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Sport – Uniting The Black Race!  –Odegbami  

Sport – Uniting The Black Race!  –Odegbami   

When I started an FM radio station two years ago sited in a town so small on the map of the world that it almost does not exist, it was such an ‘insignificant’ step in the course of humanity that it passed without making the least dent in the affairs of the world.

Two years have come and gone. 

Last weekend, another seemingly innocuous event took place.  A small broadcast on that radio station.  It is only now that I start to see its significance, an additional little drop to what is becoming an ocean of change in the world. Unfortunately, it will take a ‘deep’ mind to connect the dots and see how seemingly unconnected events are falling into place to create a great future. 

Almost three years to the day, on July 1, 2021, my friend, Legendary African American former athlete, Double Olympic Gold medallist, two-time World record holder, holder of 11 world records in different events,  USA Track Hall-of-Famer, Lee Edward Evans, died. He  lived with me and worked in the Segun Odegbami International College and Sports Academy, SOCA, in Wasimi, Nigeria.

I had known Lee since 1976. He led the Nigerian athletics team to the Montreal Olympic Games as head coach. I was a member of the Nigerian football squad, part of that contingent that joined with 28 other Black African countries to boycott the Games for the first time in history in protest against racial injustice in South Africa. 

Also Read: The Return Of The Flying Antelopes…  –Odegbami

Lee Evans had indicated in recorded interviews that he would want to be buried with his ancestors in Africa. He had done a gene test several years before leaving America and had found that he was 43 percent Nigerian! Since then, in our conversations, his greatest dream was to use his influence in athletics to send young Africans to the United States as empowerment through sports. He took many Nigerian boys and girls to USA colleges and universities for sports whilst pursuing their academics. 

He introduced me to many great African American brothers that shared his dream – Ron Davis, Ron Freeman, Edwin Moses and many others that have remained my friends ever since.  

Lee Evans lies in his grave in the hills of Wasimi, on the campus of  SOCA waiting for the flock of African Diasporans that would visit, one day, to glean the final resting place of the first African American sports legend to die and to be buried in the Homeland

One day, as we sat in the well-manicured lawns of SOCA, as the sun dipped into the horizon,

lee-evans-memorial-annual-international-invitational-athletics- meet-dr-segun-odegbami

Lee Evans

Lee told me about Jamaica and the Jamaican revolution in athletics.  Nigeria was on a similar path until the country derailed in the 1980s. That was the only way to go for Nigeria to become a global superpower in athletics. Africans are born to run, he said, from the sprints to the Marathons, the evidences are left on tracks during competitions around the world. 

Some years ago, Jamaica sensibly adopted the USA model, and started a development programme of runners through the schools system. Today, that small Caribbean Island country has become the sprints capital of the world, birthing two of the greatest male and female sprinters in history– Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryse, respected descendants of Slaves have turned Slave camps into breeding grounds of global champions, converting ‘hell’ to Paradise! 

Jamaica has shown the rest of the Black race one additional way to earn respect in a world that is riddled now with crisis and where the Race has no strong foothold. 

In the present chaotic labyrinth with minefields of existential threats – climate change, ideological conflicts, religious and economic wars, plagues, and so on, comes a new way for the Black race to explore, to rise, soar and rule! 

Also Read: Nigerian Football – A Slightly Different Perspective!  –Odegbami

Africa is attracting new global attention and interest. It is described as the future of the present world system. Diaspora Africans are seeing fresh opportunities that lie in associating with the Homeland again, re-connecting with their kith and kin in a place that is really Home, collaborating with them in this new climate of global re-alignments.  

It is no rocket-science to know that the only way to ‘fight’ and to win is to come together as a united front.  That has been the conversation for Centuries. The challenge has been how to go about it. 

Amongst the many great leaders of the ‘Tribe’ that have spoken of this reality, one voice stands out, loud and clear, that of one of the most respected and revered – late South African, Nelson Mandela. He had said: ‘The world will not respect Africa, until Nigeria earns that respect. The Black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence’. 

That is neither a glib nor a flippant statement. 

It is a fact that Nigeria is by miles the most populous Black Nation on earth; the source of one of the largest number of Slaves to the America’s and the Caribbeans in history; Home to the largest number of Africans in the diaspora; one of the richest Black Nations on earth with its vast mineral and human resources; home to one of the loudest, most educated, most confident, least culturally-indoctrinated and most gifted humans on the planet. 

In the War of Civilisations such traits are essential ingredients. 

It makes sense, therefore, that if a genuine reconnection of the Black Race will take place, it will need Nigeria’s buy-in and leadership. It is not ‘arrogant’ to make such a claim, it is the reality! And this conversation is not new. It has been going on for eons without a major single step taken towards realisation…..until now!.

The jigs appear to be falling into place. The dots of activism are being connected. 

A few African countries like Ghana have been taking steps to create the environment for the return of Diaspora Africans to the Homeland. But those have been like a drop in the sea. 

Now, the ‘giant’ has woken up from slumber.

Last year, I was part of a Nigerian business community that visited Antigua and Barbuda on an exploratory visit to that part of the world. The visit was facilitated by a Nigerian businessman, an adopted Antiguan citizen, Dr. Allen Onyema, the Chairman of Airpeace Airline, the largest private airline in Africa.  

Also Read: Nigerian Football At The Crossroads!  –Odegbami  

In two years of work, he has taken a giant step in reconnecting the America’s with Africa. 

Airpeace will soon start regular daily flights between West Africa and the Caribbean islands. Nigeria and Antigua and Barbuda will be the hubs from where the rest of the two regions of the world will be connected. Allen has also set up a joint-regional airline with the government of Antigua and Barbuda, for connecting flights around the Islands. Before the end of 2024, that regional airline will start operations. Before the end of the year also, the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on a daily basis will begin on Airpeace.

Meanwhile, in a totally unrelated event, an organisation known as  African Diaspora UnionAFRIDU, is promoting a relationship between the Caribbean Islands and Nigeria. A small delegation from Trinidad and Tobago is already in Nigeria, working with relevant government agencies to take part in Nigeria’s Independence celebrations on October 1. On that day, there is a plan for the President of Nigeria to grant Nigerian citizenship to as many as two thousand Diasporan Africans from the Caribbean Islands, giving them a unique opportunity to return HOME on vacation, to invest, to live and to reconnect with their ancestral roots and kith and kin.

It will be a Giant step in human history.

Last weekend, I had a conversation with the Nigerian Minister of Sports on Eagle7 Sports Radio in Wasimi, an interview that was, on the surface of things, totally unrelated to everything I have written here so far. However, for the first time in history, the sports conversation was broadcast LIVE on 20 local radio stations around the Caribbean Islands.

It generated tremendous new interest and new possibilities. With the simplest of technologies, Nigeria communicated with the entire Caribbean Islands via radio on the information superhighway. 

Eagle7 Sports radio and Bijou Caribbean Connect Network have opened discussion on possible collaboration that will add to the connecting dots, fill up more gaps in the jigsaw puzzle, and further cement a new relationship of Black people across the Atlantic Ocean in readiness for the ‘new World Order’ beyond the wars and crisis in Ukraine, in Gaza, in the horn of Africa, in Sudan, in Kenya and so on, when the world would have to sit down again to renegotiate Civilisation. 

Africa and people of African-descent will be prepared this time, led by the achievements of their most creative youths in the field of arts, culture, hospitality, music, film, dance, drama, literature, education, sports, and so on, to change their world.

Oh, Lee Edward Evans must be shaking excitedly in his grave!

 

 


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COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 2
  • Henry Odukomaiya 2 weeks ago

    Chief Odegbami leaves out an important element: the poor governance within Nigeria itself.
    A nation which cannot guarantee prosperity and safety to its own citizens is not in a position to provide them to foreigners.
    The increasing velocity of the Japa syndrome is clear testimony to this fact.
    We cannot elevate the Black race if we are yet to fix Nigeria

    • 9jaRealist 2 weeks ago

      Sorry, but NO nation can “guarantee prosperity”. ‘The best nations can do for their citizens is to afford them OPPORTUNITIES for prosperity (which btw Nigeria still does in spades).

      As for security, agree that the Nigerian state (not just the Nigerian government, albeit it’s of course a primary responsibility of the government) has done an INCREDIBLY POOR job of it (and it’s not just a question of numbers, since with even over 50,000 gun-related homicides yearly, including more than one mass shooting daily, the US is still regarded by most as ‘secure’).

      Finally, the actions of the generality of Nigerian citizenry hardly signifies that “good governance” is its most important value or consideration (certainly not as much as ethnic or religious affiliation). That’s why even many of those who have joined (or trying to join) the ”japa” stampede voted for the President (and probably for the President before him).  

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