Sankaraism and the Need for Uprightness!

An upright man – assassinated revolutionary, Thomas Sankara

The death of Thomas Sankara the Burkina Faso leader at the tender age of 37 robbed Africa of a great leader. The potential for long lasting real change was immense and in his brief four years in power from 1983 to 1987, he accomplished more than what many leaders the world over have achieved during their long reigns.

President Sankara loved Africa. He wanted Africa to reclaim her pride and stand tall among other world powers. He loved his nation, Burkina Faso and he believed that his people could achieve greatness through hard work. He trusted the people and he put them at the centre of his development thrust. In brief , Sankaraism was and still is about total independence, self sufficiency, servant leadership and people centred policies . Sankarism is about the people and how they can solve their own challenges. The people should not look for saviours , they should face challenges head on and overcome them. Sankara tried to give the people of Burkina Faso the confidence to be masters of their own destiny. In this he resonated with with the thinking of other Pan Africanists like Bob Marley who declared ” None but ourselves !”

In my view, Africa needs more Sankaras. It also needs more Bob Marleys. The young must begin to think differently if this sleeping giant is to awaken. In our post colonial history , we have relied too much on others to save us, but so far we have been ” Waiting For Godot !”

Why this long political preamble on a football blog , you might ask dear reader ?

Well, because President Thomas Sankara also tried something very ambitious . When he came to power in 1983 he renamed the nation from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso. The meaning of Burkina Faso was telling, it means ” The land of the upright “. How aspirational and inspirational ! He desired a nation of the upright! Moral uprightness is an ideal which we all desire and for a leader to declare it by renaming the country thus captured his desire to build a truly great nation by the people and for the people. And he walked the talk, Sankara led by example. His lifestyle and the standards he placed on his fellow leaders revealed this . His frugal lifestyle was a clear contrast to the primitive accumulation of wealth which often follows the ascendancy to power of many African leaders. He wanted to serve and in those brief four years he served.

In Zimbabwe we have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of Nation building. Our leaders have sinned by failing to unite and inspire the nation. Their behaviours have led to disillusionment among the masses leading to selfishness not only among themselves but among the people. Churches have sinned, they have taken the widow’s tithe and offering and build mansions. Non governmental organisations have sinned by fuelling a crisis so the donations can keep coming. Politicians have sinned by pursuing political careers for themselves and not for the people. The police have sinned, they have sinned by simply stopping from being the police . Those in the media have sinned by allowing themselves to be used by the powerful instead of exposing their shenanigans. And the masses have sinned by normalising the abnormal and where the opportunity arises by joining in the corruption. Who is righteous ?

But i believe that there is a time to sin and there is a time to repent. Everything has a time , a season. This is why i was taken aback by news that the investigation into age cheating at the inaugural Marvellous Nakamba Under 17 Football tournament had been concluded. An internal investigation by Harare giants Dynamos whose Under 17 team was chucked out of the tournament agreed that indeed cheating happened. The report suggested that many people were involved but the coach of the team Lloyd ” Mablanyo ” Chigove was the main culprit.

I have heard about the coach ‘s commitment to junior development. Many young players especially from the talent rich suburb of Mbare have passed through his hands. Many legends i have spoken too however admit that the committed coach is not very strict when verifying the ages of his junior players who often turn out to be senior players. Maybe it was a sin of omission but this tarnishes his track record.

The recent scandal to hit the otherwise likeable coach, involved two players at his Dynamos under 17 team. Dylan Gumbe is claimed to be 22 and Vusumusi Ngwenya is said to to be 20. Both were fielded for the Marvellous Nakamba Under 17 tournament in Bulawayo. After the discovery of the age discrepancies , the team was thrown out . The irony is that the team had done well, winning all their three matches . The question is , would they have triumphed without resorting to cheating ? Most probably yes, because ” Mablanyo ” Is a good coach. So why cheat ? Only the coach can answer this question but i think it has become a habit for him. If as others have suggested that he is not very strict when checking birth certificates, then the behaviour has become habitual. The painful bit is that the expulsion deprived genuine Under 17 players in the team the opportunity claim the trophy.

As it turned out, this latest scandal has become the straw which broke the camel’s back. Dynamos decided to act and this must be applauded.

However, here is the tragic bit. the coach said, ” I resigned as Dynamos Junior Coach, i am now the Chairman of the Harare Province JUNIOR league and i am also the acting National province !”

Dear reader, how is this possible?

I admit , there is a time to sin but should we continue to sin because there is abundance of Grace?

Junior structures are the blood line of any Nation’s football future. It is important to have the right people, upright people to lead the development thrust. I appreciate the work done by coach Lloyd Chigove in the past, many attest to his contributions. I come therefore not to bury him. The good should not be interred.

But like Sankara envisioned , we should aspire for uprightness. I am afraid that this latest scandal exposes the coach and therefore he cannot hold such an important post . It is simply untenable .

The good coach must repent , it is a small step towards UPRIGHTNESS, a way to respect the game of football in our Nation.

Let us try to attain Uprightness!


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