Qatar 2022 – Ghana versus Nigeria


The West Africa countries of Ghana and Nigeria have several things in common, yet the rivalry between them is akin to the biblical Esau and Jacob. Ghana and Nigeria are the twin countries in Africa that each love to loathe when it comes to competition. Both countries were colonized by the British. They use English as the official language. While the bible clearly mentions the elder of the two, that of Ghana and Nigeria is not yet clearly defined.

In terms of political independence from colonialism, Ghana is the older of the two. Ghana attained political independence on March 6, 1957, while Nigeria became independent on October 1, 1960. Nigeria, a federated country, became a republic on October 1, 1963, three years after Ghana’s on July 1, 1960. With respect to size of country and population, Nigeria is far ahead of the game with over 206 million people, compared to Ghana’s 31 million. Nigeria’s economy is the biggest in Africa with a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over $432 billion. Ghana is the eighth in Africa with a GDP of $72.4 billion. The corruption index of both countries in the international arena is nothing to write home about.

Nigeria has had almost twice as many military takeovers of democratically elected governments as Ghana since their political independence. Nigeria had its first military coup d’état on January 15, 1966, while that of Ghana was on February 24, 1966. In 1969, under the democratically elected government of Dr. K. A. Busia, Ghana implemented the Alien Compliance Order that uprooted and repatriated more than 3 million immigrants; majority of them were Nigerians. In 1983, Nigeria’s President Shehu Shagari signed an Executive Order that ordered undocumented immigrants to leave Nigeria. At least, some one million Ghanaians were among a total of two-million people sent back to their various countries. Ghana, being the first African country south of the Sahara to attain political independence, was a haven for Africa’s freedom fighters, scholars, and intellectuals who faced persecution from the European colonists.

Multiethnicity is common in both countries, with the Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba as the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. In Ghana, the Akan is the largest ethnic group. The Ga Dangme people of Ghana are said to have migrated to their present location from Ile Ife, an ancient Yoruba city in southwestern Nigeria. Some Akan subgroups of Ghana were known to have settled in Bornu Kingdom within the Kanem Empire in northeastern Nigeria before entering the forest belt of present-day Ghana. It is commonly believed that the Ga people of Ghana and Yoruba of Nigeria share some common traits, while the Igbo of Nigeria (and other ethnic minorities) and Akan have some values in common.

In fact, the relationship between the Ga and Yoruba people goes so deep that, in a suburb of Accra, there is an Alata Mantse (Alata Chief), who plays a key role in the traditional activities of the Ga people. Alata, is an epithet use by Ghanaians to describe Nigerians. On the flip side, while no known Ghanaian group is known to have settled in any ancient Nigerian community, modern migration has planted Ghanaians in major Nigerian cities, especially on campuses during the 1980s.

While about 50 percent of Nigeria’s population is Muslim and live mostly in the northern states, the northern part of Ghana is predominantly of the Islamic faith, interspersed with believers of traditional religions. Though the 300,000 Hausa in Ghana were not an indigenous population, their traditional three-piece danchiki costume has become the dress of choice across the length and breadth of Ghana. Not only is it airy and easier to wear, but its big outer layer (agwada) covers the big bellies of prominent men. The northwestern part of Nigeria is the home to over 60 million Hausa-speaking indigenes.

Variations of the proverbial Ghana kente cloth may be observed in Nigeria traditional costumes, but Nigeria men do not wear the wrap-around clothes that is predominant in many Ghanaian cultures. Nigerians in general are more culturally oriented with pride and stand tall than their Ghanaian brethren. While Nigerians take pride in their traditional costumes and languages, Ghanaians mostly affect Europeanism in both intonation and dressing. However, in the recent past, some Ghanaian political elites have come to terms with their culture and wear suitable and appropriate cloths to social functions and events, shedding the three-piece European suit which is uncomfortable in a tropical climate. 

 It is not uncommon to observe a Ghanaian-born literate woman who has never traveled outside Ghana struggling to speak with Euro-American phonetics. Many Nigerians, on the other hand, speak without undue foreign-accented influence or attempt to ape any race or culture. On the contrary, they poke fun at those who make unnecessary attempts to speak with foreign accents (foné).

There are some basic similarities and variations between some dishes of Ghana and Nigeria. The Nigerian pounded yam, garri fufu (eba), bean cake (moi moi), pepper soup, and others have their corresponding varieties in Ghana. Even the “draw” ogbono soup has its equivalent in Ghana. The banter of the best culinary competition of jollof rice between Nigeria and Ghana has attained international status. The verdict is in, but the two countries cannot claim originality of the spicy rice dish; its origin reportedly lies west of Ghana between Sierra Leone and Mauritania.

Without any doubt, the most Cain-and-Abel rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana is sports, specifically soccer. Ghana has been more victorious than Nigeria since the two countries engaged in soccer derbies decades ago. The Super Green Eagles, on the other hand, has qualified for more FIFA World Cup competitions than the Black Stars of Ghana.

In AFCON 2021, a disorganized Black Stars squad was eliminated in the group stages while in-form Super Green Eagles was kicked out in the round of 16. Whether disorganized or in-form, the curtains of ‘who is who’ in soccer between the two West African soccer rivals will once again be drawn in the last week of March to settle on who qualifies for FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year. In a fierce battle such as the World Cup contest, only one winner will emerge.

May the better team win!

Posted by on Feb 13 2022. Filed under Analysis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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