Be like the duck, my brothers



Do not stare at me because I

am dark,

because I am darkened by

the sun.

My mother’s sons were angry

with me

and made take care of

the vineyards;

my own vineyard I have

neglected.

(Song of Songs 1:1 verses 5 and 6)

Ah, so this is Sunday School now, eh Mr Banda? The columnist turned preacherman. Have you gone all religious now? Then perhaps we should talk to the Editor so that someone else takes over the column so that those of us who are keen on the Sunday Sport column as a section of this newspaper that talks about sport on Sundays will have our right protected.

No, my friends, I am still interested in the continuation of this column as earlier envisaged. But you have just talked about rights so let me address that now. I got the quote from the Bible- just in case you did not know! The New International Version. I would have wanted to cite from the version that reads: “I am black but comely”. That would just hit the nail on the head. But I could not find that version at the time of going to print.

Anyway.

Our sons, dark as they are, were comely all around Europe last week. But then they are always comely, are they not, Mr Banda? That is true, my friends ‘ just as they are always dark. Dark, yet lovely.

I know that many of you limit your European soccer to the English Premiership. You know as well as I do that it is much more than that. Indeed, our sons were not just lovely in England, but also in France, Germany and Spain.

I watched the game and my heart bled because my team was on the receiving end. But my head then said: “It is well.” Five ,minutes shy of regulation time, my friends, and Sheyi Adebayor, a.k.a Emmanuel Adebayor, the Togolese forward struck with the chilling accuracy that only these boys seem to have. Manchester United-nil, Arsenal-one. It was his first goal of the season. It gave the Gunners their first league win of the season. It condemned us fans of the Red Devils to the sobbing room. But as I said at the beginning of this paragraph, the pain was made less by the identity of the scorer. He cannot be heavy; he is my brother.

Adebayor’s strike was the most dramatic. But if you wanted the most spectacular then you wanted to be at Stamford Bridge, unfortunately also on the same Sunday.

The dramatic came in the twilight zone of the match. The most spectacular came in the twilight zone of the first half. Again I was fortunate enough to be a witness to the mastery of it. Do not get me wrong. I was not at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford. I was before a television set.

Back to the goal. Not from the right foot, not a full volley and not stable. It was a left-foot half-volley struck on the turn. It was so delicious you could have licked it. And it was an effort worthy of the title of “Match winner.” And it was. The scoreboard at half-time read: Chelsea-1, Liverpool ‘ nil. That was how it was reading when the referee blew to end it. Didier Drogba was the man. To think that an Elephant could have so much grace; the efficacy, balance and poise of a ballet dancer!

They were on target too elsewhere in England. Congolese striker Tresor Lomana LuaLua ‘ was he not their captain last time out? ‘ was on target for Portsmouth in their one-nil win over Charlton Athletic. I cannot proceed without mentioning that he had come on as a substitute for yet another brother: Benjani Mwaruwaru, the new Zimbabwe captain.

Add to the effort by another African soccer export. Another speed merchant. Obafemi Martins of Nigeria. He was on target for the first time for his new club as Newcastle dismissed West Ham United 2-nil. At Ewood Park, in another Premiership encounter, Benedict McCarthy of South Africa also went on the scoresheet as he featured in Blackburn Rovers’ 4-2 defeat of Manchester City.

While Benni was helping his club to only its first victory of the season, Frederic Kanoute was helping Sevilla maintain its 100 percent record in La Liga. The Malian grabbed a brace for the Uefa Cup holders. Elsewhere in Spain, Pierre Webo of Cameroon too less than a minute to hit the mark for Osasuna against GimnasticTarragona. It was the fastest goal scored in that land on that day.Osasuna went on to take the match 2-nil.

In France, Mohammed Kallon produced a finish of the close encounter for Monaco although Paris St Germain went on to win the match.

But how do I go on to France without finishing the Spanish story? And that cannot be completed without mention of another Cameroonian, one Samuel Eto’o. He was on target to help Barcelona make it three out of three. But also on target where those whose proper name we cannot mention in a family newspaper.

The ugly phenomenon of the beautiful game raised its ugly head again as Eto’o suffered racist chants after scoring at Racing Santander. He was a victim of the same people again at the same venue last seaon.

And indeed of similar-minded, if they in fact have a mind, people at other venues in Spain last season.

Be like the duck, my brothers. Paddling furiously under water while all calm and unruffled at the top.

Let it be a mystery to them as you continue to make history.

September 2006
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