Monday, April 7, 2014

New Book on African Football and Identity

Identity and Nation in African Football: Fans, Community and Clubs edited by Onwumechili and Akindes was recently published by UK's Palgrave MacMillan as part of its group of books under the global culture and sport series. You may click below to learn more.

More on the book?

This 15-chapter and 288-page academic book features contributions from several key scholars on African football and covers several topics including history, politics, communications, war, rivalries, race, female football, football labor migration, and transnational media and their intersection with football and identity. Identity is the common thread that runs through each chapter. Below are brief descriptions of selected chapters.

Chapter 3 -- James Dorsey, a Senior Fellow at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and blogger on Middle East soccer writes an exciting piece on politics, identity, and ultras in North African soccer. He provides, for the first time, insight on how the ultras of AC Zamalek and Al Ahly assumed critical street leadership in the battle against state police that made the Egyptian revolution possible.

Chapter 5 -- This chapter provides a scintillating analysis of how Gor Mahia supporters use songs to perform Luo ethnic identity particularly during their classic derby with AFC Leopards. The songs not only link the clubs' hopes to history but also to ethnic heroes. It notes how Ohangla music is used in several of these renditions.Gor Mahia and Ohangla

Chapter 6 -- Michel Raspaud and Monia Lachheb focus on 100 years of rivalry between AC Zamalek and Al Ahly in Egyptian soccer. The authors establish the long history of political and ideological identities of the clubs with Zamalek's  aristocratic identity and Ahly's identity with nationalism and the masses.  In this piece, they review the intensity of the rivalry and how politicians and leaders have sought to take advantage of the teams' popularity and identity across ages.

Chapter 7 -- This chapter on Enugu Rangers of Nigeria describes how the ethnic Igbos who fought as part of Biafra against the Nigerian state in a civil war continued an imagination of the war long after it was over through identity with the club. It describes how the club was clandestinely named after a Biafran military regiment and how recruitment policies of the club helped maintain this imagination in games against non-Igbo rival clubs.

Chapter 11 -- Titled Oh Lord, You are the Lord Who Remembered John Mikel Obi, this chapter captures the hopes of young footballers in Nigeria who pray for a successful European career while still playing in the Nigerian streets. The chapter tracks three phases of football labor migration from Nigeria to foreign countries.

Chapter 13 -- Gerard Akindes provides a deep analysis of the impact of transnational media on African fan identity with football noting how this has shifted identity not only from support of local to foreign clubs but also shifted the football fan gaze from the stadium arena to the bars.

Chapter 14 -- This chapter analyzes online discourse on Zimbabwean football that enables a link among Zimbabweans in the diaspora with local Zimbabwean fans and enables the fans to maintain identity with several clubs and enduring ethnicism.

Chapter 15 -- Akindes and Peter Alegi (author of African Soccerscapes) report an interview of Paul Bonga Bonga, one of the first Africans to play top level professional soccer in Europe. Bonga Bonga provides an enthralling narrative of football for Standard Liege in Belgium and against Ferenc Puskas' and Alfredo di Stefano's Real Madrid. Of course, he also narrates his encounters with racism in European football.

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