Last week's impressive, glittering, and world-class CAF Awards in Abuja was boycotted by Chelsea's Didier Drogba and Michael Essien, inspite of the event sponsors' fulfilled promise to provide waiting jetliners to bring them to Abuja and back to their base in London immediately after the event.
One does not need to be told that their failure to honour their continent's highest celebration of its accomplished star players was as a result of neither of the two winning the day's most prestigious award - CAF Player of the year.
But I must state that this is yet another example of African sportsmen not giving any kind of respect for events organised by African football authorities, especially when the awards do not amount to a whopping amount of cash.
I hope my guess is wrong, but if the boycott of these two, representing Cote d'Ivoire (Drogba), and Ghana Black Stars (Essien) was because they shared the disappointment of being beaten by Cameroon's Samuel Eto'O Fils of Barcelona, the two have shown glaringly that they possess no spirit of sportsmanship, which is a necessary ingredient if sport must retain its appeal to an adoring world, who make a model of sport as a virtue.
"You win some, and you lose some," is an age-tested slogan which many have used as an attitude to emulate. Even politicians are always reminded that elections should never be a do-or-die event, and that a candidate who does not win today can win tomorrow. If sportsmen are cited for their attitude to persevere and patience to wait for their turn, why on earth did Drogba and Essien boycott the Abuja event?
It could not have been an excuse that the much anticipated UEFA Champions League knock-out Round clas! h between their club, Chelsea, and Barcelona was less than a week away that the Ivorien and the Ghanaian opted to stay away. In any case, Eto'O of Barcelona was just as involved in that epic match.
If the truth must be told, African stars should be advised to respect and support their own events, if they want such events to gain any respect from non-Africans.
At the 2003 All-African Games in Abuja, the biggest African names stayed away. Other than Namibia's retiring Frankie Fredericks who considered it such a great honour to run in his continent's biggest athletics event, others like Mozambique's Maria Mutola, Morocco's Hichan El-Gourouj, Kenya's John Ngugi, Ghana's Ignacious Ansah, Daniel Komen did not find it worth their while. South Africa's world female high jump world champion, and virtually all their well-known world beaters in various sports did not show up.
This is not the first time African superstars poured scorn on their own events. In 1996, an! award ceremony organised by Ideas communications, and specifically meant to honour our Atlanta 96 Olympic heroes, including our Gold Medal winning U-23 team boycotted the event. And in spite of the event taking place at the Eko Hotel where the players were lodged, for that matter.
If it is possible, may be the organisers should make the awards winners the world's best kept secret. Perhaps everyone would show up if no one knew the winners until the moment the names are announced by the award presenters. For now, let me congratulate all the winners of last week's magnificent awards, that is, those of them who showed up for their awards, including Mr. President who jokingly confessed that his award was born out of the organisers' generousity.
I wish you all everything you wish for your selves.
Keep shooting. Keep giving honour to your continent, Africa. Let's remember what Eto'O said, "There is no greater honour than representing this continent, Africa."