19 May 2020
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By Mugova Benjamin Makanyire

Ubuntu is a Bantu term derived from the word ‘muntu’ in Ndebele/Zulu or munhu in Shona, meaning a human being or a person.When we say so and so is a “person”, we will be referring to behaviour, moral attributes, upright values and attitudes such as respect for human life, respect for others, an awareness of the need to others among other virtue ethics that enhances positive human existence.

Accordingly, there exists a common bond between us all and it is through our interaction with our fellow beings that we discover our own human qualities.

Achebe(1958) clearly demonstrates this African spirit as quoted “A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to redeem them from starving.They all have food in their houses.When we gather together in the moonlight village ground, it is not because of the moon.Every man can see it in his compound.We come together because it is good to do so.

Therefore let us continue with the team spirit and enjoy the power of togetherness.Let”s smile not because we don’t have problems but because we are stronger than problems…”

Ubuntu can therefore be described as the unique capacity of an African to express compassion, reciprocity, dignity, humanity and mutuality in the interests of building and maintaining communities with justice and mutual caring.

Therefore Ubuntu as an African philosophy, has the potential to bring a positive spirit in Africa and the world in the field of human relations in general and football administration and practice in particular.

Africa has a rich history of football players who have made it to great heights in Europe and the world.Common examples include George Weah(Liberia), Abedi Pele(Ghana), Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure(Ivory Coast) Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George(Nigeria) and many others.

There are currently more than 1000 African players in Europe.Despite these great achievements at individual levels by the players, African nations have not made much impact at senior world cup competitions.

Despite oozing with immense talent, ironically Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana who currently hold the best African records at world cup competitions only came close to progressing beyond the quarter finals.

One of the reasons why African teams fail to make much impact in soccer world cup competitions is probably because of lack of Ubuntu displayed through corruption of officials, pride, selfishness, individualism, greediness,indiscipline,violence, gambling, bribery, lack of commitment to their nations among other ills.

Akinyosoye and Inou(2010) noted that during the preparations for the 2010 world cup, Samuel Etoo of Cameroon displayed lack of national consciousness when he preferred doing an advertisement for one of his sponsors instead of training with the national team.A clear display of lack of Ubuntu according to African philosophy.

That corruption was in full view ahead of the 2018 Russia world cup as president of Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantaki, was caught on film taking a bribe and resigned (Abbot 2018). In addition, during the 2014 world cup 4-0 loss to Croatia in Brazil, Cameroon defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto head butted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo in full view of the whole world.As if this was not enough, Cameroonian team was reduced to 10 men when midfielder Alex Song elbowed Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic in front of the referee.

On top of this, European clubs are always yearning for African talent yet some of the players have disappointed in terms of behaviour. Eric Djemba Djemba of Cameroon made sojourns at several European clubs and there are allegations that he held 30 bank accounts, a string of high-end cars and most worrying of all, that he requested cash advances from Manchester United to pay off mountains of debts.

Zimbabwe has also faced challenges in soccer administration.

One such challenge is the so-called Asia-gate.Asia-gate is the name given to the match-fixing scandal that involved Zimbabwe National Team players and officials between 2007 and 2009.The team underwent tours of Asia and lost several which led to suspicion of match-fixing. The conspiracy was reportedly established by Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal, who gave money to some ZIFA officials players for them to influence results along with his betting prediction results.

The African philosophy of Ubuntu can thus be encooperated into football to add value into it’s administration and practice as part of social reengagement and value addition to the game.

The columnist Mugova Benjamin Makanyire is a football enthusiast, football junior and top flight coach, Fifa grassroots coaching ambassador,sports medicine practitioner, educationist.
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