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Opinions of Friday, 2 July 2010

Columnist: Mensema, Akadu N.

World Cup 2010: Western Hegemonic Framing of Africans

*By Akadu Ntiriwa Mensema, Ph. D.

And ESPN died
ESPN commentators lost their voices
Their hegemonic voices
Voices of inferiorizing Africans
Imperious, ignorant voices
Eclipsed by the Black Stars of Africa
Nkrumah’s Black Stars’ victory
Victory that dwarfed mighty USA
Victory that humanized all Africans

“ESPN's coverage of this game has been rife with stereotypes of African football,
‘writes James Wells. ‘Ghana are 'powerful, physical, and explosive' but the US is
'tactically stronger'. Just now, viewers were informed that the US can't compete
physically with Ghana and will have to outsmart them. It's true that Ghana have some
great athletes, but all teams at this level are full of athletes. And tactically
naive? I haven't seen it. ‘They're certainly not tactically weaker than the USA
based on what I've seen in this first half” (Barry Glendenning, guardian, June
26, 2010)

Western media & soccer commentators
Stereotype African soccer players
Marginalize Africans’ soccer brilliance
We have listened to them
Coded words and phrases
Condescending-laden stereotypes
Quarried from hegemonic constructions
Of immemorial, old Africa
Nursed in Western imaginings
Of ESPN soccer commentators
Voices that privilege Euro-Americans
Voices that marginalize Africans
Hegemonic voices
Of ESPN soccer commentators
Happily, condescendingly
Churn out homegrown coded stereotypes
Of African/Black excellence
Of African players as brutish beasts
Physical, powerful
Explosive yet sloppy
Tactically weaker
Outmuscling opponents
[Americans] outsmarting [Ghanaians]

“Soccer's governing body left World Cup referee Koman Coulibaly - who disallowed a
goal that might have given the U.S. victory against Slovenia last week - off its
next list of World Cup match officials” (Christopher Elser, Bloomberg News, June 21,

“FIFA president Sepp Blatter today said he had apologized to the Foot Ball
Association over Frank Lampard's disallowed 'goal' and revealed the governing body
would look again at goal-line technology” (The Independent, June 29, 2010)

Malian Koman Coulibaly erred
Erred during USA & Slovania game
The West asked for his head
And FIFA guillotined him
Uruguayan Jorge Larrionda erred
Erred during England & German game
The West didn’t ask for his head
Yet FIFA apologized to England
ESPN soccer commentators
Fed on Coulibaly syndrome
Had a field day of hegemony
Mocking, insulting, derisive
Perfecting their hegemony
Provincial commentators
Happily and imperiously
Unleashed anti-Africanisms
Yet another anti-African festival
Of hegemonic categorizing
Of Africanizing inferiority
Of all African referees
Churning bogus statistics
Of Africa’s poverty
Of “tribal” wars
Of underdevelopment
Africanization of all bad things

“But it was not. In the third minute of overtime, a long pass came out of Ghana’s
midfield to forward Asamoah Gyan. He shouldered the ball and outmuscled Carlos
Bocanegra, who seemed to slow, perhaps with a cramp in his leg” (_The New York Times
_ June 27, 2010)

ESPN soccer commentators
Happily, cheerfully
Sanitizes Western weaknesses
Cramp in the legs of [USA players]
Being outmuscled by opponents
ESPN uses praiseworthy words
Of privileging Western players
Minted words like brilliant
Excellent, intelligent
Superb, admirable
Well-crafted, exceptional
Outstanding, marvelous
Splendid play & movement
First-rate, world-class
All framed in intelligence
Assumed superiority of the West

But Black Stars arrived
Displayed their intelligence
And ESPN lost its voice
Lost its shameful voice
Of choreographing negative lyrics
Of immemorial Africa
Brandishing their voices as swords
Agencies of otherizing African players
Black Stars defeated USA & ESPN died
ESPN commentators lost their voices
Their hegemonic voices died
Eclipsed by the Black Stars of Africa
Nkrumah’s Black Stars’ victory
Victory dwarfed mighty USA
ESPN’s hegemonic voices died
Well done Black Stars
You rescued Africa from hegemony
Western hegemony
Of Africanizing all bad things
Of marginalizing Africans/Blacks
Black Stars with eclipsing fortitude

*Akadu N. Mensema, Ph. D., is a nationalist Denkyira beauty. She is a trained oral
historian cum sociologist and Professor in the USA. She lives in Pennsylvania with
her great mentor and teaches Africa-area studies at a college in Maryland. In her
pastime, she writes what critics have called “populist hyperbolic, satirical”
poetry. She can be reached at