August 11, 2012


For the past week and a half I have been living in a state of severe and toe-curling irritation. Of course the London Olympics came with the usual nationalistic sentiments, and with the customary hypocrisy with regards to the winners (of course no one begrudges those Chinese or US sportsmen and women winning all those medals). And I didn't even mind the hosts gloating excessively about their achievements.

What really got me was "Team GB" (pronounced "Geebee").

It's like nails on a blackboard. "Team GB". They should shoot the idiot who started this.
I realise the British have been 'matey' with the US for some decades now. The embarrassing encounters between Thatcher and Reagan immediately spring to mind. And I am aware of the uncomfortable and slightly bizarre relationship of Tony and George W (just thinking about this dynamic duo I get shivers running down my spine....).
But "Team GB": it seems like a turning point in history. Finally the British have given up their own culture in favour of that rich culture that gave us...

Well you tell me.

When it comes to cultural integrity, I am not as worried about Mali as I am about the UK. The country has survived colonialism with its culture intact. The islam in Mali is not the islam of Arabian Peninsula or the islam of the expatriates in Europe. What I have experienced of Malian islam suggests that the balance between islam and traditional culture is still in favour of the latter. So I am not convinced Mali will be an African Afghanistan.

And evidence for this can be found in the music. There is so much authenticity in this music and such strength of culture.
Listen , for example, to this cassette by Molobali Keita.
This is volume 5, - and there are more (besides the ones I have already posted - Vol.4, Vol.3, Vol.2).

Samassa S 4457

No hint of "Team GB" there, don't you agree?
And as an extra, this fantastic video by the same artist, from Ngoni's superior YouTube offerings:


LolaRadio said...

Tally Hoooo!!

Anonymous said...

I can not think of anything in the world that can drive me to contemplate these aberrant media events, but at least this time have a sense, have irritated Stefan who comes to complain and bring a gift.

I especially liked the part of the dynamic duo, I'm still laughing.
Thank you very much for the gifts.

Anonymous said...

OK, I agree Team GB is one of those unfortunate instances where management-speak meets branding and should have been squashed at birth. But to be in London for the Olympics is to realise that it is a uniquely global city.

I have watched Olympic events surrounded by Ethiopians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Brazilians, Colombians, Canadians, French, Portuguese, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Poles, Russians and other nationalities, all of whom live in London and have made it their home.

Will any future Olympic host prove to be as cosmopolitan?

Anonymous said...

Well, at least all of this is over for the Brits! Next, it is our time, a country that is not even sister/brother, but more like son/daughter to, well, you know who...

(Did I say backyard? I'm sorry for not being polite!).

In the meantime, I hope that, if we do not manage to win the WC (likely, we have the worst team ever), some African team does it!!! Viva Ghana (unfortunately it won't be Angola or Moçambique)!

But, once more, many thanks for the fantastic music: due to the long delay, I was worried you'd given up... Please come back more often, specially with some Guinean gold!

Abraços, and many thanks from Rio,


Grumpy said...

Yes, I'm a Brit (actually I'm English) and pleased our cyclists and rowers and sailors and horsepeople did so well but agree that the Team GeeBee name was a "could-really-do-without" irritation. As far as I know, Ethiopia was Ethiopia not Team Eee.

Agree that Mali is unlikely to become an African Afghanistan just as Sudan was never likely to be an African Afghanistan in spite of your President (was it Clinton?) trying hard to make it appear as such.

Thank you for all your great posts by the way. I've learned a huge amount from them but have never acknowledged as much before now.

Grumpy said...

My apologies. When I wrote "your" president, I was having a geographical malfunction. Of course I meant a former US of A (or, perhaps, Team You Ess Aye) President. Nothing to do with Holland.

Timothy said...

Kenyan journalists jumped onto the apposition bandwagon and "Team Kenya" was common usage in The East African Standard. Meanwhile, the term "Team GB" has drawn the attention of world-famous linguist David Crystal here:
It seems that "Team UK" would have been geo-politically inappropriate too!

David said...

Another volume, another delight! Thank you Stefan!