When are Africans not Africans?

2009-06-20 00:00

THE Fifa Confederations Cup serves as a perfect exercise to illustrate our ability to host a spectacle of this magnitude exactly a year ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

It is not just the local soccer administrators’ abilities that come into question, but also the ability of the general public to host and look after our international guests.

Although it is just over a week before we crown the champion of champions of Fifa’s various confederations and bid farewell to the fans of the game of billions, all looks to be going according to plan.

That is, except for a few question marks with regard to poor attendance in Bloemfontein and Rustenburg and its not as if the games are short on goals, action and good quality football. Again, the global economic meltdown continues to have an adverse effect on all aspects of our lives.

When the champions of South America, Brazil, played the champions of Africa, Egypt, better known as the Pharoahs, I could not help but notice how the South African supporters in attendance were backing the Brazilians.

I would have thought that loyalties would have been closer to home. In hindsight, I remembered how the Egyptians have always identified themselves as being a non-African country to fellow African countries. They are not alone in this as Tunisia, and to some extent, Algeria, do so as well.

Conveniently for northern Africans, the city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, as well as other cities in the United Arab Emirates, are only a stone’s throw away and they feel more at home across the seas than with their backyard neighbours.

This brings us to the question: Who or what is an African? Are nations African by virtue of being located on the continent, and are individuals so because they were born here? Is it a personal choice to be African and who dictates who can or cannot be African?

The new political dispensation opened doors for black South Africans to attend schools and other facilities with their white counterparts. This meant that cultures criss-crossed and some prevailed while others diminished.

It is appalling how young black African children start their schooling at affluent pre-schools and schools and, in the process, lose out on their culture and their language.

This can be attributed to the black apartheid generations’ indoctrination that white is might and right. You can hear them in shopping malls with accents that, when you have your back to them, do not resemble that of an African. Worse still, they can hardly speak their mother tongue. Culture is embedded in language and it cannot be passed on in any other form.

I have no issue with children getting the best education and we all know that the schools that provide a quality education are not in the townships.

But the question arises: does being black mean that these children are African, even though they cannot conduct a conversation in their mother tongue, let alone write it?

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