“Driver, change the station!”

Saturday 3rd July. So many questions. Each started with “What if”. Every time I closed my eyes I saw Jabulani crashing off the crossbar. Usually, the pain of defeat doesn’t hit me till the morning after, and when it does, it hits hard. Cue Liverpool’s loss to AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League final.

I hoped a trip into town would take my mind off football.

It wasn’t long before I got a near-empty Benz 207. The city of Accra was, after all, still mourning the Black Stars’ exit from the World Cup in the most agonizing of circumstances. It was a silent ride, except for the mate begging us to give him coins instead of notes. Any stranger in town would definitely know something was wrong. Amakye Dede whispered “Sokoo na mmaa pe” from the grainy radio.

Soon, the driver was as fed up as I was of the presenter’s frequent interruptions. He flipped the channel. Again. And again. There was nothing on radio. He eventually settled for hip-hop on Y FM. Very unlike a trotro, I thought, but if it would help me forget the wicked thoughts for a certain Uruguayan I’ll never meet that were dancing in my head, anything was welcome for me. Not for the driver. With one more flip of the dial we were at Oman FM. Football was on. Germany had just started what would become a routing of Argentina.

Four men behind me, each travelling separately, shouted, “Driver, change the station!” “We want music!” I laughed for the first time that day. My laughter turned into groans of anguish as these men carefully re-opened my healing wounds with a post-mortem of the events of the previous night.

"Hail the Hero!" The irony.

They reminded me how a sure goal was swatted out by what Luis Suarez in brazen blasphemy calls “The real Hand of God”.One guy was wondering when the rules were changed, because in the past, the referee would’ve had to award the goal. Two other men agreed with him. Gross ignorance, but then, why interrupt? I’d probably get a blow around the ears for my troubles, anyway.

The driver flatly refused their request. If we didn’t like his preference we should get down. He continued that even Asamoah Gyan, who had forced big men all over Ghana to wear Pampers after his penalty miss, was fine. This painful conversation brought the memories flooding back. Frustration was pouring like acid rain. Interestingly, one of them lamented he’d been called to eat at half-time. He said he was waiting for the final victory. Needless to say, he went to bed on an empty stomach.

Football discussions in a trotro. They never end. But I’d rather have a discussion than listen to Twi commentary. Have you ever listened to a game in a crowded trotro? That’s 90 minutes of your heart in your mouth. Guaranteed. The commentators are experts of poetry and description. They exaggerate and sensationalize the slightest of touches. Each scream pumps a fresh dose of adrenaline into the blood. By full time, you’re as high as a junkie. God forbid that your team loses. Your mood will dip so quickly, you’d think you were on a roller coaster through hell. The worst offenders for me are Peace FM and Happy FM on a Champions League evening. So I avoid them. I’m too young to die.

So, whether or not you like football, what are some of the loudest and most passionate football scenes you’ve encountered in a trotro? Have you endured some commentary and analysis from one of our numerous arm-chair coaches?

The driver never changed the station. He’d obviously got over the defeat and was getting on with his life. I was left to pick up the broken pieces of my existence as I wobbled out, unable to flush the image of John Mensah kicking the ball like he was playing with his son in the backyard. The commentator had raised his voice to impossible decibels as a chance went a-begging: “Ekaa keteketekete…!” Indeed. All I needed to walk away, straight into football hibernation.

That didn’t last long. By Monday, 5th July, the cloud of gloom remained over Accra, and there was no running away from the agony. The conversations around the newspaper stall at 37 were the same as the ones in the trotros, which were the same as the one on my Saturday journey. A security man, obviously a regular at the stand, was complaining bitterly. One woman silenced the crowd for a second when she shouted in disgust, “All of you standing here, you can’t play anything, that’s why you’re here talking and not playing.” She walked off, followed by stares that could wake the dead. There went another person who’d had enough of football … for now.

It hurts. It really does. Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “Football. Bloody hell.” I’ve never agreed with the man more.


P.S. The Daily Commute has been published fortnightly for a while. I will be putting up weekly posts on some Mondays.


About Kwaku Dankwa

By day, I'm an advertising copywriter. That's what I've done all my working life (National Service doesn't count). Husband of Esther, father of Jesse and twin boys Mark and Andrew, and servant of Christ. I previously wrote a blog on the dramatic side of public transport in Accra, "The Daily Commute: From Bridge to Ridge." Enjoy.
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17 Responses to “Driver, change the station!”

  1. Francis Adu-Gyamfi says:

    Nice to be first. Sadly, the conversation will continue until the final whistle on Sunday. I doubt FIFA will do much to change the rule immediately, unless the crime is repeated in a UEFA champions league match.

    Great post by the way.

  2. Ama says:

    “Ekaa keteketekete…!” mdfskkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!

  3. moshi says:

    gosh, boy,
    words are done in my mouth. the memory no longer lingers in my head but around the pulse of my heart beat. pain still gashing out of me when i just see the sight of a jersy. and you know which jersay it was.

    let me share with you how i spent mine. with the win after U.S, it was agree by most funs that there was no stopping us. well i was one of them. then a dayat work just stopped that belief in its tracks.

    she reported of her land lord’s sons death. that was the beginning of bad new. all i could come out with was are you serious. and that ended the conversation. just while i thought that was about it. the next time at work reveal my night mere. there were actually deaths all over africa.

    as if that were not enough, the wishes of those who were in pain sounded more that the cheers of those living. “we pray ghana loses.” i fight with that thought anytime i heard it around me but some where in my mind i had a strong feeling it was coming true.

    usually, on every match day, i call a friend for vim but this time vim was already written all around me. with what was in my pocket, winning would have emptied it. “joy in the bottle”.

    forgive me for this but ever since we lost i have not spoken about it with anyone so let this be my first and last. please.

    every one at work was at home and it was left with my colleague and i. actually we were deserted there. not by our own choice. work had to be done. we had the radio on at BBC. i called that station, the predictor of the future. cos someway some how. it was about five second ahead of what we were watching. we had to but it off because we hadnt had the taste of a future before. then the goal came.

    you could imagine what was celebration in an empty office. imagine this, atta mill right, in his presidential palace, watching the match and just saw the goal, and rushed out of the palace to show the world that we really have scored. well something like that was what was want i did. muttering all sort of things.

    we were later on silenced by the reply. i saw a come back so i was relaxed. they were no competition so my heart was not found in my mouth. then panalty………..

    i lost my memory.
    thanks man. i tried to get it ut of my system but iguess some things are best remained unsaid. gosh………

  4. richard says:

    chale….hmmmm….the nation’s in mourning.

  5. Guy Lou says:

    When it mattered most….
    How come sportsmen are the only known pros who are applauded even when they fail to achieve a set objective.

  6. sharl says:

    Pain is one painful emotion. I read some comments on Kickoff.com and you will be amazed at some of the comments peeps post there. one guys said this… “I don’t want to talk about Ghana at the moment, I’m still hurt and nursing the wound.
    You guys played very well and we’re proud of you , if it wasn’t becuase of that cheat(Seuaze, Sweyts, or Su….something) who decide to handle the ball ,we were going to the semis. I hate him ….red card & penalt wasn’t enough.
    It’s a pity I wasn’t a referee, if I was the official I was gonna allow the goal,= 2-1 and give him a red card then after allow a penalty and if Gyan scored it it would be 3-1…yhaaa
    ajibola: 2010-07-05 14:58”.
    I love football and these are the moments that remind you of what the game is about.-winning.and suarez proved to us that it can be done at all cost. Black stars still rule.

  7. naalamiley says:

    LOL!!! it’s the best i can come up with. i took a vow after our friday match never to criticize a guy when he says “football is not just a game.” i was H-E-A-R-T B-R-O-K-E-N!!!
    the atmosphere at work on monday was terribly. like we wer mourning. hmm. my supervisor was actually “sick”; he had to take some pills!

    Gosh..i’v tried listening to on-air twi commentary..its terrible! “Ayew afa ball no…odiik)….woab3n goal no…KEEPER NO ADANE NE HO….WEI DI3 3Y3 GOOOOAAA……OH…OH..OH…OH OH…BALL NO AB) POLE NO!!!!”
    It sucks! lol…its like ur adrenaline starts getting high..then BOOM, it drops to its lowest low.

    This is a really great piece though!!! *thumbs up*

  8. Dee says:

    Football. Bloody hell. 🙂

  9. Raj says:

    I was heartbroken so bad even though i did not get the guts to watch the match from beginning to end. I celebrated like mad on the first goal and then the rest was the SOUND OF MY HEART BEAT on top of the vuvuzela noises. I hope to heal someday soon. But one of the questions i would love to ask our dear Lord someday when we get to heaven is “DADDY, DO YOU REMEMBER 2010, ON AFRICAN SOIL, GHANA VS URU(whatever it is called) WHAT HAPPENED”? WHERE WERE THE ANGELS TO TAP THE BALL INTO THE NET? I would ask this question because i still cannot find a logical explanation to what happened. Some people attribute the lose to the fact that people were going to jubilate and misbehave……daaaaaha, so must my joy and feeling good time in my house be cut short? Hmmmmmm only God knows why and best.
    And oh yes FOOTBALL BLOODY HELL!!!!!

  10. adwoa says:

    i’m depressed. they took my heart n tore it into pieces.

  11. Kwaku Dankwa says:

    We’re all traumatized, aren’t we? I hope this gives the boys a chip on their shoulder, give them something to see as unfinished business that no amount of success can soothe. That’s the only spin I can put on this one.

  12. AB says:

    Your taste in content is mouth watering and your style of writing is flawless. You are one of the chosen few who can write with such expertise. Don’t stop.

  13. elorm says:

    And Ghana wept…

  14. Sarah says:

    @Raj, Daddy will say He had gave us 2 chances after the missed penalty. After John Mensah’s miss, the uruguays also missed! dat was not a coincidence. and then we missed the chance to redeem ourselves with the immeidate penalty. abeg, the heavens said they did all they could to help us. it was just human error.

    @Kwaku, i luv your blog. found it thru Esi’s blog

  15. Jess says:

    Footballers… can’t live with them (especially when a loss like Ghana’s occurs), can’t live without them (their wins result in rapturous jubilation, praises and worship)!!!!!!!!!

    Although generally, the pain for ghanaians appears to have subsided, the memory will remain with us for a very very loooong time.

    As they say, life goes on.. even when one is “Suarezed”!

  16. Kwaku Dankwa says:

    Is it safe to say that we’re all healing slowly?

    But without a doubt, this will be brought up by the Twi commentators, and they’ll do that at a time when they’ve sent your blood pressure to lethal levels. I can hear them already:

    Peace FM – “Oh! He has kicked the ball like John Mensah’s penalty at the World Cup!”

    Happy FM – “Ei! He has torn the hearts of Kotoko fans with that wasted effort, just like Asamoah Gyan.”

    Adom FM – “Listeners! This guy is wicked! Why does he do that? Is he “abrantie” Suarez of Uruguay?”

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