Response Inspired by: Europe and the Racialization of African Football – By The Africa Report.
So the AFCON Finals finally ended today, and I join all the “Africa.Must.Unite” proponents in saying “Way to Go Naija (Nigeria)!” lol.
However, every significant event leaves room for contemplation right? In all our excitement or disappointments, in all our feelings of community, togetherness, a sense that Africa is worth more than the world seems to make her out to be. A sense that in our teams we see a brotherhood of sorts, though competing against each other. A sense that from the noises of the chants and the vuvuzelas of supporters either in the bleachers or behind the television screens, we have found home – or better still, home has found us. We need to still find room to ask questions. Draw parallels. Figure things out.
I just read the above article on the Africa Report, and I am reminded that all our actions are evaluated by the world, and need to be evaluated by us too. Instead of reacting with anger or frustration at the kind of condescension unleashed on Africans once again (and this time through our beloved game of football! Smh), I have decided to take on a different approach. Passive maybe, as some might see it. Actively engaged in the discourse, as others my assert. I think, Africa stands at a critical point. On the threshold of possibility and failure, all eyes are on us. And whether we like it or not, centre stage is not an easy limelight to carry. We need to ask ourselves the right questions.
Are people making justified claims about Africa, even if they are condescending? Are we being nonchalant about the roles we can play in changing things? Are we striving to do our best to prove others wrong? Are we doing everything to a level of excellence and maximum capacity? Are we exhibiting that skill and talent, is never dependent on skin color or race? Each time we forfeit our teams to play in foreign teams, are we doing ourselves a favor or just forfeiting the possible birth of true globally recognized legacy within those teams? Whose standards must we compare to? How do we extend the questions this article elicits to other aspects of our existence – governance, education, work, social responsibility, religion, other sports, etc.
And then again there’ll be of course the over-arching critic that will question all these questions I just posed. By asking all these questions aren’t we setting ourselves up against the “world’s standards” once more? Must we “colonize our minds” in this vein once more? And what about African Standards? Why don’t we create our own “thing”? And to these questions, I say sure. We can decide to achieve excellence by our standards but only provided it is not “sub-standard”, or for want of a better word “sub-par”. Let it not be an excuse for mediocrity. And it doesn’t matter who set the standards. As long as there is some existing threshold, you do yourself a disservice by not breaking it in the name of “creating your own identity”.
I dunno. Maybe I have stretched this discourse too wide, but it’s interesting how a simple game of football, could make you ask all these questions. God bless Africa, God show us the way.