Doing it ourselves: Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation in a girls’ football and health project in Kilifi, Kenya, East Africa
Prior to the just ended world cup tournament in which the Black Stars made a historic debut, very little was known about the colors of the national flag of their country Ghana, by ordinary citizens and their meaning thereof. It had lost its prominence. It has always been on very few occasions such as on Independence Day that these colors would be displayed to adorn the parade square. During such times too, a flag would be hoisted accompanied by a brief commentary of the act while people guessed the rest. Yet even on such occasions, the impact, if any at all, of the national flag would be drowned by the colors of (usually) the political party in power. Though no party flag would be hung prominently, colors and symbols of the party in power are normally ubiquitous making nonsense of the national colors. Unfortunately, this habit is even sometimes put up by people of national influence thereby sending the desired though undesirable signals to ordinary citizens.
However, with the Black Stars at the world cup, the colors of the nation made a big impact in the lives of ordinary Ghanaians. They were significantly displayed but not just in support of the team, but also represented the beefed up sense of patriotism in the citizenry, at least just for that period. Indeed, the display of foreign colors by especially commercial drivers on the windshields of their vehicles was greatly lessened. Color patriotism was at its peak.
However, should patriotism be awakened only during tournaments? What then should uphold the independence that was fought for us and for which a lot of sacrifice (even in blood) was made? Or, independence exists just for the nonce? Do the national colors have any meaning?
In this paper, I seek to drive home the need for Ghanaians (Africans) to rethink their sense of belonging in all aspects of daily endeavors. Like the Black Stars have shown, all Africans can go far with the right attitude and a mature sense of patriotism. After only fifty years of toppling physical colonial domination and with children of the struggle era still with us and now even as the parents and grandparents, it is alarming that the symbol of overthrow is being overthrown. The spirits of the champions of these liberation struggles must be very frustrated. Besides, can a people claim to be truly independent without exhibiting it in their daily lives? The (football) Black Stars have demonstrated on their field to the rest of the Black Stars that patriotism and unity are crucial and succeed for a people. They deserve as much commendation as they do emulation. It is a challenge to all in our respective fields. With true patriotic attitudes we can all get the kind of support they got and indeed achieve a lot and even more than they did.
Timothy Addai Balag’kutu Adivilah