Brazil 2014: This Time For Africa?

By Adeola Aderounmu

World Cup Africa

Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Cameroon and Ghana will fly Africa’s flags at the world cup which starts on the 12th of June in Brazil.

Egypt went to the world cup in Italy in 1934. That was the first time an African country featured at the championship which started in 1930 in Uruguay. Since then 13 countries in total from Africa have participated at various editions of the mundial. The other 12 countries are Morocco, Zaire, Tunisia, Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo.

When Africa’s representatives at the world cup for 2014 arrive in Brazil this summer they will be chasing an unfulfilled dream-that an African country is ripe enough to win the world cup.

To make this dream come true, Cameroon will have to cross the hurdles in Group A where they will do battle with the host Brazil, Croatia and Mexico.

Cameroonians are playing in their 7th world cup. This is an African record. But what has Cameroon got to show for previous appearances? The best exploits came in Italy in 1990 as the career of Roger Milla was winding up. Cameroon was beaten in the quarter finals by England. After Italian 90, Cameroon quickly transformed and became “not indomitable”. For an African country to win the world cup, consistency must be shown.

Ivory Coast is a country also in need of consistency and even more, delivery. This country must emerge from Group C that include Colombia, Greece and Japan.

The men representing Ivory Coast and led by Didier Drogba are the popular golden generation that has won nothing to show for the name tag-“golden”.

This is the third straight world cup for the so called golden generation. They failed to emerge from the groups in 2006 and 2010. Any country that wants to win the world cup must be able to emerge first from the group. It will not matter if the group is mildly classified or if it is termed the group of death.

One country that shaped the organisation of FIFA’s world cup after the 1982 edition was Algeria. In 1982 Germany and Austria “sold” their last game “to each other” so that Algeria could be eliminated. You need to find and read that story if you love the history and football. In 1982, the Germans and the Austrians brought huge shame to football.

Football scandals or match fixers are not restricted to Asia or any particular geographical part of the world. Rather it is something that has been a part of football at every level and in almost every country for as long as the game has been in existence. The roles of FIFA officials in recent reports seriously brought the game into disrepute, again. Yet, this is a game people love no matter the problems related to scandal or “arranged outcomes”.

After the 1982 games, FIFA decided that the last games in each group will be played simultaneously. Algeria will try to emerge this time from a group including Belgium, Russia and South Korea. If they find the form again like they did in 1982, they have a chance of making Africa’s dream come true.

To put Africa’s name on the map as a world cup winning continent can also become a dream come true through the hands of the Ghanaians. Ghana is also making a third straight appearance.

In 2010 on the African continent Ghana reached the quarter final stage where they fell to Uruguay. That match will not be forgotten easily in the stories of FIFA senior world cup.

Luis Suarez had to become a “goalkeeper” at some stage to save the ball from going into the net. It was a sad day for Africa as Ghana failed to convert the extra time spot kick that would have sent them to the semi-final stage. Our dear brothers lost on penalties.

This year in Brazil, Ghana must scale Germany (the match-fixers of 1982), Portugal and the United States in order to prove that African countries can show consistency and make serious claims to world cup glory at the senior level.

African champions Nigeria will also be making another attempt to show the world that an African country is indeed prepared to win the world cup. Nigeria must emerge first from a group that includes familiar foe-Argentina, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Iran.

This is the second time Nigeria is going to the world cup on the back of a Nation’s Cup victory. The first time was in 1994 when Keshi was the captain of the team and Clemence Westerhof, the coach.

In 1994, inexperience was the bane of the Super Eagles as they were bundled out in the second round by the Italians. In 1998, Nigeria was again bundled out in the second round by Denmark.

In 2002, Nigeria had a disgraceful participation in Korea/Japan. In 2006, Nigeria was missing at the German edition. Back in South Africa in 2010, Nigeria failed again to emerge from the groups.

Through the years, bad planning, maladministration and useless preparations have ensured that Nigeria just added to the numbers of the countries going to the world cup.

To date, especially since the Algerian exploits of 1982 and the Cameroonian efforts of 1990, the performances of African countries since 1934 (though sporadically filled with some other brilliant moments) have not matched the expectations of the people of Africa.

Brazilian legend Pele predicted that an African country will win the world cup at the turn of the last century. It did not happen. Even at the time that the profiles of African players rose both on the continent and abroad, it has been impossible for Africa to deliver on high promises.

In South Africa when Ghana crumbled, Africa returned to square one of the struggle to win the world cup.

The organisation of football on the African continent needs a range of face-lifting processes. In North Africa, it appears that the organisation has always been solid. There were a lot of set backs in some North African countries as a result of the Arab spring. But some countries (like Algeria) are reported to be making big strides even attracting players from France to the Algerian league. One hopes that Egypt will rise again.

If Algeria makes progress in Brazil or if her football becomes a reference point irrespective of how they end this tournament, fingers will point at the growth or promises shown at the domestic league.

Among the other African countries representing Africa at the forth coming mundial, Nigeria will be of concern to Nigerians, definitely. Since the first appearance of the country at the world stage in 1994, it has been a permanent impossibility to uplift the game on Nigerian soils.

Nigeria as country or Nigeria comprising of several regions has a population that could turn anything profitable into a goldmine. Sadly like many other things that Nigerians have failed at, including governance itself, football in Nigeria has not been revived since its collapse I would say in the mid 1980s. I may be wrong with the actual date but I remembered how it was fun to watch Leventis United, and Abiola Babes when I was in early secondary school.

Today the English Premier League, the European Champions league and other foreign leagues are very famous in Nigeria with huge followership. The gains that Nigeria should be making in marketing of her own football is totally diminished or drowned.

This essay is not about recounting the problems with Nigerian football or Nigeria as a failed country. It is not about Nigeria as a dead giant of Africa. If one does not draw the lines, the discussion will move from football to every aspect of Nigerian life. It’s very hard to separate the lost glories of Nigeria in almost every aspect of human endeavours.

For one month between June and July 2014, Nigerians will expect the boys that will be selected by coach Keshi to deliver. Many of these boys are plying their trades abroad. Invariably they have been polished by other systems. The exposure is brilliant but when the days and years are running out, many of these boys cannot return home to wrap up their careers like the Brazilians or the Argentines do.

They do not have to finish their careers on the Nigerian soil but the argument is that the level of football in Nigeria in terms of planning, organisation, administration, execution and overall sustenance is not yet in the right hands. Nigerians know these things but for them everything is politics.

As long as there are functional leagues abroad (even in neighbouring African countries like Benin and Togo) where Nigeria’s talents can be nurtured or even de-processed by making them change their roles on the pitch, it is fine with those in the glass house and their pickers in Abuja.

The biggest indicator of the gigantic problems facing Nigeria’s football is the failure of Nigeria since 1985 to transform the glory of the young players (Eaglets especially) into something that the world can emulate at the Super Eagles level.

For an African country to win the world cup will not depend of luck or unexpected favours from some quarters. It will depend a lot on management of the game on the continent. That’s where CAF comes in. This body needs revamping and dynamism. It needs a new life.

The progress of African football will also depend on national organisations like NFF of Nigeria. What are they doing to promote the game in all spheres (on the pitch and off it)? Are there serious plans to encourage more youth, more women and anybody interested in the game to pursue their careers knowing that they have a foundation to rely upon?

Africans must also overcome the mental incapacitation that FIFA rankings can infuse on the mind. The best place to play football is on the pitch. Moments like this-in Brazil provide the opportunity to send the FIFA ratings to the dustbin. Football is dynamic and it moves from one game plan to the next.

The future of African football, its organisation and management on the African soil will play significant roles and the world will see these upliftments when an African country eventually wins the world cup. It’s been a long wait but it must happen in the future. July 2014 is part of the future.

aderounmu@gmail.com

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Ivory Coast Crashes Out of Nations Cup 2013

Adeola Aderounmu

Less fancied Super Eagles of Nigeria have sent the Ivorians packing of the 2013 African Cup of Nations.

The Ivorians are favoured to win the tournament and they were probably looking for a ride over the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s coach Keshi had a plan and it worked.

His side played as calmly as possible and they played very much better than the Ivorians.

Emenike and Mba scored on both sides of the halves while Tiote headed in 1-1 just after the interval.

The Toures, Didier Drogba, Zamora and the boastful Eboue can now end their international career without any glory. This generation of players has been wrongfully tagged the golden generation even when they have not won any major trophy.

Zambia, Champions of Africa 2012

Adeola Aderounmu

I congratulate the Zambian National Football Team for their exploits in the 2012 African Cup of Nations. They beat Ivory Coast in the final game. After extra time, the game stood at 0-0.

Drogba missed a second half penalty that could have ended the game in normal time. He scored though in the shoot outs.

It was Kolo Toure and Gelvinho who threw away the 6th and 7th penalty. Zambia missed the the 6th but got the 7th in to clinch the title they well deserved.

Well done Zambians and thank you for the good game demolishing Ghana and then stopping Ivory Coast in the semi and final respectively.

Well done for the deserving tributes to the ’93 set that perished in the plane crash.

The Zambian coach has won my respect. He doesn’t wear unnecessary suits to match venues and that makes sense. Highly technical and gifted no doubts, he will win more awards in the future I am sure.

Zambia, once again, accept my congratulations. Enjoy every moment of it. You have now joined the leagues of champions.

One day I hope you will qualify for the world cup. It’s your next big challenge. All the best.

Stupid, It’s ECOWAS..!

By Adeola Aderounmu

My pain in writing this essay is the little knowledge I have on the exact nature of the political crises in Ivory Coast. By that I mean why Gbagbo is really sitting tight and why the country’s Electoral bodies would falsify election results in favour of either Gbagbo or Quattara who are both claming to be presidents of the same country. I’m also not sure why Quattara enjoys foreign support and Gbagbo national support.

I should ask my friends including Kola Afolabi to tell me more about Ivory Coast. It seems that those who understood French language have a better understanding of the situation in Ivory Coast than the rest of us. One day I hope to become a student of political science.

Any day now ECOWAS may use force and military actions to unseat Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast. Brothers will kill brothers and sisters will murder sisters. Africans don’t realize that they are one big family. The disorientations created by goods and slave trade, imported religions, colonialism, and decades of unsuccessful self-governance are some of the reasons that Africans continue to misunderstand their common ancestry.

But where was this useless organization called ECOWAS in 1993?
In 1993 Africa was presented with a golden opportunity that could probably have led to the liberation of the continent for all time.

At that time ECOWAS was probably sleeping and OAU was in coma.

In 1993 one tropical gangster called Ibrahim Babangida committed treason in Nigeria. That was not his first time but it was more serious in 1993.

On June 12 1993, millions of Nigerians voted in the best election ever conducted in the history of Nigeria, or perhaps Africa. The Nigerian people voted and the results were rolling in more to the favour of MKO Abiola. When it became evident that Abiola would win, Bashir Tofa (the opponent) was said to have sent him congratulatory messages.

Records have it that as the results were been announced, the prices of goods and services were dropping. There was a tailor who refused to be paid for the services he had rendered. He was so overjoyed that “at last” hope has come to the people. Some private bus operators were offering free services. Happiness and gladness was spreading on June 12 1993.

People were elated. Everyone was smiling and things were looking up and good despite the fact that Abiola has not been declared the winner.

That was the spirit and mood until Nigerians received a rude shock from the nonentity called Babangida. This useless man cancelled or annulled the best election in our history. There were many theories to this annulment including that Abiola was a creditor of the government, or that a few idiots would not like to see him become president of Nigeria. Some people said it was because of what he did when he was in NPN that he betrayed Awolowo.

As far as democratic principles are concerned those arguments are classified as animal talk.

The fundamental thing about June 12 was that an election held and Abiola won. The crime about it was that some cabal headed by Babangida secretly plotted against Abiola and eternally denied him of the mandate that the Nigerian masses gave to him. He was asked by the people to give them hope, but a few hopeless and selfish persons, some of whom unfortunately are still around the corridors of power decided otherwise.

We were denied the wonderful opportunity of knowing what the next 4 years with Abiola would have meant. Shivers are running down my spine as I write this. Tears are close because we were denied the chance to see “what would have happened with 4 years of Abiola”? One day with potentially Abiola-led government, June 12 1993-was one of the best days of my life! On June 12 1993 my prospective future was finally stolen away from me. No one will understand this but I never regained it!

Many people died in the struggle to actualize that mandate popularly called JUNE 12. Where was ECOWAS when Babangida rolled out the tanks and murdered Nigerians who were protesting the annulment of the June 12 1993 elections?
Where was ECOWAS in 2003 and 2007 especially, when Iwu and Obasanjo arranged a charade for 140m people?

To me ECOWAS is a useless body and this new songs of war must definitely have some undertones. That brings us to the circumstances surrounding the murder of MKO Abiola.

I don’t like to be misquoted. I am not a fan of Abiola. I will never be a fan of any politician whether they perform or not. I curse the day I behold people because of their positions or statuses the same way I have cursed the day I decide to steal public funds. My comments are essentially on public services and how such services must be executed-primarily for the good of all. To understand my opinions, you must read between the lines.

I’m wondering what Wikileaks will come up with concerning the murder of MKO Abiola. I am still wondering why he was murdered while a delegate from the United States was visiting him. How did a cup of tea become a poison? Does Bill Clinton have anything to do with the murder of Abiola? What was in for the US that Abiola was murdered?

We have been warned as Africans to be wary of the roles of the so called “faceless” International community in Africa. It is not a new call. For example you can wonder why there is a lot of international pressure on Gbagbo whereas Babangida suffered no personal loss or any form of pressure when he committed treason in Nigeria, more than once. Where were the French, the UK and the US in 1993 when the will of the people was thrown to the wind in Nigeria?

Stupid ECOWAS, Stupid International community! The world will never know peace because of social injustice and inequality of this nature.

Africans have a long way to travel. They are light years behind the developed nations. Africans must unite and speak in one voice. Africa must find a way to reclaim her position as the citadel of technology. Many elements of human development emanated from Africa. It therefore remains a mystery how Africans allowed the rest of the world to overtake her as she stood still.

Africa must rise again. She must overcome.

The leadership question in Africa leaves a lot to be desired. It is a leadership without the required orientations. It lacks focus, it has no plans and it is built on extreme egocentrism. It leaves no room for tribal integration and collective goals aimed at development and progress. African leadership problem is a major issue affecting the development of the continent.

Africa must retrace her steps to where she started getting it all wrong.

In Yoruba folk tradition we say that if the wall is not opened the lizard has no place therein. This was the case with colonial rule, imported religions and neo-colonization. It may also be the case with imperialism and the underdevelopment in Africa.

The people and rulers of Africa must realize that they are the walls and the International community is the lizard. The meaning of that expression is beyond the scope of this essay. It is an extensive area of discuss. If Africans unite, our true heroes will emerge-without the fear of being killed by national or international killer squads-and we will be free.

It’s a long thing brethren. We must encourage and protect our heroes. Some of us must give up our “freedom” for the rest of us to have it, for now and ever more.

The manipulations of the African continent from within and without must end, if Africa ever dream of catching up with the rest of the world or even to claim her rightful place.

Millions of us are living in poverty as a result of the bad governments across the continent. The situation will not change soon. We have not paid the price for the mistakes of the past and present stupid rulers.

If ECOWAS is a defender of justice and freedom I challenge the Jonathan-led ECOWAS to arrest Babangida for crimes against humanity and for his roles in the murder of Nigerians protesting the annulment of the June 12 1993 elections.
After all charity should always begin at home.

I know Jonathan cannot dare because he doesn’t seem to be the one propagating the war songs. It is obvious he is a tool in the hands of bigger factors. In addition, people who have skeletons in their cupboards will never be part of the true African revolution. Instead they will be brushed aside as we see now in Tunisia.

…Tomorrow will always belong to the people who prepared for it today (Malcolm X).

But we must learn about the truth. It is our passport to freedom. It is the best gift we can give our children, born and unborn. For their sake we must give our today. At any cost, we must!

This post is adapted from my views about June 12

War Brewing in West Africa

By Adeola Aderounmu

Abidjan
In Ivory Coast war is brewing. The two presidents are not yielding grounds. There have been reports of violence, attacks and deaths in Ivory Coast.

I am not an expert on Ivory Coast but I’m not impressed with the experiment that the International community will be carrying out in Ivory Coast if a war breaks out. They will be selling weapons to both sides of the conflicts and my brothers and sisters will be killing one another.

Africa, I beg you. Learn from your past mistakes, lay down your arms and talk some sense.

It doesn’t make sense for two brothers to go to war while a foreigner doubles as both the umpire and the coach.

Wake up Ivory Coast. Where is Drogba and the boys. Go to Ivory Coast now and stop the war. You can do this by negotiation and intervention. Do it anyway you like.

Jos: War can become full blown..!

The recent images of Jos that I saw show that the state may be on the brink of a full scale religious war.

The people of Jos do not trust one another anymore and the situation has seriously deteriorated. Nigerian media houses are not doing enough to report the current situation and the nature of the problems-the complex religious-political volatile mix.

The war is almost certainly going to continue because of the elections coming up this year.

I don’t see how the governor of Plateau state-one clown called Jang-can prevent the forthcoming devastations.

It is a known fact that the military men that are supposed to see to the peace of Jos have been involved in the killing of the citizens of Jos.

Instead of dealing with the war that can eventually destroy the entity called Nigeria, the useless PDP in Nigeria is busy holding primary convention in Abuja.

On several occasions I have mentioned that Jonathan needs to go to Jos and spend 2 weeks or more to dwell among the people of Jos. The solution must be found and for all time.

The war in Jos is still on a small scale. The governor has failed and the Nigerian authorities are treating the war like violence or uprisings. This is a very serious mistake.

A wise man holds the fish by the head.

Ivory Coast: Not Another War Please..!

Adeola Aderounmu

Again, Ivory Coast is singing the war tunes. When will Africa be tired of this rubbish?

Alassane Ouattara was declared the winner of the election by the Electoral Commission. But now Laurent Gbagbo has been declared the winner by the Constitutional Council after some polls from the North of the country were cancelled.

Like several countries in Africa, Ivory Coast is divided along ethnic lines and there is discrimination (or racism in Ivory Coast). I am at a lost how and why Africans discriminate themselves. South and North of Ivory coast see one another as different and unequal.

This ethnicity problem is one of the greatest problems facing Africans. From Sudan to Nigeria, from South Africa to Ivory Coast, From Rwanda to Uganda and so on, Africans see themselves as people of different races. It’s amazing and the issue begs for the re-examination of the intelligence of the African race.

Fight for power is one thing, the attitude that one group of people have the sole right to power is another. Indeed there are allegations that this is partly due to colonialism. But what has happened to independent reasoning, deliberations and cognitive abilities of the African man since the end of colonisation. Oh, please don’t blame this one on neo-colonialism or some form of imperialism.

Africans should stop complaining. They should sit down face to face and talk sense.

The boiling point that is about to be reached in Ivory Coast is the last thing that we need now in Africa. The country has now shut down its media communication with the rest of the world. That’s a preparation for a show down that we don’t need.

Today Ivory Coast has two presidents. Tomorrow war may break out. These two presidents need to sit down and talk things out. The Electoral Commission and Constitutional Council should get involved in a joint meeting and sort out the anomalies. Votes from the north cannot be cancelled simply because Alassane Ouattarais from the North. That will amount to injustice and a recipe for war.

Alassane Ouattara, irrespective of how this dilemma ends should in the days ahead try to ensure that he uses his position to disarm the rebels in the North. If a country has rebel, the likelihood of war remains constant. Alassane Ouattara should not be seen as a rebel leader but a presidential candidate or a president if he won.

Or how on earth does he want to be a good president if he represents a rebel group and enjoy a stronghold in one part of the country and a dishonourable position in the other parts.

Ivory Coast and Ivorians must do all they can to keep the peace, spread it and enjoy their economic prosperity. Again they cannot rely on foreign governments for peace. Africa must always be told that her destiny has always been in her hands all the time. Creating pandemonium and begging for assistance or inputs from abroad will continue to escalate the woes on the continent.

Mbeki is now on ground but this will not be about him or the talks that may hit the rock. The issues are concrete: electoral processes and democratic institutions in Africa need to have sound foundations. It also involves a form of education that creates the sense of oneness among the citizens that share a common boundary. Where common boundaries are loosely defined the issue of immigration needs to be adequately polished to remove conflicts and confusions.

The future of Ivory Coast and Africa will continue to depend on the type of leadership that we get. It will also invariably depend on the followership.

Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbabgo can be sure of one thing, Ivory Coast will outlive them.