Well if I covered the 2018 Fifa World in Russia five into six months pregnant, what stops me now that she is here and in charge.
Ghanaian photojournalist shares her experience covering her first AFCON as a mother
Yes my very first Afcon, actually my very first tournament. Yes, my very first tournament as a mother.
So this answers the question the very concerned fans of my daughter #Myupgrade Mawuena Awoyo have been asking Where did you put the baby before going to Egypt?. As a shareholder in imagesimage, I felt she should be on the ground with the team.
In fact, I even applied for a CAF media account for her. The media officer in charge called me and said “madam what a record. In fact, when I saw a year of birth I thought it was a typo from an applicant, I was sending a mail to you that one of your people had a typo, but something said scroll down.”
“I scrolled down and indeed here was the applicant’s Photo & National ID attesting 2018 was the true year of birth no typos made. But why?” he quizzed.
What Was the difference (if it was?)
It was indeed very different, there was no room for me to find humour in certain organizational challenges that impeded our workflow, issues that back in 2008 I would have laughed off saying “Africa for you” I found totally unprofessional and becoming of a whole confederate.
Whenever I left my apartment for the stadium I expected at least 250% output, otherwise, why leave home where I could spend time with my #Myupgrade. In the same light, I came to appreciate certain organizational features by the confederation that boosted my team’s workflow.
What didn’t I find amusing?
I didn’t find it amusing leaving my home so early to make it to a press conference, only to find out that French was the only language being spoken by the speakers. I turned and found all Anglophone journalist just staring,
I raised my hand, and was given the mic, my question; I’d like to know why only French and then if that was the chosen language why invite us? Only for the officers in charge to hurry with apologies & bring in hundreds of headset stating that there were translators.
I didn’t find it amusing travelling to every stadia expecting the host nation matches and feel like I was covering some highly restricted security closed-door matches with no fans to cheer the teams on.
More importantly for me as a photojournalist, no fans to add colour and spirit to this beautiful African Fiesta. I put this question across at a meet the press series only to be given the most common answer; “The problem is Africa is a big continent so getting people to travel across to watch matches is difficult.”
Please, Africans love their football and they like to travel for any and every reason out of their countries. Indeed there was a problem and “The problems is as friendly as the nation of Egypt is, they have in very recent years taken up some very strong security measures to control which foreigners from coming into the country which makes acquisitions of Egyptian visa almost impossible. In fact, I had previously been denied an Egyptian visa before securing one for Afcon.
So fans were not able to travel into Egypt and those other nationalities and some Egyptian nationals already in Egypt were a little too intimidated by the security checks one was subjected to during buying of match tickets.
My final and perhaps most important issue with Afcon 2019 as a mother plus a photographer with very heavy gears was lack of information on media entrance, which kept changing. We were told due to security issues. I didn’t find it amusing at all leaving the side of #Myupgrade only to spend two hours in the hot sun before getting access to match venues.
What did I appreciate as mother covering the tournament?
I really appreciated the fact that after leaving home from Cairo at 10:00am travelled two hours to Ismalia going from gates to gates, trying to get through with my letter of accreditation to be given an accreditation card, which I couldn’t get because by the time I got help to take me to the right place the centre had closed, Yet the authorities stepped in and made sure I covered the match without having accreditation by issuing me a Day Pass.
I appreciated the fact that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had ensured very very minimal media negativity against the tournament. CAF did that by employing the assistance of almost all influential and most followed sports journalists and sports personalities across the continent to manage and coordinate both media and match activities.
My thought, the Bold Strong voices aka critics had been tasked to propagate positive stories about so who would criticize?
My final kind words on AFCON 2019, I so appreciated the staging of the Knock out games. Yes, it was easy for me as nursing mother covering the tournament to be able to shoot two matches at two different venues, that was a dream come true and I applaud CAF for organization and Egypt for the availability of resources.
How was my day to day movement?
It was so great. I wake up at 5:00 am, feed my daughter, and then we go back to sleep.
At 10:00 am I feed her again and bath her. While she plays I take the fastest shower and yell out instructions for the day to my team.
I sit on my bed to dress up so #Myupgrade gets to play with my hair. I then ask for her blessings before heading to the stadium.
We get back between midnight and 1:00 am from matches, I’m told she’s sleeping, I open our bedroom door take off my one shoe and oops she turns to me with a huge smile, with the other shoe still on I report to the bedside for hugs and kisses very wet kisses. I ask for permission to take a quick shower and we fall asleep playing with each other every single match day.
On non-match days I spend the most time with her, then manage some little administration works.
Why am I sharing this non-partisan tale?
Well after having my daughter many have shared life stories with me, you would think abortion is only patronized by our labelled slay queens, but no most working women are having to terminate their pregnancies because of a belief that women are not that “Work Attractive After Given Birth”.
Here I am I covered 22 out of the 24 national teams. Ask how many men have the same statistics. It is not a competition, my point is life is a state of mind let us not prematurely end the productivity of highly gifted women.
This is not a Ghana thing but a worldwide issue, I hear many corporate ladies express fear of giving birth at a certain time because it may end their working lives within their organisations, I watched CadiB a 2018 best rapper Grammy winner say she was asked to abort her pregnancy because having a child may end her career.
Maybe it is time the United Nations offer working mothers as much attention and support.
Thank you Daily Graphic for partnering with imagesimage.com as your images provider for a second AFCON in a row. Thank you for believing in your own.
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