From the 20th of January until the 3rd of February the focus of African people, and those who bother themselves with the African agenda, shifted towards the west African country of Ghana as they played host to the continent’s most prestigious sporting tournament. The 28th edition of the MTN African Cup of Nation. It was quite fitting that Ghana be the host of the first edition after CAF had celebrated its 5 decades of existence in 2007, on top of that the host nation had just celebrated its 50 years of independence and they were, after all, Africa’s best representative at the last FIFA world cup in Germany.
So you might ask what does football have to do with social consciousness, after all it’s just a game like any other sport well it has a lot. As it stands currently FIFA has 204 member states or football associations which 16 more members than the United Nations and 3 more than the International Olympic Committee, so that in itself is indicative of the influence the game of football has on humanity.
In a world where the paddlers of cut throat capitalism are afforded publicity and paraded as the do-gooders of the human race it becomes hard for smaller nations to compete with them on a political and economical
level and therefore leaves sport, football in particular, as the only option to compete with these countries on an equal footing.
During the 1996 and ’98 editions of the AFCON which were held in South Africa and Bukina Faso respectively I was 12 in 1996 and up until Bafana Bafana played against other nations from this continent I knew very little about them,but after the 1998 edition I knew there was a country called Bukina Faso and that its capital is Ouagadougou, I could tell the difference between Mali, which is the country where Timbuktu is situated, and Serria Leone and the histories of these countries all of this because I took time to watch the AFCON.
I’m of the view that after Ghana’s successful showpiece a lot of young Africans now know that its capital is Accra and that the country is also home to one of the continent’s most marvelous civilization that being of
course the Ashante people, they traded with Europeans long before the Slave Trade came into being. I believe that after watching the tournament young people, especially, from South Africa are going to be able to differentiate between people of Angola, Zambia, Senegal and Tunisia and not make the ignorant mistake of assuming that everyone who hails from beyond the Limpopo and has a darker complexion is automatically Nigerian.
Another achievement by this particular AFCON is that it welcomed back a ‘prodigal son’ of African football that being Sudan,which was last represented in 1976. Sudan is one of the four founding nation including
Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa.
In Africa and the greater part of ‘third world’ were governments have largely shamed the people and made them examples of how not to govern a country football becomes not only a form of sport,but rather it becomes the ambilical cord between the ordinary people and patriotism, it brings back the purpose and rejoice in singing a national anthem it add tons of value to wrapping yourself with a national flag. Whether it’s during a continental cup or a stage as grand as the world cup because it is at that stage, in those 90 minutes that countries with inferior GDPs(Growth Domestic Products) compete against those of affluent economies at the same level and prove that they too can speak the language of humanity: football and possibly even better than those who claim to have taught them this beautiful game.