The 2018 FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia has come to a close. If there is still anyone, a black African in particular, who still holds that the black skin is guilty of the state of today’s Africa, a little thinking won’t hurt. A brief analysis of the French team will help get the point.
A total of 15 Africans were in the French Team and 13 of them, except for Rami and Fekir, are black skinned. Six of the French players who featured in the Final are black skinned Africans. The big man at the back, Samuel Umtiti, who stood as a rock at the central defence, was born in Cameroon. He plays for FC Barcelona of Spain, one of the greatest football clubs in the world.
The defensive midfielder, Ngolo Kante, is from Mali. In front of him is another black African, Paul Pogba, who hails from Guinea. He plays for the biggest club in England: Manchester United. Steven Nzozi, the fair skinned black African who replaced the impeccable Ngolo Kante, hails from Congo. He plays for Sevilla of Spain, the unofficial owners of the Europa League.
At the left wing is the veteran Blaise Matuidi with an Angolan father and a Congolese mother. He plays for what is currently the biggest club in Italy, Juventus. Tolisso who plays for Bayern Munich is Togolese. Then there is 19 year old Kyrian Mbappe, the wonder kid who destroyed Argentina in that Round of 16 and had them running after him like the victims of Usain Bolt. He has an Algerian mother and a Cameroonian father.
The substitutes: Dembele of Barcelona has Mauritanian and Senegalese roots; Lemar of Monaco has Nigerian roots; Benjamin Mendy of Manchester City has Senegalese parents; Rami has Moroccan parents; Kimpembe has a Senegalese father; Fekir hails from Algeria; Sidibe has Malian roots; and Mandanda was born in DR Congo.
The truth is, had these guys played in any of the African countries that qualified for the World Cup, they wouldn’t have gone anywhere. Had they played for the same team in one of the African countries that participated, they wouldn’t have gone anywhere. They probably wouldn’t have been invited. The mother of the 19 year old Mbappe would have been asked to pay about two thousand dollars to have her son play as a 16 year old in the FIFA U17 World Cup. He would have had to play another 7 years, then play 4 years in the local league, before going to Europe as a 22 year old and getting a National Team call. That is, if his parents bribed well.
The Nigerian National Team has seen more talents than the French Team boasted. Talents poorly nurtured and harnessed. We once had Uche Okechukwu who could stand Umtiti pound for pound; Jay Jay Okocha who was better than Paul Pogba or any of the French players; Emmanuel Amunuke, who in his days, was better than Blaise Matuidi; Sunday Oliseh who had qualities Ngolo Kante will envy; Daniel Amokachi, Finidi George, etc, but after winning the Atlanta Olympics, our false age and poor system couldn’t work in other places.
We’ve won more U17 World Cup than any country but we’ve not crossed the quarter finals of the World Cup. This doesn’t make sense. Winning more at that age means you’ve got a brighter future but it is not what it seems.
While other countries see it as a developmental competition and play with real 17 year olds, here we shave the beards off 25 and 30 year olds and go to bully little children. When you expect our 17 year olds to be at their peak and win the World Cup, they are actually 38 and should be thinking of retirement.
Some tried to blame racism but any true diagnosis will show that the African teams haven’t really done well to have the privilege of external factors culpable for their poor results. You will first have to perform well and create opportunities before we can debate on referees’ inputs on those created opportunities. When Ighalo wasted an open goal from a deflected hand ball, he rushed to the referee to demand for a penalty and fans shouted racism. What racism?
This World Cup carries the message of the Movie ‘Black Panther’: the failure or success of the black race is deeper than the problem of skin colour. France showed us that success is colour blind. Intelligence and growth are not an exclusive property of any colour. The bottom line is: the head must first be correct for the parts to know how to function properly. The black man and the white man are endowed with similar tools to excel and failure on the part of anyone isn’t a result of skin colour.
The white and black man have fools and wise men in their midst but the problem stems from allowing those in charge of construction be the fools. If the men who founded America had been a bunch of fools and not Washington, Lincoln or Thomas Paine etc., the foundation would have been too weak to erect those pretty mental and physical structures we see in the states. If those who founded America had been men of little or no substance, the country wouldn’t be this powerful.
One might say, after all there are other teams, other countries that work, like Germany, that still lost in the group stages after much preparation. There are also other countries like the USA, that work, that couldn’t make it to Russia. I say to them, at least they are better at something. At least they built a system that makes self purification an easy thing. At least they have shown that they are willing to find out why they failed and are ready to correct it. At least they’ve shown enough competence in diverse fields to keep having meaningful dreams. They have the tools to hold onto for a meaningful hope. Tell me one progressive thing the Nigerian Football Association is doing about the Super Eagles’ failure and I will delete this page.
The truth is, anyone who really thought an African country will win this World Cup or any of the last ones, is deluded. Our structures are not founded on solid ground and expecting growth is like expecting a ship in the desert.
If France was an African country, let’s say Nigeria, those good players would have had to pay to play for their country or know someone who knows someone that knows someone in the glass house. The men leading matter. The same procedure for appointing competent hands to run the country or contracts was followed in the French National Team. Here, you simply get an incompetent hand that is ready to share a certain percentage of the money with you or better still, get a competent hand but liaise with them to do an incompetent short-term job, so that both of you gain. The strong willed, most skilled, qualified and honest lose the job because they are not ready to do a job of 50 million dollars with 50 million naira.
Those black players in France, a white majority country, left Africa and succeeded. If the French team based their selection on race or origin, they probably wouldn’t have won the world cup. They didn’t say black people are not welcomed in their team but only cared about performance. Here, we pretend we do but we don’t. You are judged by tribe and no matter how good you perform, there are those always willing to paint you bad and destroy you for simply being from another tribe.
So, if there is a job for a Zulu man, no matter the qualifications or competence of the Xhosa man, the job must go to the Zulu man. If an Urhobo man is the best in an interview session for a job and the owner wants an Ikwere man, the genius of the Urhobo man is sacrificed for what turns out to be a dangerous form of tribal love. The effect is the population of an intellectual demanding job by cretins which in turn affects the system on a geometric scale. If the French saw the body as merely an avenue for enriching themselves, funding of football wouldn’t had been possible and this second trophy will be just like the nightmare of those who really believed an African country will win the world cup.
In this continent, our systems have in high places intellectual midgets running the show. They look at the easy money and are not creative enough to see that real investment into the system will provide enough money for everyone. For example, while the Nigerian and African clubs in the African leagues connive with their football associations to seek bribes and influence matches, their counterparts in Europe, America and Asia, with better systems, are making weekly what they spend an eternity trying to acquire through corruption. Uncreative thieves!
Why try to steal ten million naira in 38 matches when you can legally acquire over 10 million dollars in one match? A good system will favour everyone but a good system anywhere can only be possible when the best set of any people are in charge of managing the things of those people. When the best people in sport manage our sport we will thrive in sport.
When the best set of people manage our education, our education will thrive. When the best people are in charge of deciding who runs any sector of the country, Africa wins. Skin colour is not the problem. Blackness does not darken the brain. The African soil is not impermeable to growth. The African mind is as active as the Asian, European, American and Australian minds. The only problem right now are the minds of those running Africa.
They are the smallest minds in the land but they are using crude methods to keep all in check. Those we call African leaders have as majority grade one madmen and dimwits whose lives would have fared better as ordinary citizens. Dear young black African, an old too, it’s not the fault of your skin colour. After watching black France triumph and you still blame skin colour for your predicament?
By Rey Alaetuo,
A conscious Poet and healthcare professional living in Lagos, Nigeria.
Courtesy: Mortal Poet.