The beautiful contradiction embodied by the black star in the middle of the Ghana flag has always captured my imagination. I could spend countless day dreaming sessions peeling at the layers of its possible meanings. But as a Ghanaian living in South Africa, The events during the last couple of weeks of the World Cup have added a new dimension. There have been many but three experiences stand out for me. The first was seeing a blond white lady in an upmarket shop in the northern suburb of Johannesburg. Her key holder was of the Ghanaian flag. I did not ask but I imagined that her name will be something like Dalene Venter. The second was during one of my many brief sessions with the security guards at complex receptions. After discovering that my Zulu ended with Sawubona and I am Ghanaian purporting to be a local, Joseph Mahlangu (not his real name) went on to lament on how he was tired from little sleep the previous night and had to wake up at 3 am to catch the early train from Soweto. He adds though, that it was all worth it to see the black stars playing. The third was the pleasant surprise I felt when my 21 year old colleague asked in her ever present effervescent tone, “What does the black star mean”? With a facial expression that seems to indicate that she has been labouring on this thought all night. The surprise is from the fact that I have been trying to change our conversation from her troublesome boyfriends and the latest pop song to something more meaningful for the past year. Inspired by Marcus Garvey’s Black Star shipping line, the black star presents Ghana as a Lodestar, a leader in Africa’s fight for Africa’s freedom. Dig deeper and the contradiction in a black star shining could represent for the black consciousness and negritude movement, a fight against the concept that blackness equates to failure, ugliness, mediocrity and every negative image that blackness in its various guises evoke. Despite his many faults, Kwame Nkrumah was a Pan African who recognised that Africa’s challenges can only be solved by a united Africa. At the dawn of Ghana’s independence, he famously proclaimed that “our independence is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of Africa”. This principle was instrumental in the adoption of the black star in the Ghana flag. You may ask, what has Africa liberation got to do with the soccer euphoria that has gripped the continents imagination the past couple of weeks. The early exit from the World Cup of 5 of the 6 African representatives led to a continent galvanised in supporting of one cause and one team, the Ghana black stars. This is the unity that Kwame Nkrumah dreamed of. The mouth waters at the possibilities if the same kind of unity and conviction is steered towards challenges facing the continent like corruption, conflict, poverty and xenophobia.
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