Good to see Gabon show some backbone against French
THOUGHT about watching Zimbabwe’s game against Algeria on mute because the French commentary would be lost on me on day two of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The action had moved to Franceville while I remained in Libreville.
IBut I decided against muting the commentary, thinking that I could learn a word a two.
It was a disaster because the commentator was so dull, it didn’t feel like he was watching the same entertaining spectacle that we were all enjoying.
But what put me off the most was that the background noise from the stadium was muted.
It came here and there but for the most parts of the 90 minutes, all I could hear is French without anything else in the background.
That’s how the days I have spent here have been, all French without anything else in the background.
I haven’t heard anyone speaking any of Gabon’s languages, which is bizarre because this country has at least 40 ethnic groups.
Everything is French, from the television stations to the billboards and even the wine on their stores.
It was disheartening to see a country which has spent almost six decades independent of France look and feel like that country’s province.
Gabon doesn’t have a soul or it’s own identity that doesn’t touch on French.
It’s because of this that I was pleasantly surprised when a Frenchman walked into a packed restaurant, everyone watching Senegal against Tunisia, and was turned down when he asked if they could change the channel so that he could watch a Ligue 1 match between Olympique de Marseille and Monaco.
I couldn’t believe his gall because the entire establishment was at a standstill, captivated by Senegal as they held on against a rampant Tunisian attack in the second half.
He sat in his chair fidgeting as he watched the match, no doubt thinking about the game he was missing.
No-one entertained him from the staff to the patrons.
I was proud to see this country that’s so French develop a backbone, even though it was a small portion of it.
We watched that match until it ended before the channel was switched to Marseille and Monaco right before the start of the second half.
It was 3-1 when that happened. I tried to read his expression to see which team he supported so that I can loudly cheer for the other team just to annoy him.
But it took too much work and I can only stomach so many minutes of European football at a time.
I love the Afcon because we get to see the true identity of most of our players plying their trade abroad.
John Obi Mikel in the green and white of Nigeria is a slick playmaker with skills and the football brains to match.
At Chelsea, he is a zombie who has to clatter at players. Alex Song and Seydou Keita are also among those who slipped into their comfortable roles in their national teams.
There is this terrible mind-set that an African player must be a strong defender, central midfielder or a striker.
A few of them are signed to show their skills and football brains. For almost a month, we get to see them dispel the myth that they are only good for their muscles.