Super Eagles – The black man’s burden, responsibility and hope

Argentina’s Cristian Pavon (L) and Nigeria’s Alexander Iwobi vie for the ball during an international friendly football match between Argentina and Nigeria in Krasnodar on November 14, 2017. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

I am not racist in any form or shape. There isn’t even an atom of it in my DNA.

Unfortunately, I also now understand clearly that as a black man I belong to a specie that has probably always been relegated by some deep-rooted cultural design to the lowest rung of the world’s systems.

After decades of varied personal experiences, including travelling the world and seeing how other races react to the black person, I have come to the rather unfortunate independent conclusion that the black person is not the most loved specie on earth. And that’s putting it mildly.

Looking through the archives of history the real situation would most likely be that he has never been considered at par with the rest of humanity. Think sincerely and shed your own tears!

In my limited experience also I have observed the futility, in a lot of ways, of his struggle to earn respect and to be treated as an equal by other races. His potentials have never been enough in win that struggle. Rather his best accomplishments and contributions (even in providing the essential manpower for the development of other cultures and civilisations) have been treated and credited in isolation, and have never rubbed off on the entire race, or even a geographical region.

So, no black country on earth has managed to shake off the subtle linkage between skin colour and their physical underdevelopment of the environment. For Nigeria, the country with the largest black population on earth, this is a huge burden to carry.

Even black Americans, with all their giant strides and contributions in building the most advanced civilization in the history of the world, they still carry a weighty load of the skin colour and their black African roots within their adopted country, the United States of America.

Of all human activities sports have proven to be the most level of all playing ‘fields’. They have, through the years and through struggles also, provided the greatest opportunities and platforms through which the mental yoke of inequality that can be thrown out the window.

Testing the limits of physical human capacity, skills and endurance destroys genetic divides and differences, and takes sports competition amongst all of mankind beyond the myopic limits of superficial superiority.

Competition, therefore, in the presence of the largest global audience between persons carrying the independent banners of their countries defined only by physical geography, provides an excellent get-out-of jail card for the black person’s mental and physical yoke.

That’s what the FIFA World Cup and, to a lesser emotional extent, the Olympic games provide.

Sports are one veritable tool that the black person must explore and exploit for his emancipation. That’s why as the Super Eagles of Nigeria go to Russia next summer they carry on their shoulder not just the responsibility of one country, but of all blacks in the world.

Unfortunately, unofficially, the World Cup, with its global prestige, and its power to impact the human psyche, is a project that is not originally scripted for a black African country to win!

Before this past week, Nigeria (and Senegal, the second country from black Africa in the World Cup) would only have been just another country at the football fiesta expected to fill the quota of racial representation, add some colour and cultural spectacle to the event with their singing, drumming and dancing supporters in the terraces, provide easy points for the more ‘powerful’ football nations, and quietly disappear and be forgotten when the serious battles for the most coveted sports trophy on earth begin from the second round.

No, it has never been a serious consideration outside Africa that a black African country will win the World Cup. Never! That has always been the unscripted plot. And it was going to be so again in Russia next summer until this past week!

When it happened at the Olympic games in 1996 it was an accident that was taken and treated in isolation and quickly rested before it develops into a trend. Nigeria, naively, did not advance the impact of that monumental achievement beyond the euphoria of the Gold medal and use it, as Muhammed Ali did after the 1964 Olympics, to fight for human equality.

The West simply swallowed their pride and allowed Nigeria, the black man’s most powerful representative on earth, to return to his old ways of bad governments, endemic corruption, low-level development, endless internal political crisis, poverty mentality and materialistic propensities driven by adopted foreign standards, cultures and values.

Another opportunity now beckons. This time it comes in the aftermath of a simple friendly match.

This past week, Nigeria took on Argentina in what was expected to be a routine match, with Argentina giving Nigeria some lessons on the modern game of football. The world did not pay much attention until the news broke of the most unlikely of results, a deserved masterful display by the Africans, and the defeat of one of the teams being tipped to win the 2018 World Cup.

The result of that small match has ignited new tensions in the world of football. Suddenly, Nigeria is been scrutinized by the rest of the world. The country has been thrown into the deep end of a situation it was definitely unprepared for. The country must embrace the new challenge this will definitely thrust upon her and convert it to strength required to steer through the turbulence and rapids of the World Cup.

With that victory over Argentina Nigeria must wake up to the reality of the burden it carries, to the responsibility it has to much more than its 180 million people, and to the hope of all black people on earth. Winning the World Cup is not as remote as it has always been plotted to be. It may indeed be within touching distance.

Undoubtedly, winning the World Cup will be a most effective tool to advance the continuing struggle for the emancipation of the black person on earth.

For the Super Eagles, therefore, the 2018 World Cup is a burden, a responsibility and hope for the black race!



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