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Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah needs cultural sensitivity education

Published on: 12 August 2014
Kwesi Appiah needs cultural sensitivity education

Ghana Black Stars coach’s (Kwasi Appiah - KA) decision to indefinitely suspend Kevin Prince Boateng (KPB), Sulley Aliu Muntari (SAM) and invariably Michael Essien (ME) for their infractions during the World Cup in Brazil ’14 should be reviewed along the line of Cultural Sensitivity.

They should not be sacrificed for the poor performance of the Black Stars in the said tournament.

Ghana cannot expect foreign born individuals to be part of the Black Stars without our coaches being sensitive to their cultural background. They should not be expected to adopt our concept of discipline overnight. It has to be a two-way street.

Possibly if KA had some knowledge about KPB’s upbringing, he would have interpreted and dealt with his behavior from that perspective. On the other hand, KPB would also have reacted differently if he knew what was expected of him as a Ghanaian in that situation.

The average Ghanaian is considered disciplined when in the face of managerial (Elderly) provocation and incompetence, he remains quiet. Any form of reaction to such behavior is regarded as indiscipline.

Elders are presumed to be embodiment of wisdom and knowledge with some believed to be tin gods to be worshiped. Others have inflated egos and find it difficult to be criticized by someone who in their estimation should not even come near let alone point out their shortcomings to them.

Some hate to be confronted with the truth and thus end up exposing their weaknesses and incompetence in public. Would this explain why some people believe that we major in mediocrity?

One disturbing aspect of our concept of discipline is the absolute lack of respect often exhibited by the elderly towards the complaints and concerns normally raised by those they are supposed to lead and protect. More often than not they are ignored.

The results from such behavior is captured by Adambathia Larsen Kwaresey (ALK), Black Stars Goalkeeper, when he said “the incidents that occurred happened because the players had been pushed to their limits and did not hold suspended team mates Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng responsible.

"Things like that happen when it gets to that point. At the end you get fed up. I understand their reaction after what we experienced.”

Another result from the elderly’s failure to address group concerns is the unexpected strikes, demonstrations and destruction of property as usually exhibited through high school students. Incidentally, the elderly responds to such behavior by singling out ring leaders for punishment and again ignore the issues raised.

This is what has happened to KPB, SAM and ME. Consequently, the Black Stars took their frustration to the field and masked their intentions with a sub-standard game reenacting Nana Ampadu’s song ‘saa de? a ?twee mpr?’ - damn the consequences. No wonder the Black Stars lost their match with Portugal by 2 - 1

The wholesale transposition of our concept of discipline to others makes it difficult for us to understand the behavior of persons born and bred outside Ghana. The upbringing of children in European countries, Canada and the United States differ completely from that of Ghana.

Children from these countries are encouraged to express their view points and opinions freely, openly and as in New York “in your face” The elders treat the children’s statements, opinions and requests with utmost respect. They also keep to their promises. They engage them in conversations and exchange of ideas in solving problems. They rarely dictate to them.

KPB was born and raised in Germany and probably, until he chose to play football for Ghana, had never set foot outside Europe. His alleged indiscipline at the Black Stars camp for the world cup may just be a cultural thing which might have eluded the uninitiated Ghanaian elder who just sent him home.

KA assigned bad intent to otherwise harmless action. It had been reported that KA promised to make KPB one of the leading members of the team for the tournament. KA did not keep to his word and made KPB a substitute in the second half of the match between Ghana and the US at the World Cup ’14 in Brazil. KPB got hurt yet KA never made any attempt to explain to him the rational for that decision let alone apologize to and also calm him down.

KPB would not understand why his coach would lie to him. He could not recover from the shock and disappointment he had from this let down.

To a Ghanaian, KA’s failure to keep to his promise would be nothing but in the case of KPB it was something very serious hence his statement that “he was benched as foolish people played stupid football” As a German, KPB needed an explanation (with apology) to be very comfortable and be assured of management’s trust in him.

It could be seen that based on what he is used to, KPB was disrespected by KA by ignoring his (KPB) feelings. KPB thus asked unexpected question; not as an offensive attempt because he could not think of another way to represent the issue to KA.

As a Ghanaian elder, KA also believed that KPB did not recognize him as a leader, deflated his ego by confronting and verbally challenged his authority and also accused him (KA) as a liar.

KA ascribed intent to unintentional action. Each of them interpreted the situation from perceived cultural threat. If each knew the cultural implications involved, they would understand and this whole unfortunate incident would not have occurred.

KA’s decision to question both KPB and SAM when the two burst into laughter possibly in his presence was too “Ghanaian,” feminine and infantile. How could an adult “poke nose” into others play and conclude that the laughter was targeted at him. What was the source?

Has it occurred to someone to question KPB’s insistence that he did nothing wrong? Cultural background is reflected in seemingly innocuous statement. KA should be reminded that the present crop of the Black Stars plays at very high professional levels and should therefore be treated as such. KPB and SAM should have been given the benefit of doubt.

The story is told of a Ghanaian trained teacher who found herself on the wrong side of the law in New York City just for doing her job. She taught English Language in a middle school class. She was in class one day when she was invited into the Principal’s office where two police officers handed over to her a summons for her to appear before a court of competent jurisdiction to answer some charges proffered against her.

On the advice of her lawyer she showed up in court in the company of a British diplomat who successfully defended her on grounds that she spoke “British” instead of “American” English. Her offence was that instead of the word “period” for a punctuation mark, she said “full stop” A parent filed charges against her that she had verbally assaulted his son by calling him “a fool”, a word that has some slavery related connotations. This incident led to some changes accommodating immigrant teachers in the school system.

Black Stars goalkeeper, ALK, is considering taking a break from the national team because, according to him, performance and form does not decide who plays. "It’s no point travelling to Ghana if its other things than how you perform that decides if you play or not. It was hopeless.

We had a match meeting four or five hours before the game. At that meeting I was in the team. Then it was a little bit back and forward. And suddenly I was out. I asked why. The coach didn’t look me in the eyes. He just looked down and said sorry. Then I understood that it probably wasn’t his choice”. He told Norwegian news outlet Verdens Gang.

Has somebody verified the implications of his statement? Or just like other scenarios he is just a frustrated individual. Have we found out why Ghanaians elsewhere find it easy to fit into other systems and go on to perform exceedingly well but same cannot be said about others into our system?

Probably it is contained in what an American journalist, John Stossel, told an Indian Minister of Trade and Industries that “it is because of your stupid policies.”

There should be a careful examination of our concept of discipline along the lines of present day technological and professional development for the Black Stars to be very competitive. We need to compare and contrast why European countries like Germany, France, Italy, Spain, France and England have won and continue to do well at the World Cup why the best we have achieved is just at the quarterfinal final stage.

Why did it take Ghana so many years before showing up at the World Cup for the first time in 2006? How come we performed better in both 2006 and 2010 but had to bow out in 2014 in disgrace and tartars?

There may be other reasons but our concept of discipline should not be one of them. It should be reviewed to encompass cultural sensitivity to make it possible for all players assembled for the Black Stars feel respected and more than welcome.

The first step is for KA to call KPB, SAM and ME back into camp and confront his “demons” by holding a no holds barred meeting with them. Any attempt by KA to hold on to his “hurt” by KPB will not be manly but counterproductive and a curse that would hunt him for years.

Second, KA should appraise his relationship with the Black Stars from one of these perspectives - dealing with his ego or winning tournaments. If it is about his ego, then he should send the players home at the least provocation. On the other hand if it is about making a name by winning tournaments, then he should forget about his ego and deal with each recalcitrant behavior with the firmness it deserves and move on.

He should set rules and regulation and stick to them without fear or favor. He cannot have it both ways. If teaches sent home insulting students, some very prominent personnel in our society would not have had the chance to pursue their chosen professions for which the country is now benefiting.

KA should re-evaluate his own capabilities in line with what has been said. He should re-consider the indefinite suspension of KPB and his colleague(s). It would not be in his interest to end their international careers prematurely. Posterity would not forgive him.

A lot of Ghanaians are showing up in various leagues around the world. Each of them is a potential striker for the Black Stars. They and their parents are watching how KPB, ALK and others are being treated for playing for the national team. If we begin to treat them as “boys” who need to be disciplined in our terms, Ghana would be the biggest loser.


This article has 14 comment(s), give your comment
  • Pablo says:
    August 12, 2014 04:15 pm
    A well written piece. I salute you Sir. Akwesi Appiah is a waste of space. A reputable company is looking for serious people to work with. Salary ranges from $ 500 and above.QUALIFICATION: Graduates and non-graduates,serious minded people,computer literate and self-motivated individuals. Call or whatsapp Gideon on 0247212030 now.
  • joseph says:
    August 13, 2014 09:06 am
    You hit the right spot , certainly to me AA is not a good coach , while because players like KPB are always found in every team and is up to you the coach to know how to accept them in your team. A good coach is the one who is able to assemble the good and the bad players and create a group and make them a wining team . However in a team you will and can never have all the players say" YES" to everything tactic or training scheme you propose . Brazil WC , i personally think we had a team that would have advanced further but due to poor management of the GFA and the technical team , we came home disgraced and laughing stock to the whole world .
  • kkknj says:
    August 14, 2014 04:49 am
    I think Kwesi Appiah has learnt a lot from his own mistakes. I think we should let him stay on alone until after the AFCON then a decision be made based on the teams performance.
  • A concerned citizen says:
    August 14, 2014 12:06 pm
    What a masterpiece of an article..before i proceed further let me sing Nana Ampadu's song the writer referred to..."saa 3na 3te3 dea otwe mpor?....Adidi agya woh?yi 3ne amuna 3na nam ooo""..this exactly what actually transpired. Two cultures coming together needs some matured person who can manage egos along his own personal ego..In foreign land people can asked elderly questions and one needs to explain or apologize..For example coach Klinsman dropped Donovan. Donovan asked him questions through the media and everywhere..Klinsman humbly explained..If it were to be Akwasi Appiah there would have been fight everywhere as he is affectionately called the 'Silent Killer"
  • K. Prah says:
    August 12, 2014 04:08 pm
    The real issue is one of discipline(or the lack of it) in the Black Stars setup rather than cultural sensitivity. Given that Kwesi Appiah is the substantive head coach of the Black Stars, his concept of discipline has to be respected and he is well within his remit to sanction any player whose actions in his view is disruptive to the group. It is common for dropped players to be disappointed but we should recognise that players in those circumstances tend to express their an emotive frustration and such comments cannot be considered an accurate reflection of the situation. The alleged comments from various individuals are examples of this. Whilst it is misplaced to blame the coach for the delayed bonus payments and the inadequacy of the teams accommodation it has to be recognised that these issues affected the team's performances. Kwesi Appiah coached the team to play one lacklustre match (against USA) one very good match (against Germany) and one indifferent match (against Portugal). At worst he is an inconsistent coach but he's being targeted because collectively we collectively need someone to direct our disappointment in how our world cup campaign went. If anyone wants to play in a Ghanaian team surely they should culturally sensitive to the Ghanaian way rather than the other way round.
  • anokwale says:
    August 13, 2014 01:18 am
    Your analysis of cultural sensitivity is quite valid. However, I think in the case of KPB he knew better but just thought he could get away with it. Not all foreign born Ghanaians have volatile personalities. For instance, Adomah did not insult anyone and neither did Kwarsey. I think Adomah and Kwarsey decided that they would just take a low key approach and address issues later. KPB took the "I do not care approach". Let us compare Ballotelli and Welbeck. Ballotelli would probably have gone ballistic. Welbeck would probably have handled it differently. Let us be careful about painting all foreign born Ghanaians with the same brush.
  • cool says:
    August 12, 2014 12:49 pm
    Very true. This guy is always fighting all ou good players He started with the Ayew brothers. Then kpb Essen and Muntari
  • Titus Tuoyintir says:
    August 12, 2014 12:58 pm
    Just to say that you are 100% right. Cultural sensitivity to different cultural upbringing is very important. I am misionary working in paraguay in the latinamerican continent. In fact i have learnt a lot from their freedom of speech and expresion. Children express their consent and feelings on issues. Our ghanaian culture forbids that. That is why we become emotionally sick and aggressive and shout at people bcoz we have not learnt to dailogue but only imposition. These tabuus are leading us to know where. We dont have high self esteem on that note and very voilent in words towards others. The world is growing and we are behind. We are sick psycologically. To grow as a person is to allow criticisms and opinions fron others and a listining ear. Fr. Titus
  • maubs says:
    August 12, 2014 01:17 pm
    good article. been making similar arguments on here for some time. Portugal were in ghana from 1478 or threabouts and ghana became independent in 1957. so over 400 years we were under some form of subjugation hence our scareness to be faced with the truth, to speak the truth and our thirst for position from which to feel superior only so we can bully or intimidate whoever dares call a spade a spade.Bullying is no way to show leadership. ego and a mental complex is no excuse for poor social skills. It is not ghanaian to say yesa massa and not be able to instill respect in you by being able to communicate properly with others.ghana was home to okomfo anokye, yaa asantewa, kwame nkrumah and many more fierce and brave souls so why does any one think being weak and not being able to communicate is a ghanaian notion of discipline is wrong, and wrong again. we seem to be slacking over the years and it appears we've lose sight of who we are. The Akwapims have been known for years never to swear but they are adept at showing anger by using the right communicative language. Personally i believe the power of the new evangelical churches on our folks have to do this backward attitude which is threatening to define us.
  • Canadian says:
    August 12, 2014 02:07 pm
    AA is simply a hypocrite. Has he not lived in the UK dating back in the nineties.Has he not been doing security job in the UK before he got the job as an assistant coach?.He is simply a strong headed individual who wants to have his way. The guy is simply not a leader ,a manager nor a coach .I am pretty sure this is the reason why they took the captain from him and gave it to Abedi. AA is a big liability in every is said,give a man power and you will know his true character.That stupid name as SILENT KILLER went to his head forgetting that he did nit have the skill to match that ego. He feels inferior when dealing with big players .He should be sacked otherwise Ghana will spend and spend on him with no avail.
  • Frank says:
    August 12, 2014 02:10 pm
    That is a serious comments from a Ghanaian!
  • alosmos says:
    August 12, 2014 03:11 pm
    The writer should've asked why Deutschland declined to invite KPB for Die mannshaft. Have never been a fan of Dr. AA's tactics or a lack there of. KPB realised there were no set boundaries at the camp hence he selfishly did what pleased him, took advantage of the very disorganised and incompete GFA. The writer should have found out all that KPB did at the camp; bringing his woman to camp (while this was a no no by tradition of Ghana camp), complaining bitterly about everything, repeatedly using and requesting a car specifically designated for the GFA officials not players etc. If there had been a written contract plus applicable fines and repremand as most professional teams do then that could have deterred him. The laughing between him and Sulley topped off Dr. AA's accumulated indescipline at the camp and some had to pay in order to bring sanity at the camp and these two transgressed and really went out of line. Every one who knows anything about the Blackstars is well aware that Sulley is the bad boy of the team wihtout a shred of doubt.
  • Boro says:
    August 12, 2014 03:44 pm
    The guy is simply indiscipline. He had similar problems when he was playing for the Germany youth national teams. So trying to explain his behaviour with this kind of 'crap' will not wash. The BS should forget about this ungrateful chap and move on afterall in the last tournaments he benefited not the BS. We rather lost a lot with his presence in the team.
  • Nonsense says:
    August 13, 2014 05:55 pm
    This is rubbish . You always assume Akwasi Appiah knows nothing about the game and management. Are you aware of how many years he has lived in London and the fact that he did his coaching course in England. The guys are indisciplined and of course this is not their first time to different coaches. We can do without them so stop blaming the coach. You are the ones who incite the players to behave the way they are behaving. They think they are richer so they can get away with what they are doing. Discpline is important for team work and success and if they can't do that then leave them out.