The world cup came and went in full force from the fans to the goals and ultimately the winners. Fans all over the world watched religiously for weeks and cheered for the final victor, France.
I wish I could say it was unbelievable that the end of this prestigious event, was met with racial if you will call it, and colonial/diplomatic turmoil.
It all stemmed from a joke.
The spotlight is not new to Trevor Noah and this time he has offended the French nation with the joke that motivated a defensive stance. Our beloved African comedian was under fire for his World Cup joke. For those that need a catch-up, Noah referred to the French victory as an African one.
This was no laughing matter to the French.
The African comedian also posted a picture on his Instagram that depicted that point of view; some supported this take while others thought it was plain racist.
Noah even received a letter from the French Ambassador of the United States, Gerard Araud. The letter had statements such as,
“…roots are an individual reality, by calling them an African team it seems you are denying their Frenchness.”
The French Ambassador also stated,
“…as many of the players have already stated themselves, their parents may have come from another country but the great majority of them all but two of the 23 were born in France”
in both statements ‘them’ is referring to the French soccer team.
In true Trevor Noah style, the letter was responded to on the Daily Show in a segment called ‘between the scenes’.
The letter claimed that the various backgrounds of the French team are a showcase of France’s diversity which the comedian countered,
“…now I am not trying to be an asshole but it’s more of a reflection of France’s colonialism…”the comedian shot.
It was Trevor Noah’s question that caught my attention; he asked why the players couldn’t be acknowledged as both African and French.
What is the reason for completely discrediting them of their African roots? How does it make them any less French as Ambassador Araud so expressly said in the letter? In all honesty, France should have laughed this off and enjoyed their victory, everyone was/is happy for them.
The joke in no way takes their world cup from them.
Quite frankly, it was really petty.
It’s not to say that Noah is a saint, he at times does put his foot in his mouth, he is currently in trouble with his Australian audience because of a joke he made in 2013, he basically called all native Australian women unattractive, a joke he has since apologized for upon realising his error.
It’s no secret after the last African team was knocked out of the world cup; African was backing France because of the African players on the team.
Despite this, we were sincerely happy when France won.
Their reaction to a harmless joke could possibly be their own insecurities about a subject that Noah’s joke brought up and unfortunately for them had a bit of truth to it. It’s an uncomfortable and dated discussion but colonialism happened and has consequences we in African are still experiencing but you don’t see us causing a commotion over France’s African players.
Should Africans in any diasporan country shrug off their heritage at the beg and call of past colonial masters? No.
So for France; no one cares where your world cup team originates from or how they got there, take your trophy; enjoy it! Also, we appreciate the conscience you feigned in response to Trevor Noah’s joke, good to know it’s there.