actress than her latest role as a fashion entrepreneur studying agroforestry and sustainable cotton practices on a century-old plantation. During a break from promoting her new Netflix series, Marvel’s “Daredevil” (released last Friday), Dawson, 35, had escaped a New York snowstorm to spend six days in Ghana and oversee production of her first full collection for Studio One Eighty Nine, a line of recycled glass jewelry and batik cotton and indigo separates. The company was cofounded and soft launched with her best friend Abrima Erwiah in 2013. “We wanted to do something we both valued and loved,” she said, adding that they both grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and realized the need to do something social-minded.
They forewent fast fashion in favor of a more intimate and community-based approach, enlisting a vibrant fashion collective of African artisans. “We aren’t telling their story, we aren’t trying to push anything or create something new,” Dawson says, “we are just trying to celebrate people and help push their story through.” Her most recent visit to Africa Light began at the beach resort and fishing village of Busua, to celebrate International Women’s Day, and then traveled up the Cape Coast, where she met with batikers and seamstresses, all of whom she knows on a first-name basis.
“Things are so mass-produced these days,” says Erwiah, a former communications and marketing director at Bottega Veneta who now spends her time in the sprawling capital of Accra, home to Studio One Eighty Nine’s headquarters. “When you wear something that is beautiful and unique, it’s a gift. It’s like art — you feel the energy behind the person.” Designs in the collective’s first collection include understated examples of luxury, like the “Andy,” a unisex button-down made of butter-soft indigo denim, exclusively sourced and dyed in Mali. It’s what you might wear to a summer concert in Brooklyn, or like Dawson, to a recent Ghanian dinner of fried tilapia with a side of kenkey (fermented corn dough), scooped up with her fingers in a back alley. “It’s just too good,” she remarked, reaching for seconds. Above, she shares a handful of other highlights from the trip.*Source Tmagazineblogs]]>
First Mandela Washington Fellowship Conference Reunites Fellows in Accra
April 25, 2015 | 0 Comments
Barack Obama and YALI Fellows[/caption] Over 150 young leaders from 21 West African countries will gather in Accra, Ghana next week to share their expertise and engage on issues they have defined as critical for the future of Africa. In support of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), USAID and IREX are organizing the 1st Annual West Africa Regional Conference for Mandela Washington Fellows in Accra from April 26-28, 2015. The Fellows include tech and social entrepreneurs, public servants, human rights activists, lawyers, doctors and youth activists who are bringing changes to their home countries and communities with support from USAID and IREX. In addition to this impressive group of Fellows, the conference will bring together leaders from the private sector, the U.S. Government, and international and local organizations. The conference will highlight issues and ideas for promoting entrepreneurship, growth sectors, inclusive development, energy, women in technology, and philanthropy in Africa. Event speakers include Deputy Minister of Education in Ghana, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa; Founder of the Future Africa Project, Chude Jideonwo; CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund, Theo Sowa; U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Gene A. Cretz; and the Tony Elumelu Foundation. The Mandela Washington Fellowship brings 500 young African professionals from across the continent to U.S. universities for six weeks of leadership training in the areas of business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, or public management. Competitively selected for this prestigious flagship program, the Fellows represent the continent’s emerging generation of business CEO’s, community leaders, and public officials. The West African Fellows include participants from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, São Tome and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. USAID and IREX support Mandela Washington Fellows with continuing professional development opportunities in Africa. This is done with coordination support from the West Africa Civil Society Institute based in Accra, Ghana. To find out more about the Mandela Washington Fellowship visit: https://www.irex.org/projects/yali/. Participation in the conference is by invitation only. *USAID]]>
Mahama Is A Stubborn Character—JJ Rawlings
March 6, 2015 | 0 Comments
Former President, Jerry John Rawlings has described President John Mahama as a stubborn character, who hardly puts into practice what he is advised to do. [caption id="attachment_16911" align="alignleft" width="248"] Jerry Rawlings and President John Dramani Mahama[/caption] In a brief interview with media men immediately after the 58th Independence Anniversary Parade at the Independence Square, the former President suggested that the president may not be heeding to advice and good counsel from experts and experienced people whose contribution could help the country develop. “He listens… but whether he puts into practice what is hearing is what I’m not too sure of,” he said. According to the former president, the people around the President could not entirely be held responsible for the challenges facing the country, suggesting that the president could also not escape blame.” I think he’s quite an obstinate character too,” he said of the sitting president. He said the President may be doing his best in the current circumstance but could do a lot better to improve the lives of Ghanaians adding, there are areas of visible achievements that Ghanaians can point to as well as major challenges. “There are pluses and minuses; there are areas of achievements and there are areas where we are suffering serious drawbacks,” the longest serving Head of State in Ghana’s history noted. The former Militaryleader also commended the President for using his address to touch on sensitive issues such as ethnocentrism and religious cohesion. *Source Modern Ghana]]>
A Lot Of "Corrupt Nonsense" Happening In The Name Of God—JJ Rawlings
March 3, 2015 | 0 Comments
Some corrupt Pastors in Ghana are abusing the name of God, former President Jerry Rawlings has said. “Look at the corrupt nonsense that is even happening in the name of God: watch those things just to see how far we are degenerating as a people,” Mr Rawlings said when the Association of Nurses and Midwives paid a courtesy call on the former first family. Mr Rawlings said: “Even characters like Obasanjo of all people, instructed when he was in office that none of these things will be featured on TV unless it could be proven to be scientifically true…otherwise when you show it on TV, you are perpetuating the wrong. “…Are we crazy as a people?” the former Military leader thundered. This is not the first time Mr Rawlings has taken a swipe at Pastors for corrupting the word of God for their selfish purposes. In November last year, he launched a public attack on Bishop Daniel Obinim and Prophet Nicholas Osei, popularly known as ‘Kumchacha’, for misusing the name of God and exploiting the ignorance of their followers. According to him, some of the claims often made by Obinim and Kumchacha on TV are not real. Mr Rawlings at the time asked managers of TV stations and the media to stop giving airtime to Kumchacha, Founder and Leader of the Heaven’s Gate Ministries; and Obinim, Founder of the International Gods Way Church, to deceive the public. Addressing a durbar to crown the 2014 Amu (brown rice) Festival of the chiefs and people of the Avatime Traditional Area at Avatime Gbadzeme in the Volta Region, Rawlings advised TV stations to rather dedicate the time they give to the two men, to promoting Ghana’s rich culture, traditions and festivals. “Many too often as we watch our TVs, I don’t think we are putting enough efforts into showcasing some of these cultural traditional festivals – the activities that are going on around the countryside – and yet so much time is spent giving airtime, precious airtime to people like these two prophets I’ve been talking about of late: the one in Tema, called Obinim and the other one called Kumchacha,” he bemoaned. “…They are so brave in the kind of things they purport, the kind of things they do. Ladies and gentlemen, when people watch things like this, knowing very well that they are not achieving what they claim they are doing, we end up perpetuating the ignorance and the grip of these people on the ignorance of our people,” Rawlings said. He added: “The misuse of God’s name is the worst form kind of corruption that we can talk about…and we are paying the serious price for it, and we will continue to do so till we wake to the reality of what is scientifically possible, plausible and doable.” *Source Modern Ghana]]>
Africa Cup of Nations 2015 review: highs and lows of the tournament
February 10, 2015 | 0 Comments
The best goal, the best game and the biggest surprises after an eventful month in Equatorial Guinea was ended with Ivory Coast’s shootout success over Ghana
Nick Ames in Bata, Equatorial Guinea*
Team of the tournament
It would be churlish not to praise the winner, Ivory Coast, even if they stumbled over the line. They had waited 23 years for this and, mainly for their performances in the games against Cameroon, Algeria and DR Congo, could justifiably be called the best team. Equatorial Guinea deserve a mention too – their progress from the group stage was exhilarating and played out to remarkable levels of volume, and not even their fortunate win over Tunisia could completely silence the feelgood story. An unusually technical, mobile team of overachievers were fascinating to watch but in falling short against Ghana, their story became overtaken somewhat by off-pitch events.
Player of the tournament
Ghana’s Christian Atsu won the official award and probably deserved it overall. He was the best attacking player on display in the final – even if that was not saying a lot – and produced coruscating performances against Guinea, against whom he scored a remarkable angled 30-yarder, and Equatorial Guinea too. Can he push on and produce the goods for Everton at long last? Honourable mentions here go to Chancel Mbemba, the Anderlecht and DR Congo midfielder, and the veteran Equatorial Guinea holding player, Ivan Zarandona, whose languishing in the Hong Kong league seems a thing of the imagination.
Game of the tournament
Despite a sometimes tedious group stage there ended up being a few contenders. Algeria’s 3-1 win over South Africa was rollicking good fun after the interval, even if error-strewn, while the quarter-finals were uniformly fun and DR Congo’s 4-2 comeback win over Republic of the Congo – another game where the action came in the second-half – was breathless stuff. Ivory Coast’s 3-1 quarter-final win over Algeria was the best example of two top sides going blow for blow, though, and a tight game that grew in quality was far closer than the scoreline suggests. It was a match that would have been worthy of the final and, not for the first time, you cursed the skewed nature of the draw.
Goal of the tournament
For drama, timing and did-he-really-just-do-that, Javier Balboa’s free-kick winner for Equatorial Guinea in the controversial quarter-final against Tunisia is a clear winner. There were suggestions that Aymen Mathlouthi had been too slow across his goal but this was a wonderfully-placed free-kick, taken in an air pregnant with expectant tension, and sparked levels of pandemonium barely credible to even the most seasoned observers. Other honourable mentions go to Atsu, Bakary Sako – whose left-foot half-volley against the Ivorians was a delightful study in technique – and two of an entertaining South African side. Thuso Phala was on the end of the flowing team goal against Algeria and Mandla Masango scored a thudding volley against the Ghanaians, but both would be in vain.
Regret of the tournament
Although the host nation’s progress to the semi-finals was exuberantly received there had been a degree of unease at one or two of their games. The group fixture against Burkina Faso saw skirmishes between police and fans at the gates and it only took a tiny skip of the imagination to see that things might not have gone off smoothly if the teams’ fates had been reversed in the Tunisia quarter-final. But there was still no foreseeing the extent to which things degenerated in the last-four match with the Ghanaians: however you analyse the root cause of the supporters’ actions, it was an episode that will cloud memories of the past few weeks and, if Caf have any self-awareness, should lead to some soul-searching about the chain of events that led to the competition being held here at all.
Revelation of the tournament
The Equatoguinean league rarely crosses the radars of even the most hardened African football scouts but perhaps a few might attempt to negotiate the country’s labyrinthine visa process and head to a Deportivo Mongomo game soon. That is if Felipe Ovono has not convinced somebody to take the plunge already. The home nation’s goalkeeper is just 21 and stands only slightly taller than 6ft, yet he was the stand-out goalkeeper here and a figure who commanded attention even when the freedom with which his outfield team-mates sometimes played was a more obvious draw.
Ovono is laudably brave and made a speciality of claiming balls he had little right to contest – generally to a backdrop of near-hysterical cheers. It was unfortunate that his one major misjudgment resulted in a penalty and goal for Ghana in the semi-final, but Ovono mixes the exuberance of youth with a genuine sense of command and it would be interesting to see how he would fare higher up the football food chain. But he did not make the …
… Save of the tournament
Darren Keet will not look back on this competition with much fondness. The South Africa goalkeeper was relieved of first-choice status after their first game, against Algeria, after the north Africans overturned a deficit to win 3-1. Nitpickers could fault Keet for Algeria’s first two goals and he was more squarely to blame for the third, when Islam Slimani’s shot went right through him. So it will be lost to history that Keet had made a thrilling double save just moments after Tokelo Rantie had missed the penalty that would have put South Africa 2-0 up. An instinctive save from Slimani’s backheel was good but his reaction to the follow-up, tipping the same player’s rebound on to the bar from point-blank range, was genuinely brilliant. The Kortrijk player will, at least, always have that.
Feelgood moment of the tournament
It came right at the very end. Boubacar Barry is far from the biggest name of Ivory Coast’s “golden generation”, and perhaps it is generous to bracket him in that category at all, but the 35-year-old goalkeeper has been there through the good and the bad times – including two final defeats – and here he served up the best of all.
Barry, who plays for Lokeren in Belgium and has been a derided figure down the years, travelled here as second choice and was not expected to appear, but an injury to Sylvain Gbohouo gave him a chance in the final and perhaps the script had been written in advance. At the end of a see-sawing penalty shoot-out, a seemingly injured Barry picked himself up to save his counterpart Razak Braimah’s penalty and then coolly convert his own. You smiled spontaneously as he wheeled away and then reflected that after another tournament in which Ivory Coast’s bigger names had struggled for consistency and form, this might have been the best way for them to win.
Disappointment of the tournament
Much was expected of Paul Put’s Burkina Faso, runners-up last time and placed in the kinder half of the draw here. But despite creating enough chances in their first two games to win several groups, they came away from those with just one point and then lost 2-1 against Congo to seal their fate. Perhaps they were just unlucky; perhaps they are only a competent centre-forward away from being a potent force for the long-term; perhaps they just are not as good as their 2012 performance suggested. If they were the biggest on-pitch shame, the events of Equatorial Guinea’s semi-final against Ghana probably need little further recounting here, but will colour many perceptions of the tournament.
Team hotel of the tournament
This award should be dedicated to Claude Le Roy, the Congo coach who is always a pleasure to engage in football conversation but this month reached Mastermind levels of cogniscience with the sometimes sub-standard accommodation arrangements that his team and others had to tolerate. It was in fact the Democratic Republic of the Congo who ended up with the weirdest arrangement, in a Butlins-esque resort next to Bata’s airport. Butlins holds a certain appeal to some but the cavernous dining hall in this venue, peopled by various ne’er-do-wells who you suspected might benefit from the proximity of flights out, was a slightly unsettling place when an ebullient DR Congo squad was not sitting down to eat.
A shout out, too, to the Vistamar in Bata and the Hilton in Malabo. Le Roy was not wrong – Caf and their associates had definitely made sure they were well looked after.
Dubious claim to fame of the tournament
It is always nice to feel that you have contributed to another’s success and the Ipswich Star newspaper seemed proud that Suffolk constabulary had been prior owners of the helicopter used to disperse supporters in the Equatorial Guinea v Ghana game. How fuzzy the glow would have been if the chopper, whose manoeuvre was frightening even to those watching at a distance, had made the slightest of wrong moves is probably a question best left alone.
Near miss of the tournament
Journalists filed into what looked a respectably proportioned mixed zone in the period between Equatorial Guinea v Congo and Gabon v Burkina Faso on the opening day, readying themselves for the obligatory quote-gathering scrum. They were then mired in a different kind of crush as a crowd of Gabon fans, attempting to enter the stand via a narrow adjacent staircase, exerted enough pressure on the flimsy plastic screens to send some of them tumbling and leave this reporter – along with others – scrambling away towards safety. The chaos eventually died down, at the cost of any post-match interviews, but fortunately this was one security issue from which organisers learned.
Venue of the tournament
If this was awarded for weirdness alone, Mongomo would take the crown most years. The vast Italianate basilica, modelled on St Peter’s in Rome, is odd enough and the numerous brand-new, empty edifices – a library, museum and college among them – that pepper the landscape around this small jungle town speak of an ambition that may or may not be realised. And when you have had enough of that, the quickest way back to Bata if you are in luck – or have a convenient contact in the army – is an entirely empty dual carriageway, not open to the general public, carved through dense jungle. But Estadio de Bata, comfortably the biggest stadium here, was probably the best in which to watch football – achieving the rare balance of being both modern and able to hold in 37,000 fans’ worth of noise.
Africa Cup of Nations: A few good men stand up to be counted in 'war zone'
February 7, 2015 | 0 Comments
In front of me was utter chaos — angry, screaming fans. But there were scared, scurrying fans, too.
Above a helicopter hovered over the Estadio de Malabo, the venue of Thursday’s Africa Cup of Nations semifinal between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.
For about 12 hours before the game kicked off, that dark blue and yellow chopper had been pacing the skies around the stadium, as if it had a premonition as to what would happen that night.
“I’ve never played in front of anything like that and I’d like to say sorry on behalf of my team. It was an odd experience — one I’ve never felt before,” said Equatorial Guinea star Emilio Nsue after his team lost 3-0.
The host nation’s fans started the match with hopes of Equatorial Guinea making its first ever AFCON final, before they started grumbling when decisions didn’t go their way. Meltdown then ensued.
Ahead of kick off the mood had been one of optimism. Earlier the country’s state owned Television GE had taken calls on its build up show and every one of the 35 callers had predicted a 2-0 win or more for Equatorial Guinea..
That might partly explain why the home fans became so angry.
Ghana’s third goal — scored by captain Andre Ayew — was the cue for the missile throwing and pelting to intensify.
But amid the madness, there was also humanity.
“We shall protect you,” said Bruno Ekedo, a middle-aged man clad in the red jersey of the Nzalang Nacional, as the home team are affectionately called.
“If they try to come near you we will hit them with this,” he said with a grunt as he lifted a metal barricade with POLICIA emblazoned on it, before adding that he was disgusted by the “stupidity of some of the fans.”
Equatorial Guinea was the first AFCON host nation to reach the semifinals since Ghana did it in 2008 and perhaps there was a sense that a final appearance on Sunday was preordained.
“But that does not give you the right to beat people who have come to play good football, does it?” said an exasperated Ekedo, as he tried to call the attention of the police to two men in the crowd shaking their fists and making menacing gestures at the Ghanaian journalists in the press box.
Then the smoke bombs and tear gas started flying, with the Ghana Football Association characterizing the scenes as a “like a war zone.”
Ekedo wasn’t the only local to make it their business to help out.
“There were four guys from the street who just saw my friends and I and decided to help us,” said Selina Opare, sporting a cut to her left eye from a rock thrown at her group of girls wearing bright Ghana-themed dresses.
“They made us take off our dresses and they gave us their shirts. We wore their Equatorial Guinea jerseys and they walked on the road bare chested so we were able to get back to the Ghana Embassy safely.”
While the Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi called the actions of fans “barbaric” and “uncivilized,” he also acknowledged the efforts of the “very few good men who opted to help us.”
Disappointment and then…hope
Returning to my hotel I found it filled with people from the stadium who couldn’t go home because of the chaotic nature of the streets.
As I was going back to my room, a familiar face walked in.
“Mi amigo!” It was Ekedo, who was volunteering to help with the transportation needs of any stranded Ghanaian fans.
Equatorial Guinea can expect some unfavorable headlines in the coming days and weeks, but the unheralded helpers show that African football — and Africa — is not all that bad.
Afcon semi-final was a 'war zone'
February 6, 2015 | 0 Comments
Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against hosts Equatorial Guinea was halted for 30 minutes because of crowd trouble in Malabo.
Ghana fans massed behind a goal after 82 minutes of the game to seek refuge from missiles being thrown at them.
Bottles rained down as police battled to gain control, while a helicopter hovered over the stadium.
Play resumed for just three minutes as Ghana completed a 3-0 win to reach Sunday’s final against Ivory Coast.
The Black Stars had taken a 2-0 lead into half-time, having opened the scoring when Jordan Ayew dispatched a penalty after Kwesi Appiah had been fouled by keeper Felipe Ovono.
They doubled their lead when Mubarak Wakaso drilled home following a counter-attack.
At the end of the first period, crowd unrest was already evident, with the Ghana players shielded by police in riot gear as they left the pitch.
Then, after Andre Ayew had tapped in Ghana’s third on 75 minutes and with only eight minutes left, the focus turned to their fans, who left the stands to seek safety behind one of the goals.
Play was stopped as bottles continued to be thrown by the home supporters, littering the running track around the pitch. Chairs were also thrown after being ripped from the stands.
With Equatorial Guinea only stepping in as replacement hosts in November, there were plenty of concerns about preparations and security before the tournament began.
Two quarter-finals were then moved from Ebebiyin and Mongomo amid reported fears of potential crowd issues, although the Confederation of African Football blamed the poor state of the pitches.
When police moved in to try to restore order in Malabo, it took a considerable amount of time before the Ghana fans were safely escorted from the stadium.
There were doubts about the match resuming, with officials locked in discussions at the side of the pitch as the players remained on it.
Once the field was cleared of objects, the match restarted, only for the referee to bring the game to an end three minutes later.
General Electric Provides $100,000 Grants to University of Ghana Students
February 1, 2015 | 0 Comments
Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ernest Aryeetey (right), receiving the symbolic cheque on behalf of the University. With him are Mr. Jeff Immelt, Global Chairman of GE (second from right) and Hon. Emmanuel Kofi Buah, Minister of Energy and Petroleum (third from right)[/caption] One hundred students of the University of Ghana will have their tuition fully paid until they complete their studies. Thanks to global infrastructure leader General Electric, which announced this during a cocktail organised in honour of its visiting Chairman Mr. Jeff Immelt. The $100,000 scholarship is part of a broader collaboration between GE and tertiary institutions in Ghana on capacity development. The CEO of GE Ghana Mr Leslie Nelson said the gesture validates GE’s commitment to human capital development and localising its operations in Ghana. According to Mr Nelson, training, building skills and technology transfer are key ingredients of GE’s localisation strategy in Ghana and everywhere it engages in business. “Our localization plan also includes technology collaboration, development of Ghanaian suppliers and investment in human capacity,” said Mr. Nelson. Mr. Nelson also disclosed plans to provide Oil and Gas scholarships for Ghanaians, training both locally and internationally at GE’s Oil and Gas University in Houston, Texas, Florence, Italy, Aberdeen and Scotland. The scholarship will target students from the Science and Engineering departments. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana Professor Ernest Aryeetey said he was very excited about the scholarship award to support building a stronger human capital base for the Country. He invited other multinational companies in Ghana to extend similar financial assistance to develop the needed human resource through the universities. According to Professor Aryeetey, “human capital remains the most vital resource that any organisation can have and we are glad that GE is placing a great premium on that”. Professor Aryeetey said the University of Ghana will continue to create the enabling environment for academic excellence in the institution. GE is the world’s leading technology and financial services company, with over $140 billion in annual revenue. In Ghana GE operates in the Power & Water, Oil &Gas and Healthcare businesses and has grown its operations by more than five-fold since 2010. *Source Allafrica]]>
Ghana: French company in cocoa processing deal
January 29, 2015 | 0 Comments
Dasmani Laary* A French company has clinched a deal with the Ghana Cocoa Board (GCB) that will see it process about 50 000 tonnes of cocoa a year. The deal between Cocoa Touton Processing Company Limited, a subsidiary of Touton SA and the GCB would run for three years. Cocoa industry players hailed the deal saying it would uplift jobless youths in the second world’s largest cocoa producer. Touton, which is based in the free zones enclave, is expected to start operations in April this year with an initial capacity of 25,000 tonnes, and ultimately expand to about 50,000 tonnes. GCB chief executive Stephen Kwabena Opuni expressed hope the deal would help add more value to cocoa beans, generate new employment opportunities and raise consumption of cocoa in Ghana and West Africa. Touton expressed its readiness to comply with GCB’s rules and regulations governing operations of cocoa processing companies in the country. Ghana’s consistent production of premium quality cocoa coupled with a stable business and political environment were major factors that lured Touton, the company’s chief executive Patrick de Boussac said. Touton has been buying cocoa from Ghana since 1998 at average volumes of 80,000 and 110,000 tonnes, making it one of the top five buyers of the product. The company is also implementing a programme to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and to protect forests in Ghana’s Western region. It also aims to increase sustainable certified cocoa production. West Africa collectively supplies two thirds of the world’s cocoa crop, with Ivory Coast leading production at about 1.22 million tonnes, and nearby Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo producing additional 1.41 million tonnes.