Tue | Dec 18, 2018

Orville Taylor | African flags for my World Cup

Published:Sunday | June 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
The Senegal soccer team will be one of five nations flying the flag for Africa.

Yea, you wear Brazilian and Peruvian hair, drive German motor cars, ride motorcycles from Japan, don Clarks from England, eat cookies from Denmark, chocolate from Switzerland and work in Spanish-owned hotels. But you are Jamaican, and face it, the majority of you who are flying flags from many of these countries have never visited them and are unlikely to even get a visa to travel there.

A small number of you might have even been forcibly removed from at least one of these countries on the list. China is not in the finals, but these flags, which are made in that country, are certainly making the rounds.

The Jamaican black, gold and green has to wait until July when they introduce football as an event at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Finland, where we demonstrated that the 1948 400-metre gold by Arthur Wint was not a fluke. And yes, being ranked 53 - above Panama (55), Japan (61), Finland (63), Saudi Arabia (67) and hosts Russia (70) - only gives a 'what-if' sick feeling in the gut, because they are in the finals, while we stupidly bandwagon on other countries.

 

HOMAGE TO ANCESTORS

 

It is Father's Day, and I want to pay homage to my forefathers - no, not the four fathers who each failed the DNA test, but still own up the children - the millions of Africans who went before us and whose descendants still reside on the continent. True, there are those relatives who sold us to the Arabs and Europeans in the 1000s and 1400s to 1800s, respectively. However, in the absence of the Reggae Boyz, I am emotionally backing an African team.

Pathetically, in a country where 95 per cent of us can directly trace our DNA back to West Africa, hardly any Jamaican can identity three African flags. Trust me, show us the flags of Mali, Senegal, Ghana, and Guinea and bet you they shout, 'Jah-Jah' because they confuse it with the Ethiopian. Some of the countries, when their names are mentioned, show nothing, which might give an ignorant person any idea as to what type of country or that they are African. Now, almost anything that starts with the letters 'Nig' points to something black, and Nigeria is no exception. Indeed, named like its neighbour Niger from the Niger River, both are labelled from the Latin word 'Niger', which means exactly that.

Yesterday, Nigeria bowed into action. At 190 million, the country with the largest population of black people in Africa has a burgeoning film industry where more than 2,500 films are produced annually. Such a figure is well ahead of Hollywood and is only second to India's Bollywood. With an average production budget of well under US$20,000, this excludes the small skits made popular by Emanuella, the child actress.

Its capital is actually Abuja and not the popular Lagos. Among the major ethnicities from Nigeria are the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Many of our Jamaican words such as 'juck', 'kaba Baba', 'okra', 'nyam', 'potopoto', 'jumbi' (ghost), 'dundus' (albino), 'red-ibo' (browning), 'soso' and 'chink all' de deh in our lexicon. Our connection to the Nigerians is not a peyaw-peyaw one. Many of us originated there.

Senegal is not a derogatory way of telling the female child to be dispatched. It is a West African country whose coast is the most western point on the continent, with Dakar as its capital. This country's largest ethnic group, the Wolof, also nyam like us. Among its most famous is Cheikh Anta Diop, who has written some amazing bits of history about how humanity began and how black people were the first. In fact, I urge everyone to read his work. He presents irrefutable evidence that Homo sapiens originated in Ethiopia, the ancient Egyptians were kin with the Ethiopians, and that Jesus had to have been black.

In primary school, I got into trouble because I thought Egypt was an attempt by a donkey driver to stop an early SUV with failing brakes. Never mind the stories in the Old Testament which vilify Pharaoh over his refusal to release the Israelites from captivity; Egypt is the cradle of civilisation. Modern medicine, science and many of the so-called Greek philosophies were actually stolen from there.

Inasmuch as the modern Egyptians are lighter-skinned than the Ethiopians, unlike Haile Selassie's kingdom, Egypt experienced myriad invasions and occupations by Arabs, Persians and Greeks, all of whom lightened the pigmentation of the population. Even today, opinion shapers hardly acknowledge that Egypt is in Africa. In fact, the Bible does not even give us a clue. Thus, the false narrative of it being part of the Middle East is still perpetuated.

Morocco, located just south of Spain and Portugal, across the Mediterranean Sea, this country invaded and occupied Spain for more than 800 years. Only in 1492, the same year that Fernando and Isabel commissioned Cristobal Colon to get lost in the Caribbean, were the final set of North Africans expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. Much of Spanish architecture, technology and indeed Spanish modern civilisation is due to these Africans. Rabat is the capital and its 34-million population also got lighter due to their eight centuries of interbreeding.

Please do not look for a hint about the meaning of Tunisia from the front part of its name. Just be satisfied that it is not as small a country as it sounds. Its capital is Tunis. With a population of 11.5 million, this nation of Arabic Africans is who the Bible calls Phoenicians.

These are mere snippets regarding the African nations in the World Cup and I entreat you to find their flags. However, let me warn you. No foreign flag must be flown in Jamaica unless a higher and larger Jamaica flag is to the left or it is at an embassy.

- Dr Orville Taylor is head of the Department of Sociology at the UWI, a radio talk-show host, and author of 'Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets'. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@

hotmail.com.