The impending Football World Cup tournament in Brazil must be a source of psychic pain for all right-thinking Barbadian and Caribbean people. Surely, it must be painful to contemplate the fact that virtually every single region of the world will be represented at this premier international sporting event with the exception of the Caribbean.
Over the last four years, a multiplicity of minuscule Caribbean nations attempted to make it to the World Cup finals. Thus, we had the bizarre spectacle of little St Kitts and Grenada attempting to compete with such giant nations as the United States and Mexico. Needless to say, they did not make it. Nor did slightly larger Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago for that matter!
And so, we are forced to content ourselves with looking on at the rest of the world basking in the limelight and expressing themselves before a worldwide audience in Brazil, while we meekly accept a second class status, and wax lyrical about the relative merits of Portugal, England, Germany and Spain, among others.
What is wrong with us? Why is it so difficult for us to understand that the most logical and sensible course of action for us in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is to come together as a single entity –– a single nation, a single civilization, a single cricket team, a single economy, a single football squad –– in order to take on the rest of the world with confidence and with a realistic prospect of success?
A second stream of psychic pain for knowledgeable and conscious Barbadian and Caribbean people stems from the fact that the vast majority of our people are seemingly incapable of recognizing which among the football teams that will assemble in Brazil constitute their kith and kin.
Surely, by now the majority African people of Barbados and CARICOM should be aware that their ancestors originated from the so-called “Upper” and “Lower” Guinea Coast of West Africa, a region that comprises the present-day nations of Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria.
Thus, although Barbados and the rest of the CARICOM region are not directly represented at the World Cup by Caribbean national teams, we are indirectly represented by the Ga, Akan, Ewe, Kru, Mande, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Denkyira young men, who are members of the national teams of Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria.
The average Barbadian should therefore see much more of himself or herself in Toure, Kalou or Drogba of Ivory Coast and in Kingson and Gyan of Ghana, than in Messi of Argentina, Ronaldo of Portugal or Rooney of England! And with such insight and understanding, we should be witnessing a much greater appreciation and embracing of these West African teams by the people of Barbados and the Caribbean. Indeed, this World Cup in Brazil should be utilized by our mass media practitioners as a supreme “teaching opportunity” on the relevance and dynamism of pan-Africanism.
Furthermore, the achievements of our kith and kin in these West African teams should inspire us to envision similar successes for ourselves when we take the sensible step of uniting in a single unified CARICOM football team.
Let little Grenada contribute the outstanding Jason Roberts and Stephen Peters. Let Jamaica add Ricardo Gardner and Ricardo Fuller. Of course, Barbados can contribute Emmerson Boyce of Wigan and Paul Ifill of Crystal Palace, while Trinidad and Tobago adds Kenwyne Jones of Sunderland and Stern John of Southampton.
With this type of collective talent we will surely take our rightful place in the sun!
(David A. Comissiong, an attorney-at-law, is president of the Clement Payne Movement.)