Ghana’s victory over the US is our victory !
By Bader Lejmi
This article does not provide yet another analysis of the match. If that’s what you’re looking for, there are countless sites and magazines and people much more competent than I. What I would like to show is the symbolic and political weight of Ghana’s victory over the US.
You might be wondering why you should care about Ghana’s victory over the US, which at first glance might seem to have nothing to do with our struggle as descendents of colonial immigrants in France. I’ll answer this thorny question with the words of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X): “We are firmly convinced that the problems of Africa are our problems and that our problems are also Africa’s problems.” Further, addressing African heads of state: “Your problems will never be totally resolved as long as ours are not. You will never be absolutely recognized as free men as long as we are not recognized and treated as human beings. Our problem is your problem. It is not a Black problem or an American problem. It is a global problem, faced by all of humanity. It is not a problem of civil rights but a problem of human rights.”
Let’s start by looking at Ghana, one of the most important countries in the African anti-colonial struggle, the nation that Malik el-Shabazz considered to be the “source of Panafricanism.” It was the first Black African country to obtain independence, on March 6 1957 from Great-Britain. The famous Kwame Nkrumah was the author of Ghanaian independence as well as an ardent backer of Panafricanism. It was also the adoptive country of WEB Du Bois, author of Souls of Black Folk and the concept of double consciousness1, who stayed there from 1961 until the end of his days. He even wrote a poem entitled “Ghana calls,” which ends with the slogan “Pan Africa” and is dedicated to Nkrumah. The latter had himself studied at one of the only Black universities in the US, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Nkrumah went as far as naming the national football (soccer) team the Black Stars, an homage to the transatlantic shipping company founded by Marcus Garvey to “serve as a link among the peoples of color of the world in their commercial and industrial relations.” The historical links between the struggle of African-Americans and that of colonized Africans are therefore solid and profound. “It is time for African-Americans to become full members of Panafricanism around the world. Even if we remain physically in America, fighting for the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, we need to ‘return’ philosophically and culturally to Africa and create an effective unity within Panafricanism,” Malik el-Shabazz said.
This is why the Black Stars’ victory over the US is the victory of all of Africa over the biggest neo-colonial power in the world. It is the power that provided hypocritical support to African independence, plotting in the shadows to establish neo-colonial power by enslaving through debt and bankrolling loyal leaders, going as far as assassination, if necessary, as in the case of Patrice Lumumba. It is the power that, by ending segregation and then replacing White supremacy on the American continent with the internal colonization of “22 million Blacks”2, played the biggest trick in modern history. This is the analysis of the Black American who was the most integrated of his generation, educated at a school where he was the only Black among Whites, which is what American propaganda presents as a victory in the struggle for civil rights. That Black man is of course Malik el-Shabazz, who also said “no, I do not consider myself an American. I am one of the 22 million Black victims of Americanism, one of the 22 million Black victims of democracy, which is but one of the masks of hypocrisy. I am not speaking as an American, a patriot or a flag-waver. No. I am speaking as a victim of the American system. It is as a victim that I view America. And what I see is not the American dream but the American nightmare.” An American defeat and an African victory is therefore also a victory for African-Americans!
Ghana is the final African representative at the 2010 World Cup, the first ever to take place in Africa. And it is worth remembering that this is the first World Cup in Africa in the 50 years since most of Africa became independent. And there’s an even greater injustice, which is the number of teams that qualified. While Africa is more populous and has as many national federations as Europe, there were berths for only six African teams compared to 13 for Europe, or less than half! And then there is the ferocious appetite for profit and power that surrounds this most-watched event in the world. Broadcast rights, merchandise, tickets, advertizing … does this enormous sum benefit Africa? Allow me to be skeptical in thinking that all of this money will once again find its way into the pockets of the FIFA bigwigs…
On the other hand, let us not deny ourselves. This World Cup is taking place in the nation of Nelson Mandela, of the fight of Blacks against apartheid and colonial domination. Nelson Mandela, who got military training in Algeria to fight colonialism at home. He said of his experience, “when I got home to confront apartheid, I felt stronger.” It was when he returned from Algeria that he was arrested and sent to prison for life, from which he would be freed only to bring an end to apartheid and undertake a radical reform of the colonial South-African state, which at the time was the instrument of White supremacy. To our great disappointment, it is on South African soil that the Algerian football team was eliminated by the US. The US captain, Carlos Bocanegra, said early on that “I am convinced that our qualification will come down to the final match against Algeria and it is not a given since we know the winning reputation of the Algerians.” We must give the US credit, in contrast with other major European nations, for not being chauvinists that underestimate, or even denigrate, their opponents when these happen to be African or Arab. And it is true that the Algerians defended themselves well against the US team. But it is not enough to simply prevent the US, or any other European nation, from acting against us. It is also necessary to fight them! That is the lesson we learned from watching the Algeria-US match. It is not because it did not play well that the Algerian team lost, but because it was not able to attack and put the US on the defensive by creating a threat on their side of the field.
And that is something that Ghana and their coach understood perfectly. A number of Ghanaian players came up through the European leagues. And it is because they know this Europe, these Whites, up close that they were able to elude their traps. As Malik el-Shabazz said, “no one knows the master better than the servant. We have been servants in America for 300 years. We know the man known as ‘Uncle Sam’ inside and out.” The Ghana coach, Milovan Rajevac, is a Serb who never worked outside Serbia before coming to Ghana. He is not a mercenary on safari in Africa but a coach devoted to his team. And it is not that surprising that Kevin-Prince Boateng scored for Ghana barely six minutes into the game. Boateng, a Ghanaian-German who was selected best young German player, chose Ghana over Germany and in so doing brought all of his knowledge of a conquering Europe that is sure of itself, learned through intimate contact with the civilization where he grew up. He made the opposite choice of those North-African football players who loved Marianne too much and believed that the integration of Arabs into the French team was a given after the “Black Blanc Beur” (Black, White, Arab) team (of a decade ago). However, integration is a process that the indigenous person never fully completes. It is always necessary to play the game and demonstrate one’s degree of evolution toward White and Catho-secular humanity. In a team into which Arabs and Blacks have integrated, it is the White who is boss. Ben Arfa and Benzema were not selected for the national team by the coach, Domenech, and it is too bad for them. They had only to choose to play for their countries of origin, which had invited them to join their national teams. Applying the commandment of secularism to the letter and setting his emotions aside, Benzema declared, “Algeria is the country of my parents, it is in my heart, but when it comes to sports I will play for France.” What must be understood is that, when it comes to sports, he is scorning his parents and his own heart.
But I am no nationalist. During this world cup, I could have supported the French team, made up of a majority of Blacks, and including Muslims (Abidal, Ribéry and Anelka) that do not hide their faith. And without discussing their mediocre performance on the field, the team suffered attacks with clearly racist connotations from intellectuals such as Alain Finkielkraut, politicians such as François Bayrou, Malek Boutih, Fadela Amara and Minister Roselyne Bachelot, as well as from journalists such as the Editor-in-Chief of Le Figaro, Jérôme Béglé. The heads of the French Football Federation and the coach, Domenech, all White, didn’t raise the least objection against the mountain of racist insinuations. In addition to the desire to beat up on Blacks, using Anelka and Evra, the fact of Ribéry’s Muslim faith was the object of too much derision to allow us to believe that there was not a deliberate effort to attack not only Blacks but Islam itself. We had a team that was certainly mostly Black but that, at the slightest misstep, was dropped by its White protectors and lynched by the crowd that zealously holds out for a native White and Catho-secular French team.
To get back to the Ghana-US match, the Ghanaian defender Jonathan Mensah, who plays in France for Le Havre, unfortunately committed a foul on the American Dempsey in the 62nd minute, allowing the US to equalize by a miserable penalty. It must however be remembered that Jonathan Mensah is often greeted with monkey cries when he plays in France… It is only during the added time, in the 93rd minute, that Asamoah Gyan scores and qualifies Ghana for the quarter finals. This victory over the US avenges the defeat of Algeria at the hands of the US and the elimination of all of the other African teams.
So if you like fooball, even a little, support the radiant Black Stars of Ghana against Uruguay on Friday July 2. The latter eliminated another African team, South Africa. I hope that you have understood in reading my article that a victory for Ghana is not just about football, it is a symbol! To conclude, Malik el-Shabazz said, “[The powers that be] understand that, if direct contact, communication, understanding and a real agreement is ever established between the 22 to 30 million African-Americans and the Africans from the continent, there will be nothing we cannot accomplish.” It is the same for the descendents of immigrants from the former colonies, since we are all “brothers” working for the “Black Revolution,” as Malik el-Shabazz would say, he who believed that all anti-colonial struggle is a “Black Revolution.” All people suffering the yoke of European colonialism, including internal colonialism, are brothers and sisters.
Bader Lemji is a member of the Parti des indigènes de la République (France).
Traduction: karen wirsig