Abena and Akosua on their way to South Africa
Two of the six students, who are reporting on the World Cup for the BBC, have been keeping a diary about their experiences.
Their journey starts when the two girls are summoned to the headmaster's office.
The pupils are from schools taking part in the British Council's Connecting Classrooms project and are working in partnership with BBC News School Report to provide on-the-spot reports from South Africa.
Read more about the partnership
and meet the rest of the
World Cup reporters.
By Abena, 11, and Akosua, 13
From the Headlines Educational Institute, Kumasi, Ghana
7 May 2010: The exciting news
This hot, boring Friday afternoon was the usual Social Studies lesson period. I looked forward to the bell ringing for lunch break so that we could catch up on the latest gossip in school. Then unexpectedly, the headmaster called the BBC News School Report team to leave class for a short meeting. We were told that we would be leaving for the British Council office at lunch break to have a meeting with the manager.
The British Council manager, Madam Brigid, asked each one of us about the role we had played in previous reports that we had made. She also asked us to report on various scenes. I was asked to report on a burglary that I had just come across and also the atmosphere at the British Council office. Akosua was asked to report on students' first day at boarding school and a busy market scene. I felt nervous. We didn't know which two had been selected to take part in the World Cup reporting until the next Monday. That weekend was the longest weekend in my life. On Monday, our teacher called Akosua and I to the headmaster's office and before he said "Congratulations", we were already saying "Thank you!"
1-3 June 2010: Our visa
Getting into the World Cup spirit
The journey from Kumasi to Accra took almost six hours. I met Abena and Madam Olivia at the British Council and were given letters to go to the South African consulate. We joined a queue outside the gate and were given numbers to wait for our turn. We waited for hours. People in the queue got angry and started making a noise. A lady from the consulate came out from her office to cool tempers and later we were all allowed in. I was asked to go back and bring proof of my air ticket the next day. On the second day, I was again told to go back and attach my birth certificate and consent letter from my parents. At this point, I felt that they were deliberately delaying us and might not grant us the visa. There were so many people looking for visas to go to the World Cup and I thought they wanted to cut down the number of people who could go. We left our teacher in Accra after the second day to continue the visa process. When she came back to Kumasi, she assured us that we would get the visa by 11 June.
Friday 18 June 2010: Our interview on Joy FM in Accra
This morning, the headmaster told us that we were to go for an interview with Joy FM in Accra, on the Super Morning show! Joy FM transmits to the whole of Ghana and the morning show was voted the most listened-to radio programme. I was not scared because it would be my second time talking on air. We left Kumasi at 0300 for Accra because our interview was at 0900. The traffic situation in Accra was so bad that we were late!
As we waited, we saw a number of radio and TV personalities who had come to the radio station for business. We couldn't believe our luck. We chose the biggest of these stars to interview about the World Cup - Van Vicker. He is a well known face in Ghallywood and Nollywood, Ghanaian and Nigerian film industries. At first we thought that he would refuse to speak to us. He was very pleasant and granted us a good interview. We were on air for 25 minutes, but it seemed very short. We talked about Connecting Classrooms, BBC News School Report and what we would be doing in South Africa.
As soon as we stepped out of the studio, two photo journalists asked us for our photographs in their studio so that they could use us for other news stories. We were happy to do that. In fact, the experience made us feel like the celebrities we had seen at the radio station.
Friday 18 June 2010: Our stay in Accra
We checked into a beautiful hotel in the centre of Accra city. It was 1500. I was excited to use a simple card as a key to open my door and also use the lift. I went swimming in their swimming pool and had a wonderful buffet breakfast the next morning. The television in the room had many channels and I tried to watch a bit of every channel.
20 June 2010: Our arrival in Johannesburg
After five and half hours of travelling, we finally reached Oliver Tambo Airport and I was very excited. When we landed, we were told that the temperature outside was four degrees Celsius. We went to where our bags were and we stood waiting for our bags to show up. A funny thing l realized was that a man was coming round with a dog. If the dog senses there is something in your bag it will sit beside your bag till the man inspects what's in it.
We are lodging at Mabopane in Pretoria with our hosts, Lindo and Melvin. The first thing we noticed about the car we travelled in was that the steering wheel was on the right hand side, instead of the left, and that cars were driving on the left side of the street. Johannesburg looked beautiful and large but not as colourful as Ghana. They had very few signboards.
22 June 2010: Pretoria
Visiting the sites of Pretoria
Our day was very exciting. Pretoria is part of Tshwane, meaning "same". It's beautiful. The Pretoria Parliament has beautiful gardens, a water fountain, huge buildings and statues. Then we went to the Ghana High Commission to interview the High Commissioner, His Excellency Lee Ocran. He was very pleasant and shared his views on the World Cup and Ghana's chance of qualifying for the next stage. He was also happy that the British Council and the BBC had supported Ghanaian children through the Connecting Classroom - School Report programme. We had a long, interesting chat.
We went to two shopping malls and had a chance to use an escalator for the first time. It was great.
We continued to the Church Square, also known as Paul Kruger Square, in the centre of Pretoria. There were pigeons all over and statues - a huge one of Paul Kruger, a former Apartheid prime minister of South Africa. Huge buildings surrounded the square. There were effigies of world-class footballers in bright colours mounted on the square. There was music and a puppet show going on. A lot of tourists had gathered around the show and gave money to the musicians. Food was also sold at the square and people were lying down on the grass.
After a busy day touring Pretoria, we arrived home to a warm welcome and meal prepared by Auntie Angie, our new mum in South Africa!
22 June 2010: Johannesburg and Soweto
Our day in Johannesburg and Soweto was very exciting. We first went to the British Council office to upload our news to the internet. After that, we went through the Mandela Bridge and to Soweto where we saw the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital which is the biggest in Africa.
We saw the Soweto Towers. We saw the Maponya mall which is the biggest mall in Soweto. We were impressed by the history of the mall, named after Maponya who started business as a milk seller, went on to build his own shop and bought the franchise of Shoprite (a grocery/supermarket chain) in Soweto and now owns the huge Maponya mall!
We visited the Mandela house, also in Soweto, on Vilakazi Street which is also home to Bishop Desmond Tutu's house. The street is a tourist attraction, known to be the only street that has two Nobel Peace prize winners living on it. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu don't live there now as it is not practical for them to do so now.
Abena and Akosua on the famous Vilakazi Street in Soweto
Later we went to watch the match between South Africa and France on a giant screen at the Rockville park in Soweto. Everybody there was dressed in the Bafana Bafana jersey. The atmosphere was very noisy with vuvuzelas. There were interesting ways of blowing them, with lead blowers and responses from other groups. When Bafana Bafana scored their first goal, the screaming was maddening! After the first half ended, people were dancing, blowing their vuvuzelas and hugging each other. We interviewed a lady who said South Africa will go on to the next stage.
In the second half, after some minutes Henry from France came on; it looked like people's faces began to change and they started booing. When France scored their first goal the crowd was very quiet. Soon the vuvuzelas started again when it looked like Bafana Bafana would score some more. However no goal came until the end and South Africa failed to qualify for the next stage.
After the match, we interviewed a Bafana Bafana supporter and talked to many others. They all seemed to be in high spirits. They all said that they had made history in beating France, the eighth ranked football nation. Supporters were still blowing vuvuzelas in and around the park, even an hour after the end of the match.
Arthur Mafokate, one of the biggest musicians in South Afric,a entertained the huge crowd with his female dancers. Even our teacher who is quite strict, danced and sang along. The crowd was still jamming when we left for home. We had a wonderful day!
23 June 2010: More tours and then the match, Ghana v. Germany
Today we left Pretoria and got to Jozy (Johannesburg) at 10.15 and went straight to Conhill (Constitution Hill) to see the constitution court and prison, now turned into a museum. The tour guide showed us the way the prison was, the open toilets used by the prisoners, which had no privacy. Prisoners could bath only once in three months.
We saw the solitary confinement cells and listened and watched testimonies from former prisoners. We also read a lot about Mahatma Ghandi's time spent in South Africa. We saw the Constitutional Court, which is chaired by eleven judges and sits only in six months of the year. The court only sits on constitutional matters.
After lunch, we visited hostels in Soweto. These were long stretches of building, divided into single rooms. During Apartheid, the rooms were given to only men who came from the rural areas to work in Soweto. They were not allowed to bring their families. We also heard and learnt about the pass system. People were given pass books and were restricted to staying only in their communities. Although Soweto is very close to Johannesburg, people were not allowed even to visit Johannesburg.
A typical old home in Soweto
We went to visit a typical old home in Soweto. On the small compound were seven shacks. These were small, one-room aluminium buildings. They looked very dangerous and unstable from outside, but are very neat and quite comfortable inside. The rooms were very cold and we were told that in summer the rooms also get very hot.
Lastly, we visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum where there were photographs, videos and many written things about the 1976 Soweto uprising. We stopped at the very street corner that Hector Pieterson was shot and killed and also saw Orlando West High school, the school from where the students who organised the march were from. The march was to protest against the use of Afrikaans as the only language in schools. The museum visit made me feel bad, and sad after we heard and read all about the uprising of the students in 1976. Outside the museum there was a building made to honour the youth who lost their lives on that day.
The match: Ghana v. Germany at Soccer City, Johannesburg
We headed for the bus station to get a bus to Soccer City as no cars are allowed to park close to the stadium. At the bus station there were sellers of Ghana and Germany flags, colours, hats and many things. The interesting thing is that the Ghana flags had all been bought, and people wanted more, whereas there were more German flags yet to be sold!
When we reached the stadium, our tickets were checked and we passed through a metal detector before we entered. The stadium was very big, with lots of fans from both countries. The atmosphere was very noisy with people blowing their vuvuzelas and others singing, shouting and screaming and a lot of fans were dressed in their national colours. Before the match started we interviewed a Ghanaian fan and a German fan. They were both in high spirits and they predicted very high scores.
While we were waiting for the match to start, Ghana's goalkeeper, Kingston and two others came out to train on the pitch and they were greeted with loud cheering. We felt proud to be Ghanaians because the spectators seemed to support Ghana. After a while, all the other footballers from both Ghana and Germany came out and all their fans kept cheering them, even when they were just practising.
After some minutes of training, the players went to change into their kit. Then they stood in a straight line for the national anthem of both countries. Abena, my teacher and I sang our national anthem at the top of our voices. After this, the players all stood in their positions for the match to start then the whistle was blown for the match to start.
The Ghanaian players were on the left side of the pitch and the German players were on the right side. While the match was going on, a lot of fans were blowing their vuvuzelas. Each time that a Black Star footballer took the ball from the German team, we stood up and cheered. It was so exciting, we couldn't sit still! After 45 minutes of playing the whistle was blown for half time and there were no goals for both teams. The Black Stars gathered together to pray before leaving for a short rest.
In the second half, both teams were having a tough game but unfortunately Germany scored a goal in the sixth minute. The German fans went wild with excitement. Ghana's goalkeeper had saved several balls so people did not blame him for missing this shot. The Ghanaian team kept trying but there was no goal, the referee blew for the end of the match and both the German players and fans were happy.
The Ghanaian fans looked quiet and sad. They talked amongst themselves, saying the boys played well. Just before the Black Stars were leaving the field, a screen displayed the scores of Australia and Serbia's match and it meant Ghana had qualified even though we didn't score. Suddenly the Ghanaian players came back and also started jubilating. We also saw Painstil and Ayew moving round the pitch waving the Ghana flag. At this time, both Ghana supporters and Germany supporters were happy and singing. It felt a little strange to see both sides jubilating even though Ghana had lost. Ghana supporters kept singing "We love you, Australia" for making it impossible for Serbia to win!
Abena and Akosua at the match!
The stadium with a seating capacity of 90,000 was filled up to 83,391 spectators for the Ghana v. Germany match. After the match, we interviewed German and Ghana fans, some of whom had lost their voices. They were all sure to move on to the quarter-finals and even to semi-finals!
Later, as we left the park and headed for the bus station, a group of people from Ghana had gathered at a place and were singing and drumming and dancing. We stopped for a while and sang and danced with them as all the songs were popular religious songs known to every Ghanaian. We congratulated each other with broad smiles. When we got home it was 1.30am. We were exhausted so we went straight to bed.
24 June 2010: Our last day
We woke up very late because we were very tired. After we had finished packing our bags we were joined by the two South African students who were also reporting for BBC News School, Zandihe and Sihle and their teacher Alice. They had just returned from Blomfontein after watching the South Africa v. France match.
We all talked about our experiences and our school life and we exchanged email addresses. Then we went out with them to a nearby shop to buy some chips! We wished we could stay in South Africa a little longer to be a part of the whole Ke Nako atmosphere.
We left at about 2pm with our all luggage and after hugs and photographs with Auntie Angie and photographs with Zandihe and Sihle. We wished we could stay in South Africa a little longer to be a part of the whole Ke Nako atmosphere. It felt like we were leaving our new family behind.
On the way to the airport, we stopped at the British Council office to make telephone calls to our parents to tell them we will be soon be arriving home in Ghana. It took about two hours to check-in but then we spent time look at the duty free shops and bought toffees for our classmates, teachers and families.
We slept most of the time after eating on the flight and before we knew it the air stewardess was shaking us to fasten our seat belt as we were landing at Kotoka, in Accra!
Abena and Akosua