Kwame Nkrumah, (first Pres­i­dent of Ghana)

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

In May this year, yours com­radely was a priv­i­leged fel­low par­tic­i­pant at the third sem­i­nar of Africa lead­er­ship ini­tia­tive, (ALI) Me­dia Fel­low­ship in Ki­gali Rwanda. My re­flec­tion about the his­tory, pol­i­tics and the de­vel­op­men­tal strides of Rwanda is a story for an­other day. The third sem­i­nar of Class 1 en­tit­tled “Lead­ing in A Chang­ing Africa” took place from 27th to 31st of May at the beau­ti­ful Lake Kivu Ser­ena Ho­tel some hun­dreds kilo­me­ters drive through the from Ki­gali. I ever re­main a lover of foot­ball as long as na­tions are “at war” run­ning around the round leather to garner fame, bring­ing pa­tri­o­tism alive. On 28 May, Saturday I was there­fore ex­cited to see scores of Ruwan­dan foot­ball fans at the Ser­ena ho­tel Kivu oc­cu­py­ing avail­able space at the ho­tel view­ing cen­tre.

I had thought Rwanda Na­tional foot­ball team was to play with an­other coun­try given the en­thu­si­asm and frenzy of the view­ers. Alas, the foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion turned to be the 2016 UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal, the 61st sea­son of Europe’s premier club foot­ball tour­na­ment or­gan­ised by UEFA being played in far away San Siro sta­dium in Milan, Italy.

It was bad enough to dis­cover Ruwan­dan youths were so much mo­bi­lized for a Euro­pean cham­pion tour­na­ment. It was how­ever worse to even find out that the tour­na­ment fi­nale was be­tween two Span­ish teams, namely Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid! Real Madrid won 5–3 on a penalty shoot-out af­ter a 1–1 draw at the end of ex­tra time, se­cur­ing a record-ex­tend­ing 11th ti­tle in the com­pe­ti­tion.

I agree with Pelé, the leg­endary Brazilian star and soc­cer am­bas­sador that “Soc­cer Mat­ters” but I still can­not imag­ine if Euro­pean streets would be de­serted be­cause Euro­pean foot­ball fans are watch­ing the Nige­ria Premier League fi­nale in­volv­ing two clubs from say Lagos, as most African cities were stand still for UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal re­cently, pol­i­tics, (sorry EU) pol­i­tics is cer­tainly not the same as UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal tour­na­ment. How­ever the re­cent hys­te­ria in Africa that re­cently trailed the con­tro­ver­sial UK elec­torate ref­er­en­dum of 23 June 2016 was no dif­fer­ent from that Cham­pi­ons league fi­nal.

The ref­er­en­dum was based on the coun­try’s mem­ber­ship of EU (with close votes counts of 51.9% (in sup­port of an exit (17,410,742 votes) and 48.1% (16,141,241 votes) to re­main, with a turnout of 72.2% of the elec­torate) beats imag­i­na­tion. Three crit­i­cal is­sues are at the heart of the so-called Brexit (so-called be­cause UK has not fully been part of Europe with re­gards to cur­rency and visa rules). The three is­sues are Bri­tish econ­omy, im­mi­gra­tion and iden­tity. In all these three is­sues, Africa and Africans are incidental not cen­tral.

Why then would Africans sweat small stuff about Brexit over which UK had not sought for Africans’ opin­ion? Al­most 60 years the late Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana com­mend­ably low­ered the Union Jack af­ter the in­de­pen­dence of Ghana in 1957, it is a po­lit­i­cal scan­dal that “In­de­pen­dent” African states in­clud­ing Nige­ria still tie their for­tune or mis­for­tune to the le­git­i­mate strate­gic choices of UK within EU. Re­spected Nige­ria’s for­mer min­is­ter of Ex­ter­nal (For­eign) Af­fairs and a pro­fes­sor of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence, Bo­laji Akinyemi had been hy­per ac­tive since the Brexit vote counts. Pro­fes­sor Akinyemi al­most tied the sur­vival of Nige­ria to the re­sults of the re­fre­den­dum which favoured for exit at­tribut­ing the mess to the “act of fool­ish­ness by a ju­ve­nile Prime Min­is­ter” David Cameron.

Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Akinyemi the force of Brexit might fuel ag­i­ta­tions for dis­in­te­gra­tion in Nige­ria and even neg­a­tively af­fect re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Eco­nomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), as mem­ber coun­tries may not only take sanc­tions lightly but also con­sider the prospect of leav­ing the unions”.

He, there­fore called on Nige­rian gov­ern­ment to be proac­tive in re­solv­ing ag­i­ta­tions by the ag­grieved mi­nor­ity groups. I ob­vi­ously agree with the pro­fes­sor that

I ever re­main a lover of foot­ball as long as na­tions are “at war” run­ning around the round leather to garner fame, bring­ing pa­tri­o­tism alive. On 28 May, Saturday I was there­fore ex­cited to see scores of Ruwan­dan foot­ball fans at the Ser­ena ho­tel Kivu oc­cu­py­ing avail­able space at the ho­tel view­ing cen­tre

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