Tuesday 21 Aug 2018 | 12:55 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 21 Aug 2018 | 12:55 | SYDNEY

Is Ghana really 'playing for Africa'?


Sam Roggeveen


28 June 2010 09:55

With Ghana into the quarter finals of the World Cup after being the only African team to survive the group stage, football analysts are saying that the Ghanaian team now 'represents Africa'. Heck, even the Ghanaian team said it on the eve of their knock-out match against the US (h/t Fallows):

On Saturday, it would be a meeting of a familiar opponents but Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, playing in his debut World Cup says the Black Stars are not only playing for a country, rather they are carrying the hopes of an entire continent. "Now we're playing for all Africa. Ghana is the standard-bearer for the whole continent. The African fans will be behind us as we do everything we can to reach the quarter-finals," the Ghana midfielder said.

But do Africans really feel this way about the Ghanaian team? It strikes me as simplistic and perhaps even condescending to make the assumption.

After all, Australian did not feel any particular pride at New Zealand's achievements in the World Cup. I doubt Argentinians will shift their loyalty to Brazil should their own team be knocked out. And I can tell you first hand that the Dutch will not be cheering for Germany should 'Oranje' fall short (Dutch feelings about Germany have moderated over the years, but there are still resentments about the war. One of the more petty German humiliations exacted on the Dutch during the occupation was the confiscation of bicycles. When West Germany hosted the European football championships in 1988, Dutch spectators held up signs for the TV cameras reading, 'HEY MUM, I FOUND YOUR BIKE!').

In fact, if the Ghana/Africa assumption is true, it would be a rare and perhaps unique case of 'continental' loyalty. So, to readers with expertise in Africa, is it true? Is there a strong pan-African identity and loyalty?

Photo by Flickr user Impact Tarmac, used under a Creative Commons license.