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Odegbami: Racism – Nigeria Needs To Take The Lead Again In Africa!

Odegbami: Racism – Nigeria Needs To Take The Lead Again In Africa!

Several years ago, my team, IICC Shooting Stars FC, went to play a continental club match in Malawi.

On the day we arrived, a few of us decided to watch a movie in a cinema down the road from our hotel downtown Blantyre, the capital city.

We arrived the cinema a few minutes after the movie had started.

We bought our tickets and were allocated seats. We were ushered into the dark cinema hall by a steward with a torch who led us to the row allocated to us. We went in, sat down and settled to watch our film.

Everything went well until the interval, half way through the movie. The lights came back on. We looked around us. We were sitting with a few other Black patrons in a small section of the hall close to the entrance toilet, near the rear. There was a ‘gentle’ stench around us. The rest of the big hall, mostly empty, had better seats, and were taken up by White persons. A separation line was clearly visible in that hall.

One of us suggested that we moved from the stench of our side of the hall to the empty seats a few rows away. We got up and moved in a group to the vacant seats.

The murmuring in the hall was loud. We sensed a stirring of discomfort in the hall. We had hardly sat down before security men, led by a White manager, came in a rage and ordered us to get up and return to our seats.

The Nigerian spirit in all of us immediately came to the fore.

Our very loud and resounding ‘No way’ caught the angry men completely by surprise. ‘What is wrong with sitting here instead of near the entrance to the toilet? No way’. We were not going anywhere. The hall had so many vacant seats.

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Obviously, from our accents they knew we were strangers. They also immediately knew we were Nigerians. Only Nigerians behaved that way in Africa. We had that reputation for rejecting any form of oppression. In doing so we raised hell! There was an immediate standoff that could easily turn into a major scuffle. Everything came to a temporary halt in the cinema as our voices rose in defiance, to the total consternation of the uncomfortable few Blacks in the hall.

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Black Lives Matter campaign against racism. Photo credit: a katz / Shutterstock.com

The manager, half-heartedly, insisted we moved. We vehemently rejected his poisoned offer. We raised the decibel of our voices a little higher. The earth could have opened up for the White man to enter, in his confusion on how to deal with the matter.

Surely, I had never experienced such segregation. Definitely not in Nigeria. I had thought that such belonged to Western countries and to the dark ages of African history, but surely not in today’s Africa. Yet, there we were experiencing it first hand in Malawi under the leadership of a Black African President, Kamuzu Banda.

No Malawian dared do what we did. They would have been hauled into jail for a long time. But Nigerians are a different breed of the Black race. He is not the type you tampered with ‘anyhow’ and got away with it.

The White manager, quietly called his staff aside. They left, quickly darkened the hall again and resumed the movie. Some White folks left their seats and walked out of the cinema at that point.

We later learnt that in Malawi, women were not allowed to wear trousers, Blacks were not allowed into some hotels and restaurants except if they are workers, Blacks could not visit or live in some parts of Blantyre, and so on and so forth, all of this in Africa!

Mandela was right. The Black race needs Nigeria. His words: ‘‘the world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The Black people of the world need Nigeria to be a great source of pride and confidence. Nigerians love freedom and hate oppression”.

Nigerians do not appreciate the impact of racism enough as do other Blacks around the world.

Last week, I watched an interview granted by Jay Jay Okocha about his personal experience of racism in Europe as a professional footballer. I was shocked when he confessed he never even knew the word before he got to Europe. His reaction to the experience was to ‘dribble the hell’ out of the Germans on the football field, and humiliated them.

Okocha was right. By the time he was in school in Nigeria, History had been removed as a subject from the schools’ syllabus. Can you believe it? History, the story of our past, where we were coming from that should provide a compass into our future, about the Slave trade that forcefully sold our most able-bodied brothers and sisters, and shipped them in chains across the Atlantic to the land-of-no-return, and used them on White plantations and on the roads, rail tracks and factories to build Western Civilization in Europe and North America some 400 years ago, is removed from our learning.

My generation studied History in school, particularly African history, and we were taught not just about the slave trade, but also about the scramble for Africa by Europeans. We read about founding African political leaders that fought for their countries’ Independence. The words and works of Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, Haile Selassie, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and other revolutionary leaders in Africa tickled our fancies, fired our imagination and created small revolutionaries out of many of us in higher institutions all over Nigeria.

In our time, only a few decades ago, Africa was the centre-piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Nigeria led the African boycott of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal Canada. That action shook the whole world.

Nigeria supported Black political struggles and even fought in wars in the African continent from the Congo to Mozambique and to South Africa, fighting oppression, segregation and discrimination against the Black race.

Nigeria funded and hosted the greatest and, potentially, the most powerful gathering of Blacks and Africans in human history during FESTAC, the Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, an innocuous cultural event that could have become the movement that the Black man needed to come together as one race, an uncommon gathering of its best intellectuals from the different countries to seat at colloquiums and come up with designs and strategies to tackle their greatest enemy – racism and its by-products.

That opportunity was lost when the West described and condemned the festival as a waste of resources, a celebration of barbaric fetish cultures, and a ‘sin’ against the popular religions.

Meanwhile, think about it, that was what Nelson Mandela was referring to as the leadership Nigeria needs to offer the rest of the Black race and Africa.

Festac was killed cleverly by the West, never to raise its powerful head again.

It has been over 40 years since then, and the Black race has not united behind any common cause or movement to entangle itself from the bondage of Slavery and its by-products manifesting till now in the ill-treatment and disrespect meted on the Black race everywhere on the planet.

That’s why the world is marching with Black people in several Western capitals in protest against racism, and Nigeria is detached from it all.

Instead, it is Ghana that has taken the lead in providing the essential leadership in Africa. Last week there was a large protest march in Accra organized by the government to support the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Last year was Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’, an invitation to interested descendants of those sold into slavery to return home gloriously and to join in creating and building new settlements that will reflect a new and respected Black civilization. The government provided attractive incentives and created events to welcome back these returnee Africans to their roots. In the process Ghana’s economy got a massive boost through the ensuing tourism and resettlement projects by several Blacks that chose to do so.

This new global movement that is sprouting from the tragedy of George Floyd’s murder in the United States has ignited a new fire in the war against racism in the world.

Nigeria needs to join the rest of the world in that war. Nigeria should provide the leadership in Africa.

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  • Mr Hush 4 years ago

    I love the man Segun Odegbami. For his steadfastness,his pan African beliefs and ideology; but I must say his view is totally misplaced and self absorbing from the truth.
    In all truthfulness,
    The problem with the black world isn’t racism. The problem of the black world is in herself.
    You don’t expect respect from others when you don’t respect yourself.
    The black world never respects herself.

    You don’t expect exaltation from outsiders when your home is in tatters.
    We all know the state of African States..

    What’s the difference between Racism and tribalism,Xenophobia,Clanism ,nepotism all experienced in the African continent.

    Is it the West that stopped Africans from teaching history in their own schools?
    Is it the West that are in charge of the African states right now and are running the most corrupt government and agencies in the African continent?
    Is it the West that play on the mind of gullible followers in other to enrich themselves just like the so called religious leaders do in the black world?
    Is it the West that teaches our Youth to exalt criminals, superficial celebrities,negative riches, pipe fantasies and fallacies?
    Is it the West that is causing the high rate of rape,crime, cultism,criminality,lawlessness as seen in the Black world?

    It is great Mr.Odegbami brought up Ghana as an example. Though the year of return is one that is commendable (in the touristic way),it brought in a whopping 1.9billion dollars to the Ghana economy but it would be myopic to think that has helped the bunch of the Ghanaian masses in any way.
    The same Ghanaian government trying to show off to the world hasn’t really done much for her own people. The rate of police Brutality in Ghana is getting high. Poverty level is still high. Drug cartel run the show and get to become MPs. Lack of basic infrastructure. Cases of corruption is always on the news,the last NDC government led by Mahama is still trying to save face from the Airbus bribery scandal rocking it.
    So as far as reality is concerned,this is misplaced priorities,at best “eye-service” from the Ghanaian government.

    Mandela would weep for South Africa cause of what the ANC government(led by predominantly Blacks and Mandela Proteges) has done to the country by been corrupt. Crime rate is high,almost all government agencies,business and infrastructure are in shambles.

    Isn’t it ironic,the same African governments that would cry Black lives matter and want nothing to do with the West, would still go hand in cap begging for Western aid and Chinese money.

    Yes.racism is a problem. Yes we should stand against it .
    But the truth is,change must start at home.
    You don’t go calling out someone when your hands are dirty. It is simply hypocritical.

    As it is, we have no grounds to put our neck out there cause we have no foundation to stand on. A situation not caused by the West but by the system greed and selfishness of the black man.

    All blacks should look at the mirror and face his/her demon. Defeat it. And respect from others would come naturally.
    If we feel it can be done,we should take a hint from the Asians;
    In time past, They were victimised as well by the West but they got to learn and fixed themselves and their home.Now they got that respect.
    No westerner can look down on the Chinese, Koreans,Japanese,Thai, Emiratis, Saudis,Qataris etc. All these group were colonised in a way by the West. But look how far they have come.

    • Dr. Drey 4 years ago

      My brother, abeg leave these false pan-africanists. Let them continue to blame the West and everybody else except themselves for their woes. When the dust of all these protests settles, reality will dawn on us that its still the black man that sells his vote and voice for a pot of porridge.

      Asians did not have to carry “asian lives matter” placards to earn respect from, and put themselves in position to threaten the West. If after over 60 years of independence someone still chooses to blame the west for our woes, then that person needs help. Infact most black nations are worse off today after decades of self rule than they were just after independence.

      The day we shun colour, tribe, religion, ethnic group, political affiliation and other petty considerations as criteria for holding positions and rather stand up for Merit and Competence, then we will have conquered the biggest of the demons holding back the emancipation of the black race.

      The Black man has done more harm to himself in the last 60 years than the West has done to him. Lets fix the issues of Leadership, Food security, Economy, Industry/Manufacturing, Energy, Corruption and brazen pilfering of our commonwealth by public officials and see if any nation will ever disrespect us again. The west is not to blame for any of those, and certainly not to blame for our inability to even maintain grass pitches in most parts of Africa.

      • Mr Hush 4 years ago

        @ Dr Drey

        Totally in agreement with you bro..

      • Success Adewale 4 years ago

        @Drey ITK you no wan get sense. Stop spitting rubbish.

        • Dr. Drey 4 years ago

          LMAO…Oderinde…you don crawl comot from inside your dustbin again…?! You wey get sense of what use have you been to yourself…?

        • You’re allergic to truth.

  • Great piece again uncle sege. Racism in my view is an issue that will continue to for many generations to come. Why, is because we the black people are slow is fighting for our rights. The white race has so dominated us that we find it difficult to stand our ground. Many of our black leaders have been greedy and selfish in rubbing shoulders with the west and selling us out for there own selfish gain. An example is France which is still stylishly using its colonial powers to still hold on to empires they have released by milking from them. I want to believe many have heard of the CFA monetary saga going on. Let us be frank with ourselves, the white still want to dominate us if given the chance

  • Whilst we look at how to stand up to racism against us outside the shores of Africa, we should also stand up to racism and it’s twin tribalism within the country.
    We cannot be honest with ourselves if we allow foreign expatriates discriminate against us in our own country and then be shouting the name of George Floyd. We are hypocrites if whilst discriminating against the Igbo man in Lagos, the Hausa man in Calabar or the Yoruba man in Kotangora whilst screaming Black Lives Matter.
    We should take a good look in the mirror at our own selves. Whilst we point one finger at the oppressor abroad, the other 4 are pointing at what we allow and propagate at home 

    • GLORY 4 years ago

      @BigD good one,you took those words out of my mouth. Just didn’t want to take the steam out of the BLACK LIVES MATTER protest hence have been contemplating saying those words. But that’s just the matter of fact. We black people especially nigerians should take off the scaffold board covering our eyes so we can see clearly to take the broom stick off others eyes. Sad as it is with racism, which accepted needs to killed, black people’s problem is endemic, is inside of us. OUR VALUE SYSTEM,. THE BLACK RACE MUST DO AWAY WITH THE CONSUMER CULTURE WHILE OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM SHOULD NOW START TO EMPHASIZE/PROMOTE PRODUCER CULTURE IN OUR CHILDREN. PRODUCER CULTURE SHOULD BE CELEBRATED WHILE CONSUMER CULTURE SHOULD BE SHAMED.

  • _ Racism Not Our Pressing Problem _

    I read Mr Odegbami’s article above and to be honest, I struggle to gather my thoughts to construct a response that I think would do justice to the sentiments espoused by the 1980 Afcon hero.

    In a nutshell, he wants Nigeria to provide leadership in Africa when it come to war against racism.

    Where do I start? For me, racism is not our most pressing problem. My Nigerian brothers and sisters want food, shelter, data and clothing. We want universal free (or negligibly affordable) healthcare. We want the establishment of a national welfare state so that every unemployed/sick Nigerian can recieve financial support whilst trying to find our footing.

    All our young graduates need jobs. Our footballers want a state of the art football league so that they don’t leave our shores to experience ‘racism’ in obscure leagues.

    We need to wage a war against nepotism, tribalism and favourism. I repeat, at home, racism is not our problem.

    As Nigerians, the single most important reason why we face racism abroad is because our governments haven’t taken adequate care of us in our homeland. So we flee abroad seeking greener pastures.

    However, we soon find out that when we dive into the ocean to pick pearls, we also bring back gravels which take the form of racism (or xenophobia in the case of my brothers and sisters in South Africa).

    So, rather than take the lead in tackling racism, I will like my government to take the lead in showing other African nations how to look after its own citizens. That way, less of its citizens will be exposed to racist behaviours abroad.

    I stand in solidarity with my American brothers and sisters in this battle against racism. Indeed, I welcome the charges brought against the officers responsible for taking the black man’s life. That said, my greatest worries are for my brothers and sisters in Osodi, Owerri, Jos, Kaduna, Onitsha and Ilorin who are struggling to make ends meet.

    I still have tears in my eyes for the family of Kazeem Tiamiyu – a young and promising footballer who was shot dead by Nigerian police earlier this year in what has become Nigeria’s own version of politic brutality.

    Kazeem, who played for Remo Stars, was just 21 year old with the who world ahead of him before his life was cut short by police bullets. Young Late Kazeem is not the first young Nigerian to die under such appalling extra-judicial killing circumstances. Will he be the last?

    Black lives matter, Kazeem’s life matters!

    Before we lead the fight against racism, why don’t we look within ourselves and tackle the nature of injustices relavant to our own people.

    Then the whole world will take notice and take us more seriously. We have more pressing problems, we should deal with those first.

    • Just a minor addition to your summation. Kazeem  was not killed in a hail of bullets, he was pushed out of a moving car on the expressway by police and was crushed by a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.

      And yes, police brutality, tribalism, respect for each other are ills that we need to fix

      • Thanks for the correction Big D. Still, what a gruesome way for the young man to die!


  • The fish, they say, starts to rot from the head. You can’t teach what you don’t know/have. A father can’t teach his kids financial prudence when he’s a spendthrift himself or lecture them on responsibility when he’s the street’s gangster & chief womanizer. Or teach unity when he’s a dye-in-the-wool tribalist.

    Africans and Nigerians in particular have our fragile faultlines but that’s been even further scandalously excercerbated by a fantastically bigoted ruler & govt in the past 5 years. Why should the ‘kids’ be detribalised when the ‘daddy’ makes no pretences about his own k-legged allegiances? And pulls no punches? His no-holds-barred ethnocentrism?

    This alone cannot allow me see any so-called ‘achievements’ his PR men claim he has made. They just feel like pure garbage.

    I’ll say we should continue to manage our faultlines until we get an exemplary leader who says and act detribalised, truly unifying and progressive. Perhaps when this accidental president/govt is over, we can also tweak the constitution to make it impossible for another bigot to emerge a ‘leader’ in future

  • Dr. Drey 4 years ago

    Nigeria got $Trillions in Oil revenues between 1970s and 1990s (at a time the UAE was a heap of sand and Malaysia a Monsoon farmland) but built nothing with the wealth. India didn’t get as much in the same period but built great Institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), whose graduates are now Executives of the biggest global brands (which include the likes of Google and Microsoft), manufactures its own vehicles (some of which have found markets in Nigeria – Bajaj, Manhindra, Tata etc), is the next biggest industrial and manufacturing hub in Asia after China (where most pharmaceutical and chemical products used in Nigeria comes from)and now exports companies and multinational corporations to other parts of the world including Nigeria……yet someone in year 2020 is still blaming the West for the woes of the black race….In his mind he is doing something commendable…LMAO. That in itself is one of the reasons why we may never grow better than the level we are now.

    • Oakfield 4 years ago

      @drey, I just read that junk of an article and was filled with disappointment yet again. At a time we should be looking inwards to see how we can solve our endemic problems like acute corruption, tribalism, nepotism, insecurity etc , he’s busy writing nonsense. He wants the world to see him as a nationalist but what he doesn’t know is that he’s making fool of himself. He rants about racism but has forgotten that he is a core racist himself as we could see in his tireless and shameful fight against rohr despite his outstanding records and achievements. This is one of the main reasons why I don’t like him. He is just an expert in misplacing priorities. He’s such a very big disappointment.

  • Chairmanfemi 4 years ago


    Source: Nigeriafootballfocus IG page

    Now NFFF are beginning to stylishly unfold their plans.

    OwngoalNigeria reports: https://www.owngoalnigeria.com/2020/06/19/ladan-bosso-replaces-salisu-yusuf-in-super-eagles-technical-crew/

  • Omo9ja 4 years ago

    @Chairmanfemi, thanks for the update. You see Femi, I’m falling in love with you this time around because you begins to see the truth of the matter.

    NFF president should be blamed for that. He is the main problem of Nigerian sports.

    May God be with our God sent, Mr. Dare, the sports minister. Only God can protect the innocent man.

    Out of the 180 million Nigerians, I can say we found two great humanity in our sports minister and Mr. Showore.

    If one of the two can be the next Nigerian present and vice president of Nigeria, Nigeria will be among the great nations in the world.

    This shows that they, NFF are reading our comments on this platform. They knew that Yobo is a future coach but the team needed another coach to join coach Rohr and Yobo.

    Coach LADAN BOSSO is not a bad coach but i would have preferred a young vibrant ex player to coach BOSSO. NFF should allowing
    the youth to get the job done.

    Coach Rohr is almost 70. Coach Agu is around that age, what of Oga Bosso? and NFF keep deceiving themselves that they are building for the future. Who is fooling who?

    Same thing in Nigerian politics. Old people have bn ruling the country for a very long time while we have the youth that can even surpassed Buhari,
    Obasanjo, Abacha, Babangida and many of them. Shio. It is a big shame.

    Nonetheless, the current NFF have nothing to offer Nigeria.

    We still have a very long way to go as long as Mr. Pinnick, Sheyi and Diko still remained in the office.

    Oga LADAN BOSSO is an experienced coach no doubt. Between him, Oga Salisu and Imama, I will go for BOSSO.

    But in modern football and at the global level, can Mr. BOSSO proves his wealth of experience? That I don’t know because Super Eagles is not under 17, 20 and under 23 teams.

    I can boldly say now that NFF has their own plans but thank God the sports minister won’t allow them to take our country for granted.

    The sports minister already make it known to them that no business as usual and it is time to work.

    For our beloved super Eagles to be super again, as I always said, Eagles needed an expert but is coach BOSSO would be the solution to the Super Eagles coaches problems? Hmm, let’s wait and see.

    Also, are they, NFF not aware of the goalkeeping department of the SuperEagles? That department is the most weakest link of the team but still, they have zero solution to the problem. It will be better to put an end to the “selfishness attitude of ours”.

    Because, 1:concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself. seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others. 2 : arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others a selfish act.

    Long story short, my people lets start loving each other’s. Nigerians shouldn’t be the problems of Nigeria.

    I will keep saying my own, the way our leaders are running the country is terribly bad and the citizens also are not helping the situation. Let’s use love among ourselves to Unite our country. Ire o. God bless Nigeria!!!

    • Alexy 4 years ago

      Who else thinks dis dude has just posted a load of nonsense..!

  • Paschal 4 years ago

    Many of you are expressind disappointment at Odegbami’s piece but for me I am trying to read in between the lines of this publication. First question is “what relevance has this got to do with sports or football that it had to be posted in a football web portal”? The answer may be very simple: Stir up racist sentiments against our coach who is one of those “white imperialists” who this write up is actually criticizing? Am I making some sense? We know Odegbami has never liked coach Rohr and my question is: Could this whole piece be a veiled attempt to smear the person of our coach? Your guess is as good as mine.

    • KangA 4 years ago

      I doff my hat for you. The premise of the article is not only false, but the remote intention behind it—as you rightly discerned—is repulsive. Odegbami is still smothering with anger that his attempts to thwart the growth of the SuperEagles failed. Now he has resorted to deception.

      He has answered his own question ie what is the secret of the success achieved by the West? Objectivity. The US would not blink an eye to hire a top nuclear physicist from Chad. (I suppose if you carried out an investigation, you would find a few and to top it a few hydrologists badly needed in Chad). Now, why are they doing that? They want results. But for Odegbami? He does not care about results. He would rather hire an uncertified coach so long as he has his way to smuggle unskilled players in. 

      It is laughable he thinks we don’t know. 

  • Hmmm…. after reading all the comments, I felt bad for this man.
    The funniest thing is…I’ve not read the Article my self..sorry for that ..I got tired of reading his articles after the last Nation’s cup especially when he said things like he’s ready to sink with any Nigerian coach wether he performs or not, so far he’s a Nigerian. This man supposed to be Nigerian Great Pele! But look at him. Growing up..his name was all I know as the greatest from Nigeria before Yekini took charge then to Amokachi, Okocha, Kanu and so on.

  • The black race can never be united because we started idolatry back in the early days and that is what has gotten us in this mess to this day.

    Africa is the richest content on earth but yet has the poorest people, how does that happen?

  • Sugar daddy 4 years ago

    ….I think Mr. Odegbami wants to be African president or Governor of one of those gaullible states!!!

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