By COLLEN LESOLE
The role played by Africans in the Diaspora in developing the mother continent and how the world view ‘us’ through ‘them’; whether sons and daughters of the mother land in the Diaspora should and must come ‘home’; neo-colonization of Africa and whether there is need to seek reparations where there has been extensive damages: all these among others are topics I hear young Africans and to be specific young Batswana, deliberating on a regular basis. Although our ‘Africanness’ and Afrocentricity has lately been subject to scrutiny, we love Africa as much and as well as anyone. If ever there was a barometer or scale to measure our love for this continent, we would rightly be up there with anyone and everyone.
So if ever Africa seeks to ‘punish’ us because we see ourselves as the other, fine we accept such but what endures is the need to mend fences and equally recognize that we will always see things differently; that diversity is our common denominator. If we believe that in all matters we will and must be united, purely and solely on the matter of our existence and location and shared values, and ignore all other facets of life, it is the humble opinion of this writer that such a view is misplaced.
Okay, let’s shelve our views for another day, shall we? In the above topics which yours truly often finds our young lions regularly engaged in, the following stand out. First how many young people do not hold their support for local football in the esteem with which they do their involvement in other social activities. Second, the reverence with which we hold specifically the English Premier League in.
Third, how we rarely involve football when mentioning local institutions that need to be empowered and strengthened. Fourth, and the main subject herein, the snobbishness of the local EPL supporter. To discuss him, there is need to understand that there exists more than one level or profile of such supporter. There is level one; this supporter is a keen follower of both local football, the South African Premier League and the EPL. He tries as much as he can to balance his love for the three and is as well informed about local issues as he is of those outside our borders.
Level two is made up of fellows who care little about the local league. In their eyes there are only two leagues worth mentioning and supporting; the PSL and the EPL. They do not mind whisking the side chick and their full entourage of friends for a getaway to Durban to watch the increasingly sterile Soweto Derby live. Most secretly wish they were born on the other side of the fence, although they would challenge this statement with some vigour and grand posturing. But we know. And in their hearts of hearts they know too.
And then there is the boss level. EPL fans to the core, sprinkled with a brief flirt with Spain’s ‘el clasico’. But the boys herein don’t mess around when it comes to their love for the EPL. They publicly denounce the local league with such distaste and venom and boy are they bullies! And snobbish too, very stiff upper lipped! Be careful of this lot, too often if you are spineless, you would find yourselves readily denouncing anything and everything about local football.
It leaves me baffled really how often too many of our learned folks, who are ready to give their services to social, political and civic duties and would passionately defend the motherland are quick to turn their backs when it comes to local football. The ‘boss level’ fans of the EPL I regularly interact with are really smart chaps and in different manners and capacity they are giving their all to make this country great. But the same gusto and passion seems to dissipate when it comes to playing an active role in supporting local football.
In my observation many of them wish that the standard and profile of the local game would be raised to a much higher level; that the local stakeholders ought to get together and recognize the power of the beautiful game and that without solid investments, our game cannot and will not go anywhere. These young people, who know on what day Manchester United was born, who regularly spice their debates with quotes of Bill Shankly and go to war demanding the ousting of Arsene Wenger, are so informed about what can be done to improve the state of our game, but not only that. Much more than anything else, they have the innate ability, collectively and singularly ,to make a difference in the local game. But they cannot and they will not as of this moment.
They will not be moved or stirred to take decisive action. They simply do not care about local football. They want readily available, made in England, smelling of Manchester rain and Welsh grass. Nothing local. This fan sees himself as part of ‘them’- a band of brotherhood united by their love for the English game. In his eyes, and this is where I hold him in contempt, a fan of the local league is far behind, stuck in the Middle Ages, left behind by the time machine, dull, boring and worst of all, uncivilized. That is the snobbery of a true, pure local EPL fan of the highest order. Well, deny it all you want but res ipso loquitor (the facts speak for themselves). On any other day I would have put up a case in their defence but today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and have an ache to tell it as it is and not as it should be.
For the sake of world peace, let me repeat myself: on planet football, you wouldn’t find a more snobbish, stiff upper lipped, derogatory, denigrating, holier than thou, all knowing, self-righteous, inward looking and cowardly human than a local fan whose eyes see no local football and whose ears do not want to hear anything about local football. Yes, I brand them cowards because many of them have identified that ‘local football is boring and of low standard and the administration could improve’. In this regard they speak nothing but the truth. But for such people to seek to pass the baton of responsibility to someone else or to some authority is despicable at the least. We are all in this together. In this game when it comes to making it better, there is no house of ‘they’ or ‘them’ or ‘us’. We win and lose together, as a union.
I am sick and tired of you bullying us in pubs when we want to watch Sankoyo Bush Bucks v Motlakase Power Dynamos by reminding us how those games are of poor quality. We see how ashamed of us you are when we talk about local football and are ignorant of what teams played last week in the EPL. But you know what, you are the real shame brother because you fail to put your house in order. We cannot keep quiet anymore and suffer under your insufferable high class manners and attitudes learnt over the internet.
Oh my, how did things escalate this fast? How do we find ourselves discussing things geopolitical to yourself truly descending into a rant? Well folks, sometimes one must rant and rave, to assure oneself that he is alive, but this piece is not a life indicator but me speaking the truth as I see it. My friends whom I have just wiped the floor with are entitled to their views defending their position and even tearing my submissions apart but I still find them snobbish and have been itching to tell them so.
Oh dear friends you have no idea how long I have waited for this moment, for the pen to spill these words. I have bided my time, patiently seeking a chink in the armour, probing and then when the chance to deliver a coup de grace arose, my nerves failed me. But now here I am, behind a keyboard and gleefully I tell them what I have already said. I hope you have the courage too, the next time that bore with an ‘EPL only’ sticker on his forehead reminds you how far left behind we are. If all he has is the ability to critique, to see and hear evil and leave it to others to remedy the same, throw the elitist out of the room lest he contaminates you; such views are usually contagious.
A disclaimer fellows. I love football as well as anyone and I watch the EPL too. But I do not take kindly to anyone who criticises the standard of the local game while failing to realize that as a citizen and football fan, he too has a part to play in helping grow the standard of the beautiful game here at home.
And you snobs get a life you suckers!