A couple of years ago, I chanced upon a Belgian soccer magazine which had a picture of Sharaf Mahama, the third son of Former President John Mahama and his wife, Lordina Mahama, on one of its glossy pages. The story accompanying it was that he had signed for Belgian professional football club, KV Mechelen.
Mechelen is a big club in Belgium. It has won four Belgian championships, one Belgian cup as well as the 1987-88 European Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1988 Super Cup. I was impressed that the son of Ghana’s President had been found good enough to be registered by this team.
The following year, his name came up in a discussion with a friend who told me he had been signed by another Belgian club, Tempo Overijse, from Machelen. The lad, I realize, was on the move to stardom.
In June 2015, I was at the Accra Sports stadium for the Stephen Appiah Testimonial match. That was the first time I saw Sharaf and saw him play football. He came on in the second half and played alongside international stars like Dede Ayew, Asamoah Djan and Emmanuel Adebayor among others.
I was impressed by the skill he showed that day but it did not occur to me he was heading for professional football until I chanced upon the soccer magazine in Belgium which run the news item on him.
That is why I was surprised to read on some websites not long ago the claim that he was living an ostentatious lifestyle in Belgium, especially driving flashy cars.
The impression the stories I read sought to create was that he was ‘blowing’ Ghana’s money.
That as a professional footballer he has been signed on by professional clubs in Belgium can mean only one thing; the young man has earned and is earning big bucks.
So why can’t he afford a Mercedes Benz or any other state-of-the-art vehicle? What is strange about a professional footballer in Europe driving a Mercedes Benz or any expensive vehicle? Is it not a fact that it is in sports, especially football, that big money is earned? Do professional footballers not earn monies far beyond the dreams of doctors, lawyers and even Presidents? Are professional footballers in Europe not synonymous with big bucks, fast cars, beautiful mansions, beautiful women, luxury yachts etc?
So what is strange about Sharaf, a professional footballer in Belgium displaying any of these? Or those behind the article casting him in negative light expect him, in spite of the monies he has earned as a professional footballer, to live like a tramp, dress shabbily, sleep on the streets of Brussels and eat from trash cans? Is this silly write-up about him living a flashy life in Europe not just a matter of envy or just politics because his father is John Mahama and his mother Lordina Mahama?
Enquiries I made even shows Sharaf Mahama rather than being a wild kid living a Bohemian lifestyle is an calm and well-dressed chap who plays for his team without expecting or receiving favours just because he is a President’s son.
Having spent most of my life in Europe and therefore not used to Ghana’s politics, I frown upon the attempt to demonize the young man and the attempt to court public hatred for him because his father is John Mahama. We as a nation have to grow up and know that not everything in life should be partisan politics. I wish Sharaf Mahama all the best. Being a footballer is not easy.