Adebayor to Real Madrid (& a Map of 18th Century Gold Coast of Africa)

January 26, 2011 — by Sean

Ex-Togo international Emmanuel Adebayor has completed his move from the stands of the Eastlands to a place on the pitch at the BernabĂ©u. It’s no shock that he was destined to make a move in this transfer window, seeing as he’d fallen to fifth in the Man City striker pecking order (behind even Jo, of all people). His training ground fight with Kolo Toure at the start of the month was an obvious indication of his frustration (though the two have apparently been at each other in some manner since their time together at Arsenal). How well will he do in Madrid? Considering he’s joining a coach who consistently gets the best out of his players, we imagine he’ll be back on top of his game in no time. It won’t hurt to be removed from the antagonistic relationship with Toure.

Abdebayor and Toure training ground skirmish

When their fight first happened, and it was revealed that theirs was a longstanding animosity, we thought perhaps the issues ran deeper than the training ground, and perhaps even so deep as national pride. Toure is Ivorian, while Adebayor is Togolese, but the countries are separated by Ghana, and don’t seem to have had much interaction in the way of modern conflict. Knowing as we do about language traits of natural-born Africans (the population generally knows a minimum of three languages: a European/colonial language (usually german/english/french in the west), an African language (often within the Niger-Congo language group, again in the west), and a very refined tribal language. Toure is Mandinka, a very large and old ethnic group that doesn’t extend into Togo. We’re uncertain of Adebayor’s tribal associations, but we’re pretty confident he’s not Mandinka. It’s not a stretch to think there’s been some baiting going on based on tribal stereotyping.

Further on this, let’s take a look at an 18th century European-made map of the Gold Coast (that includes tribal divisions, to some degree, and trading outposts). Overlaying a modern map, we’d see a run of African countries that have provided us with the best football from the continent—Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Nigeria are all along this coast. There’s not a ton to say about this map other than suggesting we appreciate it’s historical significance, and we wish we knew more about the history of tribal conflict in the area. (Also, unlike the editors of the newly sanitized edition of Huckleberry Finn, we think it’s important for us all to remember the proper history of names and naming, to appreciate the power of language, and to the understand importance of learning about the past to help inform our actions in the future.)

18th Century Gold Coast of Africa (from Univerisity of Florida Archives)