Africa is a Country in the World Cup
Still, football nationalism, for many of us, often expands past Nigeria, and into the rest of Africa…And the idea of an ”us”, a collective identity, becomes unquestionable. Sometimes the boundary of this identity widens, as it did during the 2006 World Cup when Nigeria did not qualify. And so, for one intense day while Ghana played the United States, I became Ghanaian. I watched with my Nigerian best friend Uju, hugging each other and dancing when Ghana finally won. “Some of our boys started playing this game without shoes,” Uju said proudly. “Our boys” were, of course, the Ghanaians.
Thankfully, Nigeria qualified for this year’s tournament. , I will watch the Nigeria-Argentina match with that cautious optimism that is the default position of many Nigerians about our national team. (Our boys are good, we like to say, but the management and organisation of our team is terrible.) I would be thrilled if we win all our matches but I would not despair if we don’t, because I would then aim my hope, borne of an expanded nationalism, at our other boys, from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and South Africa.
However inadvertent, Algeria’s absence speaks volumes. I’m still mulling over the comments to the last post, by the way; I’m less sure I’m comfortable with the formulations I was staking out there, yet have been too consumed by the Mondial and other work to figure out how in writing. But this sort of thing is what I mean: Africa can mean lots of things, and yet it seems to mean something so very particular in practice..