Recently, a young African man led a demonstration against a particularly annoying incident of racial abuse. Prince Boateng took offence after some soccer fans engaged in racist chants against him during a lower division match in Italy.
His fellow teammates followed Prince off the pitch in a powerful demo that has sent a strong message to football chiefs and the general public and prompted action.
It has for long been customary for Black players to be treated to various forms of racial insults, including so-called monkey chants and bananas thrown onto the pitch.
In other incidents, particular players and even officials have been accused of actually verbalising their insults against Black players. Although generally fewer, there have been incidents of anti-Semitism directed at Jewish players.
Action against such offenders, when clearly identified, has taken the form of cash fines and suspensions for a certain period, and when it has been hard to pinpoint the culprits (like when a whole section of a crowd seems to partake) group punishment has been imposed, such as making teams play to empty terraces.
There can be no doubt that racism is the mental affliction of the lowest stratum of humans, those who seem to believe that a person’s skin colour somehow determines their ability to be human and that the darker one’s pigment is the less one can be considered a member of the homo sapiens.
Still, I suspect that African players plying their trade outside the continent have been set up for abuse by their brethren back home.
The rest of the world is hard pressed to explain to itself how African countries can continue to do what they have been doing without realising that they are not making any sense, not to themselves, not to those observing them.
The world Googles Africa and sees a continent covered in gold, diamonds, oil and gas, rainforest and irrigated verdures, generally clement weather unlike the harsh winters of elsewhere.. but the world looks on in wonderment at the staggering inability of these Africans to leverage these advantages to reduce poverty and improve their livelihoods instead of going round the world begging.
It need not take the illiterate, poor and unemployed European hooligans that monkey chant at African players to be dismayed at Africa’s short memory span that allows a whole continent to forget the humiliation, dehumanisation and spoliation which it suffered at the hands of foreigners not so long ago, so that it sees nothing wrong with the all too evident signs of a new Scramble.
Races have been abused in the past, and they will be abused in the future, but a lot of times people bring onto themselves the abuse they suffer.
A defeated Japan limped out of World War II a vilified and humbled place, producing what were considered shoddy, substandard goods.
It did not take long for the world’s view of Japan to change, precisely because the Japanese demonstrated the ability to pick themselves up, roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Who is laughing at Japan today, and who will be laughing at China, for that matter? They are still laughing at Africa because we just do not make sense, and those young men in Europe — the finest athletes you could wish to have — will continue to suffer because their place of origin is full of too much nonsense.
If we want Prince and others to play soccer with a tranquil mind, this is my plan: Stop begging; use your abundant resources intelligently; feed yourselves and produce to feed the world, because you can; invest in the brains of your people, stop giving them Bantu education; manufacture, innovate, create; punish corruption and evolve proper governance systems and processes…. make sense.
In his Little Green Book, the late Muammar Gaddafi predicted that it was “the turn of the Black race to prevail in the world.” Obviously those racist hooligans in Europe, being illiterate, have not read this. Nor have our rulers.