I salute you on behalf of all generations of African sportsmen and females.
Forgive me for writing you a community letter even however a duplicate of this will before long be on your desk at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This is only for your information, for now.
I am inspired to make my humble contribution to the celebrations of the posthumous birthday of the excellent African son, the late, former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, that took location before this week.
The late Madiba, represents a lot of issues to lots of people today all over the earth, particularly Africans. Commonly, even though, he is revered by all as one of the biggest human beings that at any time lived.
The man’s 27 a long time behind bars had been not in vain. They were being the cost he had to shell out for using a brave and noble stand towards injustice, racial segregation and discrimination against Blacks in South Africa.
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His being in jail turned a rallying place for the biggest coalition of the Black race on earth at the time, awakening Black and African consciousness, and advertising racial equality and a level actively playing discipline for all of humanity.
In the course of that chequered battle, fought on quite a few fronts but mostly political, there ended up a handful of moments and activities that were epochal and stood out. One of them that possibly sent the most strong message to the world was conceived by Tanzanian President, Julius Nwalimu Nyerere, championed by Nigerian Head of Condition, Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, and executed by the Presidents of 25 African international locations as properly as all those of Iraq and Guyana.
Previous Governor of Atlanta in the United States of The usa, Ambassador Andrew Young, nevertheless credits President Olusegun Obasanjo and Secretary Standard of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa, Abraham Ordia, with igniting the fire that eaten the 1976 Olympic games, unleashed a new and quite strong weapon for change in the planet, and kick-started the unstoppable procedure of Nelson Mandela’s release from jail and his metamorphosis into the sage that is now revered and described as a single of the best individuals to walk the face of the earth.
From Montreal ‘76 the partitions of Apartheid started off to crack and crumble. They last but not least fell in 1993, with Activity effectively baring its fangs and employing its brilliant powers to transform the planet.
Possessing mentioned all that, as the entire world remembers and celebrates Nelson Mandela posthumously at 104, there are some people reeling from the pains of that 1976 boycott.
These are the athletes from 27 international locations that hearkened to Africa’s contact, established aside their Olympics desires so that Black South Africans can attain flexibility, and boycotted the game titles. It was a achievement that arrived with a quite high rate tag, a sacrifice that has remained unacknowledged even by South Africa, the beneficiary nation, for almost 50 % a Century.
A lot of of the athletes never got a next opportunity to show up at another any Olympics. A lot of have died, unacknowledged and unrecognised.
Even a check out at the Intercontinental Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Switzerland reveals that none of them is registered as owning attended the 1976 Olympics. In limited, their action has faded into oblivion, buried in the sands of time.
Now, lifeless bones have risen.
A person of the athletes that was concerned in 1976, a Nigerian hurdler, Godwin Obasogie, wrote a scathing and revealing message on a social media platform from his foundation in New York this 7 days.
“Let them sit and imagine. The best team of athletes in all sporting activities ended up place alongside one another and Nigeria took us to the 1976 Olympics with a lot of medal hopes… After 4 many years of preparing, 24 hrs to the opening ceremony, Boom! they announce we are not to compete. We sacrificed our medals to liberate South Africa.
They introduced us again to Lagos, and dumped us. Excellent-bye. No apologies. No appreciation. No recognition. No medals of honor like most nations will do right after these a boycott.
Several people on that staff have gone to their grave with anger, and all those of us dwelling are nonetheless indignant.
They took away our medals, joy and daily life-time Olympics goals.
Until eventually that team gets apologies, or recognition from the correct quarters, no issue how we check out, it’s never going to be right again for Nigerian sports activities. We were utilized and dumped and they moved on. Over 40 a long time later, we have not moved on. We are still angry”.
I hope, your Excellency, that you can sense Godwin Obasogie’s pain and anger. He is contacting from a deep and depressing area.
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By some means, items just do not transpire by ‘accident’. All of mother nature is of an intricate style and design that people can never ever unfathom. So, the aspects have listened to Godwin’s voice and have started out reacting, planting the seeds of hope and a new long run.
The Nigerian Institute of Intercontinental Affairs has unearthed some of the neglected background of Nigerian Activity and heroes. It is partnering with a patriotic Nigerian philanthropist, Allen Onyemah, Chief Executive Officer of the country’s premier airline, Air Peace Airline to do one thing about it.
Some ‘restitution’ on behalf of the Nigerian men and women is at hand. The Nigerian Montreal ’76 ‘heroes’ are now to be remembered, recognised and honoured at an party staying conceived to consider put in the course of Nigeria’s Independence celebrations on Oct 1, 2022, in Lagos. I hope you shall be existing, because you shall be invited.
On that day, a everlasting monument is to be unveiled bearing the deeds and the names of all the Nigerian athletes that went to Montreal ’76. Their names will be completely etched in Gold on The Sports Wall of Fame to be erected as a monument for specially-recognized Nigerian Sports Heroes, to be situated both inside of the Countrywide Stadium complicated in Lagos, or inside the premises of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, in Lagos.
Your Excellency, as you can see from my narrative, this is not a purely sporting activities affair. In fact, it is more of diplomacy than activity.
That’s why I am producing this to you, so that you can consider the possibility of increased recognition bestowed on all the athletes from the 25 African nations that performed a job in 1976 in the struggle that accelerated the finish of Apartheid in South Africa, and in the ascension of Nelson Mandela, whose birthday is being celebrated all about Africa this week, as the Initially Black President of a ‘free’ South Africa.
The AU can undertake the Nigerian illustration, and build a new unique unit for Sports activities and Diplomacy, and prioritise a deserving position for Activity as a diplomatic software in Africa’s marriage with the rest of the globe.
Celebrating the continent’s heroes will be a great put to begin, inspiring a whole new technology of younger, gifted Africans that are doing and can do added-everyday things by way of sporting activities in the earth.
Just for your info also sir, these are the international locations included in the 1976 boycott:
Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Ethiopia, Sudan, Niger, Tchad, Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Zambia, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Mali, Swaziland, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Tanzania, Central African Republic, and Nigeria.
The two Non-African countries that also joined were Guyana, and Iraq.
I am in the approach of compiling the names of all the athletes concerned, really should the AU need to have them, shortly, I hope.
Ambassador Olusegun Odegbami, MON, fnim, AFNIIA, OLY