SUPER EAGLES- BRING BACK OUR GIRLS!
It is Wednesday night. My heart is heavy.
I am groping in the darkness that has enveloped my country. All day long in the past few days, my thoughts have been in an emotional turmoil.
My mind is reeling with the disgust and incomprehension of the orgy of death that surrounds me. My mind wanders away from what has been the issue of the season, the 2014 World Cup, and drifts inevitably towards issues that now disturb the stability of our great country and our once happy people!
There are less than three weeks to the start of the most anticipated and most followed sporting event in the world. Nigeria is gearing up to assemble its ‘warriors’ and to start preparations towards becoming serious contenders for the most coveted sports trophy in the world – the World Cup.
At the same time, the country’s players must be burdened by the trauma and distractions created by the brutal killings pouring down like rain upon the country in torrents.
For example, I cannot imagine how several members of the Super Eagles are coping with the news of the endless killings of their kith and kin in Nigeria. Only a few days ago, two bomb blasts occurred in a crowded market in the city of Jos.
When the dust settled on the rubble, over one hundred people lay dead amongst the ruins, with hundreds more carrying the scars of serious injuries. The entire country is thrown into gales of mourning.
This is not an isolated incident. Similar scenarios have been playing out in several other cities in the northern part of Nigeria on an almost daily basis since the start of this year.
Thousands have been killed, tens of thousands scarred for life with physical injuries and millions saddled with broken hearts.
No one is immune from the effect of the dastardly acts. Not even the country’s heroes – the Super Eagles!
Mikel Obi may be Nigeria’s great hope at the World Cup, but terrorists do not care. His parents and siblings live in Jos. A few years ago, the Obi family went through a different but equally traumatic experience when Mikel’s father was kidnapped for ransom.
This is the same city I grew up in, once a truly beautiful, cosmopolitan and peaceful place, now turned a killing field dripping with the blood of innocent Nigerians.
This is the city with a rich history of football that produced some of Nigeria’s finest footballers through the generations since Independence –Goalkeeper Erewa, Sam Garba, Peter Anieke, Tony Igwe, Ismaila Mabo, Amuda Shittu, Chris Udumezue, the Atuegbu brothers, Layiwola Olagbemiro, Patrick Mancha, yours truly and a host of several other great members of Nigeria’s Green (later Super) Eagles!
Before that, Victor Moses’s parents had been killed by rioters in Kaduna, another northern city that is also a theatre of bombings and deaths in recent bloodletting by the Boko Haram.
It was that incident that took Victor to the United Kingdom where his career in football blossomed. But the trauma of his past experience must be re-ignited every time he learns of another bomb blast or killing in that city.
Ahmed Musa, another player, a deadly striker upon whom the fate of Nigeria may lie this summer in Brazil, comes from Kano, another active centre in the senseless bombings and killings being unleashed by the same dreaded terrorist group.
This scenario is replicated in several other Nigerian cities with bombs and deaths in an intricate romance, leaving Nigerians in a trance, flailing and groping, helpless against the rampage of the terrorists.
Members of the Super Eagles must have friends and family going through the throes of this catastrophe.
In the past few weeks, Nigeria has been in the international news more times than at any other time in the country’s history. The story of the kidnap of 276 young girls from their dormitory in a school in Chibok, Borno State, by the Boko Haram, takes the situation to a new and dangerous dimension.
That act has instigated unprecedented global attention and outcry. The West led by the United States of America is now drawn into the effort to rescue the girls, tame the terrorists and stop the carnage that has claimed thousands of lives this year alone.
Yet, all these are but a fraction of the several other present and imminent crises which are rocking Nigeria to it’s foundation and threatening the country’s survival.
Nigeria is presently perched on a precipice under siege of rampaging terrorists. Members of the Super Eagles, the country’s greatest ambassadors in the year of the World Cup, are not immune from the vagaries of the situation.
In the midst of all this mayhem, as the world prepares to celebrate its greatest sporting event, a festival that showcases and promotes the potential of football to change the world in ways that no other event in history can or has done, the Super Eagles are expected to set aside their pain, fear and trauma, focus on football and head to Brazil.
It Is Not Easy!
Even I do not know where I find the psychological balance to write about football today, in the midst of the gory tales from Jos. The past few weeks have thrown up pictures of blasted places and mutilated bodies all over the country so gruesome that I wonder how members of the Super Eagles are taking it and coping on the eve of their greatest challenge!
Having said that, I also wonder why they have not, as a team, added their voices to the global ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign. Their own particular cry will reverberate more around the world.
It will also give them additional moral impetus during the championship to increase the capacity of their determination and demonstrate the indefatigable spirit of the Nigerian by doing well and going some fair distance as a balm to soothe the pain of their bleeding countrymen and women.
They can do it. After all, through the millennia, football has fascinated scholars with its ability to bridge all manner of divides, bring the entire world together, even fiercely feuding ones, to a stage where their youth can freely and actively compete amongst one another in a healthy competitive spirit, promoting the ideals of global peace and friendship.
The World Cup has gripped the world in it’s vice – confounding, fascinating, and enchanting! Used properly and correctly, football can use its power to bring positive change to the world!
Between the ideals of sports and the mired pits of political and internecine crises, football and humanity must find a common ground to celebrate the human spirit to conquer adversity!
The Super Eagles have a new responsibility to take centre stage even from now, by further taking the message of our people’s plight to billions of the football audience worldwide in a truly global effort to ‘Bring Back Our Girls’.
Meanwhile, I request readers to forgive me for I just cannot get my mind beyond the new and senseless carnage in Jos. I cannot think of anything to write about when my fellow countrymen and women, old and young, are being mowed down by faceless bombers, baying for the blood of the innocent!
It is hard to concentrate. My country burns.