As the cliche goes, there are only 3 things that an African child can be

We could call this: The Afro-Trifecta, if you will. They are a lawyer, some sort of business person, or a doctor. Teacher? Respectable, but not enough money. Artist? Quickest way not to be invited home during the holidays. And god forbid, an athlete. Most African parents consider the term “student athlete,” a gross oxymoron. Which is why the story of Ezikiel “Ziggy” Ansah is that much sweeter.

Hailing from the land of the Black Stars, Ziggy came to Brigham Young University in Utah with an academic scholarship. (He’d been converted by Mormon missionaries in Ghana.) Ziggy probably told his mother, “I know I’m 6’5, 270, with athletic prowess, but all I am going to do is just study hard. His major was actuarial science (I do not know what this is either), and then tried for two years to be a basketball player. That did not go so well.

Stuck in a foreign land, moonlighting as a custodian and running low on fufu and palm soup what is a young Ghana boy to do? Play football, of course.

Ziggy shined at BYU, playing as a defensive end and registering impressive numbers. So impressive, that he became a top prospect in the 2013 NFL draft, even though ESPN didn’t know who the hell he was:

No matter. He ended up being the fifth overall pick for the Detroit Lions and is delivering substantially for his new team.

From not being able to wear his pads, to being a rising star in the NFL is truly a story to behold. So please African parents, next time your child tells you that they want to be something else than a profession in the Afro Trifecta, try to keep your eyes from rolling and a blood vessel popping. Who knows? They might just be like Ziggy.

Further Reading

Goodbye, Piassa

The demolition of an historic district in Addis Ababa shows a central contradiction of modernization: the desire to improve the country while devaluing its people and culture.

And do not hinder them

We hardly think of children as agents of change. At the height of 1980s apartheid repression in South Africa, a group of activists did and gave them the tool of print.

The new antisemitism?

Stripped of its veneer of nuance, Noah Feldman’s essay in ‘Time’ is another attempt to silence opponents of the Israeli state by smearing them as anti-Jewish racists.