Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The President of the Football Associaton of Malawi, Walter Nyamilandu, was quoted in the press (Daily Times, 25/08/2008) as describing English Premier League fans in Malawi as hypocrites for not patronizing local football matches. Instead they zealously get glued to their TVs to watch English premiership matches.
On the other hand, local TNM Super League matches are played on almost empty stadiums. These empty stadiums mean that local teams are not generating enough revenue to sustain themselves. Should we then wonder about dwindling standards of football among local teams in Malawi? Surprisingly, it is these very same English Premiership zealots that always complain about the sub-standard performance among local teams. Yes, as Nyamilandu put it, this is a clear case of pharisaic hypocrisy.
Note the construction works of the Chipembere
Highway in the background.
Photo credit: Bennett Kankuzi (28/08/2008)
Our obsession with “things foreign” in Malawi is well documented. Zambian music is now being played on almost all radio stations while some of our best local talent is rarely heard on our own radio stations. Going to football, there is even a radio station that has gone to the extent of making live radio commentaries as English Premiership matches are played. Yes, Star FM does this! My foot!
What about sports news on radio stations? This is dominated by “Man U this” and “Chelsea that”… Even other sporting disciplines like netball, basketball, etc rarely get any coverage. So, some radio stations are also greatly contributing to this unpatriotic attitude towards local football in Malawi. However, there are some radio stations which have to be commended for promoting local football in their sports coverage: MBC Radio 1, Zodiak Broadcasting Station and to some extent MIJ FM. On these radio stations, you are assured of knowing about local match fixtures and results. Its soothing to hear of fixtures like Makande Estate vs Liwonde Medicals, etc
Lets come to conversations about football among the “affluent”. Its all about English Premiership teams and players. There are those guys that will tell you the nitty-gritties of English Premiership football but will openly tell you that they have nothing to do with local football. Some would even go to the extent that they do not have any team they support in the local TNM Super League. Yet they vehemently support Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and others. And sometimes discussing local football among these guys risks one to be labeled as primitive or “wachimidzi”. You have to talk about these “foreign teams” to be classified as affluent.
To me this is not very surprising. This is because our education systems across Africa indirectly teach us to “worship things foreign”. Mental colonialism manifests itself even among the so called educated people when they constantly try to detach themselves from local things. As Bob Marley said; we need to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. Africa in general shall develop to her full potential only when her people are emancipated mentally.
Coming back to football. The question then remains: how can local football develop when we perpetually shun to support it. Definitely the FAM President is very right in calling a spade a spade. Others may not swallow the bitter pill easily. Malawians, lets learn to be patriotic. Malawi will be developed by Malawians and no-one else. Of course do not remind me of what Catherine Chikwakwa wanted to do by trying to ply her trade for another country!