I remember reading the novel , The Beautiful Ones are not yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah. It explores the dilemma faced by the main protagonist referred to as the The Man who refuses to participate in the rampant corruption happening all around him. The setting is a newly independent Ghana which is taking tentative baby steps towards nationhood. The challenges are immense and the optimism of independence is fast dissipating as the new ruling elite abandon all pretence at serving the people . Instead they embark on voracious consumerism fuelled by rampant corruption. Amidst the gloom and doom , The Man stands aloof, and keeps his head above the sea of corruption which threatens to overwhelm everyone else.
How is he rewarded for this principled stand? His wife mocks him for failing to provide for his family and yet he is sitting on a potential gold mine. He could easily get rich like his old school mate Koomson who is now a government minister . Koomson takes advantage of his new position to enrich himself.
The Man is frustrated because the new society does not recognise his honesty and moral compass. He is ridiculed for his stance and in the end he begins to doubt whether he is doing the right thing. Is his moral integrity worth the pain ?
Why this long preamble on a football page ? Well because the scourge known as match fixing raised its ugly head in the proud nation of Ghana and the judgements on this matter passed by the powers that be, The Ghana Football Association had tongues wagging .
Sometime in 2021 , football giants Ashanti Gold , a club formed in 1978, a club with 4 Ghana premiership championships under its belt played Inter Allies , a club formed in 1996. Based on the pedigree of these two clubs, the match should have proceeded smoothly without any shenanigans. But this is African football and in African football anything can happen.
The two teams agreed to fix the match. They decided to go with a 5-1 score in favour of Ashanti Gold. One player, Hashim Musah overheard the plan and was determined to spoil the bet.
With the score at 5-0 , Musah begged his coach to be allowed in. The coach for some reason agreed and made the substitution. With 15 minutes to go, the defender entered the fray. Deliberately he scored two own goals , thereby ruining the bet. 7-0 was the final result!
Here is the fascinating bit. The GFA investigated and banned the supposed hero for two years. After further investigations, they demoted Ashanti Gold and Inter Allies to the third division and banned several players and officials. They then reviewed Musah ‘s suspension and reduced it to six months because ” he helped to expose the match fixing !” The Association however argued that Musah was being punished for,” taking the law into his own hands, in future he must report the incidents !”
I wonder if they had acted promptly if the case had not caught world attention. Let me not speculate and go back to the story.
A joke of a judgement, that is how i viewed the decision. I had not reckoned with with the comments which i read on the article. Many seemed to support the stance taken by the Ghana Football Association. They supported it not because they agreed with the reason given for the suspension of the ” Whistle blower”(taking the law into his own hands ). They supported it because of something sinister !
Many reached the consensus that Musah did not report because of his moral integrity. My friend Cad Abbito declared, ” He must be investigated , i am sure he was bitter and had been left out the deal. If he had been part of the deal, will he have reported the case?” he asked .
I found it insightful that many participants in the debate dismissed Musah ‘s claim at moral strength. They all agreed that he was simply bitter because his friends had not promised him a piece of the cake. Very few gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Allow me to ask . Did he report because his moral compass was strong ? Did he report because he wanted to fight corruption in football? Was he an honest footballer who wanted to take a stance against match fixing. ? Can we not say he was the beautiful one ?
Ghana football has been riddled with the scourge of match fixing before. The Ghana Football Association has often been accused of turning a blind eye to this problem. And when a chance to show that they mean business presented itself, they persecuted the Hero.
How did the fans respond ? By endorsing the verdict albeit for a different reason. Their attitude reflected their cynicism
Once more i have to ask , Can the Beautyful ones be born ?