From football to Pan-Africanism – Chronicle of Jean-Baptiste Placca


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With common values, clear rules, respected by all, seriously and rigorously, Africa will always have a good chance of getting by. In football as in industrial development.

 » Every African vibrates for each of the African teams present in Qatar “, you said here last week. What does this imply about the importance of football in the life of African nations?

In each country, the national selection is the place where rivalries fade, such as political, religious, regionalist or other dissensions. Football plays an equally invaluable role at continental level. All you have to do to be convinced of this is to listen to the messages from listeners of all nationalities, regularly relayed by the RFI sports department during the broadcasts. It is the magic of sport-king to radiate such sensations to Africa. If one needed ultimate proof that the Pan-Africanist dream is not totally dead, or that it can still be resurrected, it is in this capacity of Africans to vibrate and suffer for African selections other than their own, in the fervor and with a spontaneity that politicians are incapable of instilling in their peoples.

Football to the rescue of Pan-Africanism, isn’t that a bit excessively optimistic?

This does not mean that it would be enough to activate this pan-African solidarity in football so that, without any effort of the imagination, without far-sighted leadership, the United States of Africa emerges from six decades of lack of political courage and desired or suffered balkanization.

Some African heads of state, meeting last week in Niamey, Niger, have, for example, displayed great ambitions for the industrialization of Africa. We would almost forget that in April 1980, a constructed strategy for the industrialization of Africa was already contained in the Lagos Plan of Action, drawn up by eminent African economists and experts brought together by the Organization of African Unity. Beyond summits and resolutions, the objectives that States set themselves are only of interest if they are accompanied by clear rules, which all scrupulously respect, including those leaders convinced that their happiness can only be achieved at the expense of others. The industrialization of Africa cannot be a superposition of solitary adventures!

What are these solitary adventures?

Here, railways in a landlocked country, which do not find the planned extension in a neighboring state with an opening to the ocean, in the name of selfish interests. There, beautiful interstate roads, which abruptly stop at the border, because the neighbor forgot to do his part of the duty.

The industrialization of Africa implies a complementarity of channels through which to sell industrial production. It implies rigor, a lot of seriousness, on the basis of common values, excluding any governance conducive to putschist adventures, with their cohort of border closures. It is really not in beautiful resolutions, on paper, that one learns to live in community!

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