AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

It is a positive that major cable networks are bothering to relay the results of the African Cup of Nations, though it is a shame their offerings remain annoyingly Eurocentric. After Alain Traoré equalized for Burkina Faso yesterday, CNN gleefully reminded the viewers at home that Traoré played his club football for Lorient in France! Adane Girma’s inspired response for Ethiopia drew no such parallel reference. For the record, Girma plays for St George FC in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s premier football club was formed in response to Italy’s invasion in 1935 and has long been a symbol of Ethiopian nationalism. Now that I would have thought is information the average CNN viewer could share with their cappuccino.

Ethiopia is one of the few teams composed of mainly “home” based players. A significant number of South Africa (in fact, the majority of their squad and team), Angola, the DRC, Tunisia and Morocco’s squads, play for domestic clubs.

There are plenty of home based players, but when western media comment on their contribution they almost never acknowledge the home based club, whereas when a player who plays in France, England or elsewhere in Europe scores, we are bombarded with references to the European club. Tuesday’s Ivorian goals were almost trademarked as the property of Manchester City and Arsenal, respectively. However, when, for example, Tresor Mputu clawed a great goal back for the DRC, there was no mention of TP Mazembe despite their seismic contribution to African and world club football. It’s tiresome and disrespectful, and also says much about control of the “product”. It’s unfortunate anchors and commentators of various backgrounds and genders representing all the major western media seem to stick to this script.

Post Script. That the St George FC’s stadium was largely bankrolled by Mohammed al Amoudi, a Saudi businessman who according to Forbes Magazine happens to be the richest black man in the world may be material for a whole CNN special or campaign. (BTW, below a reader, Arriam, reminds us Al Amoudi is partly of Ethiopian descent.)

What we learned from day four of Afcon 2013
Why the rhino is Newsmaker of the Year in South Africa


10 thoughts on “Ethiopian striker Adane Girma plays for the home team

  1. Moahmmed Al Amoudi cannot be a Saudi and black at the same time, can he? One of his parents is/was Ethiopian. And I think he identifies as an Ethiopian. That might be an awkward bit of information for Forbes (I am just speculating), I don’t think it should be for AIAC.

    • I believe the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade means one can be both Arabian and Black. Mohammed Al Amoudi was born in Ethiopia. His father was Yemeni, his mother Ethiopian. His emigrated to Saudi Arabia when he was a teenager and became a Saudi Arabia citizen. Many similar migrant entrepreneurs and industrialists who became citizens of Saudi Arabia, such as the late former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, maintained or reactivated citizenship in the country of their birth, though I am not sure Al Amoudi chose to or was permitted to. Al Amoudi is clearly sincere in his identification with Ethiopia (and Africa), though he is equally committed to his business and causes in Arabia (and elsewhere).

      • Thanks for adding the postscript.
        Not mentioning his Ethiopian heritage would have been the same same us identifying African players with their European club than their African ones.

      • Thanks for adding the postscript. Identifying him as just a Saudi would have meant the same as identifying African players with just their European clubs ignoring their African ones.

  2. sure al amoudi is of certain Arabic gene too but he is a true Ethiopian in blood ties (his mother), passion for the country and desire to improve his & his country of birth. if you see closely, he speaks AMHARIC as fluent as ma grand pa does, his presence in the country for the majority of the year (considering the huge business he runs in Sweden Saudi and other countries). even he risked his business and everything when he decided to come and invest in Ethiopia WHEN ETHIOPIA WAS NOT STABLE AND SAFE for mega rich like him. well, if he is not labeled as Ethiopian, i think i should be worried for mine too :) YEAH AFRICA IS A COUNTRY!!!!

    • Emmmm… Thanks for the comment. It was not an article so much, more a quick observation about how cable media are always quick to link an Africa players with their European clubs, but almost never care to associate African players with their African clubs. That’s all. Is your experience of such reports different?

      PS The second paragraph above was a response to an in house question and probably should not have been stitched into the body above.

  3. I do enjoyed your article and I’m following your future ones closely. I’m a sports commentator for Eurosport (european sports channel) and this is the type of story I always tell during African Cup of Nations. Brilliant info man! Do you have a Twitter account?

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