There is only one way to describe my day Wednesday. MADNESS!!! So it is no wonder that it led to a meeting with an entertainer for whom madness is a way of life. I woke up to the sound of vuvuzelas outside my window and a beautiful sunrise. My plan was to visit the Ghana team hotel after picking up my accreditation by Soccer City in Soweto. But then I found out that Ghana’s team had made the decision to change their hotel the previous night after some pressure from the players who were dissatisfied with the Roode Vallei lodge in Pretoria. The final official word is that there were “unresolved technical issues.”
Meanwhile, South African fans lined the streets of Johannesburg to wish the Bafana Bafana well. They did this by blowing their car horns and vuvuzelas loudly, and wearing yellow and green replica shirts or anything with those colors. There were also scarves and face paint with the flag’s design. It was a colorful parade and the excitement was palpable. The party went on throughout the morning but I left the revelers and got to soccer city by midday. The mood in the parts of Johannesburg I have been is one which is reflected in the words on a store clerk’s t-shirt, “Bafana Bafana, It’s our time.” And that showed in the people lining up streets, peering over highway bridges and filling public places.
Seeing the calabash stadium up close at soccer city, I couldn’t help but agree with the feeling that it is indeed our time. That does not refer to being two hours ahead of GMT (South African time) but more an indication of continent’s readiness. And to borrow a company’s advertising slogan, it speaks to an “African-do spirit.” From the concept of the stadium’s design to it’s function, there is an African-do spirit is evident. It is a sentiment that many Africans share. From Samuel Eto’o to Kofi Annan to the ordinary African fan on the street, many are filled with pride.
Pride gave way to frustration for me though in my journey to Pretoria. On the way, my guide “Alhaji,” a Ghanaian working in Johannesburg mentioned that Kwao Kese was in Pretoria. I thought it would be a good interview to have. After spinning round in circles for about two hours, we found Meyers Park. And there he was, tall, with dreadlocks and sporting the biggest smile for his friend, Alhaji aka Osonka(a nickname Kesse insisted on using). The interview with Kese is below.
With him was the executioner, Obrafour, whose small frame belies his stature in Ghanaian music circles. His generous spirit also shone through when he gave an impromptu freestyle session and made a promo for blackstarsfan.com.
His interview is below as well.
From there we all squeezed into a couple of cars and headed to Eesterust where the Black Stars played a match against an amateur side as their preparations continued. I got there with the Stars already up 3-0. They eventually won 4-0. The musicians interacted with some of the players who all seemed relaxed. Whether this was as a result of their comfortable win, the players getting their wish to move camp or seeing musicians showing them love, I am not sure.
All in all, a good day filled with many twists and turns.