The 2014 FIFA World Cup has brought a lot of surprises thus far: the sharp exit of the defending champions Spain, the exit of Italy and England, the advances of countries like Costa Rica, Belgium, Colombia, or Switzerland into the last round of 16. Above all, what has brought joy to me, a fellow African, is the advance of two African countries for the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup into the last round of 16: namely, Nigeriaand Algeria(never mind that their names both finish with ‘geria‘). I am glad to see that my predictions of seeing Algeria move forward into the round of 16 came true, and agreed with Maradona’s. I am also thrilled to see Nigeria (whom I had thought were in a good group and had big chances of advancing) progress.
Today, both countries will face France and Germany respectively (France – Nigeriaand Germany – Algeria). We wish them the very best as they carry the hopes of the entire continent up, and we hope to be elated by the strength of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, and the dexterity and perseverance of the Fennecs of Algeria. May the best teams win!
I am posting here, a poem by the great poet founder of the negritude movement, the Francophone poet Aimé Césaire from Martinique. The breadth of Césaire’s work is amazing. He has published over 100 poems. The poem “Scalp” is one of them. Enjoy!
Il est minuit
les sorciers ne sont pas encore venus
les montagnes n’ont pas fondu
ai-je assez dit à la terre
de ne pas s’installer par crainte de l’insolation?
Me serrerai-je la gorge avec une corde faite du lierre de mes murmures?
poissons cueilleuses de l’eau et son réceptacle
c’est par-dessus vos têtes que je parle
comme les étoiles dans la bave du miel de ses mauvais rêves et la terre elle a enfanté sous nous
C’est vrai que j’ai laissé mes ongles
en pleine chair de cyclone
parmi le fracas des hannetons gros et jusqu’à faire jaillir le jaune neuf d’un sperme me jetant sous son ventre pour mesurer mon rut
par le sang dur du viol
entre deux criminels
je sais l’heure celui
celui qui s’en va
Mais un mais moi
enserré dans la touffe qui m’endort
et par la grâce des chiens
sous le vent innocent et déplisseur des lianes
héros de chasse casqué d’un oiseau d’or
It is midnight
the sorcerers have not yet come
the mountains have not melted
have I sufficiently told the earth
not to set itself up in fear of sunstroke?
Shall I tighten my throat with a cord made from the ivy of my mutterings?
fish gatherers of water and its receptacle
it is above your heads that I speak
like the stars in the honey drool from my bad dreams and the earth it has birthed beneath us
It is true that I left my fingernails
full in the flesh of the cyclone
amongst the brawl of huge cockchafers even to making spurt a new yellow semen throwing myself under its belly to measure my rutting
Jadis, les animaux n’avaient pas de queue. Le cheval ne pouvait pas chasser les mouches, l’écureuil sans queue avait du mal à sauter de branche en branche, le renard était bien moins beau et ne parlons pas du lion!
Le sage roi des animaux, le lion, prit la décision de remédier à cette situation. Il réfléchit pendant longtemps à la façon dont il allait s’y prendre et à la fin, il fit appeler le renard pour lui demander conseil.
« Tous les animaux ne peuvent pas avoir la même queue », estima le renard.
« Je sais cela, moi aussi », répondit le lion. « Mais comment départager les animaux sans se montrer injuste ? »
Le renard réfléchit un instant, puis déclara :
« C’est simple. Ceux qui arriveront les premiers recevront les plus belles queues. »
Le lion acquiesça :
« C’est une excellente idée. Cours vite dans la forêt et préviens tous les animaux qu’ils doivent se présenter à midi, au bord du ruisseau, pour la distribution des queues. »
Le renard transmit le message et courut vite vers le ruisseau pour arriver le premier. Il fut suivi de près par le cheval, l’écureuil, le chat et le chien qui arrivent toujours les premiers quand on distribue quelque chose. Vinrent ensuite les autres animaux : l’éléphant, le cochon et le lièvre se présentèrent les derniers.
Lorsque tous les animaux furent réunis dans la clairière, le lion se mit à distribuer les queues. Il se servit d’abord lui-même : ce fut une superbe queue, longue et dorée, terminée par un plumeau. Ensuite, le lion attribua de très belles queues bien touffues au renard et à l’écureuil. Le cheval opta pour une magnifique queue en crin. Le chien et le chat reçurent encore des queues fort présentables, mais les animaux qui arrivèrent les derniers, se trouvèrent bien démunis. L’éléphant eut une maigre cordelette avec quelques soies au bout. Il en fut si navré qu’il en porte aujourd’hui encore la trompe basse. La queue du cochon était fine comme un ver de terre. Il la fit boucler pour la rendre plus jolie. Le pauvre lièvre resta sans queue. Le chien et le chat commencèrent à se disputer pour savoir lequel d’entre eux avait la plus belle queue. À la fin, le chien attrapa le chat et lui arracha d’un coup de dents l’extrémité de la queue. Le chat s’enfuit dans l’arbre et depuis ce jour, il préfère se sauver devant le chien. Le lièvre ramassa le bout de la queue du chat et le colla sur son derrière. Ceci explique pourquoi la queue des lièvres est si petite.
Tomorrow, the world will vibrate to the rhythm of samba, carnivals, and Copacabana… Yes tomorrow, the 2014 FIFA World Cup will start in Brazil, and 32 of the best soccer nations will compete at this great planetary event. This will one month of soccer, pure joy, fun, and above all talent; Talent expressed by players from around the globe. Legends will be made, new faces discovered, and dreams will take off.
Five African teams will grace the tournament: Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria.
We do hope that at least one African team will advance into the round of 16, and beyond. Here are some of the African stars to watch out for.
Samuel Eto’o Fils, captain of Cameroon’s Indomitaple Lions, is incontestably one of the best forwards on the planet, and one of the greatest strikers of his generation. This might be his last world cup, and Cameroon’s first in 8 years. The Pichichi, and winner of several honors including African Ballon d’Or, will have to be ready to affront Brazil, the host country, Mexico, and Croatia in group A.
Didier Drogba, captain of Cote d’Ivoire’s Elephants, like Eto’o is also one of the best on the planet. After playing for Chelsea and winning countless trophies, he is now in Turkey with Galatasaray FC. This will probably be his last world cup. We wish him, and the Ivorian team the very best. They qualified with gusto to this competition. They have a relatively easy group with Colombia, Japan, and Greece. I will put my money on them moving to the next round in the tournament.
The Black Stars of Ghana were fancied to repeat, or even improve on, their run to the quarter-finals in 2010 in South Africa. That was until the draw was made and they were pitted with the world’s second and third-ranked sides. Asamoah Gyan and his teammates will play against Germany, Portugal, and the United States. This is the “group of death”. Ghana is a very good team; if they manage to make it to the round of 16, then they will quite far at the World Cup. We wish them the very best in the competition.
Throughout the years, I have placed high hopes on African teams and have always been disappointed. I might once again be disappointed. However, this is planetary tournament, and the fun of it makes one root for any good team. For the world cup winner, I believe Brazil, the host country has home court advantage, as well as a pool of great talents. Let us hope that will be enough to make them winners. I also think Argentina of Lionel Messi will be a really great contender, as well as Spain, the last world cup winners. Overall, let the world cup start, with all the fun, and may the best team win!!!
I always wondered where the name Brazzaville came from. At first glance, it would appear to mean “the city of Brazza (la ville de Brazza).” Is this a good guess? and if so, who was Brazza for his name to be given to the capital of an African country. Fortunately or unfortunately, during European colonization, many African cities, and cities throughout the world, were renamed after the first European explorer passing by or after some European ruler. Examples are countless: Leopoldville (modern-day Kinshasa), Port Louis (capital of Mauritius, named after Louis XV), Northern and Southern Rhodesia (Zambia and Zimbabwe resp. – named after Cecil Rhodes), etc. Other cities have seen their names ‘europeanized’ such as Canton (Guangzhou, in China), Bombay (Mumbai, in India), and many others.
Brazzaville is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Congo. It is located on the shores of the Congo River. It is the only capital in the world facing another one, Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo: Brazzaville and Kinshasa are separated only by the Congo river. The Pool region and surroundings of Brazzaville had been an African crossroad for centuries. In the Lari language, the regions of Mfoa and Mpila were known under the name Mavula, or “the place to get rich.” Laris people still refer to Brazzaville that way; however the name Mavulais anachronic since in 1880, the region’s inhabitants were Bateke. The site of the future capital was known as Nkuna, and was a Batéké village. Brazzaville was founded on 10 September 1880 by an Italo-French explorer, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, after whom the city was named, Brazza-ville or the city of Brazza. The local leader, Makoko of the Téké, signed a treaty of protection with de Brazza which subjugated his lands to the French Empire (he was probably fooled by the French, as was common practice with the colonizers). The city was built four years later in order to become a competitor with Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) which was built by the Belgians on the other side of the river. The site was occupied from October 1880 until May 1882 by a small squad of troops led by Senegalese Sergeant Malamine Camara, who prevented the land from falling into Belgian hands.
It was actually Malamine Camara who created links with the local populations, and made them sign with the French. Malamine was very loyal, and when Savorgnan left for France for a few years, Malamine stayed behind, and convinced the local populations through his good manners to side with the French. It is so sad that today, history mostly remembers Savorgnan de Brazza, and that even that capital is named after him, when it was the Black Senegalese soldier who fought for the French, led the troops, and convinced the locals.
Today, Brazzaville is a bustling city of more that 1.5 million inhabitants. Affectionately called Brazza, it is the heart of the Republic of Congo. To learn more about Savorgnan de Brazza himself, check out Brazza.culture.fr. Enjoy, Brazza!
I have to say a few things about the latest presidential elections in Malawi. Mrs. Joyce Banda lost the presidential elections in Malawi, coming out a distant third in the elections. She had become interim president of Malawi after her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika died in office in 2012. Peter Mutharika, a former foreign minister and brother of the predecessor, won with 36.4% of the vote, Lazarus Chakwera came 2nd with 27.8%, while Mrs Banda came third with 20.2%. Peter Mutharika was sworn into office on Saturday. Mrs. Banda had denounced serious irregularities, and wanted the whole election to be annulled; the high court rejected her request to block the release of results. Mrs. Banda then issued a statement congratulating Mr. Mutharika on his “victory in a closely contested election” and said she was “leaving office a happy person.” We are all happy that Mrs. Banda is conceading victory, even though we are not quite sure how 36.4% vs. 20.2% can be called a “closely contested election.” She leaving office “peacefully” is to be saluted.
However, Mrs Banda lost my respect the day I saw a picture of her kneeling in front of President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania: she claimed that she was a custodian of Malawian culture which made Malawian women kneel down when greeting men as sign of respect. That was the day, she went down in history for me: how can the president of a country kneel in front of other presidents?Are they not equal?Is she saying her country is kneeling to all the others?Did she forget that Malawi’s population also comprises men, who, following her logic, should not be made to kneel to greet other men?Mrs Banda was named 71st most powerful woman on earth by Forbes magazine in 2012, and 47th in 2013! Even Mr. Kikwete could not boast such a ranking. Just because Malawi is small does not mean that its head-of-state should bow to neighboring countries’ presidents. Did she see Angela Merkel of Germany or Cristina Fernandez of Argentina kneel down to anybody? If not, men should be kneeling down at Angela’s feet as she is the strongest leader in the euro-zone.
I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, and listen to those who said the picture had been ‘photoshopped’. That was until I saw other images of Mrs. Banda carrying buckets of water on her head, trying to “help” village women with their tasks of fetching water. Why not provide free water so that these women will never have to carry buckets of water on their heads again?Another image was of Mrs Banda seating on a floor mat in the dust at a village gathering, while her security guards (all men) were seating in chairs around her in three-piece suits. What in the world was that? Was that the position of the African woman? Was that “humility”? Somehow, I never heard of Queen Nzingha, or Ranavalona I, or Queen Amina, or Amanishakheto kneeling down to anybody. In fact, Queen Nzingha had one of her servant form a human bench so that she could sit in a position of equality with the Portuguese governor of Luanda (who had refused her a chair). So who was Mrs. Banda mimicking then?
As head-of-state, one should represent the nation, not seat in the dust and claim “humility”, or “closeness” to the people. The job requirement for president is not gender-specific: the job is not for a woman or a man, but for a leader. Once a leader, nobody cares how “humble” you are, but people care about you providing good healthcare, electricity, water, the minimum to lead a decent life, and negotiating at the table of nations in their best interest. Whoever is head-of-state, male or female, represents the sovereignty of the people of the country. I heard people saying “she is a quality African woman, well-trained by her culture.” Goodness gracious: she can stay a quality African woman in her house, but not as head-of-state, as she represents ALL the people of Malawi, not just women.
In all fairness, higher pressures are put on women when they become presidents. They are singled out, and their mistakes overblown… but as presidents, they should represent their ENTIRE constituency, and serve ALL fairly… not fetch water on their heads, or kneel down to greet men, or sit in the dust. This was (and still is) her time to teach, educate, and elevate women in the Malawian society. The time is for thinkers, and leaders, not paraders!
Cancrelat, continue de t’enduire de fard noir, la poule ne s’y trompera pas (Proverbe Mongo, Ntomba – République Democratique du Congo). – Un malfaiteur sera vite demasqué, ses manières le trahiront.
Cockroach, keep coating yourself with black mascara, the hen will not be deceived (Mongo, Ntomba proverb – Democratic Republic of Congo). – A thief will quickly be unmasked, his manners will betray him.