Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

GM club versus Rumour-mongers United

by Thomas Cooke

The referee (made up of judges and other members of the judiciary) blew the whistle in the afternoon after it had become clear that those who had invaded the pitch at dawn were there to stay. Though the legitimacy or the official registration of the players was clearly suspect it appeared the referee had no choice but to accede to their request that he officiates the match.

Without the legitimacy of the players on the government side having been established it was clear that the match could be played only amid serious rancour and turmoil. Though initially the spectators were divided over this unsettled question of legitimacy, they now as you can all see, seem to be protesting in one accord - they appear to be agreed on one thing, which is that the players on the pitch claiming to represent the government side must make way for those recognised by the spectators as legitimate.

At the start of the match there were some who, believing that legitimacy is necessary only in some pitch conditions (my colleague likens this to political condition in political lexicon), egged on the referee to signal the start of the match. For those motley group of people, the credentials of the team claiming to represent the government side was for a variety of reasons not of primary importance.

Their disenchantment with the previous set of players had led them to a conclusion that any set of players however illegally constituted and however unorthodox the means by which they replace the properly constituted players on the field was to be welcomed a sad decision for which, as you can see, they have profoundly regretted.

There has however been a significant proportion of spectators who had pro- tested most strongly at the presence of the players (GM) claiming to represent the government side, even before the match had started. For them the GM players had not satisfied the universally accepted condition of having themselves endorsed by the spectators (viz. The People). Their protestations sadly was to no avail as the referee had been ordered by the self-conceited army sergeant (now of course referred to as Head of State) to blow the whistle. My colleague was quick to point out that this instance of 'blowing the whistle' was, as it were, akin to the swearing in ceremony which occurs in the political arena where the Chief Justice is forced at gun-point to swear-in the usurpers of power.

Little has yet been said about Rumourmongers United because little needs to be said of them. They unlike our friends on the pitch are properly constituted. They are made up of such great players as "Theatrophiedpress" and "Likerumourbest". They have won - even against the greatest odds -the Championship title every year. For their part they are not particularly fussy as to who they play against.

The referee indicated earlier on obediently blew the whistle and the match was underway. But no sooner had the match started than signs of unsavoury developments emerged. It transpired soon after the match had begun that the "government side was not going to tolerate any kind of action on the part of the spectators which appeared in their view, to be supportive of the Rumourmongers' style of play. To this end they had deployed a number of thugs who mingled with the spectators 'on the stands.

Their disenchantment with the previous set of players had led them to a conclusion that any set of players however illegally constituted and however unorthodox the means by which they replace the properly constituted players on the field was to be welcomed - a sad decision for which, as you can see, they have profoundly regretted.

Their duty, we were made to under- stand, was to knock out of his senses any blighter suspected to be appreciating the dribbling of RU (my colleague once again was quick to draw his parallel by liking them with security agencies). We have heard too that some linesmen (judges and other members of the judiciary, if you like) shifted position in the early stages of the match and are now endorsing wholeheartedly - much to the utter disbelief of the spectators, the presence and tactics of the GM Club. Rumours (fomented and fostered by United) that some of those officiating the match had their pockets lined and are conducting the match to their pecuniary advantage.

I have already indicated that Rumour-mongers United joined the match willy-nilly, and so it is that we have a match. Trouble erupted from the outset. According to the 'govern- ment side, information had reached them that certain identified persons amongst the spectators which included some of those who previously played for a legitimate government side - were plotting to remove them from the field of play. This crime - as it were - was accorded the status of high treason, and those accused were dealt with accordingly, namely summary execution. Since then the game has continued amid much rancour and bitterness. The Captain of GM Club (Gen Head-of- State) has declared that the match (or the revolution as my colleague has been wont to point out) should continue unabated. The government players have become highly sensitive to anything said or done either on the field of play or in the stands. Virtually everything said now is considered either pejorative or seditious. The paranoia which results from being suffused with power is very much in evidence.

Embarrassed by their own crass incompetence and dreadful shortcomings, they have now made a ruling which makes it an offence to play with the kind of style and verve customary of Rumourmongers United. Matters now clearly seem to be coming to a head. How can Rumourmongers suddenly stop their style of play? They have been playing like this since the year dot. It is being rumoured on the terraces that the government side have been thrown into a state of paralysis by impeccable dribbling and splendid shots of RU. It does not seem that in the course of the match the GM players have changed their jerseys and boots. The match is being stalled at the moment, for Rumourmongers have observed that the boots of GM have gold studs and their jerseys made of the finest silk. It is being suggested that these items could only have been afforded by the Government Militaire players by embezzling the gate proceeds which had been earmarked for community development.

My colleague once again has been quick to draw his much celebrated parallels with developments in the political arena. He has commented wrily but indeed quite poignantly that this is not at all dissimilar from the case of those previously unknown individuals who have dropped out and seized power and then taken the country for a ride. They then terrorised those who dare voice out their dismay. "It does however strike me, though," adds my colleague, "that there is quite an interesting phenomenon in some developing coun- es including ours, where instead of everybody protesting at the misuse of public funds for personal ends, some who seem to give their approbation". clearly astonished not to say mystified by this assertion the following dialogue ensues between us: COMMENTATOR: Are you actually suggesting that people do derive some satisfaction from seeing others ride in Mercedes Benz and BMW's irrespective of how the owners might have acquired them?

COLLEAGUE: Yes, indeed, that's precisely what I mean. Political scientists refer to this kind of satisfaction as vicarious satisfaction'. Let me recount an incident I witnessed not long ago. It is in actual fact the kind of everyday incident that the toiling masses have become accustomed to. I saw a fully caparisoned member of the government riding in one of these large Mercedes. It had been a very wet day with puddles all over the place. As his car swerved round a bend it splashed the muddy water on a number of people who had queued all morning in the hope of getting a bus to work. To my astonishment I heard the occupant at the rear seat of the Mercedes burst nto paroxysms of laughter. He was to my mind doing so out of schaden-freude...

It appears that this brief interlocution is leading to our arrest. The bully boys have come into the commentary room and are holding my colleague by the neck. They are coming for me too. Help! Help! Help! I was only mongering the TRUTH.

talking drums 1985-10-14 Azumah's World Crown at stake