Opinion | The French team is a stark reminder of colonialism

Image: AFP PHOTO / Luis Acosta

Stop it. The French national team that will play in the FIFA world cup final this weekend is not "Team Africa" or the "last African team standing". They are the French national side.

On Tuesday night when Le Bleus shot their way into the final (courtesy of Cameroon-born player, Samuel Umtiti) many took to social media to declare that Africa was indeed still in the competition as France was in essence "team Africa." The French national team boasts a shipload of African players or players of African descent, including world cup sensation Kylian Mbappe who was born in France to a Cameroonian father and Algerian mother.

Others of the team's players have direct African roots like Steve Manadanda who was born in the DRC. But here is a reality check: while most of these players were eligible to play for the African countries from which they or their families originate, they declined.

This leads me to think of the Boateng brothers, born in Berlin to German mothers and a Ghanaian father, who were both eligible to play for Ghana.

One, Jerome, chose to play for Germany. The other, Kevin, chose to play for Ghana. Africans lauded Kevin's decision, declaring him as "real" while Jerome was largely chastised for his decision to play for a European country.

The French football team is a stark reminder of the forced dispersal of our people from their homes due to years of colonialism that have left their countries too poor to thrive in."

Why then, by that logic are we suddenly declaring France as a pseudo African team? The sad truth is what we are seeing is a microcosm of the continued effects of colonialism. The French football team is a stark reminder of the forced dispersal of our people from their homes due to years of colonialism that have left their countries too poor to thrive in. What you are really watching is the continued benefits for colonialist countries where some of Africa's best footballing talent is set to ply their skills to possibly win their adopted country one of sports most coveted prizes. This is not to begrudge the players who have chosen to pursue their talents in more economically fertile stables, but merely a recognition that we as Africans cannot continue to applaud a microcosm of the very system that led our own to leave the Motherland.

If anything, France (and several other European countries that continue to benefit from the injection of African players) maintain their anti-immigration sentiment, precisely set up to keep out what are largely African refugees. So let us stop accepting scraps as Africans; let's demand to be recognised for our own achievements.

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