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Lessons Learnt From AFCON 2017 In Gabon

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SO another Africa Cup of Nations has come to end and once again the Black Stars of Ghana have failed to end the long, painful 35-year trophy drought.

A campaign that started with a lot of optimism and promise failed to live up to expectation and we are saddled with the same slogan of ‘going back to the drawing board and coming back with a bang’. Hopefully, 2019 will be the year Ghana finally wins another AFCON since 1982.

Anyway, those of you who have been following this column know that my dairy isn’t really about the football so let to about the extras, shall we?

Oh, before I forget, I am told that this column received a glowing tribute from seasoned journalist Kwesi Pratt on Peace FM sometime last week. A few friends sent me whatsapp messages asking me to send them soft copies after that glowing tribute. Of course, I told them to go by the newspaper to read, that’s how I can make money for my boss and my company.

So, by the time you will be reading this episode of the Diary, I will be on my way home. It has been three gruelling weeks, some low points and some high points. My colleague journalists and I have criss-crossed the four major cities hosting the tournament so we have seen the best and worst of Gabon. But hey, this is what we live for as journalists so no complainants.

There were a few observations that stood out for me while I travelled across the four host cities which I would like to share. Some of them, I may have mentioned in previous writings, but let’s assume not everyone had the chance to read it. So here goes.

1. There is a massive Ghanaian population in Gabon: One of the striking things in Gabon is that it takes a conscious effort to appreciate that you are in a foreign land. But of the language, any Ghanaian would walk into Gabon and really feel at home. Their food, warmth and major mannerism aren’t really different from that of Ghana. However, Ghanaians are not the only group of foreigners in Gabon. In fact, there are more Malians, Senegalese, and Burkinabes in Gabon than there are Ghanaians. However, what is true is that Gabonese people have massive respect for Ghanaians than they do for other nationals. That is a fact.

2. The average Gabonese has schooled in or been to Ghana before: The massive respect Gabonese people have for Ghanaians mean they have an inclination to visit Ghana at least once in their lifetime – call it their own kind of pilgrimage. Gabon is a French-speaking country, but majority of their youth appreciate the importance of learning another international language. And if there is any African country they want to travel to learn English, then it is Ghana. Ever occurred to you why there are so many Gabonese or French-speaking girls and boys schooling in Accra? Yea, they love Ghana and I was once told that Gabonese see Ghana as their America. Apparently, the big mansions they see in Ghanaian movies give them an impression that every part of Ghana is as serene and beautiful. Most of the volunteers working with CAF on the 2017 AFCON are Gabonese who studied in Ghana. It is actually a sense of pride to hear Gabonese people talk about Ghana. No wonder they were disappointed Ghana couldn’t win the AFCON.

3. French girls are pretty, care-free and easy going: I once asked a Gabonese friend I met here what she makes of the perception that French girls are fun and exciting. She laughed and said, West Africans, Ghana included, are too stuck up when it comes to having fun and living the life. She told me French people are easy going because they appreciate the transient nature of life. Maybe she is right, maybe not. What is true and what I have witnessed is that, indeed, French ladies are care-free. I once had an encounter where a Gabonese lady openly told me she liked me – and wanted to bed me. I was in total shock. Of course, I declined and certainly not all French girls are like that, but such open declaration of amorous intent coming from a lady is a rare sight in West Africa.

In my final episode, I will tell you about this lady I met a couple of days ago; she is Gabonese and speaks both French and English.  Of all the female friends I have made here, she’s the one who tickles my fancy and I will tell you why.

Stay tuned.

…..By Daniel Oduro

Writer’s email: odurodaniel1@gmail.com



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