FIRST AFRICAN UNDER-20 WORLD CUP VICTORY THROUGH PAN AFRICAN LENS

History was finally conceived in the barren chapters of the Africa FIFA Under-20 World Cup Championship in Egypt when the Black Satellites of Africa lifted the World Cup Trophy for the first time in the full glare of the 68,000 spectators gathered at Cairo International Stadium, after defeating Brazil.

Whilst the Egyptian and the Ghanaian flags were blowing the wind of victory down West and Central Africa almost to a point of tatters, the vuvuzela’s of South Africa, just like the proverbial African cock at dawn, was waking up the remaining Southern and Eastern African countries to the historic glory. From the length and breadth of the continent, the spirit of solidarity rarely experienced by the separate countries of Africa reverberated in the streets and at public spaces amid singing, drumming, dancing shouting and of course “vuvuzeling”.

The significance of this historic football feat to the African people cannot be overemphasized. Different people, however, accorded different significance to the event. Here are some views from Ghana. According to the President of Ghana, Professor John Evans Attah Mills, the historic victory is a timely wake up call to all Ghanaians irrespective of their party colours to unite as one people for the urgent task of national development.

Another Ghanaian who called at a local radio station in Accra asserted that the victory shows the supremacy of Ghana as a major football nation in Africa and at the world stage. The next caller made a rather interesting statement. He remarked, “Ghana is seen as the Brazil of Africa, but today, Brazil will be seen as the Ghana of South America”. To these people and million others, the victory is simply, a national affair and…maybe rightly so.

Firstly, the victory was won not by the senior national team, the Black Stars but rather the junior under 20 side, the Black Satellites. The significance of this is that, the current senior leaders of Africa may not necessarily be those to materialize the prospect of African unity government judging from their desultory attitude to issues of African unity. The hope seems to reside in the youthful generation. It is a common knowledge that, effecting fundamental changes become more difficult and unattractive as people advance in age. Not surprisingly therefore, a change as drastic and urgent as the political unification of African people, remains a wild goose chase from the colonial aftermath till today.

Research converge on the notion that, the youth are more open to new ideas, more daring and often blind to old standing vendetta that breeds mistrust and obstruct cooperation among nations. The example of the youthful Nkrumah, who engineered a fundamental change of African independence, and black liberation, comes to mind readily. The late youngest US president John F. Kennedy and the recent Noble Peace Prize laureate, Barrack Obama, who is currently working to fundamentally reform the long standing health care system of US is noteworthy.

The time is long overdue for the old leaders of men of Africa to constitute themselves into a team of advisors, take to the comfortable passenger seats and allow the younger generation the opportunity to drive the affairs of the continent to true political and economic unity. The economic viability of the separate states of Africa, some hardly numbering two million, created by former colonial powers for their own interest is still eluding. A federation has the promise of greater economic strength by allowing small and weak nations to pool their resources, both economic and human. It is only in this way that smaller nations can ever achieve the kind of economies of scale needed to effectively develop themselves through massive industrialization.

The second observation is that, the Black Satellites won the FIFA World Cup by a rich combination of expertise from both local and foreign-based players. The link is unmistakably obvious: the political unification of Africa would be realized more smoothly by close collaboration between Africans and foreigners. Foreigners in this context refer to all individuals and groups outside Africa who share in the vision of African unity. They include but not limited to Diaspora Africans, the Americans, Europeans and Asians.

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