I have wanted to write this post for a very long time but every time I start, I get angry, stop writing or I just delete the post.
During the 2014 World Cup Tournament, I was accused of being a traitor, betrayer of my race, lover of the coloniser and other names I would not mention here all because I didn’t support my birth country (Ghana) to win the tournament.
My younger sister and other cousins who were not even born in Ghana called me a traitor simply because I didn’t wear the red, yellow, green colors to show my support for my birth land. It got so bad that I had to turn my phone off every time Ghana played because I would be accused of somehow sabotaging their scores.
While I know people get very attached and sentimental during global tournaments like the World Cup, I have never experienced so much vitirol directed at me.
I have never really been a sports person. I never bothered with it in primary school and only took up tennis in high school after I attended a Wimbledon Tournament the summer prior to starting highschool. Even with tennis, I don’t follow it religiously like some of my friends do.
I was often teased by most people for my non-existent athletic capabilities but it was mostly in jest and never too serious.
Every time there is a sporting world event, I don’t tend to support any country. I don’t even support the US Team(s) half the time. My only rule is may the best player/country win. Often times the countries who tend to win these global events are predominately white/western countries.
Personally, I wish people would come together and support tangible things like inequality and education, rather than stand behind over paid athletes and their product endorsements. With this being said, I understand the escapism and fraternity such events bring and I don’t berate others for joining in on the fun.
Don’t get me wrong, I find the jubilation and spirit of supporting one’s country during global sports events very fascinating but you will never see me wearing any country’s colors or joining in the celebrations. I have also seen friendships ruined because of team rivalries.
So during the summer, I stayed with my mantra “may the best team win” when Ghana was playing the U.S. My Ghanaian friends began to criticism me for not saying “may Ghana win” while my U.S. friends were just bombarding me with “#teamusa” messages.
When Ghana lost to the U.S., I started getting all these jabs about me not being a “proper Ghanaian (whatever that means)” I didn’t really mind it until it got very personal and I was being directly attacked for being a “fake Ghanaian” and how the “U.S. will never be my home” or that “I would not be welcomed back to Ghana because I was a traitor to my own people”. I even got a message that said if I lived during the era of slavery, I would have been one of those people who sold my people to the whites.
These hateful remarks appeared out of nowhere and to be frank, I didn’t even know how to react. If I ignored the messages the more hateful it got. I had to turn my phone off and disable some messaging apps because the messages were getting out of control.
While the messages stopped when Ghana was eliminated, it came back when I said I wanted either Germany or The Netherlands to win the World Cup instead of Brazil. Again I received a truckload of hateful messages.
What I don’t understand is how does me not supporting Ghana make me less of a Ghanaian? What about the Ghanaian player who played for the German team? What would that make him?
My U.S. friends didn’t even care when I said I was not “#teamusa” so why did my Ghanaian friends take it so personally when I didn’t proudly proclaim I support Ghana? I still dont really understand and I am still baffled.
When it comes to nationalism and patriotism, I really don’t have loyalty to any country. There have been times when I have defended the U.S. to people but I dont fancy myself a patriot because I dont wear the rose colored glasses and listen to government propaganda.
I was genuinely saddened by the actions of my Ghanaian friends. Its as if they took on an extreme version of nationalism and patriotism and became very hostile. While nationalism and patriotism are not inherently wrong, it can lead to irrational behaviors and unfortunately, I was a the receiving end of it this past summer.
While I received apologies later on from some friends regarding their hateful remarks, others have not even bothered at all.