Cup of African Nations

20 01 2008

They’re risking a national shortage of red, gold and green paint here and I wish I had shares in a flag wholesaler, there’s hardly anything left that hasn’t already been decorated with the national flag. As the hosts Ghana confidently expects success in the Cup of African nations that starts on Sunday. One of the 4 groups will be playing in Tamale, in a brand spanking new $38m stadium built by a Chinese company. So now I’m sharing Tamale with the national squads of Angola (who are staying in the hotel right next to ISODEC’s offices), Tunisia, Senegal and South Africa.

Tamale is trying to rise to the challenge of the cup. The district assembly has made sure that all the roads the teams are likely to use are tarred and have street lighting. This means that by the time the tournament starts I should be able to cycle the whole way from my house to the centre of town lit by street lights. Cynically I suspect the fact that my water situation has suddenly got better might also be related to the cup. Several new hotels and hostels have sprung up, several still have construction going on. There has also been something of a glut of new signs indicating where the hotels and bars are. Even the tiny bar opposite my house has a sign pointing to it on the main road. Mind you, the name “Hygiene Spot” could easily be misinterpreted.

I tend to be smugly superior whenever England plays in a tournament. Not for me the tawdry jingoism and commercial exploitation of flags of St George and replica shirts. Not for me the bluster of pre-tournament over optimism to be inevitably followed by disappointment and recriminations. I’m a sophisticated, post modern type who doesn’t need the out dated concept of nation to bolster his self identity. But now I find myself the owner of a replica Ghana shirt and looking seriously for Ghana flags to decorate my house and bike. So I expect everyone reading this to be supporting Ghana over the next few weeks, and no feeble excuses about being from or living in another participating country.




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