Remote-controlled African football slaves

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Chrispin Inambao

Able-bodied African men are no longer forced to board merchant slave ships headed for plantations in the former new world. The current norm is they are enslaved in the comfort of their own homes.

They have been enslaved by European clubs et al Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal FC, Barcelona, etc. whose matches are beamed live via satellite to millions of homes and watering holes on the continent.
It’s not uncommon to find some presidents resplendent in replica jerseys of European teams in the company of their cronies at many a state house screaming like crazy, imbibing free booze and expensive whisky cheering for their chosen European teams/masters.

This is without doubt detrimental to African teams, e.g. Kaiser Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Blue Eagles, Bullets F.C., Dangwa, Zamalek, Caps United, Green Buffaloes, Mufulira Wanderers and Abuja FC among others too abundant to list by name.

On match day hordes of European-footfall-crazy Africans some bare-footed albeit attired in imitation jerseys of these teams are crammed like sardines into watering holes screaming their lungs out for European teams like crazy.
Elite African fanatical supporters enslaved by this spectacle unfolding on millions of TV screens across the continent at least gloss over their team’s losses by downing copious amounts of lager and they throw serious rounds for their drinking buddies.

Come Mondays some of them won’t even pitch up for work as they will produce false sick reports signed by unethical doctors and the product suffers and there is poor service delivery because some official is absent.
Not to beat about the bush as I penned this, Manchester City was confirmed Premier League champions and the continent erupted into massive celebrations and booze flowed freely as Africans feasted on marinated barbecued beef and goat.

Some drove around their streets in celebrations that would have been mistaken for a people liberated from the yoke of colonialism, hanging drunkenly and perilously out of the windows of impeccable Range Rovers, BMWs, Mercedes Benzes, Jeeps, Toyota Corollas, Hyundai Elantras and other models.

They even cheered louder than fans in Manchester City proper. One would have thought this was a eureka moment for a break-throw elixir for cancer or something akin to a scientific miracle.

Or one would have thought an African economist had formulated a cure-all panacea that would like a magician waving a magic wand to rid Africa of its innumerable social ills such as unrest, politicians squalling over poll results, unemployment, shortage of medicines, poor sanitation, widespread poverty – but alas this was not to be but merely Africans celebrating a faraway team filling its trophy cabinet.

To be a slave owner in 2018 you don’t need an ancient slave ship and a colonial sell-out chief – all you need is an elite European soccer club.

The icing on the cake is there is no need for whips because volunteer slaves can be found by the busload in beer halls identifiable by replica jerseys of their remote-wielding masters in Europe.
There is no doubt Manchester City and its rivals have become global household names and boast galaxies of superstars.

But alas, does any of its fabulous wealth trickle down to its African football slaves in Havana; Makoko; Kalingalinga; Cambamba; Agege; Kibela; Chitungwiza; Mabvuku or Ndirande?
Has this team sponsored any soup kitchen at any of these potential sources of social unrest and breeding grounds for crime?

Has it supported any football academy at other shanty towns such as Amui Djor, Ashiaman or in Mozambique where an appalling 80 percent of its residents live in slums? I guess the answer to my questions will be a resounding no.
Anyway as it is my choice to express my views it is equally all Africans’ right to choose which teams they want to support though this is being done at the expense of African football teams that are treated like orphans by the people expected to support them.

Africans, including the the author, are easily swayed and refuse to see anything good in their own products.
Sometimes we don’t even want to be treated by our own African doctors but would rather be treated by whites in Europe – that is if we have moolah. What happened to the adage ‘charity begins at home’?
African leaders are equally to blame for this endemic inferiority complex that has seen even the most educated Africans support European teams.

I blame some African leaders because some prefer going overseas for treatment, send their children to overseas universities, some of them bank their money not in Africa, while some first ladies fly to Europe to do shopping even for mascara

Part of the problem could be the fact soccer administrators on the continent hog the limelight more than the people who matter – being the players. In some cases, administrators earn more than soccer players and politicians have not helped matters by allocating lesser resources to soccer.

We are far behind countries such as Brazil that in the ‘50s invested in the revered soccer shrine the Maracana stadium that is to soccer fans what Mecca is to Muslims.

Our football is stuck in a time warp due to a moribund leadership out of touch with reality. Bickering, egoism, mismanagement and the lack of vision among sports administrators have contributed to the decline of football in Africa.

Football administrators have dismally failed to initiate ways to fill stadia and one can deduce they seem too preoccupied with self-saving schemes. Football on the African continent has had few triumphs and now trails that of Asia in terms of stars and stadia.
Football great Pele once predicted an African side would lift the World Cup before the end of the 20th century but so far this has been a deferred dream.
• This piece was originally written for social media. Chrispin Inambao: Editor of New Era Newspaper

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