Africa Day: What a Day
Every year, May 25th marks a very special day across the African continent: Africa Day. Africa Day is the annual commemoration on May 25 of the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). On this day, leaders of 30 of the 32 independent African states signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1991, the OAU established the African Economic Community, and in 2002 the OAU established its own successor, the African Union. However, the name and date of Africa Day has been retained as a celebration of African unity.
Due to the holiday, our team and the other IBD teams based in Accra working with GIMPA were given the day off. While this was a nice midweek break to relax and enjoy some downtime, we decided that a little bit of celebration was in order. We are, after all, honorary Africans (at least, I’d like to think so). In honor of Africa Day, Michael Essien, a top class Ghanaian soccer pl, er, footballer organized a peace match featuring a star-studded team comprised of African players (Africa XI) taking on an equally talented side made up of players from outside Africa (World XI). My day began by scalping tickets outside the stadium, an interesting experience in itself, followed by meeting up with the Haas teams at Frankies in Osu (a popular restaurant/bar in one of the busiest areas of Accra). The sunshine (short lived as it turns out, see Kawai and Jenni below), and ice cold Stars served to put me in a great mood.
This mood continued on our walk over to the stadium, although the clouds rolling in began to plant seeds of doubt. As we got to our gate, we realized that things were going to get interesting. The entrance gates were narrow, and you had to get through a turnstile before you could head to your seat – normally not an issue. However, it is an issue when there are hordes of people trying to squeeze through said narrow gates with no regard for anyone or anything around them, madness, especially in the pouring rain. Once we got through, however, we were treated to cheers, laughs, and high fives. We were in the economy seats (my favorite place to be at sporting events), and were 10 of maybe 15 “Obronis (foreigners)” in our section which made us as much a spectacle as the game itself. The next hour or so was spent dancing, singing, getting poked in the gut (apparently most Ghanaians are in better shape than some of our Brazilian classmates, although Fabio begs to differ), and watching some decent soccer.
After the game and some dinner, our teams decided to head over to Tawala beach for the weekly Wednesday night Reggae party. The weather? Amazing. The music? Amazing. The atmosphere? Amazing. All in all, a great experience. After realizing that Wednesday night had bled into Thursday morning, we decided to call Africa Day a success and head home. I only hope that May 25th, 2012 will be as great as it was this year.