90 minutes in Jo’burg, 99 years of Nigeria

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For a country perennially beset with mistrust, mutual hatred and blatant ethnicity and nepotism, the pure glee and national unity displayed anytime the Super Eagles play is indescribable, indiscernible, miraculous and mind-boggling.

For 99 years the people called Nigeria have distrusted each other, developed negative stereotypes to frame each other and at unfortunate times fought and killed each other. But from since the days of the Red Devils (the former name of the national team), when the famous Dan Anyiam, the national team captain, and his team were fabled to have played against the English national team barefooted in London, the entity called Nigeria has always stood united when it comes to football; prayed together, cried together and celebrated together.

On Sunday in Johannesburg, we all go to the temple of the ‘god of soccer’ and like the holy books advocate, we cast away our differences, hold hearts and hands together and support our team. And even though the team is 80% Igbo nobody cares or notices and all prejudices are swept aside as we all chase the golden trophy in Egoli, the legendary place of gold.

Next year marks 100 years that Lord Fredrick Lugard amalgamated the North and Southern protectorates to create the largest black nation in the world. After 100 years people still wonder if Lord Lugard was a genius or a jester. But come Sunday in Jozi, when the national anthem is played, when the referee tosses the coin to decide which side kicks off between the Eagles and the Stallions, the North and South will fuse into one; one team, one people, and one nation. And for 90 minutes at least, Lord Lugard’s dream will be perfected.

It is nearly two decades since 1994, when the Eagles last soared above the crags. I wish the ‘Big Boss’ and his boys all the best of luck.

Come on you Eagles!

Follow me on Twitter @sirwebs

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