Reflections on Africa’s fabulous night in Madrid
The European Champions League Final between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur has come and gone.
The two top English football clubs based in Liverpool and London respectively have done battle, and the former and its seasoned players have prevailed. Spurs who chased first-time glory in the history of the competition fell when they earnestly didn’t mean to fall and fail in their first time ever appearance in a European Cup final.
The fabulous endurance they displayed in the second leg seminal-final match away from home against Ajax of Amsterdam of the Netherlands was not to be against their fellow English club-side Liverpool that the club’s legendary fans and members of the supporters’ club always and always stand by with their enchanting song of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
With their eventual triumph Liverpool became the third most successful football club in the history of the European Champions League Competition.
The club and their players who truly never walk alone in momentous and very momentous times as well as in trying and very trying times have now won the Champions League trophy six times behind the outstandingly great Real Madrid of Spain (with twelve (or thirteen?) victories) and the immaculately idolized AC Milan of Italy (with seven victories), who, unfortunately, have temporarily been experiencing financial and football misfortunes.
Significantly, European football power-houses such as Bayern Munich of Germany, Barcelona of Spain and Juventus of Italy as well as Inter Milan, also of Italy, are clearly now inferior to Liverpool as Liverpool has surpassed them in the pecking order of European legendary football club-sides. And with their latest conquest of Europe Coach Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool Argonauts have arguably played and written themselves into English football history as the best English football club ever. Dispute this, and we will unsentimentally make you a perpetual laughing stock.
At best, we will brand your contrary intervention poor argumentum ad hominem – especially if you are a Man U or Man City or Arsenal or Chelsea fan or football historian or both. We say this as dispassionate pundits.
But the football that Liverpool played that night of Saturday, 1st of June, 2019 in Madrid was not in any way nutritious or scintillating.
In truth, both Liverpool and Spurs did not serve us the nutritious, alimentative and alimental football they served us in their respective second leg semi-final matches en route to the final at the Estadio Metropolitano of Athletic Madrid of Spain of enchantingly enchanting football players.
In my column of Friday, May 15, 2019, I predicted that Liverpool would prevail over Spurs in Madrid. My prediction, without deliberate and obvious elaboration, was based on currency of form, character, tactic, experience, motivation and hunger for glory, especially as Liverpool players were put to the sword in last year’s final by the mightily mighty Real Madrid squad.
From my reckoning, Jurgen Klopp and his team scored higher and better than Mauricio Pochettino and his Spurs collective. Besides, the black players, the African players, that is, in Liverpool had the luck and blessings of the gods to shine and shine to glory in the final – as I crystal-balled it.
The “negro labourers” in the team would “labour” for victory, I say it again, blessed by the gods – in the spirit of James David Rubadiri’s “A Negro Labourer in Liverpool,” the poem I cited here in my column of Friday, May 10, 2019 (even though then the Malawian poet’s name missed my memory).
If you disbelieve me, what would you make of the third minute or so penalty Liverpool unexpectedly won via the instrumentality of “negro labourer” Sadio Mane, and which our African Arab brother Mohammed Salah converted for goal number one? And who was the “culprit” used by the gods to give Liverpool the penalty Mohammed Salah beautifully scored? It was another “negro labourer” in the person of Mousa Sissoko in the opposing team. And who made victory certain for Liverpool in momentous times of incertitude? It was another “negro labourer” Divock Orrigi who Jurgen Klopp inexplicably dropped from his starting line-up considering his exploits in the second leg semi-final against audacious Barcelona.
Of course, the gods of football-luck and victory punished Mauricio Pochettino for having the temerity to leave out Lucas Moura, the ruthless goal poacher and finisher, and wonderful black Brazilian “labourer” out of his starting eleven.
His replacement, whatever the coach’s strategy, had no business being in the team that night. Harry Kane was obviously out of tune that night, and Pochettino left him to play till the dead end. God damn! Harry Kane did not and could not inspire his team-mates and fellow strikers to cause real problem for Liverpool’s The Rock of Gibraltar goal-keeper Becker Alisson, the person of the match, who clearly was remarkably energized by the gods to inspire Liverpool to victory.
If James David Rubadiri, the Malawian poet and author of the poem “A Negro Labourer in Liverpool” aforesaid, were to re-think and re-write his colonial poem in our post-colonial context, he definitely would treat our black and African players as “negro labourers,” despite their glorious night in Brazil. Indeed, even though they shone brilliantly in Madrid (and throughout the competition) their take-home weekly earnings would still be far below their inferior European counter-parts’.
As they bask in their fabulous night in Madrid, we must query any anti-black, any anti-African sentiment, and protest vehemently against it. It is bad faith to exploit and discriminate against black and African footballers (and any worker or labourer of colour) in terms of earnings, opportunities and career advancement even though many of the “negroes” and coloured people may be more intelligent, more hard-working, and more achieving than their white counter-parts in the field of play or elsewhere outside the field of play.
All racially- and ethnically-conscious persons who exploit and discriminate against others anywhere must be called mediocre beings who endeavour to make up for their insignificance, incompetence and inefficiency by their act and art of egomania and the tendency to make a scapegoat of their superiors in every guise and respect.
In making this remark I also have in mind as well our country’s so-called political leaders and all persons in positions of power, authority and leadership in our country to whom I feel the urge to offer this quotation by Helen Walton (1919-2007), an American entrepreneur and arts connoisseur who was once-upon-a-time America’s richest person and eleventh wealthiest in the world: “It is not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.”
As Liverpool’s coach, players and fans savoured the fabulous night of their victory that night of nights in Madrid, my encomiastical heart and head roamed and roamed beyond heaping encomiums on our young African and black players for what they had just achieved for themselves (and us all).
I reflected and reflected on many things regarding our lot as Africans and blacks whose political, economic and sports leaders have ingloriously failed our part of the world.
When will they scatter to everywhere in our countries and continent happiness, love, light, patriotic feelings, wealth and all the positive nouns that will stop our young ones (and even elderly ones) from going to foreign lands in Europe and European America(s) to labour and labour (for poor earnings or in vain in many cases) for other people? Our colonial or post-colonial mentality must pave the way for the right and correct mentality of giants to lead us along the path of our right destiny of recognised universal accomplishments.
Where are the Nigerian leaders to lead us a-right? Will the beautiful ones ever emerge or be bestowed on us? In our country of ethnic bigots, nepotists, thieves, gluttons and overlords in and outside government houses these are huge questions that we cannot readily rightly answer as we give thought to our public and private engagements and choices.
Afejuku may be reached via +2348055213059 (SMS or WhatsApp as from Saturday 8th May).