The purpose of this blog is to celebrate creativity, fashion, the arts and beauty. I have , however, woken up this morning with the bitter taste of bile in my throat. I am bit sickened by what happened yesterday in the world of sports. As much as Ghana’s Black Stars World Cup loss to Team USA yesterday hurts me to my very core, the loss is but a mite in the collective cause of my dolor. Let me start by congratulating Team USA on their win. In football, he who scores wins, and score they did. Kudos. But after the USA won, what did the international American airline, Delta, tweet in celebration of the victory? This appalling photo*:
Where does one begin to address the sort of promulgation of stereotypes that this ill-thought-out tweet represents? A giraffe? In Africa? You don’t say! Delta flies direct from JFK to Accra, Ghana’s capital city, a number of times a week. I wonder when their wingspan once grazed the neck of the the elegant creature as they landed anywhere in West Africa. The idea propagated by this rhetoric is one of Africa as one homogenous and wild wilderness: a pan African Serengeti is how Delta chooses to think of it; land of grass and more grass and a giraffe at dusk. Giraffes are beautiful and we would be delighted to have them as Ghana’s oriflamme if we had a single one roaming our land. I saw my first, and only, giraffe at the London zoo. Such unmitigated ignorance continues unchecked because people with the means refuse to enlighten themselves. The refusal to do so is an admission that we do not matter, or in the words of the character Colonel Olivier in Hotel Rwanda, “We think you are dirt…You are not even a nigger, you’e an African”. That this sort of stupidity (I really thought for about 2 minutes for a better word; there is none) should be displayed by an airline: a symbol of travel, the purpose of which is to broaden one’s horizon and deepen one’s cultural coffers, is truly bemusing.
I was not the only bemused person yesterday though. A certain Mr. Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal wrote an article that was published prior to the match asking “Who is Ghana and why can’t the USA beat them?” His opening paragraph:
Of all the possible nemeses in world soccer, the American national team is haunted by a team from an impoverished West African nation with a population less than one-tenth the size of the U.S.
The irony? Ignorance is utterly unbecoming of someone so privileged. You see, Ghana may be an “impoverished” nation but Mr. Futterman and Delta are poster children for a class they that should be christened the culturally impoverished. Of all the possible things germane to the actual sport of football that Mr. Futterman could have chosen to open his article with, he felt it a propos to question how a nation of nothings could possibly stand toe-to-toe with a land as vast and wealthy and as populous as his? He goes on to state that Ghana’s resume does “not necessarily scream “giant-killer’ “. Anyone who knows anything about football knows that the USA is not considered a giant in the sport by any stretch of the imagination. Ghana playing the USA, no matter how much Mr. Futterman would like to imagine it so, is not a David-and-Goliath-esque battle. Mr. Futterman, however, must find it unfathomable that there is any arena in which the United States would not be considered a behemoth. He must also find it impossible to understand that patriotism is not endemic to the USA; that as Ghanaians we love our country with same fervor he does his and that insulting us will breed backlash. One has to wonder who the truly “impoverished” party is here, when one has all this wealth and development at one’s fingertips yet is still living in a mental Heart of Darkness. What I had to say to Matthew Futterman and The Wall Street Journal, I emailed directly to him before the match. It is also reprinted below. Mr. Futterman’s worst offense is not disservice he does The Black Stars, Ghana or Africa, but that which he does his own team and country by promulgating the stereotype that all Americans cannot see beyond their own nose, which I personally know is not the case.
I could not even read past the first paragraph of your bloviating article asking how “an impoverished nation” could be the nemesis of the grand old USA. Mr. Futterman, I am a Ghanaian who lives in America. I love this country. People who write like you, however, make it difficult to to convince international onlookers that not all Americans are myopic and fatuous.
Please explain why the GDP of Ghana has any bearing on the talent, assiduousness and determination of its players and bears mentioning in your exegesis? Characterizing us as an obscure, “impoverished”, dot on the planet reeks of Conradian bias and small-mindedness and betrays your superiority complex. Would you rather your nemesis be a country more befitting of the USA because they fall under the same umbrella of wealth and prosperity? Perhaps you would prefer Germany as an arch rival? Then Mr. Futterman, I fear you have no idea what “sport” is or means. And you certainly do not know what football means either. If you had ever been to Ghana–and Delta flies direct from JFK mind you– you would understand what the sport of football means to us and the embodied knowledge of the sport that our country proudly possesses. You need not even take a plane. Travel through a book, or Google, I challenge you.
This is not the time for me to hash out Ghana’s football credentials as it is beside the point. It is anybody’s match tonight but it is my ardent hope that Black Stars are comprehensively victorious in order to shut you up and give you pause. You do your team and your country a great disservice by displaying such blatant snobbery.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”– Oscar Wilde.
For all our hardships, for all the disparity in wealth and well-being, this– football– is the one way in which we, as Ghanaians, collectively dream. All of us are looking at the Stars.
*Delta issued a tweet apologising for being ignorami**
**No, Delta, an ignoramus is not an animal found in Africa
Here, Delta, I made a better collage for you: took me about about 2 google clicks and one minute. You’re welcome!