European Football Fanaticism: The Foolishness of Nigerian Youths
That Europe enslaved the peoples of West Africa for over four hundred years, in what has become infamously known as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade on the pages of History textbooks, is a fact that several idiotic Nigerian youths have probably forgotten, or perhaps were never taught at school. That the barbaric trans-atlantic slave trade witnessed West African women and able-bodied men working on European sugar cane plantations with padlocked lips and shackled legs, Nigerian youths may care to know, resulted to the depopulation of West Africa, to the loss of man power, and, in the view of Walter Rodney, to the underdevelopment of West Africa and the African continent as a whole.
That Africa was scrambled for and partitioned in the Berlin conference of 1884/1885 that held in Germany is a fact that, as unfolding events have suggested, seem to be alive only in the greyed-head of University professors. Do I need to remind these foolish crop of Nigerian youths that the Berlin conference gave way to the sharing of Africa like a piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party, as figuratively described in Chinua Achebe's best-selling autobiography - There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra?
That Africa suffered European exploitation and subjugation (which is euphemistically referred to as colonialism) for nearly a hundred years is another gloomy fact that has not find a place in the big, empty heads of Nigerian youths. The colonialization of Africa has, among other numerous things, resulted to the erosion of African values, the amalgamation of peoples who never considered it necessary to be true brothers for a second, and the introduction of feeble political and legal systems to compound the problems of Africa.
Perhaps if Nigerian youths had sufficiently sucked the breast milk of History, they would have been very careful about their viewership of European soccer, would have avoided becoming fanatics of European football. But unfortunately, like the senseless members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect, thousands of jobless, gadabouting Nigerian youths have become indoctrinated, have become fanatics of European football; of course not without grave consequences.
Boko Haram has, in the past few years, slained its thousands; similarly, European football fanaticism has claimed its hundreds in the last decade. After nearly every major European football match, gory stories of people who get either stabbed to death or miamed for life usually hit the media. This is, to be sympathetic, quite pathetic.
Still very fresh in my memory is the case of Saheed Badmus, a 29 years old graduate of Ekiti State Polytechnic, who was reportedly stabbed to death by a beastly barber named Yemi at a viewing centre on Lamina Street, Egbe, Lagos State, during the May 2014 Champion's League semi-final match between Chelsea and Athletico Madrid.
Just yesterday, June 26th 2014, the Punch newspaper heart-rendingly reported that two diedhard Real Madrid fans died hard during the Champion's League final between Athletico Madrid and Real Madrid on Saturday. The Punch puts it thus: "two middle-aged men, who were said to be die- hard supporters of Real Madrid Football Club, on Saturday slumped and died during the Champions League's Final between Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid when the former team failed to equalise the one goal at 90 minutes of the game."
These recent incidences, and countless others (documented and
undocumented) that had happened in the past, have, indeed, exposed the depth of European football fanaticism among Nigerian youths. It has shown that there are still a vast crop of Nigerian youths with slavery mentality - the mentality to always romance anything foreign, to always fall for anything white.
Apart from the disturbing fact that European football fanaticism is slowly claiming the lives of Nigerian youths, a number of marriages and countless intimate relationships have suddenly collapsed because the man is an European football fanatic. In these kind of relationships, the husband channels all his love, all his passion, all his energy, all his enthusiasm, which are the exclusive reserve of his wife, to the patronage of his favourite European club and matches. And since the man has nothing else but his neglected wife to grab in the middle of a cold night, the relationship slowly collapses like a burning candle.
Increasing number of Nigerian youths are failing UTME every year, surveys have revealed. While one may be forced to assume that the exams are getting difficult every year, these is not the case. The case, arguably, is that the distractions of the 21st century, which includes European football fanaticism, are overwhelming. Today, some candidates, usually between 17-24 years, consume over 16 hours a week catching the thrills of European football. The result is that these candidates have less reading time, which is partly responsible for mass failure in the UTME.
My personal observation has also revealed that European football fanaticism is breeding an army of irresponsible youths. These youths have general characteristics: they are chronic gamblers; they are academically vacuous: they are cantankerous; they hate Nigeria passionately because they have become Eurocentric; the only newspaper they buy and manage to read is Complete Sport, and the only website they visit is Goal.com.
These kind of youths have become good-for-nothing, useless. They cannot be given a chance to play in the community team because they have chicken legs; they cannot be invited to analyse European football on the TV or Radio because they can hardly speak good English or argue intelligently; they are unemployable, because they may stab customers who are fans of rival clubs; they cannot join the military or police because they are unpatriotic; they cannot serve God because they cannot afford to miss a match that coincide with weekly or Sunday service.
While I admit that the viewership of European football has created jobs nationwide, Nigerian youths must understand that Europe still remain the top dog and must never become excessively zealous about European football. The players and clubs they zealously support are making millions of dollars each year; what then is the reward of a person who pays to sit in a noisy, cramped viewing centre, where flying jerseys and the stench of sweaty armpits usually fill the air, to watch matches played in a continent that was built with the blood and sweat of their ancestors?
In the past century, African leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Koffi Anan, Martin Luther King, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and a host of others have done a lot to debunk the myth of white supremacy, Nigerian youths should not betray the efforts of these heroes. The glory of the youth, the Holy Writ says, is in their strength; Nigerian youths should, therefore, channel their energy and strength to the pursuit of their dreams, to the fulfiment of their purpose, and to the progress of the African continent.
Ademule David is a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology.