Thursday, 8 July 2010

Ghana's Double-Bind

Haven't been able to comment on the various ghost posts below because I can't figure out how to do it on my phone but here's a few thoughts:

Undeniably Brazil and the Netherlands are haunted by those (losing) teams of the past: 82, 74, 78. It's a burden that forced terrible changes to their formations and attitudes and now makes me sort of hate watching them. Spain are one of the only teams in the World Cup that don't seem haunted (and that's annoying too, isn't it?); they've kept on with their previously losing strategies and absolutely not caved in to the Hoodoo.

And then there's Ghana. Ghana seemed haunted by a combination of the beautifully erratic and brilliantly watchable African failures of the past, the kind that made Pele say what he said, the kind that we all wanted to see come good. Nigeria circa Jay Jay Okocha, Cameroon, even the much patronised Zaire, forever abbreviated to that guy kicking away the ball at the free kick.

The commentators were obsessed with Ghana's organisation and patience, as if such a thing from an African side was almost impossible to imagine. I vaguely remember a comment on TV saying something like: "It must be their European coaches..." Hardly racism but indicative of a creeping nostalgia for the old Africans, the ones you might find in old Geography textbooks, the ones with no size constancy scaling, who weren't tricked by the Muller Lyer Illusion, the ones who didn't play like we play, who had real freedom...

I guess this effect has been amplified by South Africa itself. The country and the team. It's a burden I think many of the African teams felt. To be African and not be African. A terrible double-bind. Laing and Girard and Bateson would be proud.

Hakim Bey: We've learned to distrust the verb to be, the word is...

Brazil certainly want/don't want to be Samba. England want/don't want to be Plucky Losers. The Dutch want/don't want to play Total Football. Ghana want/don't want to be Africa's Only Representatives in a relentlessly organised, eurocentric world.

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