“I am an African. I know what Africans believe in. Africans believe in what they see.” Divine Kodzo Baba has seen the deterioration of the town in which he was born. He has witnessed the shrinking of his beloved Keta. The coastal port was once Ghanas second largest city. Coastal erosion has washed away houses and has forced businesses to close. Demonstrating the even-handedness of its ways, nature has left the tribal king without his 27-acre palace, washed away by the big waves which pound that part of the coastline.
Now Kodzo Baba can see a way forward. He can see a way to encourage young people to stay in the community and he can see a way to encourage business back. It’s football. In football-devoted Ghana, the Keta Sandlanders football club is bringing economic development to the area.
It is bringing a sense of community. Keta Sandlanders is even bringing something to Ghanaian football. It is demonstrating a new way forward for football development, a new structure which gives club members a voice and a part to play in the future of their club.
Keta Sandlanders, the second division football club, is a co-operative. Directors of the club are referred openly to as white elephants. The real decisions concerning the club are made by its people. Kodzo Baba knows that Africans believe what they can see. “So that is why we want to start this club on the basis of the co-operative,” he says. The people can see that the structure puts power back into their hands and into the community.
Now it’s not just football that is benefiting from the co-operative. Plans to construct a new pitch sit alongside plans for a community centre which will host workshops on health, on farming education, on ways to continue breathing life back into the Keta community.
Kodzo Baba has the final word. “In Africa we say when you carry something on to the shoulder level people will help you put it on your head”.