Many agree that this year’s World Cup games were so interesting—full of surprises and thrill. It was a beauty watching all those games. Within few games, it became clear that no game was predictable. No-one could for sure predict the final champions. In the end, it was Team France that lifted the trophy and won the World Cup!
Many Africans were so happy to see France win. Of course in the final game, there was division of support. Some chose to support Croatia because they were underdogs who have never won the World Cup. Therefore, for those that believe in change—to see a new face walk tall in town—they preferred to see Croatia win so that the World Cup can be seen to belong to everyone and to all nations. Others wanted France to win because their team had the best illustration of diversity especially when it comes to race. More than half of the French team were black players with mostly African origins.
We all know that racism is so rife in the world. In most countries racism is the order of the day. Even in Malawi here, racism happens. Of course, our bigger problem is tribalism and regionalism which sadly is even promoted by big leaders. France’s winning of the World Cup should be a wake-up call to everyone. What France team represented was what you gain when you do not practise discrimination. If you find yourself in a leadership position and you want to win big and achieve big like France has done, then you need to first select your team based on merit. Based on who is best in each role that you have. Not because someone looks like you. Not because someone belongs to your religion. Not because someone belongs to your district, region or tribe. Those factors have zero bearing on chance of winning. In the end what do you really gain when you simply appease people that have some common factor with you but do not end up helping you win?
The second lesson is practising diversity in reality. The French team did not just assemble the best players in each role. They embraced each other and accepted one another. It was clear throughout the World Cup tournament that the French team were united beyond colour and race. They must have worked hard on issues relating to diversity. They embraced each other and accepted everyone as he is. They worked as one French team.
This challenge is especially here in Malawi where we are so divided by tribes and regions. It is a known fact that many politicians have fuelled these divisions and none of the big politicians has taken serous steps to stop this cancer that badly retards the socio-economic development of our country.
We even fail to name the elephant in the room. These divisions have never helped us. No tribe or region or district is superior to the other in any facet. We are all same and equal Malawians who need to accept one another, work together better, respect each other and take this country out of the big poverty that we see and experience every day.
France has given us the big lesson loud and clear. We all have seen it. Now is the time and chance to put that lesson to practise. We cannot just observe and talk about it. We need to begin to implement that lesson immediately. If we do so, we will soon begin to see the fruits of it. Every Malawian will make their best contribution knowing that Malawi belongs to everyone. Jobs being given on merit. Appointments being made on the basis of who can do the best job. Everyone being motivated to fight for every opportunity. Everyone doing his or her part in this fight. That is the lesson that France, the World Cup Champions have taught us. It is up to us to adopt the lesson and use it for the best of our country. Good luck as you work to draw the big lesson from French champions!