Su­per Ea­gles: The bur­den and the hope of the Black race

Weekly Trust - - Sport Xtra - oluse­gun­odeg­bami@hot­mail.com

The Su­per Ea­gles of Nige­ria are much more than the na­tional team of Nige­ria. They are the hope of the Black race in a world dom­i­nated by oth­ers and where, as a hu­man specie, de­spite the Cen­turies of strug­gles, they are still largely con­sid­ered sec­ond class.

This is a very dif­fi­cult sub­ject to go into but as the World Cup beck­ons I must just to serve as a re­minder to us that foot­ball is much more than life or death.

To start with, I thank the Su­per Ea­gles for lift­ing the spirit of all Nige­ri­ans with their su­perla­tive per­for­mances that came straight out of wonderland in the past one week against Camer­oun.

In ret­ro­spect, I was very wise last week­end in this col­umn not to have stuck out my neck and pre­dicted that the Su­per Ea­gles would run rings around the In­domitable Li­ons sim­ply be­cause I wanted to be pa­tri­otic, or wanted to be, as I had al­ways be­ing, a reck­lessly un­re­pen­tant op­ti­mist when­ever the is­sue is the na­tional team of Nige­ria play­ing against any other team in the world.

I love Nige­ria with all my heart, and I be­lieve that it will not be too long be­fore Nige­ri­ans would re­al­ize the in­cred­i­ble nat­u­ral gifts and op­por­tu­ni­ties that life has lav­ishly be­stowed on their coun­try and on them, and use them one day soon to make a bold state­ment about the Black race in an age when the sub­ject of race has res­ur­rected even in the most ad­vanced cul­ture of the World.

The exit of Bar­rack Obama and the en­try of Don­ald Trump as Pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica have brought to the front burner of civ­i­liza­tion once again the once-thought-to-be­set­tled mat­ter of the place of the Black race in the scheme of hu­man­ity.

Be­ing a Black man in the world to­day at­tracts huge psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal de­pres­sions and chal­lenges. Nige­ria, with the largest con­cen­tra­tion of Black peo­ple in the world, car­ries the great­est bur­den and re­spon­si­bil­ity in the eman­ci­pa­tion strug­gle.

Ev­ery four years Nige­ria is pre­sented to the world as the Su­per Ea­gles through an in­nocu­ous game of foot­ball that sets the best coun­tries against each other in the most fol­lowed and most lu­cra­tive com­pet­i­tive en­gage­ment in his­tory – the World Cup.

In­ad­ver­tently, the Su­per Ea­gles, as well as any other Black coun­try (par­tic­u­larly African), be­come the em­bod­i­ment of the strug­gle for equal­ity and the hope of a truly egal­i­tar­ian world where Black, Brown, White and so on, are equal.

The World Cup presents a unique plat­form be­cause its play­ing field is level and has no con­sid­er­a­tion for colour, re­li­gion, or sta­tus.

Nige­ria has the cru­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to rep­re­sent the best ver­sion of the Black race, be­ing the most pop­u­lated and one of the rich­est Black coun­tries in the world. Its con­tri­bu­tion to the num­ber of per­sons force­fully taken from Africa as slaves to build the West­ern world may be one of the high­est. Its suc­cess story, there­fore, in any field will im­pact the en­tire Black race ev­ery­where.

Even those that now rep­re­sent the ‘best’ and most suc­cess­ful ver­sion of the Black specie in the world to­day, the same ones that have made Amer­ica their home but re­ally have their ori­gins in Africa, the same ones that had to fight to shed their cloak of slav­ery and adorn new gar­ments of free­dom, still look to­wards the ‘home­land’ (that in­cludes Nige­ria) for in­spi­ra­tion wish­ing there are ac­com­plish­ments and global suc­cess sto­ries to show that would re­duce and, one day, bring to an end the un­writ­ten bur­den of be­ing re­garded as an in­fe­rior race. It is a silent but real bur­den.

That’s why Nige­ria is so im­por­tant. That’s why Nige­ria car­ries that re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Black man to ex­cel, to be as good, if not bet­ter, than the rest.

That’s why dur­ing the great­est sport­ing con­tests in the world, par­tic­u­larly the foot­ball World Cup that is watched by the largest sin­gle au­di­ence of any ac­tiv­ity, for Nige­ria to fea­ture promi­nently is very im­por­tant, be­cause it car­ries the hopes of mil­lions of Black peo­ple around the world on its shoul­der.

It is a bur­den and re­spon­si­bil­ity that are never spo­ken about but are known as deep facts of life.

Now lets think about this.

In what other sphere of life is the Black man, or a Black coun­try, ac­knowl­edged as one of the best in the world out­side sport?

That’s why go­ing to the World Cup should not just be to add up to the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants, but to chal­lenge to be the best and claim some­thing in this world so clev­erly scripted never to favour the Black per­son if the sit­u­a­tion can be helped.

So, win­ning the World Cup for a Black African coun­try is more than just a game. It is war to be won for the eman­ci­pa­tion a hu­man race.

Only very few Black coun­tries have used phys­i­cal achieve­ments in sports to drive tem­po­ral men­tal eman­ci­pa­tion - Kenya, Ethiopia, Ja­maica, to men­tion a few. But th­ese are small coun­tries com­pared to what Nige­ria rep­re­sents with its size, its pop­u­la­tion and its re­sources.

That’s why it is not enough for Nige­ria to strug­gle and hope to qual­ify for the World Cup ev­ery four years. Qual­i­fi­ca­tion must be con­sid­ered and pur­sued as a ‘birthright’. Nige­ria should al­ways be one of the Black and African coun­tries to go to the World Cup and one day win it.

Can you imag­ine what will hap­pen should a Black African coun­try win the most cov­eted prize in the world of sport?

That coun­try and Blacks all over the world will never re­main the same again. That suc­cess will re­in­force what Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, and a host of other Black ath­letes have been do­ing in terms of gain­ing re­spect and mak­ing a state­ment that is re­ver­ber­at­ing through­out the world!

Take Brazil. It is not a Black coun­try but it has a large pop­u­la­tion of de­scen­dants of Africans shipped there as slaves with many of them from South West Nige­ria.

Since win­ning the World Cup in 1958, Brazil, a Third World coun­try at the time, has be­come the most suc­cess­ful coun­try in the game of foot­ball as well as one of the fastest de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in the world.

Foot­ball is the coun­try’s face. Sev­eral of the best play­ers are Blacks! The coun­try has ben­e­fited tremen­dously. So have the coun­try and Black peo­ple in par­tic­u­lar from the game of foot­ball.

So, to go to the World Cup is an op­por­tu­nity to re-pack­age the im­age of Nige­ria and, by ex­ten­sion, that of the Black race on earth. Win­ning it will ful­fill an ul­ti­mate dream that will speak louder than any­thing else in the world to­day about re­spect and recog­ni­tion for the Black man.

Rus­sia 2018 presents a great op­por­tu­nity for Nige­ria to lead other Black coun­tries into the field of dreams. It is a real bur­den that the coun­try car­ries and that’s why to some of us the coun­try must make it a ‘birthright’ to be, like Brazil, at ev­ery World Cup!

Why Zam­bia must fall.

So far, in the Group B World Cup 2018 qual­i­fiers, Nige­ria leads very com­fort­ably. With two matches more to play, Nige­ria needs to de­feat one of the two re­main­ing teams.

One of them, Zam­bia, has al­ready been de­feated on their home ground by a Nige­rian team that is not any­where near as strong as the present team that has handed down one of the big­gest de­feats to one of Africa’s most re­spected and strong­est na­tional teams, cur­rent African cham­pi­ons, the In­domitable Li­ons of Cameroon, a team dreaded by most op­po­nents in the world for their bruis­ing phys­i­cal­ity.

So, Zam­bia’s Chipolopolo must fall here in Nige­ria.

They are the last hur­dle to cross!

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