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.

This position may justifiably provoke the sensibilities of some hard-lined Pan-Africans, who drawing from the history of injustice in Africa by foreigners, may propose an only African approach. However, just like the Black Satellites, we cannot do it all by local talent. The yoke of slavery, remember, was broken not by the victims alone. The genuine zeal and good intentions of Abraham Lincoln, William Henry Seward among others can be hardly ignored.

Traveling the world with over 150 international students drawn from all corners of the globe makes one appreciate the fact that there are sincere Americans and Europeans out there with the right technology, expertise, logistics and capital to collaborate with Africa in her quest to achieving true emancipation.

The last observation under my Pan-African lens is the fact that more than 65% of the world champions, the Black Satellites, came from the lower socio-economic bracket of Ghana. Some are from the streets, others from slums whiles others come from the rural communities with no basic amenities. The point is that, these people defied all obvious challenges and reasonable uncertainties in poverty, hunger and diseases to emerge as world champions!

Similarly, Africa is overwhelmed by concrete challenges including corruption, political instability, unequal level of developments, ethnic conflicts and mistrust among its leaders. The lesson is that, as Africans, if we look at our continent and all we see are the challenges, and not the equally abundant riches and opportunities open to us as a people in this point in our history, we are bound to scare ourselves off our renaissance vision. Remember the European Union (EU) was created in equally daunting political and economic atmosphere in 1993. The political courage and selfless enthusiasm, backed by the right ideological map is what has been the missing link all this while in the continent’s march to a unity government.

To those postulating gradualists approach to African unity with very brilliant explanations to why Africa cannot unite now let it be remembered that Africa’s readiness has never happened in the past, not in the present and shall never be in the future. In the 60s, the excuse was, “Africa is not ready”, in the 90s the excuse was “Africa is not ready”, in the present the excuse is, “Africa is not ready”. In 50 years from now, the excuse shall be, “Africa is not ready”. Instead of researching for plausible reasons to explain why Africa is not ready for a political union, we can apply those same mental exertions to searching for answers to the question, “why Africa is ready now”. It takes courage and strong will, riddled by plausible bullets of doubts from pessimists to achieve anything significant.

Fellow Ghanaians, Africans, Diaspora Africans and friends of African unity, as we celebrate the historical feat of the Black Satellites and many more to come, let us not forget we can always stretch our necks to appreciate things past our artificial national boundaries to the larger African renaissance consciousness. Simply put, see through the Pan-African lens and you surely will see beyond the colonial footprints that divide us as a continent against our unity and ourselves.

By Bidi Emmanuel

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