Have another Coke and smile Roger Milla


Having stripped the Somalian singer K’Naan’s protest song, “Waving Flag” of any meaning, Coco Cola now sets about to trivialize African football history. As reported by Steve Bloomfield on his blog, Africa United, Coke’s new commercial, “History of Celebration,” reduces the legacy of Cameroon’s historical run in the 1990 tournament in Italy to striker Roger Milla’s hip wiggle at the corner flag rather than the goals he and the rest of the team scored.” (In that tournament, Cameroon went to the quarterfinals–the first for an African team–beating Argentina, Romania and Columbia on the way before 2 dubious penalties awarded to the English knocked them out. Bloomfield correctly captures what Cameroon achieved in 1990:

Cameroon’s success changed everything for African football. No longer would Africans be seen as also-rans making up the numbers. Fifa, which by 1990 had grudgingly allowed two African teams to compete, increased the allocation to three in 1994, four in 1998 and five in 2002. This year, the first time the tournament will be held in Africa, the continent has six teams. A line can be traced from Cameroon’s performance in Italia ‘90 to Fifa’s decision to award the World Cup to South Africa in 2010. It was the moment that African football could no longer be ignored.

[Steve Bloomfield]

Further Reading

No more caricatures

Engaging seriously with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life could help us understand how South Africa got where it is and where it’s going.