Growing up in my native Goka, I’d had it as one of my biggest ambitions to meet the football God Diego Amando Maradona of Argentina in his life time, not as player though, but maybe a number one fan following my childhood friend Adu. This dream was shuttered yesterday, as the God was summoned to the football pantheon.
Though I didn’t see the heydays of Maradona, but I came to learn more about this excellent talent through the unique “history books” I shared with my friend Adu. And in later years reading about him and seeing his videos on television and online portals.
That special unique history books had been the wrappers of a gum, what we call in our local parlance as kyemgɔn (chewing gum).
Though I was not a talented skilful footballer as did my friend Adu, a childhood friend who I also beat when we both meet playing table tennis. But we both enjoy football the more than any other thing. I could remove my shirt and swirl it above and over my head as do the ceiling fan when Adu scored in a match he’d featured for the Goka Adonteng Stars. This way of cheering I learnt reading about Maradona from those gum wrappers.
That, the talented Diego, as a kid was a big football fan, and having a friend Adu who played not different from his exceptional skills, I must behave as he Diego did cheering others from the stance.
Those who chewed that slim hard gum, inside its wrapper, they wrote all history you wanted to read. And when out and about with Adu, we quiz ourselves with questions from those gum wrappers. Since we both loved football, the much loved global game had featured mostly in our choice of questions.
We read in those wrappers about the biggest stadium in the World, which happened to be the Rio’s Maracanna Stadium and many such football related history.
Indeed, as both our parents were traders from whom we could get some coins, we bought more of the gums to enrich our knowledge, as television was a leisurely then, though Adu’s house had it. It was mostly watched when the Black Stars played a game, or any other important national occasion such as the Farmer’s Day, Presidential Address or even black funeral of a deceased national figure as would be that of J J Rawlings’ impending funeral.
But the grownups, such as Adu’s Dad, watched the GTV News every 7pm.
Most parts of the Jaman District (North and South) by then was not connected to the national grid, but thanks to the prophetess Maame Sarah (may her soul rest in perfect peace), Goka was lit, illumine, and in-between 6 and 10 pm, we had streets lights that we as kids benefitted from, as the elderly watched the television. We will carry our quiz competition there, under the light poles, picking our questions from the gum wrappers.
Adu and I faced debates with others as if we had one brain and mind. And we were more abreast with international issues, or we were simply, current. What he says is right, and neither will he challenge mine. We won all intellectual discourse with others.
We are both supporters of the Three Lions (The England National Team), Manchester United, and Argentina. Though through reading, our Football God Maradona, we read used his fist to score the infamous Hand of God goal against the Three Lions in the quarter finals of the 1986 world cup, we’ll any day choose Maradona’s Argentina as the best against Pele’s Brazil.
As stubborn as we read he was, his dribbling skills, those who saw him say, Pele’s never came near. And that same talent I saw in Adu, an unsung hero who crossed by career in academics was forced to turn his back on this God-given-talent and focus on books to please his father’s peremptory command.
Adu occasionally played, even now, as he’s approaching retirement, but when we meet, we still talk about our love for Maradona through what we read from the gum wrappers back then.
The last time we relived our childhood memories of the God Maradona was when I’d accompanied Adu to his paternal home Asiri, for the funeral of the Abrafoɔhemaa (Queen mother). It was Saturday, 21st November, 2020. Dandy and seductive as we’re always, my eye-contact with Francisca, the daughter of the next-in-line to that stool, the new Queen of the Executioners, we were hooked together, and Adu had in his company one Priscilla. Lovely as those princesses were, if they stopped talking to us behind the table with bottles, we skipped the conversation to talk about football, and the renewed Ghana premier league season will not feature as much as would Diego Maradona’s heroism. Though as close pals know it, we are all dye in a wool supporters of Fabulous Kumasi Asante Kotoko, the Porcupine Warriors; the current crop of players of our beloved club we don’t discuss as we do our God Diego.
I’m sure the ladies will learn from the media today through the many tributes paid to our football God Maradona on his demise, and why their exquisite beauties never replaced that of Diego’s beautiful skills on the field in our mouths.
Diego was simply: The Best, The God, The Legend, The Magician. And as my friend Adu lives, reflecting the exact skills of that football God, I will side with Lionel Messi that: “Diego Amando Maradona is eternal”.
Fare thee well Diego Amando Maradona.
You blessed the world with your talent.
You educated the world that from slums, one can rise to the top.
You embody Agape love, that though man be blessed with talent, he must not to be demonized because of his flaws, because the best comes from the worst.
Written by: Charles Yeboah (Sir Lord )
The Founder of One Ghana Movement (#1GhM)