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The Cult of Michael Essien
By Greg Lalas, NYTimes.com

January 26, 2008

ACCRA, Ghana — Michael Essien, as anyone here will tell you, is Ghana’s biggest player. Not the best player — that title is reserved for injured midfield talisman Stephen Appiah — but the most luminescent of all the Black Stars of Ghana. The Man.


If any visitor here can’t figure that out on his own, he’s been drinking too much apeteshie, the local firewater. Essien’s smiling visage, with those game-ready eyes and spiky Tracy Chapman mini-dreads, is plastered on billboards and posters all over town. The 25-year-old Chelsea midfielder is shilling for everything from MTN, the South African mobile phone company and main sponsor of the African Cup of Nations, to Guinness to a local yogurt drink called FanYogo (tagline: “My Secret”).

“Michael is a world brand now, like Beckham,” former Ghana captain Tony Baffoe told me when I ran into him at the Golden Tulip Hotel. “It’s good. It’s good to have a black hero, good for our nation, good for Africa, and good for the kids.”




Michael Essien

Photo courtesy, NYTimes.com










Jacob Zuma - Controversial figure with a populist gift

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