Blame It On Me

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I just saw the recent disheartening video footage of Matthew Ajibade, the Nigerian student who died mysteriously in police custody in the United States earlier in the year, being shocked by police officers while handcuffed to a restraining chair and writhing in pain.

Ajibade, who was only 21 years old at the time of his death, was found dead in jail in the US on New Year’s day. He had been arrested the previous day after his girlfriend put a distress call to 911 for an ambulance following an episode of his bipolar disorder which made him strike her. The police showed up instead and arrested Ajibade despite the girlfriend making it clear he needed medical attention.

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This has become a norm in the United States where young innocent harmless black men are more likely to be gunned down by the police than they would a white. Their only crime is being black. Black people are generally presumed to be dangerous, a threat and always guilty until proven innocent. According to promoters of the Black Lives Matter movement, a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement every twenty-eight hours.

In light of the recent extrajudicial killings of black people, I reaffirm my stance as an unapologetic Black man and throw my weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement. However, I hate the fact that black people blame everything wrong in their lives on racism.

Black music artistes are often quick to cite/blame racism for their failure to get nominations or win music awards. If American actor Leonardo DiCaprio was black, maybe he’d have taken the same route and blamed his failure to win an Oscar, despite mesmeric performances in a number of movies, on his race. Or the likes of Larry Bird, Jason Kidd, Steven Nash and Dirk Nowitski would have pinned Michael Jordan’s recognition as the greatest basketballer of all time on race.

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I do not know if blaming everything on racism makes some of my black brothers and sisters feel better about themselves but it is about time we took some of the blame for some of the things happening to us. There’s a saying that “no one can make you inferior without your consent.” Magnifying our self-esteem issues by seeking sympathy from the world for being black will give others the power to use us as pawns.

I do not seek sympathy from anyone for being black. Being black is not a plague/curse. Back in Nigeria, being black is becoming a bad thing too. It requires painstaking effort to discern a Nigerian from the crowd these days. We have adopted foreign accents and sound more American and British than the Americans and British people themselves.

You are automatically proclaimed intelligent once you speak well with a foreign accent. Perhaps that’s why it has become a “taboo” for anyone, especially those going into media or entertainment industry, to have a Nigerian accent. Listen to the radio and TV stations now, and you ask yourself “why the struggle to sound white?”

The same Nigerian accent we deride was recently ranked 6th sexiest accent by CNN, higher than the the American accent and a spot below the Queens English accent. However, have you ever seen whites  “killing” themselves to have a Nigerian accent? The essence of language is to communicate but it is also an integral part of a people’s culture. It is one of the things that sets one apart.

Accents define us and grant others information about our lives – where we are from, our history and identity as a people/ race. Our accents depict the richness of our cultural heritage and diversity. You don’t need need a foreign accent to have a high self-esteem rather forcing a foreign accent enhances your inferiority complex.

You are a representative of the Black Community; stop making our kids feel being Black and having a Nigerian accent is a bad thing. So instead of blurting out “Don’t Blame it on me” like John Newman, take the blame today like George Ezra and be proud of who you are. Be made of black!

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Football’s Life Lessons I

Football is the most popular sport, played and watched by millions of people world wide.

Football is more than a game because it teaches us a lot about life so let’s take a look at some of the lessons we can learn from following the game.

1. People don’t remember all the things you’ve done for them rather they will hold unto the one you didn’t do. Robin van Persie has scored a lot of important goals for Man United this season but took a lot of stick for missing a glorious chance late in the game against Chelsea.

2. Success breeds haters. Lionel Messi and his FC Barcelona team are hated by many because of the success they’ve recorded.

3. The media will make and mar you. David Beckham married spice girl, Victoria Adams in 1999 and the pair were dubbed “Posh & Becks” by the British media. A few years later, British tabloids offered Rebecca Loos a whooping £5m to reveal all the details of her affair with the football star.

4. Competition is healthy and brings out the best in us. Javier Hernandez has really improved in his all round play this season because of the emergence of Danny Welbeck and signing of Robin van Persie.

5. Football enlightens us on geography and makes us conversant with some places we had never heard of. Eg Andorra, San Marino, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Catalunya, Lichtenstein, Basque country, Andalucia country, etc.

6. Football helps you become familiar with some names of the players/coaches and the countries associated with such names.

7. Nothing is permanent. Life is all about rise and fall. In 2002, Leeds United were in the semi finals of the UEFA Champions League; they play in the English second tier (Championship) today.

8. All is fair in love and war.
If you like complain and moan all day about some refereeing errors that cost your team the match, the match won’t be replayed.

9. Opportunity comes but once, take it! Kenneth Omeruo was relatively unknown prior to the start of AFCON. He was given the chance to play after Efe Ambrose was red carded in the first game, he did well and cemented his place in the team ousting the captain, Joseph Yobo from the starting line up.

10. Football educates one about history, only if you listen to the commentary and don’t make silly noise/arguments during a game. Did you know whenever Tottenham Hotspur plays at home, Arsenal (Highbury days) must play away to prevent traffic jam?

11. It is hard to replace or leave a team player out of the team. Pedro is the one of the most hard-working players I’ve seen, that’s why it’s hard to keep him out of the team at FC Barcelona and International level.

12. Footballers inspire you, you can be anything you want to be if you work hard.

13. Money will always come but what would you do with the money? A lot of footballers have gone from riches to rags because they failed to invest their money properly.

14. Nobody is indispensable. Manchester United won’t become extinct when Sir Alex Ferguson finally retires.

15. Humility is truly a virtue. Ryan Giggs is the most decorated player in the history of English football but he’s laid back and humble, a true example to everyone. See Kanu Nwankwo also.

To be continued