KWAME BONSU: The Lazarus- Like Resurrection Of Asante Kotoko’s Midfield Metronome Featured
13 Apr

KWAME BONSU: The Lazarus- Like Resurrection Of Asante Kotoko’s Midfield Metronome

Kwame Bonsu was emotional. It was in the wake of Asante Kotoko’s 3-0 victory over Nkana FC in the CAF Confederation Cup in Kumasi.

“I have no words,” he told me. “I just have to thank God because I am who I am today because of Him … I will forever live to be grateful to Him.”

Of course, he had every reason to ascribe all glory to the Supreme Being for coming to his rescue.
And it was a rescue from some predicament.
 
On the morning of October 6 2017, Bonsu awoke and set about his daily duties unaware that hours later he was to be plucked from the football pitch and thrust to a solitary confinement.
 
He was sentenced to a two-year jail term by a court in Sweden for allegedly assaulting his partner in 2015. Then on the books of Swedish side Gefle IF, Bonsu’s contract was terminated as he began a journey to serve his sentence. It was a tragic tumble.
 
The news sent shock waves across Ghana, shaking Bonsu’s relatives and close pals. They just couldn’t fathom why this was happening to such a promising young man.
 
Tried as they did to overturn the decision of the court, the result was always negative. It was a game-over situation.  Bonsu was left with no option than to serve the pronounced jail term.
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Kwame Bonsu was born in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city. He started learning the ropes at Anokye Stars, arguably the most popular colts club in the Ashanti Region, which he joined at the age of seven.
 
He went on to catch the eyes of more than a couple of topflight Ghanaian clubs, but it was Hearts of Lions that won the race to sign the budding Bonsu.
 
Foreign spells with FC Rosengard, Hallevik, and Mjallby AIF followed, before his arrival at Gefle IF.
 
Bonsu was released after spending eleven months in jail, and was uncertain whether to continue with football or try his luck at a different trade. After many weeks of deliberations with family and friends, he decided to continue with football, beginning a process of returning to his native land to relaunch his career.
 
Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko welcomed him with open arms, signing him in October 2018 after he’d successfully passed a trial. Eyebrows were raised; why were the Porcupine Warriors signing a man whose career looked all but dead?
 
Coach C.K. Akonnor paid no heed to those concerns, instead choosing to give him an opportunity to express and impress. Bonsu would vindicate Akonnor in the long run, but not without some early struggling.
 
The man affectionately called ‘Conte’ by his fans – due to his style being reminiscent of that of former Italian player and manager Antonio Conte - had a torrid start to his Kotoko career, finding it difficult to break into the starting team.
 
But that spell on the sidelines wouldn’t last. By dint of desire and devotion, he soldiered on until his chance arrived. Akonnor handed him a starting role as Kotoko played Coton Sport de Garoua in Cameroon en route to the Confederation Cup Group stage.
 
The midfielder grabbed the bull by the horns, played like his life depended on it. He embraced the challenge with every strained sinew as he hurtled headfirst toward a resplendent new reality.
 
An irritating presence for the Cotonsport midfield throughout, Bonsu drove forward at will, creating chances and making life difficult for his opponents. He was, for all intents and purposes, the main catalyst for a largely inspiring away victory.
 
After the game, social media swirled with rave reactions to his performance. He’d endeared himself to the hearts of Kotoko supporters especially, who began to lobby their manager, via media platforms, to keep starting Conte. The lobbying worked; Conte locked down his spot in the middle, and went on to cement a status as a fans’ favourite.
 
When, shortly afterwards, he scored his first Kotoko goal against Zambian side Zesco United, he was instantly mobbed by teammates, officials and reserves from the bench. The fans were not left out, bursting out in celebration of their newly found hero.
 
The idolization of Bonsu at Kotoko has been intense, a phenomenon that is a result of the appeal of his talent, personality and history. He has had a conspicuous outlook of affection towards the club too.
 
“There’s always something that can be learned from winning and losing. I would argue we can learn much from losing than we can from winning,” he recently said in an interview with OTEC FM, following Kotoko’s elimination from the Confederation Cup. “The point is that you must approach it with a ‘growth mindset versus a victim mindset.’ We keep fighting!”
 
There is a depth of positive feeling towards him from the Fabulous faithful that is rare. In the eyes of the fans, Bonsu has proved to be a good acquisition - one that will certainly help restore the club’s lost image on the continent as they seek to rake in silverware.
 
Bonsu’s career has switched gears over the last few months, earning him high profile praise and positions. He was recently handed a maiden call up into the senior national team, the Black Stars, in their double header against Kenya in an AFCON qualifier and Mauritania in an international friendly.
 
With his cherubic face and cool demeanour, Kwame Bonsu earned his first national cap in the Stars’ 3-1 victory over Mauritania in a friendly at the Accra Sports Stadium.
 
As he jogged unto the pitch, having replaced Alfred Duncan in the 65th minute, it was poetic: The man who just two years earlier believed had been unfairly judged and his freedom cruelly taken away from him was now out at Ghana’s national stadium, overlooking the iconic independence arc, which has the words FREEDOM AND JUSTICE boldly engraved on it. He didn’t look out- of- place as his insatiable desire to improve, and an unstoppable will to learn ensured he had an impressive debut.
 
In life there is always reality. There may be spontaneity and reality. Drama and reality. Romance and reality. But reality is always the bottom line. It’s something that can at times be both cruel and mundane, other times inspiring and uplifting. Some stories, some realities, you simply can’t make up. This – Kwame Bonsu’s story - may well be one of them. It’s a story of resilience and inspiration, a dogged refusal to go gentle into that bad day.
 
Just like the biblical Lazarus who was dead and was resurrected after some days, Kwame “Conte’ Bonsu’s career as a footballer has been resurrected almost a year after it went dead.
 
Follow the writer onon twitter @godfred_budu
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