Healing through sports

By Raffique Shah
September 20, 2021

Raffique ShahI was hooked to the Caribbean Premier League cricket tournament over the past two weeks, from the opening match between the Trinbago Knight Riders and the Guyana Amazon Warriors to the thriller-of-a-final in Warner Park between the host’s St Kitts-Nevis Patriots and the St Lucia Kings, that went down to a last ball decider. As is normal for me when I feast on sports, I look beyond the participants and their performances. In CPL cricket, I find not just entertainment and scintillating skills, but more importantly, from my perspective, a panorama of Caribbean life that can teach Caribbean societies lessons in race relations and class compression.

One factor that stood out for me was the ethnic composition of the teams, a range of skin-colours that spoke volumes of the diversity in these small island-states that comprise the Caribbean. There was a majority Afro-stock, and understandably so, since the region was the focal point of the slave trade.

Then there were Indians, again of varying hues, from very dark, almost black, to very fair, almost white. The majority of these came from Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, two islands that accommodated the most indentured immigrants from India.

In these two countries, the politics of race dominates any discussion. The divisions are so sharp, there is constant tension, between the two races and their parties. Sometimes the tension turns nasty, erupting in violence, as happened in Guyana on several occasions.

But here am I watching these young men over the two-week tournament, and I see no racial tension, no animosity, nothing of that sort. In fact, I am watching family units with ties that appear strong, as they engage each other in their bids to emerge victors. Sunil Narine is applauded as he takes the ball through four overs, weaving magic from his wrists, much to the delight of his Afro-captain, Keiron Pollard, and his teammates. In the Guyana team, there is much respect for young Nicholas Pooran, who is captaining that team with some sterling performances from his bat and behind the stumps. Shimron Hetmayor opens their batting, and they are all urging him to plunder the bowling of the opposition, who might be Ravi Rampaul or Narine or from the imports from Pakistan or Sri Lanka.

If this brotherhood exists here, in this instance among the best cricketers in the Caribbean, and between them and their guest players from New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and elsewhere, I ask why can it not be transferred to everyday life in their respective countries? Why love on the cricket fields of play, but bitterness, even hatred, on the politically-delineated streets where they live?

I sense that friendships forged in sports endure beyond the boundaries of race and other divides that men superimpose on societies. Those among us who are hooked on events such as the Olympic Games and World Cup football would know of the friendship between legendary US super-athlete Jesse Owens and his main rival in the long jump from Germany, Luz Long, that began at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Owens, who faced racial discrimination in the extreme in his own country, came up against Long in the long jump. Owens wrote that he experienced some problems in qualifying for the final, and Long shared some tips with him. They embraced after Owens won the event, Jesse claimed in his book that their friendship endured. However, Long served in the German military during the World War that followed, and was killed in battle in Sicily in 1943.

Whatever the truth, that he (Long), a symbol of Aryan superiority, embraced a black man who had beaten him in the jump, that while Hitler sat in the stadium, speaks of how sports can overcome political pettiness.

In another more poignant incident, that of black Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos defiantly punching their gloved fists in the air, a Black Power salute at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 after winning the 200m race two points of interest are often ignored, second-place winner Peter Norman of Australia who was part of the protest was banned for life in athletics in his home country. Smith and Carlos had communicated with Norman and maintained a strong friendship with him that lasted until he died. They were pall-bearers at his funeral.

What is omitted from the iconic photo is Trinidadian Edwin Peewee Roberts who was edged out into fourth place. I don’t know that Peewee would have been bold enough to do what these three men did. But Trinidadians are known for standing up for what is right when it counts most. Roberts might just have joined the protest had he placed in the top three.

(More on Peewee Roberts and all T&T track and field athletes can be found in the recently published book, Trinidad and Tobago Athletics History, compiled and written by Bernard Linley and edited by Jan Westmaas).

7 thoughts on “Healing through sports”

  1. During the days of slavery African slaves were negatively referred to as “stock”.
    “Afro-stock”, used by Shah in this article would be considered by many as derogatory and racist.
    It is ironic that the author made this innocent, uninformed and naive mistake in an article on racial healing through sports.

  2. People who practices Hate and division, reside in a very dark place and space. Though one is not born Hating, it is COACHED like Cricket, at a very tender age. When an individual knows love, he/she also have a clear perception of what is hate, all the while, playing the field with “FORKED” tongues. Some may laugh and talk with you, while backstabbing and hating all the same. The Nations and people who hate, have evolved from the darkest pit, where they have occasioned absolutely nothing, that have had a direct impact on Humankind in a positive way. Canal, opportunism, or materialism is not HOLY. Europe have given the world hate as a doctrine and philosophy, not toughness, vigor or power. At the time when whites represented Cricket West Indies, Hate and Racism was front and center, after the game, all reverted to their COCOON comfort zones , with the smile of DECIET wringed on their faces. In all the so-called Human race, MELANIN playes a very important role, we know who they are. The story starts and end Here in the NOW. Africans on their own have shatter the myth of Hate , racism and division, today, they are the most beautiful, the best moral standing man/ woman of any society, best learned, and please don’t dismiss from the mind, the ones every other LOVES to HATE, even his/her own kind.

  3. Quoting Tman:

    “Afro-stock”, used by Shah in this article would be considered by many as derogatory and racist.

    I doubt. When a racist like Tman takes offense on behalf of the Negro, we may take it as given that his point in fact is the exact opposite. He wants to get a dig in at the Negro, while pretending otherwise…

    I am myself of Negro “stock”, and take no offense at such usage.

    I take greater offense at the use of the terms “Afro/afro”, “African”, “black/Black” when what clearly is meant is “Negro”. I do not blame Shah for this. We the Negro have conspired in, and participated in our own de-nigration. I use the hyphen deliberately to make a point. Bear with me.

    The point is that the word, “de-nigrate” reveals the subtle scheme at work. Tman is engaged in it. It is literally “to take the ‘negro’ out (of the Negro)”. The Latin prefix, “de-” after all carries the meaning of taking away, certainly not of imputing. Thus, it is only the Negro that may be subject to de-nigration, literally. As used today, however, the term “denigrate” has taken on generic significance as meaning the imputation of disrespect, disregard or sullying of one’s reputation or character.

    How did that come about? The answer lies in the noble etymology and original meaning of the word, “negro”. Literally, it meant someone who was of the same root as the king, referencing king David. The word is of ancient Hebrew origin (Strong’s H5065 and cognates refer). They have sought to hide its true meaning which is given in one version as “tyrant”. But as it takes a king to be a tyrant, it tends to give the game away. Nevertheless, the original paleo-Hebrew being pictographic, we can see for ourselves and recover the true meaning. Essentially, the root word, NEGA (vowelization can be disputed) means king. This meaning survives in the Ethiopian Hebrew, KEBRA NEGAST, which means Chronicles (KEBRA) of the kings (NEGAST). The word is also present in other Eastern languages, e.g. NEGA-JUNA or NAGAR-JUNA, a reference in Hindu and Buddhist prophecy to the David Messiah of the Bible. When the letter “R” (Hebrew letter, RESH) is added to NEGA, the sense imparted is that of the root, origin, or head of something. It can also mean “race”. Thus one may say that David is of the root of Jesse, meaning that Jesse was David’s father. David was also of the root of Judah, the tribal patriarch, and perforce therefore also of the root of Jacob, the patriarch of the 12 tribal patriarchs of all Israel. Thus “negro” was a word used to reference kinship to king David — one who shared the same tribal root as David, In narrow reference, this was one who was of the tribe of Judah; more broadly, one of the line of Jacob.

    The common noun, negro (also written nigro, negar, nigger among other) was therefore a term of identity, substituting for the proper term, Judahite. Nowadays, it is not inappropriate to use it as a proper noun, Negro, conveying that designation.

    The term, “black”, is a term of de-nigration, because it removes all link back to our honored ancestor, NEGA David. (The paleo-Hebrew letters NUN.GHAH (NG) depict in pictograph the son (NUN) who is watched over (letter GHAH depicts an eye, since deleted from the modern Hebrew alphabet, Likewise, it removes link to the coming David Messiah, aka NEGA JUNA.) It is a common-noun way of referencing skin color. Even that is a lie, because the original meaning of “black” was “a thing of no worth,” cognate actually to “blank”. Either way, the intended effect is quite literally that of de-nigration. To then turn this common-noun term into a capitalized proper noun denoting identity, is to add insult to injury. I resent and reject such designation. I wish our learned scholars, who ought to know better, would stop it.

    The same applies to afro/Afro, and even african/African. I do not deny that our Negro ancestors came down into Africa (some, not all of them) and there made important cultural contribution. But, a people are not defined by a landmass of sojourn; rather the opposite, that is the landmass by the people. Thus Africa was named after another people, not the Negro, nor Judah, nor Jacob. And there are any number of peoples who now occupy that continent. Some of them have been part of the de-nigration project. This is attested to at:

    Psalms 83:2-8.
    “For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
    3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.
    4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
    5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:
    6 The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;
    7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;
    8 Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.”

    Thus, the de-nigration project is real and of long-standing. Not only have our enemies sought to cut us off from any memory that we are in fact the people of Abraham-Isaac-Jacob-Judah, but even to cut us off from the true meaning of the term negro and its cognates by which we are still known. Our enemies have succeeded in making every variant of negro into a slur of greater or lesser degree. We need not cooperate with them.

    Therefore, I am proud to say not only that I am descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (through Judah), but also that I am Negro, and therefore of the same stock as NEGA (king) David.

    Some, like Tman, will grind their teeth at this. Let them. I venture to suggest that Shah will take it in stride, like others who seek peace and harmony across racial lines. So do I, but certainly not at the expense literally of being de-nigrated. Scripture did indeed prophesy that the day would come when we the hidden ones would remember who we were.

    Respect and honor to such as Marcus Garvey who led the awakening, and to such as Cesaire, Senghor, Fanon, and Damas who gave us the idea of negritude, …and more insightfully than “Black Lives Matter”.

    All praises to the Most High!

    Shalom.

  4. Loved the lecture on etymology.
    Would have preferred that you left the religious fanaticism out of it
    Respect to your negritude. Have a nice day.

  5. Having addressed the side issue raised by Tman of “Afro-stock” being somehow a term of derogation — yes, but because it is a variation of the de-nigration project engaged in by our enemies, and ignorantly embraced by various and sundry de-nigrated Negro brethren who ought to know better — let me now address the core issue raised by Shah in his article.

    It is indeed the case that sports are a great way to build bridges of friendship across racial and other boundaries.

    This is a paradoxical nuance of “divide et impera” (divide and rule). Every imperial enterprise — Greek, Roman, British, American, etc. — ends up with subject peoples of all varieties of tribal bloodlines. These would have been set at loggerheads — divide — the better then to rule. But imperial success having been achieved, how then to keep the peace becomes the new imperative. How to mould a “nation” from mutually suspicious and contending tribes? Imperator has a bag of tricks useful in that endeavor. Sports is one of those. The Greeks came up with the Olympic Games, of which the modern Olympics are a wildly successful copy. The Romans came up with “Circe et pan” (bread and circus, the latter including gladiatorial games and spectacle). The British, to their everlasting credit, went two or three better, and came up, not only with football, rugby, and Queensbury Rules boxing, but also cricket, that most sublime of all schoolboy sports. For that alone, all their imperial sins may yet still be washed away!

    They went further. Dr. Matthew Arnold came up with an enduring formula for schooling the young — that kind of school that emphasized character-building, with as much emphasis placed upon upon sports, as upon book learning. In that, they were copying the sort of education given to the young Alexander the Greek. But in its institutional dimension, Arnold perfected the modern secondary school — Eton, Harrow, etc. It became the template now used everywhere. It was so successful that it could truly be said that the British Empire was founded upon the playing fields of Eton. Sandhurst came second, with Oxford and Cambridge trailing behind, roughly in that order.

    So the British Empire types were in many respects over-grown schoolboys. Everywhere they took their Empire, they would have discovered “natives” just as given to sports as they were. And why not? Football and boxing certainly became nearly universal in their appeal. (Why not cricket? That question it might take a CLR James to essay a proper answer; I certainly don’t have it.) Hence, when came the question how to win and keep the peace under imperial rule, –and to forestall repetition of the Haitian revolt elsewhere across Empire– the Arnoldian template would have suggested itself, … and sports!

    The school became a vector also of de-nigration. One schooled in the Etonian mould is likely to become for all practical purposes a British schoolboy at heart. A Negro boy so schooled is apt to become literally de-nigrated — lost to his true identity as memorialized in the etymology of the term negro, but carefully hidden from every dictionary (but they knew!). A good example is CLR James. Another is Eric Williams. They both sought Negro liberation, but found answers not in negritude — of any sort — but in the ideological prescriptions of British socialist and Marxist thought.

    Under these prescriptions, we see manifest the ideal of the Etonian playing-field. Under that ideal, as later spread to the colonies, there was indeed a level playing field. It was easy for friendships formed on that field to transcend race and class, and even to persist over a lifetime. That is the power of sport.

    At the same time, many such schoolboy friendships do not persist. Why? The answer is that deeper conflicts grounded in race, class/caste, color — ultimately bloodline — come into the mix to confound the more superficial friendships formed on the playing field. In his Beyond the Boundary James gives poignant example. After his schooldays cricket career was over, he had to choose a cricket club to join, and found himself having to confront issues of class and race that were simply not a factor on the playing fields of QRC!

    Times have changed since then, of course. Viv Richards and his Somerset chum — what’s his name, I forget — could well nowadays have an enduring friendship outside cricket. Who is to object?

    Nevertheless, my brief on this blog is to speak Truth as revealed through Scripture. Such Truth does not disdain friendship across bloodline. But it lets us to know that it is by bloodline that the dominion is determined. It is the Negro — sons of Jacob through Judah — to whom the right of the dominion is given. Jacob’s twin brother Esau ought ordinarily to have been given that right, but he famously sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. As consolation, Esau was granted the right of dominion for some time, and through the sword, while Negro Judah was consigned to all manner of curses, culminating in 400 years of affliction through slavery and servitude. Both are now up. Esau’s dominion is at an end. And correspondingly, it is now the time for negritude to rule. There is nothing to fear. Jacob’s grant of dominion does not require rule by sword. Therefore, when the Negro inherits, there shall be a true peace in the world. What that would mean for sports in general, and cricket in particular, I do not speculate… except to say that the Negro has always loved sport, and fair-play.

    Shalom.

  6. Let me now address Tman’s impertinence in suggesting I’m somehow led by a “religious fanaticism”, which he deplores.

    It is an impertinence because my religious persuasion, and depth or otherwise of religious faith/belief is no business of his. I am free on this blog to express my views –from wherever derived,– as is he. He may like those views or lump them. But it is an impertinence to assume unto himself an ex catbedra authority, and with that to pronounce as if Pope of some eminence, leading some imagined flock known only unto himself. Perhaps he runs a company of some sort and is used to assuming the chair and having minions to hang on his every word, and moreover to hasten to do his every bidding.That cuts no ice with me. Therefore, I resent and reject the remark, and wish that in future he would refrain from ex cathedra posturing.

    Having said that, let me nevertheless address the two-fold error in his postulation.

    First, the error as to “religious”:

    I quote Scripture to support the views I express, yes. That does make either the questions at issue “religious” nor the views I express. This is an important misconception that it is necessary to address.

    My attitude to Scripture is that of Faith, not Religion. The difference is that Faith is based on tangible evidence; Religion need have neither evidential nor logical foundation. Yes, the gentiles have taken the Scriptures of our Negro Israelite forefathers, and twisted them to obtain various “religions”. Part of that project was to de-nigrate (take the Negro out of) the Scriptures, literally; witness the coming into being of the LIE of white Jesus. That has nothing to do with me. I reject ab initio every gentile “religion”:

    Jeremiah 16:19-20. “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and [things] wherein [there is] no profit. 20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they [are] no gods?”

    Scripture was written for us the Negro (more broadly the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) in this latter day. It is coded; written in clear text, often mis-translated, yet sealed in a way that lets the wise to understand but the wicked not (Daniel 12:10). It is like the Navajo code talkers of the Pacific War; the US Marines used Navajo speakers to send and decode messages back and forth over open radio; the Japanese code breakers had not a clue. In the same way, Holy Scripture is decoded only by intervention of the Holy Spirit. Thus, who it is for will get it; others not. It is as simple as that. Its fullness is closed to gentile understanding. It is closed also to those Israelites who do not keep the Commandments of the Most High.

    Faith does not require that we throw away Reason. The wise general, as we learn from Sun Tzu, does not throw his forces headlong into battle without stratagem (and prayer). As an opposing general famously said of the Charge of the Light Brigade, “It is magnificent, but it is not war!” Into the valley of death rode the 600, and were cut to pieces by cannon fire from three sides! No. Faith requires that we check facts and evidence. It is on that basis that I rely on Scripture, aided by the Holy Spirit to be sure. Moses prophesied ca. 1500BC (actually Abraham, even earlier, but we rely on Genesis and Moses) that we the Negro (for there is no other candidate) would be afflicted 400 years with servitude. Approximately three thousand years later we the Negro became the fulfillment, as the only sort of people taken across the Atlantic into 400 years of slavery and servitude. First, prophecy, then fulfillment. THat is evidence, real and tangible. It is the evidential basis for a Reasonable Faith. It is not some “reliigious” Belief based on gentile imaginings. On such Faith, and aided by the Holy Spirit, we may rely on further prophecy as to what now will happen.

    What is that? One, those yes, enemies, of Psalms 83 will be judged. That is happening now as we speak, with plagues unleashed upon the gentile nations, all of whom got their digs of exploitation in against the Negro, some traveling from far to do so. The innocent in that regard have nothing to fear. And two, the Negro victim, will come out with great substance; see Genesis 15:13-14.

    More, we learn elsewhere from Scripture that indeed the Negro (a righteous remnant) would inherit the earth. Wicked gentiles, –including purveyors of false gentile religions, — will be swept off the earth.

    Ether 2:9. “And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.”

    Righteous gentiles are those that “serve God”, and cleave unto the Negro. Friendships established on the playing field may help. For proud and arrogant gentiles that wish to “make the niggas our slaves” are unlikely to form such friendships, let alone bend their knee to the NEGA JUNA (David Messiah) that will surely arise as prophesied to rule over all the earth; Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:11-13, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Ezekiel 37:24, elsewhere. In a sense, this is the “rent” demanded. Pay the rent due the owner, or suffer eviction; it was ever thus.

    Second, the error as to “fanaticism”:

    A “fanatic” is one who like the Japanese kamikaze pilots are willing to die fighting, knowing that they’re going to die. Islamic ISIS suicide bombers may or may not be fanatic in the same sense, as some are apparently dupes, others brainwashed, yet others made to believe that as “shaheed” they will have 70 virgins awaiting them as reward. I am fanatic in neither of those senses.

    But yes, as a soldier by definition is willing to die on the battle-field, in that sense alone am I “fanatic”.

    Mark 8:35. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the
    gospel’s, the same shall save it.

    Where it is a choice between Law of the LORD (LL), and law of the land (ll), I will opt for LL, even if it may seem thereby that I would lose my life. As explained previously this has relevance for my stance on the Covid vaccines. I happily rest under the wing of the Almighty in that regard, trusting in His protection; Psalms 91:1-10. It is not any sort of “religious fanaticism”, rather a conviction of Reasonable Faith, moreover under the urgings of the Holy Spirit.

    From Tman and other enemies of the Negro, I withhold my peace. To others, gentiles included, I say

    Shalom.

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