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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the Salve of Football Nationalism (Read: Continentalism!) During the World Cup

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is not normally a football lover – or even a football watcher. But when her national team is on the pitch, she becomes a fan possessed!

During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the author finds the football nationalism that sweeps her up when the Nigeria’s Super Eagles play expanding into a continental, pan-African wave. Go Algeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and South Africa!

Half of a Yellow SunPurple HibiscusThe Thing Around Your Neck

On a humid Lagos night in July 1996, my family gathered around the television, all of us armed with hope: Nigeria was playing Argentina in the final game of the Atlanta Olympics. We shouted – “Go now, go go!” “What is he doing?” “Look at this stupid boy!”– and fell silent, by turns; we hoped and despaired; and we threw Igbo and English insults at the bald referee who we were convinced was biased against Nigeria.

The score was 3-2 for Nigeria and there were a few minutes left to go and I could no longer breathe properly. I wanted to fast-forward time, to leap into our victory because I feared that the longer we waited, the less likely it would come. But it came. The shrill pee-pee-pee whistle went off. We had won gold.

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