The Party is Over – by Segun Odegbami, in Russia
The hotel lobby has been empty of Nigerians since yesterday. Most have left for the train stations and airports seeking to get out of Russia. I hear also that many Nigerians have disappeared as usual into the hinterland of Russia adopting the new status of economic refugees. There is nothing in this most unwelcoming of places for any black person to give up their freedom at home to enslavement here.
Even Corrinthians Hotel, where the Super Eagles stayed, is now deserted. The party is over. The last of the Eagles will leave this morning. The transformation in treatment by the public here, from hero to near zero, is a shock and could be traumatic for the younger players. The once teeming autograph seekers have disappeared. The hustle and bustle and tight security have evaporated into thin air. Suddenly the interest has now shifted to other teams and players still in the championship.
The Nigerian players have been leaving humbly, quietly and individually to their different destinations. Incidentally, most of them have their aides here with them, paid young Nigerians that they sponsor from home that help them with errands around. Several NFF officials in FIFA committees have joined their committees here for World Cup assignments. Park Inn hotel has been taken over by new visitors, supporters of teams that will be playing here in the magnificent 64,000 capacity St. Petersburg stadium in continuation of a World Cup that has quickly forgotten Nigeria was even here and will not miss her. Everything had just gone on as if we were never here to start with.
That’s how it has always been at the World Cup. Attention span is always so limited. Kojo Williams, Ibrahim Galadima, Dominic Oneya, Mainasara Ilo, Emeka Inyanma and a few others in the same hotel as I, are all leaving town later today and heading back to Nigeria. I still have a a little work to do here. I want to monitor Argentina, the conquerors of Nigeria, to see how far they will go as a measure of how far the Super Eagles would have gone had we managed our ‘5 minutes to midnight’ two days ago.
I need to see Argentina go as far as they can so that I can also gauge what the Eagles would have done, and how far they would have gone (at least academically) had they not gifted the Argentines a lifeline. I can glean all this, at least, in my imagination. It has been a great and enriching experience even for me, though very painful in the manner we exited the world Cup – in a whimper.
The news from home is a spirit dampener. Brutal killings and maiming of citizens of the same country in a senseless orgy. Why? Why? Well, that’s what we all must now confront and deal with decisively in order to halt a fall into an irreversible catastrophe. Thanks to everyone that has followed my little diary in Russia.
By Segun Odegbami (MON)