The Christmas Message.

And there were Shepherd living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night. An Angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the Angel said to them do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great Joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You’ll find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the Angel. Praising God and saying; “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. When the Angels had left them and ascended into heaven, the Shepherd said to one another “Let’s Go to Bethlehem and see this thing which has happened which the Lord has told us about”

Luke 2:8-15

When you really think of all that the Christmas narrative is about, that God himself was going to communicate to man an answer to the deepest longings of man’s heart and mind, it is absolutely amazing that the initial revelation was not made in the bastions of power or Royalty where God could’ve drawn from aa well of wealth and nobility, rather he went to the common man; to shepherds watching the sheep at night.

It is interesting to think about the various kinds people to whom God initially chose to announced the message.

First he came to common shepherds who went about their work-a-day world, struggling to find answers to their existence; to those who had come to the conclusion that mere work alone is not liberating and ended up in loneliness. Loneliness because of the oppression they sensed with-out and lonely because of the alienation they sensed within.

Second, God spoke to men on the other side of the spectrum. These were not common men, the Bible describes them as the wise men from the East. These were the ones studying Astrology, the planetary movements – struggling to understand the ideologies of the day – trying to interpret man’s reason for being and his destiny. To the thinkers of the day whose major preoccupation was their love for wisdom and the absolute search for it. Yet somehow, in their philosophizing they had run into emptiness also. Ironically centuries later, philosophy finds itself in the same dead-end. Philosophers even in recent times have confessed their own sense of alienation – failing to come to that definite answer they seek. These thoughts shoot through the words of the playwright TS Elliot, he says “where is the wisdom we had lost all of the knowledge, where is the life we’d lost in all the living?”

Here now the message of God being revealed first to the common man in the fields taking care of his sheep, then to the thinker trying to find out the destiny and origin of mankind and finally to a religious man in his ceremonial activity every day – a man called Simon (the nunc dimitis) – who had also recognized the bankruptcy in searching for the answers for life.

No matter how strong and capable you and I think we are. No matter what strength we have within ourselves. No matter what desire of will or motivation of spirit we have, there comes a point beyond which we simply cannot go any further. And Mankind need to realize that it is alienation from God. Whether it be in our work-a-day world, or whether it be in our intellectual pursuits or whether it be in our striving for religious perfection.

Now what was the message?

Remember what the prophet said centuries ago… “Unto us a child is Born, unto us a Son is Given…” the Son wasn’t born, the Son eternally existed. It was the child that is born. And then it goes further to say this… “When Jesus having lived a pure, spotless life was, faced up with the death on the cross, he said “how can I turn away from it? For this is the very reason why I came into the world”… What did he mean by that? The cross is that pivotal reason for which Jesus Christ was born – in order to bridge this gap, the gap of separation between God and Man.

The first thing The Cross points to us, is the absoluteness of God’s Love. God reaching out to man. Giving up the Son as a propitiation for our sins. The longing within the human heart for love. It is the greatest hunger.

Not only is there the absoluteness of Love, there is the satisfaction of justice. God could not leave sin completely ignored. Somebody had to pay. The Bible says “…Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us…”

Finally, The Cross brings us the impartation of righteousness. Christ died on the cross so now when I make that approach to Him, I come not clothed in my own righteousness but clothed in the righteousness which is being provided to me by Jesus Christ.

So you see the absoluteness of God’s Love, the satisfaction of Justice and the impartation of God’s righteousness coming to the common man –finding that emptiness in their daily hustle; coming to  the intellectual –finding the bankruptcy in his philosophical world; coming to the religious man in his pursuit for spiritual excellence. There simply had to be that Savior.

This is the message of Christmas… “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord” Born in Bethlehem as an answer to man’s greatest hungers and needs. Ironically the name Bethlehem means “House of Bread”… Indeed, He is the Bread of Life.

May God Bless you this Christmas season!

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Of grammy nominations & shadow Patriotism

When news broke that Ghanaian Reggae artiste Rocky Dawuni had earned a Grammy nomination – making him the first ever Ghanaian to get on the scheme – I am not sure i could muster the courage to explain to those around me who asked why my emotions swang from utter composure; through a feeling of contentment and then to utter sadness.

Indeed, it was a welcome news and it left a lot of people giddy with anticipation. The general refrain was that local Ghanaian artiste had managed such a feat and nobody had a justification for feeling anything other than a genuine sense of pride and happiness…. and in truth, I shared the same thought. I wasn’t going to stick a pin in the balloon – far from it! My excitement was watered down by the possibility that this, like the many we had seen in the past, will go down an all-too-familiar road with a lot of the Ghanaian elite —  people who are assumed smarter and more exposed than the average person walking the streets — who parade themselves on the various social media platforms.  I hoped — however naive that was — that this will be handled maturely and a bit of a much-needed perspective will be brought to play. But it remained just that… hope! I was surely smarter than to think things were going to be different simply because I hoped it will be. The sudden misguided jingoism performative patriotism of the Ghanaian elite and ‘celebrities’ had been awakened on social networks and there was no turning back.

A bit of a background

Until quite recently, say about 10years ago it was great to see any Ghanaian excel at a global stage and we often claimed their determination, sense of self-belief, hard work and their apparent never-say-die attitude in our stride; their achievements as Ghanaian – as if it had anything to do with it. Folks like Osibisa, the Ramblers Band, E.T Mensah, Kofi Annan were all worthy global ambassadors… sold Ghana to the world in their own inimitable way that made us all proud to be associated with them. I quite remember how back in primary school, I smugly basked in the awesomeness that Kofi Annan – then the UN Secretary-General – was Ghanaian. That was a novelty…. And a Black star shining, by extension also I meant I was shining by association. Their hard work, tenacity and application of key values of discipline and commitment to being the very best in their various fields of endeavours were the very values that undergirded our collective pride in their accomplishments. Parallels were drawn, lessons were taught albeit vicariously through the lives of those distinguished individuals with the ultimate aim of keeping the cycle of Ghanaian excellence going. As a young lad, you believed that if only you put in the requisite effort and punctuated with the right attitude, it was only a matter of when no if you’d make it to the very top and be celebrated by young ones after you. This was a big enough draw.

That was way before the advent of social media where success what tied to the number of people you’d have purring out in numbers to spryly publish vaguely inspirational emoji-laden messages of support. Here, support has a strange new definition. You don’t support (in the sense of the word) until you work your way into the consciences of the wider global audience. You become ‘one-of-our-own’ only when you’re in contention for a top global prize having hassled your way through a very rough patch to come to global acclaim even though those self-styled patriots never gave a rat’s ass when their support was most needed and sort for. That in itself isn’t the worse vice in the book — success has a lot of friends — if only the production line for these hashtag-driven bandwagons were not operational and patriotism wasn’t reduced to an avenue to clamour for a few RTs and likes.

A wind of change is blowing through the entertainment scene in Ghana. Its effects have left all objective observers quite perplexed. Reggie n Bollie hustled their way through thick and thin in the UK since ominously leaving the shores of Ghana. They are getting some sort of recognition for their efforts and now every tongue [thumb] in the ever talkative blogosphere……… every tongue that can taste pepper and salt are rallying ‘support’ for them, attempting to partake in the fame [and fortune] they’ve found. You see large swathes of the social media space in Ghana making an erroneous claim that their [Reggie n Bollie] appearance on the British reality show as a “Ghana success story.” I really never cared much about whatever was going in the UK and certainly not a reality show which I stood no chance of watching from my base in Accra but my attention was drawn to it when it became apparent Reggie N bollie’s ‘good deeds’ were earning them some rave reviews in the UK and around the world.

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This wiped up quite some reaction and a gratuitous sense of patriotism amongst folks on those social media spaces (facebook, Instagram, twitter and more annoyingly WhatsApp), canvassing for votes for them ever since they made it to the finals of the UK X-factor. My obvious worry with this kind of ‘patriotism’ is that, it tends to cut out all those who are not Ghanaian from the fanfare and it creates and a We-against-the-world sort of scenario. That could potentially be injurious to their hopes in the competition. What if the millions of Brits decide to play a similar patriotism card and opt to vote for their own irrespective of their performances, what will become of our Reggie n Bollie? That would threaten and eventually defeat the purpose of the TV show in the first place. It is a popularity contest and by the sheer law of averages, we are in the least stead to be playing the nationality card here. The numbers simply does not support us.

Several Ghanaians around the world have shown endeavor and have supported Reggie n Bollie throughout their X-factor journey, but those who’ve actually provided the wings on which they’ve flown to where they are today are the Brits, not the social media activists in Ghana – no matter how well they mean. So if we keep in this harming precedent we’ve set, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn they are in fact sauntering farther and farther away from the X-factor crown.

What’s even more alarming is our on-air personalities’ [celebrities] sudden knack for clamoring for votes and public support even though they wallowed in Laodicean indifference when Reggie Zippy and Bollie were back home(Ghana), struggling to make headway in the careers. Does it matter that they probably would never have had such a massive endorsement if it were a local competition in Ghana with the same endeavor they shown which is giving them all the attention?  Does it matter that it had to take citizens of the UK to tell us how good our ‘own’ were? … and what’s it with all the talk of “Ghana flyng High” spluttered all over the social media landscape? With nebulous comments like “Ghana to the world!” My friend had so many repetitions of ‘Ghana to the world!’ splashed across his TL that the comment was virtually coming out of his ears. In his subsequent bout of high fever, he swore he could see his tombstone crawling with several ants, all bearing little flags that read, “Ghana to the World!” [I jest]…

Mr. Dawuni’s success is evidently due to his being such a gregarious person, showing genuine interest in his chosen career. Anyone with such enterprise as prosperous as his “Branches of the same tree” album in my motherland would have been standoffish and pompous. Not so our Rocky. Since his nomination, he’s taken every opportunity to talk down the enormity of his achievement and roped-in some acts in Ghana – singling them out as his inspiration for the work he’s done. Modesty has gotten a new definition. That virtue has taken my respect for him a notch higher and I really hope he goes one better – be the first Ghanaian to actually win a Grammys.

If only my people supported our own no matter what. If only we never talked down our own while praising others. If only we didn’t have to wait for some other people to appreciate our own before we see the quality of our own, maybe…. Just maybe… Yemi Alade wouldn’t have mustered enough courage to dig into Stonebwoy for winning a BET award over her.

why God? – the argument of design I

There have been many arenas in which this thorny issue theism vis-a-vis atheism has been addressed. It has been addressed in rigorous philosophical terms – mostly pitting one [or a group] person’s philosophical mind against another’s – and at the day, makes absolutely no difference in anybody’s thinking. I have read, and In fact, been to some of the most poignant debates on this matter and seen both scholars do extremely well, drawing spontaneous applause from the audience in the course of the debate and at the end of it all, everybody walks out of the building very impressed but no real change to their way of thinking.

Case in point: you take a look at these gentlemen, Dr. John Polkinghorne and Stephen Hawking, and you come to the definite conclusion that, broken down to the bare bones, this isn’t really an intellectual battle. Dr. Polkinghorne was a mathematical physicist for many years at Cambridge whiles Stephen Hawking holds the Lucasian chair of Mathematics at Cambridge – the famed chair once held by Sir Isaac Newton. Both of these men are well recognized in their fields of study. Stephen Hawking is an agnostic… John Polkinghorne is an avowed theist.

What this ends up proving is that there is adequate intellectual material available for both sides of the argument. And anyone who thinks he’s either avowed it or disavowed the notion of a supreme being purely for intellectual reasons betrays a prejudice and a lack of understanding of the matter at hand.

I’m going to come at it from a social and personal perspective. My first follow up post on why God? Reasons why it is difficult for me not to belief in God and implications of my beliefs. I might not exhaust all points with this post but questions and useful inputs – however dissenting – are welcome provided it is kept civil.

Argument for Design – The Big Bang Theory!

We are told the universe started with the BIG bang and I find it quite interesting that nobody really ever discusses who banged it (At least I have sought for some more answers and I have not as yet gotten any explanations for it). We are also told, from that emerged the universe, the galaxy and everything in it. Proponents of this theory claim it happened by sheer chance! (Sounds very cool).

And it so happens that one of the resultant galaxies produced our solar system in which earth finds itself. Conditions on earth JUST happened to be so perfect for life to begin on it. Perfection everywhere by chance – the perfect distance away from the sun; any closer, life won’t survive the heat; any farther, we will all die from the cold. Then again I asked how all these random occurrences happened in such perfection, and the range of answers I got had ‘Oh! it just Happened’ as a prominent feature …. Truth is, none of my questions reached any member of atheistic intelligentsia but those who cared to answer my questions were folks to whom belief in God was a near impossibility. Hope I get pardoned!

…okay lets go with that for a minute. They also go on to say a mixture of gases and lightening, somehow caused the first life on earth to start. Randomly! And from that single life, through macro-evolution [darwin’s origin of species], that cell [life] went through various processes of evolution and has evolved into YOU & ME. So in effect, we [modern man] came into being by a random chance. Purposeless lumps of carbon, mind machines, meaningless by-products of the universe, matter & time & chance. So let’s go with this and try and understand exactly what it means to our existence and personhood.

If I should believe all that the naturalists say, then I would come to the safe conclusion that human beings are essentially of no value. We have no meaning. We are accidents.

 

The universe banged a certain way and somehow we’ve come here. A collection of physical matter. Nothing more, nothing less. This line of thinking has very damning consequences. It means we’ve come here to survive. We happened to exist because of our aggression. Natural selection which also means natural rejection. The logic of this is pretty simple, if I could as well rationalize that, in order to survive, when I feel conditions are not too favorable for me, I would have to weed out the weak so I can survive better. So the logical outworking of it is that, if I take a cutlass and chop you off into pieces, just because I can, I would’ve done nothing wrong really. I have nobody to account to. I came here by aggression and I will survive by aggression. The worse that could possibly happen is that, a stronger force would also sniff out my life.

 

 

Responding to my earlier statement in a discussion on this matter so time back, the maverick Karen Yartey [@aghanaiangirl on @twitter] had this to say;

“The issue with humans is that we think we are that special or important so our existence has to be something beyond chance.”

“Science doesn’t claim to know everything like religion does, science seeks to find answers. We ask the question why. Many creationists say ‘no one knows what caused the big bang therefore its God’… it’s the desire to attribute every unknown thing to a divine being(s) instead of searching for answers.

“We’re no different from any mammal around. We all have a place here on this earth, no one is important than another…

“You have more to fear from person who will do anything an imaginary being tells him to do, including kill than one who believes in natural selection. You don’t need a god to tell your life is precious, animals raise their young and take care of them, they have families and establish relationships because they know life is precious.” she added.

Very interesting! My response to this will be in the next post since it appears I have reached my quota for this post. So let me quickly round up my earlier point.

 

 

For a minute, let’s assume God exists. If GOD exists, then it means YOU & I, and everybody else on earth are here for a purpose. No human is an accident… We are more than a mere collocation of atoms and carbon particles… Your very existence is of worth. And there sure was a reason why you weren’t born 1500years ago but now. Your life is precious, mine is… (then again, not everybody will come to this conclusion.. but that’s okay). I will end here. Drop comments, questions, counter-arguments and suggestions in the comment box down there. All will be factored in my next post. Peace!

 

Messy Art(su) – the Curios case of Christian Atsu

One word which towers above all else in describing Christian Atsu’s situation at AFC Bournemouth is: Strange! All who care for – even those with the remotest connection to – Ghana football are always left with the unpleasant task of doing mental gymnastics: writhes, hops, spins and vaults; to wrap their heads around the current goings-on at the newly promoted premier league side.

When the team news was announced for their third week game against West Ham, the AFCON MVP’s name was conspicuously missing from coach Eddie Howe’s list and a quite a number of Ghanaian football fanatics (myself included rather unblushingly) jumped to Christian’s defense – giving excuses germane enough to buy him some time and somewhat attempt offering reasonable explanations for the apparent snub; from a nonexistent injury, to needing time to settle in his new club; and being part of a bigger, brighter picture at the vitality stadium… some of us heaved enough sighs and made enough faces to leave others with the slightest dissent in no doubt that we were doing so against our better judgements and perhaps, we were blinded by some vague promise of utopia and love stemming from affinity.

Atsu is yet to make the AFC Bournemouth bench this season
Atsu is yet to make the AFC Bournemouth bench this season

Game day ten has come and gone, and it appears the feud between the Chelsea loanee and the AFC Bournemouth team sheet lingers and a resolution to the beef would have to take some time and a bit of getting used to. Now in his third loan spell since signing for the English Premiership champions in the summer of 2013, this turn of events at the south coast club is one that has left Christian and his fans alike twitching a little, squirming a little and grumbling a lot. Chances of him donning that revered Blue Chelsea FC jersey is slowly and painfully slipping through his fingers and Christian is the first to acknowledge that fact.

He told BBC Sport: “It’s my dream to play for Chelsea. But right now I have to focus on Bournemouth.

“If I don’t play here there is no way I will get a chance at Chelsea.

“Of course I’m not happy I’m not playing in the Premier League because I came here to play.

“Going out on loan is very difficult, you have to keep moving and taking your family with you and that is not easy. But that is the life, and you have to accept it.”

First impressions, they say, count… and if that is anything to go by, Christian Atsu’s was near impeccable when he debuted for the Black Stars in a World Cup qualifying game against Lesotho in Kumasi. His impressive goal and an assist in the 7-0 romping excited some reaction from the Ghanaian populace. That, coupled with the fact that he had directly contributed to 10 goals (6 goals, 4 assists) in his 31 appearances for Rio Ave in Portugal earned him a call back to FC Porto that summer.

Ghana's midfielder Christian Atsu Twasam (R) and Portugal's forward and captain Cristiano Ronaldo vie for the ball during the Group G football match between Portugal and Ghana at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON
Ghana’s midfielder Christian Atsu Twasam (R) and Portugal’s forward and captain Cristiano Ronaldo vie for the ball during the Group G football match between Portugal and Ghana at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON

Fancy trickery and step-overs are not in truth his style. Nor is breaching through defenses with utter brute force his thing but one thing he does in good health: drive forward at pace or use his close control to leave defenders for dead. He was explosive and in games, coaches often bet on him to be the docking station for his teammates when they were under immense pressure by providing width and an outlet for the rest of the team with his pace. He was indeed a counter attacking maven.

Nobody was going to stick a pin in the balloon; certainly not Sulley Ali Muntari who insisted [sic] “Christian was the Ghanaian Messi” after the maverick midfielder trained with his new international teammate before a world cup qualifier in Kumasi. Paying such glowing tributes about teammates isn’t really something Muntari often does so his comments came as a bit of a surprise and it was in itself testimony to its far-reaching implications. The 20 year old had earned all of his praises and many hoped in the not-too-distant future, his name could be mentioned together with the likes of Abedi Pele, Mohammed Polo, Abdul Karim Zito etc… in the same football sentence without a recourse to further explanations or render an unqualified apology to anyone

So far, the narrative isn’t going as many had hoped; far off the carrier trajectory plotted for him. He was an exciting prospect but now a damp squib (I’m not this harsh usually, a friend suggested the word)

Atsu is struggling to make his time count in England
Atsu is struggling to make his time count in England         GETTY IMAGES /  MITCHELLE LEFF

There are two deeper questions out of this. The first is how it got to this, to a player who now looks so laboured and limp; not made a single appearance for a newly promoted side in the Barclays Premier league – not even a place on the bench, 10 games into the season.  How, whilst many grudgingly forgave him for making just one start the entire season at Everton, can’t even push for a substitute appearance for AFC Bournemouth; reduced to plugging in the holes in competitions the regular first team players are deemed way too quality and experienced to have their hands soiled with?

Secondly, why does he keep getting shoehorned into the Black Stars team when he’s played a grand-total of 15 games for his club in two seasons – including cup competitions and late substitute appearances? Could it be the curious case that he’s simply not putting his shoulder to the plough at his club in the knowledge that, whatever happens, a spot in the National team was well within his means?

Christian Atsu|not new to European football.
Christian Atsu|  not new to European football.

Strange though it may seem but talent appear the least of Christian’s problems. He became the cynosure of all eyes when he completed a transfer from FC Porto to Chelsea for a fee of about £3.5m in the summer of 2013. He was immediately shipped to Vitesse Arnheim in the Eredivise where his brilliant displays earned him the Fans’ player of the Season award (that was more like it Christian) and a move back to England imminent. It appears Atsu picked his own pocket with a move to Everton and not even superb performances for the Black Stars over the stretch have been able to insulate him from the sharp criticisms which keep pouring in. A move to a team with far less ‘pressure’ and expectation was the only move which wouldn’t appear to betray the functionality of his gray matter up there. So when AFC Bournemouth came calling, a collective halleluia was heard in many Ghanaian homes.

Happier times for Atsu At Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivise, Holland 2013/2014 league season.
Happier times for Atsu At Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivise, Holland 2013/2014 league season.    GETTY IMAGES 

He seems to be one of Coach Avram Grant’s preferred Cavalry but what is yet to be seen is how long Ghanaians will continue to put up with his schlock period in England. However else we may venture into today’s tomorrows, it is not – I can assure you – on the plastic wings of cameos and a place in the stands. Good, assured displays week-in, week-out is the way to go. C’mon Christian Soldier!… strap up and fight…after all, #GodIsTheReason.

we are watching!

Let’s hear it for Adam Kwarasey

When referee Mike Dean blew the final whistle at the Craven Cottage to call time on the game which had nearly 25,000 fans of Brazilian and Ghanaian descent chant, gyrate and revel for well over 90 minutes, Adam Larsen Kwarasey punched the air in mild celebration, roared at the teeming fans, went over for a few handshakes and headed down the tunnel with infectious pertness. It had been a largely successful evening for him.

Seemingly determined to upstage the Brazilians in what was only his 2nd appearance for Ghana, Kwarasey had among other things in his awesome repertoire of saves on the night, telegraphed a well taken Ronaldinho free-kick all the way before tipping the ball around the post for a corner shortly after he had pushed Alexander Pato’s powerful eight-yard header over the bar superbly with one hand.

Kwarasey acquitted himself very well in the game Ghana narrowly lost to Brazil in September, 2011at the Craven's cottage
Kwarasey acquitted himself very well in the game Ghana narrowly lost to Brazil in September 5, 2011 at the Craven cottage in Fulham, London.

He had put up a show and had won many hearts over. The rave reviews which poured out on the streets, in barbering shops, through radio discussions and phone-ins, and through newspaper splurges hinted at one thing: Ghana had just gotten a new favorite to man its post and that after all, it was not going to be orphaned when Richard Kingson finally made the bow on the international stage.

The Blackstars’ goalkeeping position was one Richard Kingson had locked down since displacing Sammy Adjei in the build-up to the 2006 world-cup in Germany. He kept the posts with enviable equanimity and was fast ensuring Sammy Adjei’s previous gallant displays were almost getting sepia-tinted in the minds of many Ghanaian football fans. But the optimism soon got doused in a few errors during the mundial in South Africa. Unpardonable howlers in subsequent games meant the tide public opinion were gradually turning against him and many began calling his sharpness and agility to question. The need for an able back-up became even more pressing. Several goalies were brought in to audition for that role: Daniel Adjei made a big statement after the 2009 U20 world-cup triumph but his form hit an inexorable slide after his move to South Africa, William Amamoo’s woeful outing for the Black Stars in 2008 shattered his confidence and he later slinked away into obscurity; while Goran Stevanovic’s attempt to rope-in Fatau Dauda into that position yielded predictably poor results. Kwarasey’s heroics on that cold windy night in London lit up a flame in the hearts of many and that laid the bed for a very interesting relationship with Ghana.

Born on the 12th of December, 1987, Adam Kwarasey earned the right to represent Ghana –he was born in Oslo– through his father. Indeed, he’d always fancied playing for Black Stars and that provided fodder for the GFA to feed on in processing his nationality switch with FIFA in June 2011. On that night in Fulham, he put to bed, any lingering unease in the minds of doubters and turned even the staunchest of them into believers three days after he made his full international debut against Swaziland in a world-cup qualifier. He redefined the terms of the trust Black Stars fans were willing to repose in him and they in turn, were not ready to entertain any outings shy of the lofty standards he’d already set for himself. It was almost perfect a scenario; the old and weak was making way for the young and fresh and not many scripts come better than this.

With the endorsement and confidence of Ghanaians, Kwarasey made his big tournament debut at the 2012 AFCON hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. While it could be argued that he had a decent outing, his performance didn’t quite measure up to the high benchmark he’d set, but then again, the Black Stars who ended up 4th in the tournament weren’t entirely impressive either but many lost sleep over a childlike mistake which resulted in an Abdul Camara equalizer in the match against Guinea. His performances in that period couldn’t withstand scrutiny. In fact, he oozed nervousness and bore the tag of a goalie in dire need of a psychological fillip throughout the tournament.
Then, Goran Stevanovic – the manager who gave Adam his role – was fired and that probably was the beginning of the end for Norwegian born shot-stopper. Not only was his ‘father figure’ gone but the trust of the next manager as well. Coach Kwesi Appiah simply fancied Fatau Dauda and that meant from thence on end, Kwarasey became virtually part of the furniture. It was barely two years into the marriage and the ‘fairytale’ relationship with the Black Stars seemed to be hitting the rocks. This was heightened at the last world-cup in Brazil, when he felt he was given a raw deal after he’d kept the opener against the USA and for some ‘inexplicable’ reasons lost his place for the two subsequent group games. That didn’t sit well with the Portland Timbers man and he run the gamut of emotions from rage to despair at perceived injustices and particularly blamed the national team goalkeepers’ trainer Nassam Yakubu for his woes.He later asked to be excused.

Kwarasey felt he was given a bit of a raw deal after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Ghana and the United States at Estadio das Dunas on June 16, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.
Kwarasey felt he was given a bit of a raw deal after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Ghana and the United States at Estadio das Dunas on June 16, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.
Adam Larsen Kwarasey decided to call time on his international duties in the wake of the treatment meted out to him at the FIFA World cup in Brazil. 2014.
Adam Larsen Kwarasey decided to call time on his international duties in the wake of the treatment meted out to him at the FIFA World cup in Brazil. 2014.

More than a few attempts were made to get the former Stromgodset captain to rescind decision but it appeared he was determined to stay the course until the ‘right’ thing was done. The Right thing was to get rid of his troubles – Mr. Nassam.

It’s been 16 months and he finally looks to have called a truce.

Whereas it was easy to understand Kwarasey’s pain, it was also imperative for him not to have lost sight of the fact that public sympathy had a limit and he stood the risk of running out of reserves. In that sense, he couldn’t have chosen a better time to announce his decision end his hiatus. He is in fine form, there’s been a managerial change and the Black Stars shot stopper’s role is till up for the taking. Conditions are perfect (well, nearly) and the wisdom in such a move is self-evident.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge. There’s been a balm to his wounded ego it appears. But what remains to be seen is how Adam Kwarasey will take to Nassam Yakubu – the main antagonist in this long and drawn-out clash of egos – who incidentally remains at post.

This promises to be the type of script which requires one to get a bottle of soda, get a cone of popcorn and watch as events unfold.

‘Cechmate’ Jose

The odds of Mr. Jose Mourinho getting sacked is rising. Yes! It is October 2015 – a few months after his side stream-rolled to the 2014/2015 English premier league season title. Now with a golden logo aptly slapped on their sleeves, Jose’s charges have done precious little to suggest that this assertion isn’t that of a fella, who in the midst of a few friends at a bar, having already ingested a generous amount of liquid refreshment, starts regurgitating the unprintable four-letter-word more than a few times, laced with the snarling of various gynecological epithets; making an impaired judgement about the fate of the manager a friend’s club and later goes home to snore the night away.

8 points in 8 games is not stellar. It is not something we have come to associate with the Special one and definitely not distinctively the numbers of the man for whom a dirge has been sang in and around the Stamford Bridge before. Two consecutive defeats in a week is not the type of record that endeared him to Chelsea fanatics and left West London totally enamored, with the announcement of his imminent return and had they been given the chance, would have rewritten the scriptures to the effect: “unto us a Savior has been born; unto us a Manager has been given. And the government of our team will be on his shoulders. He will be called wonderful, the Special One, and on and on and on…”

The numbers are so desperately and humiliatingly stacked up against Chelsea and they will be hoping to stem the tide and turn the corner soon. Four Premier league defeats in their opening eight matches of the campaign and they strangely look nothing like last season’s vintage league winners. The personnel are the same [at least many of them are] but the results are symptomatic of a team battling the prospect of a drop rather than a team being worried about being caught-up at the top by their fiercest rivals.

A master of mind-games but he now cuts the image of a man who’s lost all swagger and confidence. The Mourinho of old would not be tilting at windmills in self-defense, groping in the dark about refereeing (in)decisions  but rather would have been seen taking subtle jabs about rival managers, praising his players and fans, basking in his awesomeness and leaving the stage as he records yet another win over yet another premier league opponent.

Mourinho cuts the image of a man who's lost his swagger at the Stamford bridge
Mourinho cuts the image of a man who’s lost his swagger at the Stamford bridge

Last Saturday’s post game presser was special. In the wake of his side’s 1-3 defeat at home to Southampton, the Blues Boss took a very unfamiliar path and went on a staggering seven minute speech like we have never seen of him before. Jose Mourinho is a lot of things but unquestionably not naïve. Like a man opting to take a drink from a fire hydrant, it was apparent Chelsea’s recent slump had taken a punt on him, cornered and compelled to defend himself and his Chelsea legacy even though the question he was asked was not remotely connected to the subject.

Sky Sport’s Greg Whelan asked what appeared to be an innocuous: “Jose, What do you make of your team’s performance today?” shortly after their 2nd home defeat of the season.

The special one’s reply was one that had everyone talking [and will be for some time]. “Look, I think you know me and I think I don’t run away for responsibilities. First of all I want to say that because we are in such a bad moment, you shouldn’t be afraid to be honest.

“When we are at the top I understand that there is quite a big pleasure in putting us down but when you are down already I think you need to be a bit honest and to make clear that the referees are afraid to give decisions for Chelsea. The result [was] 1-1, there is a huge penalty and, once more, we don’t get.  Penalty is crucial in a game with the result 1-1.”

Jose during his post match presser after succumbing to Southamton at home
Jose during his post match presser after succumbing to Southampton at home

Never mind Southampton’s Sadio Mane was fouled twice in the penalty box and on both occasions, the referee simply waved play-on.

“Even more important, I think this is a crucial moment in the history of this club. Do you know why? Because if the club sacks me, they sack the best manager that this club had and secondly, the message is again the message that bad results, the manager is guilty.

“This is the message that not just the players but the ones before, that they got during a decade. I think this is a moment for everybody to assume responsibilities. I think the players should assume their responsibilities, I assume my responsibilities, the other people at the club should also assume their responsibilities and stick together. This is what I want” the Portuguese tactician continued, betraying some vulnerability through those words as they kept pouring out.

The appetite for change at the Stamford Bridge seem low. The manager himself is keen on staying on but looks like, on his own free will, keep cobbling together the leather needed for his own boot. His presser has left the board of directors at Chelsea with a decision to make. Patience is not one of Roman Abramovic’s strongest virtues and he would not be smiling at being given such a public ultimatum.

Mr. Roman Abramovic has been calm in all of this
Mr. Roman Abramovic has been calm in all of this

The jury is still out on the Special one. Though it’s not likely Jose will be making his 2nd Chelsea exit now, what could be said with a fair degree of certainty is that; Mourinho is walking a tight rope and would have to steer the club and its fortunes back unto the road of prosperity. He is still the captain of the ship and he still has the trust of his employers. But while he’s still at it, he must be very fast about it.

Turn up! it’s Baba Time

It is mid-September and Mourinho’s Chelsea side are enduring perhaps their most difficult start in the English Premier league in over a decade; even worse that they are the defending champions – an unenviable record, only rivaled by Blackburn Rovers when they made a dismal attempt at defending their Premiership crown some 20years ago.

Jose looks strangely spineless as he faces the worst spell of his career.
Jose looks strangely spineless as he faces the worst spell of his career.

By every metric – goals scored and conceded, shots and chances created, possession and fowls committed – Chelsea have looked a pale shadow of their former selves, at least given the extent of their dominance just a season ago.

I know a lot of people are happy that finally, after so many years, they find me in a situation like this so fair play

-Jose Mourinho

After an ill-fated trip to the Goodison park last weekend – where his team let in 3goals and only managed a face-saving consolation goal from nemanja Matic – Mourinho looked a strangely new man. His point haul after the first 5 rounds of league games is the fewest he’s ever recorded.

“I don’t blame the players or myself. Everything is going against us. Even the computer we were to use for our tactical meeting before the game broke-down so we couldn’t have a tactical meeting” he said, as he bore the look of man resigned to seeing things go so wrong.

Jose doesn't seem to know what exactly hit him
Jose doesn’t seem to know what exactly hit him

For all he’s – or rather not – been this season, the Special One has only lost some spark, not his magisterial gait. A haggard bundle of complications who only looks to himself for inspiration on how his team lines up for games. A faux pas with his medical team headed by Eva Caneiro, and a potentially protracted time in the treatment room for his most trusted pair of hands only hints at one thing: a nadir has been hit and that there was a need for some reality ‘cech’. The air of despair that enveloped the Stamford Bridge after the ‘Blues’ ignominiously succumbed to yet another Alan Pardew side was palpable. A few of the players had sinned and had fallen short of a first team place but the boss had a mind of his own even after a tacit admission of the reality that was hitting his west London club.

The special One has gambled on his popularity many times and has won but this time it appears it’s all coming back to bit him. After the Crystal Palace game, he took a dig at a few of his players and singled out one unnamed player for special bashing. One didn’t necessarily need the wisdom of Biblical Solomon to understand he was referring to Branislav Ivanovic.

The Serb has endured a time-to-forget this term in Chelsea colors. Among others, in is comedy of errors, was being caught out time and again by Jefferson Montero and Bakary Sako down his right flanks but the manager still keeps faith in him largely because of the experience and a certitude of sorts he threatens to bring to a highly inexperienced back-line – the good old John terry flittering in and out of the squad and Cahil displaced by the young Frenchman, Kurt Zouma – like any manager who places premium on pragmatism as Jose would.

Whereas it is easy to understand the wisdom in Mou’s reasoning, it is also imperative to note, experience only mitigates against ability when there is a paucity of options. This chelsea side has options.

They may be regretting a relatively quiet summer in the transfer market but they sure made some purchases who admittedly, were best recruited as reserves or back-ups but on the balance of play and on the evidence of the current goings-on in the team, could stake a huge claim to a starting berth. Radamel Falcao and Brazilian whiz kid Kenedy have already been given some bits of the cherry and both have acquainted themselves quite well. Cecs Fabregas has been trialed at different positions around the team in an attempt to hide his defensive deficiencies but has failed to lock down any of the roles at the higher ends of the pitch he’s auditioned for so far, and Kenedy’s few minutes on the pitch has been a breath of fresh air and looks to have convinced even the worst of pessimists that, given the chance, he’s got the requisite tools set to help stem his team’s inexorable slide.

Radamel has also shown glimpses of his stellar self during his time with Athletico Madrid in the face of Diego Costa’s apparent refusal to stick to his core business on the field and has been caught far too many times going to war with defenders with very little or no provocation at all. Collectively, they are not closing down quickly – unlike a typical Jose setup – They are neglecting some of the basics at the back and, with occasional exceptions like Matic’s howitzer at the Goodison’s park, they’ve lacked incision going forward.

Chelsea's recent results leavng a few more worry lines on the faces of players and fans alike
Chelsea’s recent results leaving a few more worry lines on the faces of players and fans alike

With dwindling fortunes, and a title slowly slipping through his fingers, Jose will have to dig deep to steer the team back onto the hallowed road of sweet victories once again. It certainly doesn’t look like he’s going to be sacked as there seem to be no appetite for change at the Bridge. One area, which more than any, needs some tinkering, going forward would have to be his full backs. Mourinho’s side has looked disturbingly predictable this season as Ivanovic’s slump continues to gather momentum.

If what he said post Chelsea’s defeat at home to Crystal palace is anything go by, sooner than later, he’s going to, pull the trigger – most probably in their first champions league game against Maccabi Tel Aviv – the onus now lies squarely on the shoulders of  Baba Abdul-Rahman to get this boots firmly laced and step up for a bit at glory.

When given the look-in, I have no doubt Baba can provide real challenge for Azpilicueta’s spot in Jose’s choice defensive partnerships. He is a modern full-back. Young, athletic, comfortable in possession and his pace and strength he will ensure he’s rarely beaten by an opponent. He’s got a great understanding of the game and his great sense of positioning gives him a big advantage to snuff out dangerous attacks. He loves to get involved in play so he would be providing some thrilling options upfront for his team.

Abdul Rahman Baba waiting to get his Premier League debut at Chelsea Fc
Abdul Rahman Baba waiting to get his Premier League debut at Chelsea Fc

If ever there were Chelsea FC fans who questioned the reason why a whopping £21m would be spent on an unproven youngster, now is the time to sit back, take a swig of their favorite liquids and watch as Baba takes to the field for the first time in Blue colors.