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Sports versus Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The continuing news of marauding herdsmen in several parts of Nigeria maiming and killing leaves me shattered.

It has been so disturbing and distractive that writing anything on sports has been very difficult. But then I remember the interconnectivity of all things. That indeed, we are one with the universe! That sports cannot be immune from the influences and consequences of other developments in the country, and by extension, the rest of the world.

So, even sport finds some relevance in the ongoing orgy of senseless destruction of lives and property by terrorist groups purportedly pursuing some distorted cause.

Now, add to that what came out, unprovoked, from the mouth of the most powerful man in the world that African countries, ‘shitholes’ and that the people are not wanted in America!

As a Nigerian, rather than get angry and become irrational, I am borrowing a page from the Olympic movement’s handbook on the resolution of conflict and crisis through the very simple process of declaring a truce – a short period during which there is a halt to any reaction, enough to take a breather, cool down the temperature of the crisis and think! It is as simple as that.

It does not cost money to stay all action for a short while and to think. The period provides the time to think better about the issues, about who we are, about how we got there, about where we are going, and, finally, to act in the considered best interest of all those involved in a matter.

Today, the world is in such poor shape and state that there has never been a more appropriate time in the history of the world than now to apply the philosophy of the Olympic Truce.

The thinking must start with appreciating that the crisis itself is a crucible of fire through which the combatants must pass to come out at the other end refined and better than before. It is a necessary ingredient to stoke the embers of fixing a problem that may have been buried in pretense by a system designed to keep the noose around the neck of the victim even after the false declaration of freedom and equality!

In the case of the black person, the enslavement has continued unabated but cloaked in a new garb.

Africa, and indeed the black race, needs to pause and think deeply about Donald Trump’s blab that has dominated the global discourse since he declared that African countries are shitholes and that their people are unwanted in the United States of America!

That statement took the world back centuries to when millions of the best stock of the black African race were forcefully captured, sold and shipped across the seas to distant lands and used as cheap labour to build other civilisations.

These new and advanced civilisations are the product of the sweat, tears and blood of a race that Mr. Donald Trump has declared an open war against.

His words have stirred the hornets’ nest. They have resurrected long buried pages from the painful history of the black man’s oppression, degradation and enslavement on earth. This is injustice that will naturally attract the intervention of the universe itself.

I am a sportsman and I see the world through the prism of sport. So, let me recall certain incidents from history that should chart a possible direction for how a part of this ‘war’ against Trump and his kind must be fought.

At the 1936 Olympic Games a young black athlete representing the United States dealt a mortal blow to the champions propagating the superiority of the Caucasian race and vigorously pursuing the elimination of other races!

The picture of Adolf Hitler at the Games, sitting, looking lost and furlong as Jesse Owen destroyed the myth of the superiority of the white athlete remains etched forever in history. Jesse out jumped and out ran the best from this purported special breed of humans as he put up the best demonstration of who was superior amongst the races!

In 1968 in Mexico, some black American student athletes, including my good friend Lee Evans, took their struggle for racial equality to the biggest theatre in the world. Running for their adopted country, America, the country their forefathers helped to build with their bare knuckles, on the rostrum of victory they raised those knuckles in silent protest injustice, racism and inequality in America, sending a strong message around the world to the White supremacists that were suppression African Americans and denying them equality and justice!

Their raised and clenched fists answered the question: who was superior amongst the races?

Probably the worst Olympic Games ever held were the Games of Montreal, Canada. Till this day, Canada still carries the scars of those Games tainted by the blood of Africans enslaved by a system in South Africa that reduced them to sub-humans!

The Olympic Games provided a perfect opportunity for the global fight against apartheid and racism. I was one of those that paid the price for that fight.

In inflicting a painful blow on the enslaving white supremacists in South Africa and their supporters all over the world, all black athletes from Africa forfeited their once-in-a-life-time opportunity of an Olympic medal, of possibly standing on the rostrum, listening to their country’s national anthem rendered for the world to acknowledge and, thereafter, the possibility of a life of fame and fortune!

We gave up all of that so that South Africa (and by extension all blacks in Africa) will be free from the bondage of racism, a physical and psychological damage of unquantifiable dimension to the human psyche.

With most black African countries boycotting the Montreal Olympics the Games eventually became, probably, the worst and costliest in history, a shameful reminder of man’s inhumanity to man, and a monument to the fight for freedom and equality by the black race all over the world.

I can recall Muhammed Ali’s fight against injustice, inequality and freedom in America. It is etched eternally in the history of the black man’s struggles in America.

There are many more instances in sports that tell one of the black man’s very effective response to the war against racial inequality, segregation and injustice against the black race. We use sports to fight the cause displaying uncommon skills, physicality, endurance and artistic superiority.

That battle clearly has not been completely won. We now know from Donald Trump’s utterances, as well as from the seeming silence and acquiescence of the majority whites that put him in office and continue to sustain him (even as he is considered by large swaths of the rest of the world as the worst president in the history of the United States), that the black man is still a long way from El Dorado in his fight to eradicate the vestiges of racism and bigotry in the world.

That war will be fought by all black persons. The war will be planned here in Africa in what Donald Trump arrogantly described as ‘shitholes.’

That war will not to be fought politically, or with guns and bullets but through several other means including the test of the limits of the human capacity to excel in sports, the arts, and intellectually on every available global stage clearly providing evidence about who is superior amongst the races on a level playing field!

That’s why Nigeria is so important in that war.

Nigeria, with its greatest gifts from the observing universe – size, population, resources, intellectual capacity, rich traditions and culture, artistic expressions and sports talents – must take on the White supremacists on the grandest theatres of all and teach them a lesson!


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