Exactly two years ago almost to this day, the Spanish Prime Minister sent a text message to his Finance Minister with the phrase ‘Spain is not Uganda’.
I kicked it off quite deliberately because even as I tuned in to the game my hackles were up.
Spain has done that to me for a while, and my feelings for the country as a whole dipped even more when the Spanish Prime Minister (also called President of Government), Mariano Rajoy, sent that ’Spain is not Uganda’ text.
The translation of what he actually wrote continued as follows: “We’re a major power, not some random IMF-case Banana Republic”.
I laughed today to note that the El Mundo newspaper covering this story on its front page carried a photo of Spain’s national soccer manager, Vicente del Bosque 🙂
Sure, there are some people in Spain who are not racists, just as there are some people in Uganda who are not corrupt, poor, thieving, homosexuals, pro- or anti-homosexuals, and so on and so forth. But considering that the world seems to bundle us up with national adjectives, I must have the right to do the same to countries like Spain.
And later on I will be confirming that because of Donald Sterling the United States is racist, but that’s another story.
In January, http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/01/08/8-worst-countries-black-people-travel/2/ listed the eight (8) worst countries for black people to travel to, and Spain (of course) featured for its “long-standing reputation for virulent racism…The nation was singled out by United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere, who called on Spanish leaders to take greater steps toward eliminating racist and discriminatory practices against Africans and other immigrants…”
Ruteere was calling on leaders like the Prime Minister who believes that countries like ours are basket cases expected to accept less than theirs – which is fundamental to the definition of racism.
Incidentally, Rajoy referring to Uganda as a banana republic was this year echoed physically at a soccer pitch when a soccer fan threw a banana onto the pitch during a Barcelona-Villarreal game.
This act only brought to public attention a reality that has existed for years in Spain: during all those La Liga games people have been shouting racist chants for YEARS! And the chants have especially revolved around calling the black or African players monkeys (macaco, in Spanish).
While many of us on the continent cheered on the Spanish teams and even adopted versions of these chants in languages we don’t speak, we have probably been repeating racist comments!
And right up to Friday night, there were Africans supporting Spain’s World Cup campaign. Africans oblivious to the reality of Spain and how much support Spain would give them in return. Africans who don’t realise that their ongoing support, love and admiration of these Spaniards fuels and funds our ongoing enslavement. Africans who wear clothes made in Spain, drink Spanish wines and sing Spanish songs.
WE make those mental cages that Rajoy and his compadres keep us in as monkeys.
To quote the great Marcus Garvey
“WE are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.”
Our neo-enslavement is managed by the media, and we must resist it using our minds. We must fight this war using all the tools at our disposal, including social media platforms – which is why we said #SpainIsNotUganda even when the issue at hand was a sporting matter.
Sports, more so soccer/football, is supposed to help flatten the world, build relationships, create mutual understanding, wipe out prejudice, and so on and so forth.
In the run-up to the World Cup, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced that her government would use the World Cup as “a global marker against racism”.
But the official reaction to and management of racism by the footballing world is pathetic. The fines for overtly racism behaviour such as the banana throwing are low (€12,000 for that one in particular), while those for financial impropriety in clubs are often much higher.
The unofficial reaction to and management of racism should be more serious and will include reminders such as #SpainIsNotUganda.
Racism is not a joke, and while we are laughing at Spain for losing in such a pathetic manner Friday night, the underlying issue is much more serious – Italy is just as bad, if not worse. The Netherlands itself, in spite of having so many black people within the fabric of its society, is not whistle clean either, and we were not celebrating their 5:1 victory over Spain when we exhumed #SpainIsNotUganda.
Yes, we should use soccer to do all the right things as I said above but Spain has not yet done that. That’s why Rajoy is still Prime Minister/President of Spain even though his comment was clearly rude, undiplomatic, and most of all, based on prejudice rather than fact as many commentators and analysts explained!
That’s why you can’t recall any official apology from the Government of Spain to the Government of Uganda over that #SpainIsNotUganda comment.
Can you find that apology anywhere? Please share it?
It didn’t happen. This was not an issue for them at all.
In fact, the one Spanish apology you will find is the apology of Spain’s King Juan Carlos after going on a hunting trip to Botswana in 2012…while Rajoy was negotiating for an economic bailout.
And the apology was NOT for killing African animals, or for generally living the life of someone in the 1800s. He was apologising to HIS PEOPLE for spending tax payers money so frivolously at a time when Spain was doing so badly that they needed to borrow money from their fellow Europeans, but still felt that they were better than Uganda which has to go to the IMF when we are broke…<—eh? Yeah – THAT’S how racism is demonstrated.
(In an aside, this same elephant hunting King of Spain was at time the honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund responsible for wildlife conservation! The Spaniards are corrupt, walahi.)
So #SpainIsNotUganda and we are a banana republic that deserves no apology.
Yet somehow we are expected to apologise. When Uganda passes a law such as the Anti-Homosexuality Act, we get attacked by the likes of even people in Spain!
#nnnnntlkkkk! <— if you are Spanish, you won’t know how to make that sound. Bana-Uganda, you can go ahead and even do it again.
And even #msssschewww!
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. It’s even easier now to stop supporting Spain because they put up a pathetic performance last night and deserve your love and admiration even less than they did before!
And let’s be clear about this: their bursts of brilliance (mbu) over one and a half hours of soccer play every so often should not absolve them from living lives that hate, denigrate, and disrespect us – YOU.
Again I say, #SpainIsNotUganda!
(Below are a few quips and if you’re not Ugandan you might not understand them fully and if you’re Spanish, come visit Uganda, learn the language and share in the joke enough to say #NsesseNnyo.)
Here they are:
#SpainIsNotUganda because they don’t know the word “okumanyira”.
#SpainIsNotUganda because they don’t know the kiboko concept of “Lie down! If you touch, I don’t count!”
#SpainIsNotUganda because they didn’t have the good sense to stay at home.
#SpainIsNotUganda otherwise they would be singing ‘Mama afumby’ekitobeero…’
#SpainIsNotUganda because if that President of theirs paid for the World Cup to be Live on TV he is LOSING the next election! Walahi!
#SpainIsNotUganda We have N mosquitoes outside our nets, they have N goals inside their nets…
#SpainIsNotUganda because for us we know how to play it safe…
#SpainIsNotUganda otherwise their keeper’s name would be spelt G-a-s-i-y-a… (sorry)
#SpainIsNotUganda it’s as if the goals were sponsored by Kazinda and Obey?!
#SpainIsNotUganda so they didn’t shout out “Mama Nyabo! Nfudde nze!”
#SpainIsNotUganda otherwise they would have realised that Xabi’s goal was allowed as only konkonyo!
#SpainIsNotUganda See, our anti-Pornography Act prohibits such obscene displays of penetration
#SpainIsNotUganda they don’t know The song ‘Ba-Ba-Bamusakatta’
#SpainIsNotUganda but someone should help play them any song to the tune of “O-kello, talina mpale…” ANY song!
#SpainIsNotUganda – our national budget did NOT allow for such high levels of inflation/goal deficits/surplus attacks!
#SpainIsNotUganda …try and find ANYONE in Spain at a kafunda right now and compare. Bana-Uganda, have another drink!
#SpainIsNotUganda but there was that ka-goal where Casillas was rolling about like a Rolex guy whose eggs had fallen down.
#SpainIsNotUganda because really they would have identified the Netherlands team as the real KIBOKO SQUAD!
The excitement in Uganda dominating talk over the past three weeks was triggered by the signing of the Anti-Homosexuality and Anti-Pornography Acts, and has been fuelled by the NRM Parliamentary Caucus turning on Prime Minister and Party Secretary General Amama Mbabazi for showing more ambition than they were comfortable with.
More sparks flickered up, on social media at least, from the first Oscar to be brought into Africa by one of our sisters – Lupita Nyong’o. She’s Kenyan, to be strict, but we are all East Africans on this one so, wa’ndugu, Keep Calm.
The excitement has been like a daily roll of Premiership soccer games live on TV!
Now, this phrase here will resonate loudly with most men, because of the pull of Premiership soccer and the hold it has on many of us once the games are on TV.
I used to be under that hold myself – partial to Manchester United for many years, Liverpool before that, and both Queen’s Park Rangers and Rangers FC way, way back. In between I supported Bayern Munich and even Hamburg because that’s all we got on TV.
Until two years ago when I just put a stop to it and ceased tuning in or recording games. The reasons were many – including a need to focus on some local soccer rather than obsess over far removed action, however exciting, and the ridiculous levels to which some of us took our interest in the games.
I don’t personally know any of the idiots in bufunda who have committed suicide over Premiership soccer, but read about them in the newspapers. I do, however, know some who go through deep depressions on Mondays after their teams bomb over weekends, and others yet who spend far more than they can afford drinking up a storm as they watch games in bars. I can also point out some of the calmest fellows in this town who these days display a version of Tourette’s syndrome when the name Moyes is mentioned, like others used to do when they heard the name Houllier.
During one of hundreds of discussions of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the NRM Caucus meeting resolutions and rumours, and Lupita Nyong’o, the soccer analogy insinuated itself into conversation.
Most of the people talking about these things, I charged, were just like Africa’s army of premiership soccer enthusiasts.
They follow all the players and games in earnest but can barely kick a ball themselves, can’t do a sit-up to save their own lives or won’t do a push-up unless there’s a beer bottle or a lusaniya of pork at the point their elbows straighten up.
Just like most kafunda political commentators, including the ones on Facebook and Twitter who seemed to know so clearly how the plot to bring Mbabazi down was hatched, yet will not join any political party, have never read up on any political process and don’t even SMS their MP with an opinion even though all the phone numbers are on the parliament website.
Even the people making comment on the Anti-Homosexuality and Anti-Pornography Acts hadn’t read either in much detail, thus the continued talk of mini-skirts and the startling lack of analytical defence of Uganda under the attack of the Gay lobby.
Those chaps clad in t-shirts proclaiming allegiance to Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester (both), Barcelona, Real Madrid and so on and so forth are exactly like many of the fellows in yellow, blue, green political colours. None have official party cards, which can be okay if they don’t exist, but even those t-shirts are pirated versions of the real thing and therefore don’t really support the clubs.
See, the idea is that fans buy club merchandising as a way of funding the club activities – but the t-shirts people wear over here send not a shilling anywhere near those clubs.
Just as the DSTV they watch in bars most times runs on ‘home’ connections rather than commercial ones, and they drink sodas and beers that neither sponsor the teams playing nor the TV channels airing the games. And when they are angry with their team’s performance, they pour another beer and curse the team manager – the approach of so many so-called elite to national politics.
Which reminded me of Lupita, whose Oscar-winning movie 12 Years A Slave is more likely going to be consumed via pirated DVDs than in any cinema that will send back proceeds to line her pocket and allow her to spend millions (US Dollars) as a celeb in Nairobi and maybe Kampala.
Mind you, the comments about her superbness on the day she won the Oscar were massive but from the world over, including a New York Senator or Congressman who talked about her “bringing the Oscar back home to Brooklyn…”
We blasted him quickly and tried to argue that #LupitaIsKenyan and luckily didn’t get the rebuttal #ObamaIsAmerican but I felt that once again we were just Ugandan fans of premiership soccer or commentators of politics.
She definitely loves Kenya, but can’t make a career move to move base to Nairobi – just as the views of all the middle class commentators on NRM issues will remain just views because the party won’t be getting its vote majority from these commentators…
Meanwhile, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City fans talk more about Manchester United losing than they do their own victories, which is not to say that there is anything wrong with Opposition members focusing more on the NRM than their own houses.
When a group of enthusiastic media people launched the Uganda Cranes Initiative last year, the main drive was to change Ugandans from being fans to being supporters, and have them change their chant from “We go, We go, We go” to “We pay, We pay, We pay”.
There is no initiative to turn kafunda political commentators into proper political analysts – or is that what the political party mobiliser is supposed to do? None yet either, to make us more knowledgeable about Acts of Parliament or the laws gazetted – or is that what the House of Parliament is supposed to make us aware of?
A couple of years ago, during one of his jovial speeches that tend to veer into surprising directions to illustrate a point, the protagonist of this past fortnight, President Yoweri Museveni, picked on people who watch European soccer games as time-wasters – especially those who watch the games in bars.
Well – I strongly believe that one of the reasons he continues to be a protagonist is that he doesn’t put time aside to watch soccer, drink alcohol or frolic, and hasn’t done so these forty years past. He is a full-time politician, and many of us aren’t ready to even be serious part-time politicians.
We’re not even in the stands, but are watching games on TV; either go to the stadium and shout from the stands or, even better, get onto the pitch – and if you can’t play in the premiership, join the village soccer team, dammit!