“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.
Last week, the senior national football team of Ghana, the Black Stars, played South Africa in Cape Coast, Ghana. Ghana needed a win to qualify for the playoffs to the world cup finals in Qatar in 2022. South Africa only needed a draw. In the end, Ghana beat South Africa courtesy a ‘soft’ penalty converted by Andre Ayew in the first half which has since become a subject of controversy .
People will argue that ‘every win is a win.’ I disagree. This was a match Ghana could have ‘killed’ in the first half. Ghana should have won this match convincingly. I felt sad when I saw the captain of the Black Stars, Andre Dede Ayew, jubilating deep into injury time when the South Africans missed a great chance that could have resulted in a goal with about the last kick of the match. Many Ghanaians missed heartbeats.
This is not the first time Dede Ayew’s demeanour has suggested he is comfortable with mediocrity. I have watched him (not once) react as if nothing was at stake after Ghana failed to clinch the third position at the Cup of African Nations against countries regarded as underdogs.
What we forget is that by our actions we:
- erase the sense of superiority around us. ‘Minnows’ think they are as good or even better than us, and this makes every competition difficult for us.
- have created a national psyche of mediocrity. We have gradually become a country that rewards mediocrity. Where we should be champions, we are happy to play second fiddle.
I have said it many times that if Usain Bolt (a Jamaican and the greatest sprinter of all time) had been Ghanaian, he might have won two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games and Ghanaians would have accorded him a ‘super hero status’ because we have become accustomed to mediocrity.
For about a decade, Azumah Nelson of Ghana reigned as a world boxing champion. His attitude was inspiring. He worked hard and always showed up to be the best. He was quoted many times as saying he was ‘sending his own judge into the ring,’ which meant he was not going to leave the decision in the hands of ringside judges. And Azumah made sure he had his destiny in our own hands. This Azumah mentality is currently rare to find in Ghana.
It is time for us Ghanaians to come out of this ‘mediocrity mentality.’ The first step is realising that often we are eagles playing with chickens on the ground, oblivious to the fact that we can soar above the clouds. It starts with you and me.