Ghana-Nigeria Sports Festival – Reviving The Big Dream! –Odegbami


In case you are not a dreamer like me, be happy to cease studying this now.

That is a type of days that I play video games with my thoughts, let my creativeness run wild and dream ‘loopy’ concepts.

I’m dreaming of Africa, the brand new stunning bride of essentially the most superior nations of the world due to its wealthy and plentiful pure and human sources.

Africa is the brand new frontier that holds the important thing to a brand new world. I’m taking a look at how African nations are reacting to the quickly altering world order of issues and occasions; of its previous; its ‘wasted’ political leaders; its errors at completely different instances in its historical past. I’m dreaming a few easy, reasonable and achievable strategy of kick-starting one thing new, that may result in the world envisioned by the founding political leaders of African nations in the course of the interval of their Independence across the 1960s. These nice and visionary leaders have been led by Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Ethiopia’s Hallie Selassie, Nigeria’s Tafawa Balewa and a number of other others, who all dreamt of an African continent that may be united, robust, fertile, productive and really aggressive within the world area.

My sports activities orientation takes over at this level and I begin to course of the potential of a brand new world by the prism of sports activities.

My thoughts is creating pictures of a West Africa area, with its two giants, Ghana and Nigeria, spearheading a critical cost on the world social, political, cultural and financial area.

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Dr. Nkrumah understood fairly clearly the necessity for a coming collectively of African nations, of becoming a member of forces, of forging alliances, of growing a masterplan for a typical trigger and entrance, and of driving the troublesome strategy of evolution that may beginning a brand new Black and African Civilization that might be affluent, united, robust, and productive and change into the epicenter of a brand new world order.

I’m wanting and asking myself – How can this nonetheless this occur now?

I can see in Ghana and Nigeria of the current instances, the compass to the way forward for the continent. These two nations have the capability and the alternatives now to chart that trigger. Their relationship has at all times been further particular. They need to construct the way forward for Africa on that basis.

Ghana may very well be the closest ally to Nigeria when it comes to social, political, financial, cultural and sport relations. Their story is one in every of deep friendship and acute however wholesome rivalry. They’ve by no means harnessed their full capacities and deep relationship to drive large causes and harvest large financial and cultural dividends. In all probability, the nations don’t respect the enormity and energy of their united entrance.

I recall my go to to Ghana in 2003 to satisfy with the then President, John Kufuor. As he welcomed me to his workplace within the Fort in Accra, his phrases nonetheless ring in my head. He instructed the delegation that I led there that Ghana and Nigeria have been brother nations, and that Nigeria was, in all probability, the one nation on earth that may ask something of Ghana and will fall asleep with out blinking an eyelid assured that the demand can be granted. That was the depth of their friendship.

Taking a look at that relationship by the prism of sports activities, what have they used it to realize for each nations?

The excellent news is that regardless of the rivalry and feelings that each sport contest between them generated, neither nation had ever allowed the emotions of competitors to destroy the material of that friendship. Politics have at all times performed second fiddle of their sports activities relationship.

So, why enable this highly effective relation to decrease to comatose ranges as we speak?

Except there’s a world competitors that brings them collectively nowadays to compete towards each other, there’s hardly any urge for food to nurture their long-standing relationship in sports activities for mutual profit.

At across the Independence of each nations (Ghana’s in 1957 and Nigeria’s in 1960) the political leaders had used sport as a really highly effective instrument to showcase their friendship. Most of Nigeria’s sports activities applications and competitions on the time have been with Ghana. Even at Nigeria’s Independence Celebrations in 1960, Ghana’s Black Stars have been the soccer staff invited to play towards Nigeria’s Inexperienced Eagles.

Ghana’s President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the loudest voice within the advocacy for the pursuit of equality and justice for African nations, liked sports activities with a ardour and recognised their energy to construct bridges throughout the nations.

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Throughout his reign, there have been common competitions in cricket, tennis, desk tennis, athletics and soccer between Nigeria and Ghana, together with at faculties’ stage. In 1974, even after the pioneering leaders had all left political energy, Nigeria and Ghana nonetheless got here collectively to determine a particular goal car for sports activities growth, a most formidable sports activities lubricant of a socio-cultural and financial agenda – the Ghana/Nigeria Sports activities Pageant.

People who noticed the impression of the 1973 All-African Video games and the impression of the pageant on the town of Lagos appreciated the imaginative and prescient that, instantly afterwards, gave beginning to the Ghana/Nigeria Sports activities Pageant one 12 months later. Regardless of all of the political upheavals that swept away pioneer political leaders in lots of components of the continent within the 1960s, it’s that very same spirit of the African video games that fueled essentially the most formidable agenda thus far, of the Black man’s quest for a brand new Black Consciousness, respect, civilisation, development and energy on this planet. Africa turned fairly busy – the ECOWAS video games pageant was born; the boycott of the Montreal Olympics was orchestrated; the battle towards apartheid in South Africa was intensified with threats of extra sports activities boycotts; Nigeria hosted the best meeting of the Black race on earth by FESTAC. All these have been evidences of highly effective actions rising in Africa pushed by sports activities and the humanities.

Within the West African sub-region, the unique imaginative and prescient of the good pioneering political leaders was of a completely built-in area with a typical market, a brilliant freeway and rail system operating alongside the shoreline from Dakar within the West to Lagos within the East, a typical foreign money within the area, a free commerce zone, free motion of individuals inside the area, and so forth. Briefly, the dream was the institution of a strong West African area to mannequin a brand new better African continent. The 2 strongest nations in that sub-region, Ghana and Nigeria, have been to drive the method and, so, they constructed a really particular relationship, utilizing sports activities as one of many glues and lubricant.

In 1974, each nations took the large determination to broaden the scope of their sports activities relationship and created an annual multi-sports fiesta referred to as the Ghana/Nigeria Sports activities Pageant. It generated great curiosity and pleasure in each nations with very excessive expectations in regards to the prospects of the long run.

The West as traditional needed to halt this momentum. The world is just not designed in order that Africa would develop and fulfil its full potentials. Subtly all of the progressive initiatives have been scuttled by political leaders that had no appreciation of sports activities, training, tradition and the humanities as highly effective instruments of nationwide growth. They merely threw a spanner into the works they inherited.

FESTAC ‘died’ after the Lagos occasion in 1977. ECOWAS Video games turned a shadow of itself till it additionally ‘died’. The All-Africa Video games have been watered all the way down to a social jamboree impacting little or nothing. Directors bearing the seeds of the unique vison of sports activities growth have been faraway from workplace and changed by politicians that understood little about that subject.

The formidable Ghana/Nigeria Sports activities Pageant suffered. The pageant was a implausible feast of one of the best athletes from each nations competing and enhancing mutual requirements. For the 10 days that the 1974 video games lasted the town of Lagos was on social ‘fireplace’, virtually a duplicate of the 2nd All African Video games that held one 12 months earlier in the identical metropolis. The Nigerian authorities spared no effort to make the video games memorable and useful to sport and society.

The second version came about in Ghana in 1975. It was additionally an amazing sporting fiesta. True, there have been just a few emotional outbursts that came about by irate soccer followers of the nationwide groups in the course of the video games, however they weren’t sufficient to have completely halt what was designed as an integration instrument for the individuals of each nations. That pageant was to be a mannequin within the area designed to realize the targets of a correct sub-regional cultural and financial integration.

It has been 46 years for the reason that pageant was halted. The world is a completely completely different place now. Each nations have grown in stature, data and in expertise.

It’s time for them to get up from the stupor of the previous and re-set the event buttons for development in West Africa by sports activities.

It’s time to revive the Ghana/Nigeria Sports activities Pageant as step one alongside the journey to a brand new form of relationship between the 2 nations as they drive the car of a brand new world order for Africa and the Black race.

Let these that may dream large be part of me.

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