I am currently a PhD student in the school of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University. I am also a Fulbright alumnus and an Alumnus of the Center for International Studies of Ohio University where I earned my MA in African Studies. My research interests include media representation, social change, and indigenous epistemology.
I Go Play Good and Kome Lead: The Transnational African Footballer and the Exercise of Political Will
Africa has a remarkable place in world football, ranking in third position as the world’s largest exporter of football labor (Briggs, 2002; Darby 2007; Akindes, 2010). However, the academic discourse on African football and the migration of elite African footballers tells a story of a sustained European exploitation of Africa through European football institutions. Nevertheless, the individual stories of African elite players such as George Weah and Didier Drogba suggest that the African transnational footballers know how to negotiate their local identities along with their global role and circulation. Inspired by Michel Foucault’s concept of “power relations” and “subjectification,” this paper argues that football is an enunciative locus through which the elite transnational football player exercises political power. Through football, the transnational athlete enters the political discourse as a speech agent and not just as a subordinate. In fact, football contributes to the making of conscious transnational African subjects equipped with a strong and positive image, casting them as political agents. However, the socio-economic, and political power of the most successful players lures large numbers of amateurs and semi-professional football players from Africa to seek their way to the transnational space. The unfortunate story of Brahima Ouattara, a young Burkinabe who dreamed of stardom in European football, contrasts starkly with the glamourous success stories of Weah and Drogba. Worse, there are countless young people like Brahima, who want to “Go play good and kome lead.” However, even at the end of a chaotic experience, former football migration candidates develop a political consciousness along their new identities.