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CanoeVibes: Uncertainty around Christian Atsu’s whereabouts

… a nation in desperate need of a miracle for a beloved son

“In a city where time is running out for the living, the dead must wait,” said the BBC’s Quinton Sommerville in a report from Antakya, one of the cities hit by the earthquake. As I sat down and reflected on his words, I thought about the uncertainty surrounding the whereabouts of Christian Atsu, the Ghanaian footballer whose whereabouts is still shrouded in mystery, despite initial reports of him being pulled from the ruins of a twelve-story building which got flattened when the earth shook itself.

The latest information has undone the joy most Ghanaians felt when news finally came that he had been rescued. Prior to that story, rumours of him being rescued and taken to a hospital were denied by officials of his club and a Turkish journalist, who is said to be actively reporting on the situation.

I was one of those who initially took to social media to celebrate the first report. I was confident in the sources that reported the news, especially from the respectable outlets like the Guardian, Talksport, The Mirror, other foreign magazines, and then few credible Ghanaian reporters, who even quoted sources from the ‘missing’ player’s camp.

But the denial from his club officials darkened my mood. Dear God, I said to myself. Like many Ghanaians who saw him play for the Black Stars and club football in Europe, Atsu is not somebody I know in person. I know about his charitable works, and have heard him speak about them, though reluctantly, but I was deeply stressed by his situation. I went home unable to even focus on a report I was to complete. I refused to even turn on the television and watch the news; it was too painful for me to watch.

The image of a week-old baby whose cry attracted rescue workers lying at the tip of the dead mother’s breast was too much for me to process. I went to bed almost midnight, still thinking about Atsu. I thought about him and his wife and three young children. I thought about his appetite for reaching out to the poor, and prayed to God to bring him out of the situation, even if injured. So, the news that he had been rescued later in the morning was a major joy to me.

I am, however, unable to accept the latest news that whoever was found and said to be him is not him. So, who could the said person be? And why are our emotions being messed with? On Wednesday morning when I heard my friend Fentuo Tahiru Fentuo’s interview with Ghana’s Ambassador to Turkey, Francisca Ashietey-Odunton, on JoySports on the Super Morning Show that the embassy had no details of the whereabouts of the player, I panicked.

Then I heard a quote attributed to another club official of his who said, unfortunately, that Atsu was still missing alongside his club’s director. I am so numbed. I have been thinking about his wife and three young children, and whatever questions may be running through their minds. I listened to an interview his twin sister granted a prison foundation Atsu works with and has been helping to get incarcerated persons out of their misery. The sister talked about her own distress and the fact that she may be flying to Turkey to check on her brother.

She talked about the floods of tears that streamed through her eyes when news started coming in about her brother. I wonder her current state of mind. It is incomprehensible that hours before the unfortunate incident, Atsu had scored for his team, Hatayspor, and had brought joy to the fans.

Who could have imagined that the people of Ghana, immediate family members, friends, and even former clubs will be hoping for a miracle?

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