They may call themselves foreign names, sing different national anthems or compete under different flags. But they are still members of the Greater African family at home and in the Diaspora. Just imagine what a team they would make, and where the Olympics would be, if they all competed under one African Union flag. Dammy Oluwasanmi and Baffour Ankomah review Africa's performance at the Sydney Olympics.
Continental Africa had a decent outing in Sydney, with the best performance going to Ethiopia who won 4 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze. They were followed by Kenya (2 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze), Algeria (1 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze), Cameroon (1 gold), Mozambique (1 gold), Nigeria (3 silver), South Africa (2 silver, 3 bronze) and Morocco (1 silver, 4 bronze).
Some people may want to point to the 39 odd gold that the USA won, or Russia's 32, China's 28 or even Britain's 11 and try to use that to belittle Africa's performance. But if you rake the number of events and disciplines in which these countries competed and the number of events in which the continental Africans competed, the picture that comes out makes the African performance not as bad as it looks on paper.
It is like the USA investing $lm on the stock marker and getting $20,000 in return, and Nigeria investing $10,000 and getting $2,000 in return. You can't honestly say in this case that the USA did better than Nigeria on the stock market.
In fact, Ethiopia, (after all the senseless and distracting war with Eritrea) still managed to win 4 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze. And that put Ethiopia fourth overall in the athletics, after USA, Poland and Russia. Ethiopia did beat Britain in the athletics by 4 gold to 3! And Britain competed in 80% more events in athletics than Ethiopia. It's all a matter of contextualisation.
And then, too, the performance of the Africans in the Diaspora (the Greater African Family), running in the colours of a multitude of countries and winning medals for them, was excellent.
For pan-Africanists whose worldview includes the Africans in the Diaspora, it was a joy to see the medal ceremonies of the 4x100m and 4x400m relays (for both men and women) in which 24 different members of the Greater African Family, stood on the podium, flew different flags and were decorated with gold, silver
and bronze. Less than 80 years ago such a scene was beyond human imagination. It shows how far Africa and its peoples (both at home and in the Diaspora) have come.