The Oasis Reporters
July 25, 2021
By Kelechi Deca
“My dad didn’t have nothing. He didn’t have a house. He didn’t have a car. No, he didn’t. Not one in his name. … all he had was us. We basically are his legacy.”
— Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Antetokounmpo brothers (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Kostas Antetokounmpo ) are the first trio of brothers to win NBA titles.
And like the four Basketball playing Antetokounmpo brothers, there are also the four Ogwumike sisters making waves in Women Basketball. Nigeria invited three out of the four sisters for the Olympics. That would have been another shot at history to have three sisters play in one team at an Olympic game.
Unfortunately, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) upheld the earlier decision by FIBA that Nneka Ogwumike, who was the WNBA MVP in 2016, has played for the United States team as an American citizen for too long, thus is not allowed to change status and play for Nigeria.
This left Nigeria with the services of only Chiney and Erica Ogwumike. Chiney was granted the ability to play with Nigeria as a naturalized player. She had asked the CAS to have that changed to giving her status as a Nigerian—the same as her sister Erica who is also on the Nigerian roster—since each country is only allowed one naturalized player.
Where am I going with all these?
Geography is opportunity and opportunity is destiny, thus Geography is destiny.
There are dreams that are too big to manifest in certain environments, and some environments are certified dream killers. Even Biblical scholars can attest to this fact as God always inputs Geography in the manifestation of certain callings.
If Charles and Veronica Adetokunbo hadn’t done Plan B, by escaping Lagos to Athens in 1991, there wouldn’t have been the name Antetokounmpo not to talk of their four sons making waves globally in Basketball. Because of the uncertainty of their Plan B, they left their first son Francis with his grandparents.
For the Ogwumike sisters, we know the answers.
Nigeria has always been a country of great potentials, since I was a kid. We keep celebrating the potential instead of harnessing them.
Three years ago, I wrote that if God caused a reincarnation of Serena Williams to be born in Nigeria with the objective to become another Tennis star, our dearth of requisite infrastructure will frustrate such divine mission.
Imagine a country of 200 million but not up to 10 Olympic standard functional Tennis Courts.
But it has not always been this bad. Growing up I still remember Tennis events such as The Lord Rumens Classics, Ogun Green Courts, Ogbe Hard Courts, Kaduna Clay Courts, Kano Dala Hard Court, John Player Clay Court and later Okada Tennis Championships which were among the Challenger series in Nigeria. Until Nigeria happened to them all.
We even had a David Imonitie who played qualifying rounds of Wimbledon and a Nduka Odizor who even got to the round of 16 at Wimbledon after which he ranked 64 in the World.
How one of the most populated countries in the world does not have a thriving sports industry beats human compression. Sports should be the lowest hanging fruits to uplift thousands from poverty and create massive employment across board. But which sports can we say we’re managing well?
200 million people, only football. When there are more others we can focus and invest in to give wings to myriads of talents all over the place. Yet we can’t manage football well.
You may come here to remind me about environmental ‘possibilism’. I agree, but even at that, the environment still limits available choices an individual has.
For example, you can’t become a top star in Cricket in Nigeria, you may achieve that in India, Pakistan, South Africa or in the West Indies. But you can become a football star in Nigeria. Yet there are places you can become a star in any sporting event under the Sun because of the environment.
So while reminding me of environmental ‘possibilism’, do not forget that geographical determinism still has the edge. You can’t talk about utilisation of possibilities and at same time disregarding very excruciatingly limited choices.
The highest level of environmental ‘possibilism’ we have been having is the spark of individual brilliance that shine from time to time in virtually every area of endeavour. But no society grows with just sparks when there should be group brilliance to create much needed lift effect for greater communal impact.
Environments do constrain ambition.
Even our Lord Jesus acknowledged the fact that an environment can even frustrate God’s plan. Remember when he blasted them of “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”