SMOD – Fitri Waleya
This week is all about youth. Music served up by SMOD, cause for celebration served up by Mali’s superb under-20s football team – returning heroes from the U20 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand. SMOD, formed in 2000, are quite sophisticated hip-hop group. Acoustic elements, latin vibes, articulate lyrics but contemporary bounce and rhythm. All this whilst remaining critical of the state-of-affair’s their generation are steadily inheriting. ‘Fitri Waleya’ captures that quintessential hip-hop mood; critical, angry, disappointed, but also present is an underlining optimism and faith in their own individual agency and ideas. Though the expression of critique these artists show their belief in something better. The popularity of rap music is delivering these messages to the masses. Will this make for a more politically sceptical, perhaps more resilient and savvy next generation?
On the other-side of the planet, a more immediate obvious cause for optimism has caught the world’s attention. But first, a bit of context; Africa is football-mad. The comprehensive nature of the continent’s obsession with the sport is hugely significant in how African nations see themselves, each other and their place in reference to the rest of the world. The case of Ghana at the South African World Cup in 2010 illustrates this well. The media frenzy that follows the tournament focused heavily on the idea that the ‘hopes of a continent‘ rested on Ghana, the only African nation to make it through to the quarter finals. This was Ghana’s first time to this lofty height since 1970. With a great team, Ghana had an excellent shot at going one further and becoming the first African team ever to reach a semi-final. Instead of the competition between nations, as often seen amongst European countries, Africans band together. In 2010 people all over Africa came together, as their own teams steadily dropped out the world’s premier sporting occasion. The Ghanin players took on their new roles with earnest. Star-striker Asamoah Gyan devoted the win over the USA which he orchestrated to ‘the whole of Africa’.
In the quarter-final, ultimately, all Africans (and many, many others world-wide) were collectively distraught at the final result. In defeat the bruised “Golden Generation” of Black Stars surrendered their place as the hopes of the continent to another country, yet to be selected for this high honour.
Could Mali step up? Their rampant youth certainly have the potential. Mali’s U20s, managed by Fanyeri Diarra, blew away their African “brothers” Senegal in a superb display in the bronze medal match, including a double-save from Mali’s keeper, to protect the Malian’s lead and then the deal-sealed with a team wonder-goal finished off by Diadie Samassékou. But who will lead these rising heroes? Step forth ‘Magician’ Adama Traore, winner of the tournament’s best player ‘Gold Ball’ award.
Annoyingly, these boys will come of age at Qatar’s shameful World Cup in 2022, which I was hoping to boycott. Anyway, they’ve got to qualify first so for now, we’ll just let the music play.