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The World Cup And National Anthem: A Matter of Perspective

I love to watch the World Cup. Who doesn’t? It is entertaining. It is dazzling. It is emotional, riveting and almost all of the time, highly exciting. Above all, it is a good pastime.  What I hate about the World Cup however is the singing of the National anthem when ever two teams are about to start the great competition.  

 

The National Anthem (some sort of a social signifier or a National symbol I guess) must be the most stupid thing that societies invented in the last whatever years it was invented in. The joker who invented the National Anthem must have really had a problem with the patriotism of his countrymen or the lack of it may be.  First, it is boring. I mean, how many of you have wanted it to end fast so you can enjoy the game. Let us face it. Second, it is meaningless. 

 

If there is anything I love about the National Anthem, it is that when the National Anthem of a specific country is sang, all the people around, including those who have never even heard of that country are supposed to rise with hung faces that are supposed to be grim and solemn like faces are when attending a funeral. 

 

During this ritual, you can look up at the sky or the ground, (for some reason, it is rude to look at the person standing next to you) you are not supposed to laugh or smile for that matter. That would be a sacrilege of the highest order. And if you are more patriotic than the person standing next to you, you can put your fist or your heart or around your liver, signifying that your heart or your liver for that matter is at the right place at that particular point in time. Meaning with your home team. I am not exactly sure of what the Constitution of a country stipulates will be the punishment if one decides to sit or to keep running around or whatever when the National Anthem is being chorused. Maybe there is a punishment for that; but most often it must be social ostracizing.  

 

Many of the prose in National Anthems are about the beauty of the country, its many splendid rivers or rolling hills or gorgeous mountains—even if it doesn’t have any beautiful rivers or rolling hills or even if they are not that gorgeous. It also tells about how heroic its inhabitants—only the people who specifically live inside that specific geographical area— are or always have been even if they were not. It also is supposed to have some Godly references and most times paints a picture that is far from what is real. How many people believe in that I do not know, but I for one don’t? 

 

I don’t know what the market fetches for a real good National Anthem. I mean there are only some two hundred countries in the World you know and they don’t change National Anthems often, unless there is a new splinter country or a coup- de-etat.  If you are in the business of composing a National Anthem and you are selected to compose one, the general gist of what it should contain is probably given to you by the ruling elite—in line with what they probably hope the people should feel. Not much leeway there for a good composer and the pay must be very meager too. But funnily enough, they all sound the same so no original concept or endless night researches needed here except that it is in a different language. Of course, your name will be enshrined in the hall of fame of composers. 

 

National Anthems have also this insidious characteristic of finding themselves everywhere.  I sometimes wonder at the ecumenism to which National Anthems are sometimes put. Not only in Stadiums, but also during visits of Heads of States. You know where the visiting Head of State has to endure the same fate as football players usually at the point of arrival come rain or high water. The evening news will report it as if it was the defining moment of the whole visit.  I also know that National Anthems are trumpeted during the heroic burials of the heroic dead, you know, the ones who die so we can all live in freedom as if their lives are less important than ours.  

 

National Anthems of course I believe must be very popular during times of wars. I have never been to one and so I don’t know, but I am sure every engagement must surely start with one. The war merchants probably believe that it will embolden those who will be sacrificing themselves to sacrifice themselves more for the fatherland or the motherland or whatever the name of that particular land is.  But I am doubtful it does.

 

 

 

Fortunately, for us or myself in particular, I have never been much influenced by any National Anthem wherever it originates. I have never even bothered to study the lyrics, shame on me. In addition, I am not very emotional about it either because it has no implication on my sense of patriotism or love of country or one of those abstract concepts that the ruling class use to subjugate and keep their subjects in perpetual bondage. How about you? 

 

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About Fessehaye Woldu

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