Wednesday 30 June 2010

Nigeria: Questioning the FIFA hegemony

Questioning the FIFA hegemony
One begins to wonder about the clout and the power the world’s football governing body, FIFA [1], and its dogged determination not to brook any interference of national governments in football administration.
A number of events have shown that this FIFA stance has to be at least negotiable and ideally questionable. Indeed, there are instances where football associations need to be protected from political interference and the nations sanctioned for undue process but where player safety, the national interest or honour is at stake, FIFA’s desires have to be secondary.
Safety above rules
When at the African Nations’ Cup the Togolese team was attacked [2] by insurgents in the Cabinda region of the Angola, the basic fact that lives were lost was of overwhelming concern to the Togolese government that players and the national football association were overruled with the team being withdrawn from the competition.
FIFA took a rather draconian stance of suspending Togo from all international competitions which to the fair-minded was unjust the rules notwithstanding. The Togolese government and FIFA have come to some arrangement but more interestingly were the comments Emmanual Adebayor of Togo made [3] about the Togolese Football Association that had received tickets for air travel but decided to travel by road leading to the unfortunate incident.
FIFA is no good cop
Whilst FIFA has been unforgiving of government interference there is no evidence of FIFA coming down heavily on the corruption within football associations nor does it seem they have the wherewithal to ensure that football associations do not create situations that call for immediate and drastic interference from their home governments.
With the World Cup underway, the French team displayed conduct [4] so unbecoming and shocking beyond words, nothing has been heard from FIFA as regards how the game had been brought into disrepute by these players on a global stage at their premier event.
Rather FIFA has been threatening [5] the French government about perceived interference but really where the honour of a country had been impacted by shameful representation it is only right for the representatives of the people who constitute the government to get to the bottom of why this disgraceful behaviour came about if FIFA cannot effectively manage the conduct of players.
The case for political interference is just too compelling as it brings to question how democratic football associations really are, who they are accountable to and to what extent is FIFA accountable to any higher constituted body representative of global interests.
In the national interest
Today in the news, the Nigerian President suspended the national team [6] from international competitions for two years and in the process is planning a complete overhaul of the football organisational structure in Nigeria.
Surely, every country and their elected or governing representation should have pre-eminence over how their country is represented, by whom and for what purposes. If the country decides that their sporting representatives are not of the quality that can do the nation proud, surely, it should be the prerogative of that country to choose not to be represented and present at global tournaments.
FIFA is no role model
I have not seen any sense of moral, ethical or commendable standard that allows FIFA to seek overarching protection of non-performing football associations if FIFA itself cannot impose rules of operation that compel the associations to be transparent, incorruptible, properly run and genuinely serving of the national interests they are supposed to represent.
FIFA appears to be a law unto itself, supported by patronage and tribal allegiances, sustained by global conglomerate sponsorships predicated in FIFA’s world-wide reach almost to the exclusion of local business and local partnerships in countries that host their events.
It is untenable that FIFA can by its clout not drawn from any virtuous conduct dictate carte blanche and exude such authority as to cow national political representatives when they are desirous of having better organisations and representations of football in their countries.
Now is the time to limit the remit and ambit of FIFA when the national honour and interest is demonstrably at stake, no FIFA rule or stance should have pre-eminence over that situation – ever.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

England: And the coconut fell on her head

The Police Constable of Political Correctness
Sometimes I wonder where I have been on either side of the politically correct debate and have found that I have been on both sides and sitting on the fence.
In general, I don’t do politically correct, I do polite, I do respectful and sometimes with a tinge of what I would call the gentle English putdown.
A case in Bristol [1] was concluded recently that had a black Liberal Democrat councillor engaged in a heated debate with an Asian Conservative councillor predicated on the latter arguing that spending money today on trying to right the wrongs of slavery was wasteful.
The Liberal Democrat retorted that the Conservative would be termed a coconut, a term, sometimes derogatorily inferring someone who has abandoned one’s roots pandering to the seeming proclivities of another culture.
The myths and expectations
This matter goes deep and it would appear both councillors were somewhat unwise in their choice of words. Asians never really did suffer the ravages and consequences of slavery as much as Blacks did, so in a way her stance regardless of the objectivity of her argument was insensitive at best.
The use of the word “coconut” with the variant of “bounty” or “banana” which infers white on the inside and brown or yellow on the outside is as racist as one can get in jocular or formal council meeting environments, if that is how you want to be affected by it.
I was once called a bounty when a friend wanted me to offer an academic reference in his favour, when all I could do was give a character reference. I responded saying it was not the exclusive prerogative of the white man to be objective.
A broad political church
Furthermore, ethnic minorities cannot be expected to be exclusively left-wing or left-leaning, we are borne of different circumstances and opportunities that it is very possible for us to be right-leaning and conservative with the option to join political parties of that stratum and represent people from that perspective.
The idea that ethnic minorities are trying to be whiter than the whites is sometimes atrocious; as if one can be accused of being blacker than the blacks. If one was born abroad and has spent more than half one’s life in that society one would think that person were fully integrated in the dominant culture rather than be holdouts of a sub-culture which might no more be representative of its origins.
The question then becomes why should I only be defined and identified purely by my racial colour and no inference to the varied cultures in which I have lived and the content of my character which is usually not worn on the face or skin?
Back where we started
We need to move on from race and deprivation politics and accentuate the better parts of our co-existence. The Conservative councillor could well have mollified her argument in favour of cuts in more temperate language not creating the situation where latent grievances of the pasts are allowed to surface with politically damaging consequences.
The sad situation too is evident in the fact that the Conservative councillor had hardly moved out into post-cultural self-assuredness, she took offence where she could have been above the fray. People defined by being unsure of their roots still find that they are easily offended at every seeming slight and hardly possess the wit to deflect the barbs.
I suppose race still holds sway in many matters that affect ethnic minorities regardless of how long they have lived in their host societies where they are probably supposed to be fully integrated, if not assimilated.
The coconut is cracked open
The wider implications of the case, the prosecution and the sentence border on elements of free speech, expression, urban usage and context – in some circles, this is political correctness gone mad but if anything, either coconut or banana must learn the nuances of being politely rude rather than being politically incorrect. It is probable that neither is even whiter on the inside yet, how interesting, that would be to all concerned.
As the saying goes amongst the Yoruba of West Africa who were probably the most decimated and plundered in terms of slavery with outposts of that culture in Cuba and Brazil – he whose head has been used to crack the coconut is not going to partake in the eating of it.
Figuratively, she threw a coconut and it landed on her head – What a pity, as the English smiled wryly at all the fuss.

I believe I cannot fly in Nigeria

4 crashes in a year

This is not only cause for concern but outrage, there have now been 11 fatal air crashes in Nigeria since 1995. One can say, the once good air safety record of Nigerian air travel where your could trust that you would get there leaves one in serious trepidation that it is all now more like a getting there on a wing and more prayers than you could mouth as your life flashes before you in milliseconds.

We have lost senior military personnel, precious children, politicians, leaders and everyday citizens to events that are in need of serious investigation and resolution as why air safety records have plumbed the depths of disaster, sorrow and fear.

Hardly a month ago, there was an air crash where senior military officers lost their lives, in the space on just a year there have been four.

There is the possibility that the Sultan of Sokoto was involved in this air crash, however, like all air crashes in Nigeria, we first hear there were survivors, such that history now informs us to fear the worst and hope for the best, till all the facts are out.

Of judgment and action

However, if as it seems, this plane took off in a raging storm and crashed just at the end of the runaway, I can only imagine what foolhardy dare-devilry allowed for this take-off in a tropical storm and the risk analysis that went into this take-off against what might have elicited an alternative expert decision.

That, however, would be speculating on half the facts.

There is a case for grounding all flights in that country with the emergency of getting to the bottom of why these crashes happen from pilot training, aircraft safety, weather monitoring for aircraft turn-around and whether the expert judgment of professionals gets overruled by influential passengers.

I do wish there are many who survived this crash and pray the good Lord grant strength and fortitude to those whose loved one’s perished as they bear their loss.


Plane crash near Nigeria capital

Plane with 100 on board crashes in Nigeria

Friday 25 June 2010

Europe: No hiding place for Homo-nationalism

Minority is not inferiority
This represents a difficult subject and one of a very intimate nature that would well benefit from the kind of articulation I have brought to many issues that I have covered on my blog in the last 6 years.
I have been fortunate to have been born in Europe but had part of my development experience in Africa making me a product of the influence of all the cultures in which I have lived.
As a person of colour, one is in a minority but it does not then mean one should as well assume an inferiority complex. I have been blessed with a sense of awareness and being that has allowed me wade through the unfortunate scrapes with racism, snide belittlement and patronising conduct without being so negatively affected.
Comfortable in one’s skin
One somehow has a quality of assertiveness, if not wit where such encounters occur but not the legs to run when those situations have turned unnecessarily violent; in any case, I have refused to allow those experiences to take root and destroy the quality of self-esteem I believe I possess.
One place however where I have had some difficulty is where within a minority you then find vestiges of bigoted, intolerant, reprehensible behaviour, that just leaves you almost speechless, agitated and occasionally annoyed.
As I attended the Berlin Christopher Street Day [1] (CSD) celebrations, whilst I got wind of the event beforehand, I did not stay to witness it because I was quite exhausted and wanted to return to my hotel to rest.
Distancing from Homo-nationalism
Judith Butler [2], a renowned philosopher was being honoured with the ZivilCourage prize by the Berlin CSD, she was present but in the speech that they thought would be an acceptance speech, she declined the award castigating the pall of homo-nationalism that had become integral to the LGBT [3] movement in Germany and Europe to the exclusion of the recognition of the work, activities and plight of LGBT minorities.
It was a bold and brave stance to take [4] though the Berlin CSD organisers refused to engage or address the issues she raised and exhorted everyone to party on regardless.
A debate must ensue beyond the stereotypes that suppose that immigrants from the Global South are generally homophobic, intolerant, isolationist and illiberal in what has become a racist complicity perpetrated by organisations that are supposed to know better with their history of struggles for recognition, rights, fairness and justice.
A minority ignoring their minorities
The fact is we find such attitudes too amongst right-wing elements of Western societies and their fundamentalist counterparts around the world who abuse the purpose of religion to alienate, castigate, bastardise and condemn others in their quest for some sort of communal purity.
In the process, we forget that even amongst the indigenes of the Global South are people very much like us who suffer persecution in their homelands, rejection from their communities and in some cases serious violence amongst us in the West as their so-called loved ones portend to restore honour to their flawed ideals of perfection by eliminating what they consider as different or in the extreme abominable.
It is a shame that the seemingly emancipated networks of support created by organisations like the CSD cater mainly for their own without giving recognition to the activities, travails or issues that similar organisations catering for minorities try to address.
You come out to their public activities and might well assume that all minorities are heterosexual apart from the token few that dot the landscape only for their brazenness and boldness.
Killed for her sexuality
I am therefore pleased that not only has Judith Butler shed light on a subject many do not want to address, Angela Davis [5] has added her voice [6] to the matter.
What is interesting on the whole is that this situation is not limited to Berlin or Germany. In October 2009, an 18-year old Belgo-Moroccan girl, Layla Hachichi [7], was brutally murdered by her parents in an exorcism ritual which on examination was to rid the girl of her lesbianism.
The parents for all sorts of absurd reasons with the fact that they live in the West have surely not been able to understand the society they reside in. Whilst they might not have been able to accept the idea of their daughter’s homosexuality, the heinous crime of murder described in ways that make mediaeval torture tame is completely unforgiveable.
A silence so despicable
The sadder aspect of this is that it took almost six months for the Belgian umbrella LGBT organisation, Çavaria [8], to comment on the matter with the excuse that they did not have enough detail on the matter.
When an organisation like Çavaria is afraid to speak up for one of their own who just happens to be of immigrant stock for the fear of hurting the sensibilities of the community that has committed such atrocious crimes against a person for their sexuality, you begin to wonder if those organisation are from hence worthy of existence having failed to speak up for the voiceless, the helpless, the incapable and the unfortunate.
To redeem themselves they have assumed the stance of amicus curiae in the case giving them access to all facts of the case seeking justice for the girl. Though one must state that the facts leading to the murder of the girl had appeared in more than 60 articles, the excuse is flimsy at best.
No hiding place for Homo-nationalism
With Judith Butler, Angela Davis and many other commentators giving voice to this travesty, LGBT organisations would no longer have a hiding place when they are derelict in their responsibilities to all their constituency; obvious members, the oppressed, the ostracised or the afraid - that includes minorities in the West and those that suffer under unspeakable sanction in faraway lands.
Any LGBT gathering that fails to accommodate the minorities as part and parcel of the whole representation of the LGBT community at home first and abroad would cast the organisers as hypocritical and devoid of values, seriously unworthy of the social justice mantle they claim to have and detriment to any further struggle for rights and fairness as they will be open to justifiable criticism and derision. They have no hiding place anymore.
[9] News in brief | Flanders Today Published November 2009