I have to say, that I cannot remotely imagine being a mother who received word 2 weeks ago that her daughter was one of the girls kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria. I have to say, that I cannot imagine being the politician who knows what avenues can be taken and efforts made […]
Born to Lose, Built to Win – The Short Story of George Weah
The first famous black footballer I can remember was John Barnes. He was the fast, athletic left winger for England and Liverpool. I think my dad along with other dads in Zimbabwe supported John Barnes and Liverpool as a result. As much as I hate to admit it, I followed suit. Barnes was subjected to racism during career in England and I think paved the way for a number of black footballers in England. He may not have been as talented as Eusebio but in the last 30 years he was one of the most significant black football players.
This leads me to a forgotten African hero and probably the most significant African footballer in the in recent times, George Weah. George Weah grew up in Monrovia, Liberia. He was raised by his grandmother after his parents split up. He was a late bloomer and began playing football for the Young Survivors Youth Club. From there he progressed to the Mighty Barrolle and Invincible Eleven. At 22, Weah footballing exploits peaked interest from French manager, Arsene Wenger, who at the time was manager of French Ligue 1 club AS Monaco. Wenger flew to Africa to assess Weah personally and signed him shortly afterwards.
It took some time for Weah to adjust to French football as he had received very little formal training. Once he was up to speed he became a potent striker for Monaco. In 1992, Weah moved to Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and then his career took off. Weah was instrumental in leading PSG to a French Cup in 1993 and a Ligue 1 title in 1994. The 1994 – 95 season was a career year for George Weah. He was the UEFA Champions League’s top scorer and he led PSG to a French and Ligue Cup double. He moved to AC Milan in the summer of 1995 and continued with his scoring exploits. At the end of 1995, Weah became the 1st and only African football player to win the FIFA Player of the Year award. He won the award over European superstars, Paolo Maldini and Jürgen Klinsmann. He was also named as African and European Player of the Year, which was an unprecedented feat. Weah’s goals helped AC Milan win Serie A titles in 1996 & 1999. Weah ended up falling out of faviur with the club and being loaned out to Chelsea in the English Premier League (EPL). A more focused Weah, helped Chelsea win the FA cup that season. After his Chelsea stint, Weah played two more years before retiring.
Besides his impact on the football field, Weah made massive contributions to his home country of Liberia. He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1997 and was part of HIV/AIDS educational initiatives. Weah also personally funded the Liberian National Football Team during their 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. His contributions led to him running for the Liberia presidency in 2005, which he ended up losing in a run off.
Weah may be forgotten now as he is not involved in football. Many young people may not know who he is and his unprecedented achievements. I probably even forgot about this amazing footballer, person and a true African hero in my youth. Weah didn’t have the personality and character of Didier Drogba or Thierry Henry but he was consummate professional and he consistently pushed himself to get better.
He made me proud to be African and he allowed me to share in his success. Along with his FIFA World Player of the Year award, his transfer to AC Milan was a proud moment. A multiple European Cup Champion like AC Milan thought an African footballer could make the grade. Looking at George Weah’s success in the mid-1990s was truly inspirational for any child growing up in Africa and may have allowed the African youth to go after their dreams. Weah was a classic case of “Born to lose, built to win”. He was never supposed to have anything growing up in the slums of Monrovia. He was never supposed to become anything. But I’m glad he did. Liberia and Africa needed a positive story in the 1990s.
I bumped into someone’s status update on Facebook wherein (with such courage) she asked who Lupita Nyong’o was and what her claim to fame was. I thought to myself “What!? Who is Lupita? Is she just not the most tweeted and talked about Kenyan woman, Oscar Winner and Hollywood’s Award Season darling??” I then […]
Posted in Beats & Soul with Carly on February 26th, 2014 By Carly Mond
If you have not kept up to date with the world of music recently then you have missed possibly the greatest few days in RnB revival history!! It seems that some of everyone’s favourite artists of the 90s have all woken up from their artistic coma in synchronization and here is the outcome….. During on […]
Posted in Life and Culture on February 25th, 2014 By Yvonne Mtengwa
So the adage goes that when opportunity meets preparedness success has every potential to ensue. Roman philosopher Seneca defined luck as the moment when preparedness and opportunity collide. Others simply assert that it is about being at the right place at the right time. In the advent of the economic collapse in my home country […]
I remember walking across a patch of grass in front of the B. Jones Center at Atlanta’s Emory University a good 12 years ago now. Bright eyed college freshman I was, who had categorically been placed under the “International Students” sub-group…you know; the group that arrives on campus earlier than the rest and endures lecture […]
Posted in Life and Culture on February 12th, 2014 By Yvonne Mtengwa
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On a winter night in early July 1994, my brothers and I switched off our old Panasonic TV after a disappointing loss for the Nigerian Super Eagles. It was way past our bedtime but we didn’t care. Plus I think my parents were out and made it easier to watch the game. Pajamas and all […]
It’s very rare that I come across somebody in the media spotlight whose life I envy. However, I have just read Ahmir Thompson aka Questlove’s book ‘Mo Meta Blues’ and wow I would happily trade lives with him for a while!! ‘Mo Meta Blues’ is described as a memoir/autobiography but it is more a journey […]
Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy aka Puffy aka P.Diddy aka Diddy often liked to make the claim that Bad Boy Records (meaning him) invented the remix. I’m not too sure who definitively invented the remix, but one thing is certain and that is Puffy was responsible for some of the greatest remixes ever produced. The […]
Posted in Guest Posts on November 20th, 2013 By Tinashe Mabasha
The Black Album was released on November 14 2003. At the time, this was Jay-Z aka Hov’s last album and he was retiring to become President of Island-Def Jam records and pursue other business interests. Last week was the 10 year anniversary of this record. The Black Album is widely recognized as Hov’s best […]