So ya’ll know I am crazy about football! Me and Manchester united have been together for a while now and I hassled an internship in South Africa so I could be at the 2010 Football World Cup! Best time of my life!
So as you can imagine, I am having the time of my life right now with the 2018 World Cup underway. Like everybody else, I got no more brackets, given the continued surprising turn of events with all the big teams crashing out, starting with my precious Germany. Ahead of France a.k.a the last African team standing, taking this whole damn cup, let’s talk about the curious case of blackness in the world cup.
Every world cup my roster is always the same, all the African countries until they break my heart, then Germany, France and now my current adopted home of Belgium came strongly into the mix. This year my African roster was expanded. After the first few games, my African friends and I, decided we are also adopting France onto the roster. Why you say, well look at this team??
You could basically take the French jerseys and put them on the Senegal team and nobody could tell the difference, except for the absence of Griezmann I guess. France is not the only one with this phenomenon. It is also a Belgium, England(ok maybe not these lads as much) and turns out some other random Scandinavian countries fielded some black players too. The story of why the French team looks like this is the story of colonialism, never ending African wars, international adoptions and immigration. It is also the story of the struggle of existing in white places, that all successful black people live through, with the constant feeling like you are under a magnifying glass and under pressure to perform, lest you shame your people, and they never “let” your kind in again.
Most of all, it is the story of second class citizenry of black people in these Europe streets. My friends were excited about me moving to Brussels because it is one of the blackest cities in Europe. There is a whole neighborhood called Matonge, named after a town in Kinshasa, which is basically little Africa, where I get my sweet potatoes and fufu flour, with the thousands of hair salons, beauty supply stores and African fabric stores. What surprised me though, was how some white Belgians do not quite know why these Africans are here.
The going story is the old myth of Europeans went to the Congo to help the Africans a.k.a civilize them. Their history books, do not teach them how how their country was built on the blood of over 10 million Africans murdered by king Leopold in the quest for rubber in the Congo. They also do not know their country had a human zoos of black people put up for the “education and amusement of white Europeans,” in 1958, which is not that long back.
It turns out most, white Belgians are oblivious or ill informed about the plight of black Belgians, who flee their countries and come to seek a better life in the bosom of their colonizer. It’s all fine and dandy when they are scoring goals on the football field, but not when they, looking for a job, trying to feed their families or just have a decent life.
With all of these shenanigans, I added a new rule to how I pick my teams in the world cup. In the wise words of Issae Rae, “I’m rooting for everybody black!”
Hell with what I have seen and experienced, we gotta root for each other because for centuries nobody rooted for us. Even now, the rooting for us in conditional. One of my favorite Belgian/Manchester United players, Romelo Lukaku, said it best in his heartfelt essay, I”ve Got Some Things To Say.
When things were going well, I was reading newspapers articles and they were calling me Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian striker. When things weren’t going well, they were calling me Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian striker of Congolese descent.
Now I am ready for this France, Belgium match up! In case you haven’t picked it up I am rooting for France because Africa. Even though if Belgium wins I will be good too, because Lukaku!
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