Africa at the Olympics: The Unity Imbalance

Rio put on a great show at the just ended Olympics. Looking at the medals table made me go “hmmm”… The Olympics medal count indicate USA is 1st, China is 2nd, and Great Britain is 3rd. Wait, Great Britain? In soccer tournaments there is no Great Britain. We have all the GB nations competing as individual countries. Even tiny Wales has its own soccer team represented as a single entry.

I wonder how many medals England or Wales would win had each competed as an individual country. I wonder also how many medals an African Union team would have brought home. As I pondered this question it occurred to me that maybe the British understand the symbolism of winning in boosting their image, making their citizens feel better about themselves, and above all, presenting a unity of purpose to the world. Where you are weak, present a united front; where you are strong, you can venture out on your own (Brexit? FIFA World Cup? Euros? Ha ha).

So why shouldn’t Africa represent itself at the Olympics as the African Union? Take into consideration that the sum total medal haul for all African nations at the just ended Olympics stands at 44 medals. The highest ranked African nation, Kenya, came in at #15 with 13 medals. How much better would we feel about ourselves to have hauled in 44 medals, good enough to place #5th overall. That would put the AU team just behind Russia at #4 with 56 medals, and ahead of Germany, Japan, France, South Korea, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Hungary, Spain and Brazil in the overall medal count.

I suspect the unity imbalance has many consequences far beyond sports. What do you think? Leave comments below.

by Walter Kumi

post by: Kojo Amakye for
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