A French Victory. A Moment for Africa | The 2018 World Cup

The World Cup is over… finally we can lay to rest that song for another two years whilst we hope and dare to dream. One day it will come home, but for now it is bypassing and heading straight home to France. (I mean it might pop by and jump on the Eurostar in Kings Cross so we can have a glimpse and wave it away… no? ok) In any world cup I have three teams: Nigeria, France and England. France is always my second team, I have mad love for the team, in any tournament I have always had a deep affinity for Les Bleus, because they have the most diverse players and mostly of African decent.

After the win, someone tweeted facts about the French team: 80% of them are African and 50% of them are Muslims. Maria Le Pen tweeted her congratulations to the team and the irony was not lost on anyone; the same woman who wanted to throw out the people who gave her country victory, who acknowledges the glory they have brought to the country. She did not see the error of her ways because her ill conceived beliefs remain hers today, but in doing so she acknowledges their Frenchness whilst conveniently forgetting their African roots. Emmanuel Macron for all his celebration of the team during the win is also guilty in his views of Africa and Africans when days after his victory he made a remark about Africa being uncivilised because of the rapid rate of reproduction with women too many children. Not that the west and colonisation have anything to do with the under developed African nations. Back in the summer of 2016, a footage showing five police officers surrounding a Muslim woman on the beach in France simply because she dressed to reflect her religion and therefore was fined for wearing too many items of clothing. Can you believe that?!

In light of this win, let’s take a look at some of the players on the French Squad and statistics of the winning team:

  • Presnel Kimpembe– Congolese French- born to a Congolese father and Haitian mother
  • Samuel Umtiti– Cameroonian French born in Yaounde Cameroon before emigrating with his family to France
  • Paul Pogba– Guinean French born to Guinean parents and is a Muslim
  • Kylian Mbappe– born to Cameroonian Father and Algerian mother
  • Ousmane Dembele– Mauritanian French, born to a French mother with Mauritanian and Senegalese origin and a Malian Father
  • Corentin Tolisso– Togolese French
  • N’Golo Kante– Malian French and Muslim born to Malian parents
  • Blaise Matuidi– Angolan French, born to an Angolan father and Congolese mother
  • Steven N’zonzi– Congolese French born to a Congolese father and French mother
  • Steven Mandanda– Congolese-French-Zairan; D.R Congo, Kinshasa
  • Adil Rami– French Moroccan
  • Nabil Fekir– Algerian French and Muslim
  • Djibril Sidibe– French with Senegalese origin
  • Benjamin Mendy– Senegalese, French

As with every western country post WWII, labour was sought from their colonies to help develop the failing economies, which saw mass migration, leaving home countries less developed. It is not only the French team who were blessed with players of African origin, much of the Belgian squad too is of African decent. This is nothing to thumb the nose at, rather a thing to be celebrated. Much of migrant literature and culture is often informed by the western media as problematic and in recent times, the base of supremacist claims to power, the likes of donald trump and maria le pen who use hateful rhetoric against immigrants and immigration as a base for their campaign. This is why this is important.

Whilst people are all in their feelings about how the world sees and an celebrates the victory of the French team at the world cup, it is not wrong to acknowledge their roots. Yes they are French but they are also African or of African decent, there is no shame in recognising that because that is who they are; born to African parents who migrated to France, and settled in France. Immigrants are only good when they are bringing good to the country, it is easy for us to get swept up in the euphoria of the exciting and thrilling win, but let’s not forget the stories of the young men who made it happen, men who have faced prosecution because of the colour of their skin, their religion, or roots. It goes right back to the second world war when Black soldiers fought for the freedom of the country but returned home to find a constitution that did not regard them as whole humans in the United States, or here in the UK when immigrants were brought over on ships with the promise of citizenship in order to build up the economy but today are being shipped back under the guise of a mistake or a mix up in the home office who conveniently destroyed their migrant records…allegedly.

The West has a lot to be thankful to Africa for.

Sure its a French victory, we must acknowledge that- absolutely, but this is also a moment for Africa in the sun because on this rare occasion in western world history Africa played a part in the victory. Without immigration this would not be possible. We will do well to acknowledge that, but also understand that this in no way diminishes the victory of the French national team, rather it enhances it, because for once, an immigrant’s story is a cause for celebration in a nation’s story- because believe it or not; immigrants got the job done. Fact.

All that is left to say is the world needs to do better and be better than what we are today.

Still, many congratulations to the French world cup team of 2018; we will talk about this for years to come. Job done.