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Ghana's number one

Lucky Sindane/M&G/Twenty Ten

A feature from the Soccer World Cup 2010: Ghana

A portrait of Ghana's self-proclaimed number one supporter

Date: 20090907

It's a hot Sunday afternoon at Odaw Station in Accra and the bad smell coming from the slum almost spoils what promises to be a great day ahead of the match between Ghana's Black Stars and Sudan's Desert Hawks football teams.

Hundreds of people who live in Odaw seem not to be bothered at all by the heat as they hurl insults at me and shout "Oboa" repeatedly as Ghana's self-proclaimed number one soccer supporter, Samuel Oboa, emerges from the east side of the slum looking a bit depressed, carrying a plastic bag with Juju and green and red fabrics.

I get goose bumps as I look into his red eyes and wonder if I should carry on with this journey. He leads the way to a taxi rank where he and six friends, do what they are famous for in Ghana. They are commonly known as body painters during Black Stars' matches. They paint their bodies in the colours of Ghana but Samuel’s famous pot, which he carries on his head during matches, captures the attention.

Today, things are not looking good as they have to move to an old building at the slum’s train station. Again people shout “Oboa Oboa” and he waves back at them like some dignitary. As we arrive at the room in the station the excitement mounts when Oboa’s friends quickly take off their...

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Previously published in Mail&Guardian, South Africa 2009-09-11 00:00:00 UTC

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