When I came to Ghana before moving down, in the days before I could drive myself around, I'd constantly ask taxi drivers why they had U.S. or Israeli flags in their cars. The answer was usually, because these are cool countries. When I suggested having a Ghanaian flag instead I'd be met by laughter and exclamations of "Oh, madam!".
It was first during the 2006 World Cup in Germany that I experienced Ghanaian patriotism. Our team did us proud with their first ever performance in the tournament. However, the patriotism seemed to last as long as the tournament and as we celebrated 50 years of independence in 2007 the love for Ghana seemed lukewarm. As a 'returnee' who will always love and cherish dear Ghana, it is difficult and sad to see how many of those born and raised here don't feel the same pride and respect for the country.
So imagine my joy when we hosted CAN2008! Suddenly the Ohene Djan Stadium, central parts of Accra, nay, Ghana as a whole went red, gold and green! Never have Ghanaians so proudly displayed their love for Ghana, and gladly this display has continued long after the end of the games.
Meetings were re-scheduled, agreements had to wait to be drafted, bosses' warnings disregarded, as the country stopped for a few hours to watch Ghana play. Relationships were compromised (not only my own) as partners had to choose between the love of football and that of their partner (I stand my ground here, football is more important!).
And it is not just for the love of football that this happened, after all when Morocco played Namibia, life went on as usual. Ghanaians love football, they love watching Ghana or Ghanaians play, how else would you explain that there are so many Chelsea fans here when Arsenal is clearly a better quality team? ;)
The real question that remains is how much we love the beautiful game. Willing to sacrifice our jobs, reputations and relationships to watch 22 men run after a ball for 90 minutes, I can't but wonder whether Ghanaians love football more than themselves and our beautiful Ghana itself?