A message from Kampala to whoever thought up the ‘Adebayor Chant’

With a cold beer in hand I sit down on a plastic chair behind rows of chattering men. Glancing around, I see that almost everyone is wearing an Arsenal shirt – not an unusual sight in Uganda. The sun is setting and I think to myself I that I cannot imagine anywhere I’d rather be watching this north London Derby, a thought that would soon disappear.

I sit taking sips of beer and listening as people chat noisily in Luganda. With the exception of a few words I struggle to make out what people were saying so I happily sit back and let the atmosphere wash over me. The big screen is on and sit half watching the match build up and half watching the people around me chat and laugh.

I am deep in thought about how different watching football in Kampala is compared to my old haunt of the Dog Star in Brixton. So deep in fact that I don’t notice when six guys sharply turn around and look me up and down.

All six of them look straight at me. A few seconds later one of them asked, “What’s the Adebayor chant?”

I feel a prick of panic on the back of my neck. We were sitting just down the road from where the 2010 World Cup terrorist attacks took place and I had no idea why these guys were asking me.

The words of the chant run though my head as I try to buy myself time.

Adebayor, Adebayoooooooooor, your dad washes elephants, and your mums a whore.
It should have been you, it should have been you, killed in Angola, it should have been you

I think to myself how fucking unacceptable it is. I think about how, not for the first time, I am complicit in some football fans outrageous actions. Mostly though I think, how the fuck am I supposed to explain what ‘the Adebayor chant’ is in this situation?

Maybe spotting my discomfort, one of the guys piped up with, “Is it true that they sing about the Togo shootings?”

I lamely offer a “yeah” in response. This was getting beyond awkward.

The guys muttered a few words to each other before one asked, “Why?”

Why? Like why do British football fans think it’s acceptable to sing about a terrorist attack that resulted in one of Adebayor’s friends bleeding in his arms? Like why do they feel it is OK to throw in crass racist stereotypes as a prelude to such fucking outrageous comments? Or perhaps just why do so many fans in the stands join in?

Pathetically I muttered into my beer, “I don’t know”.  The guys turned away and went back to pre-match build up. There was no bitterness in the whole exchange but it left me thinking.

One thing I pondered as I moved onto a second and third beer was how would have one of the guys who had thought up that chant have responded if they were in my situation? Would they have tried to justify their crass racism and insensitivity to terrorist atrocities or would they have sheepishly apologised?

I imagined in my mind’s eye the stereotype of a classic football thug almost spitting, “It’s just a bit of fun”.  In all likelihood though, the guy probably looked just like me, young, male and football mad.

As I walked home that evening I was deep in thought. Am I responsible in any way for what happens on the terraces in the UK? Should I have apologised, criticised or critiqued the chant? In retrospect though I was predominantly feeling pissed off that these fucking morons who come up with these chants hold the power to dictate how my evening, thousands of miles away goes.

I have nothing to do with these idiots but to many people we are one of the same.


Filed under Football, Social comment, Uganda, War

7 responses to “A message from Kampala to whoever thought up the ‘Adebayor Chant’

  1. Reblogged this on Museluver's Blog and commented:
    A great read considering I’m sure 99.9% of football supporters can relate!


  2. It’s nowhere near “racist”, too often people tar STUPID CHANTS and ACTIONS as a form of racism. It doesn’t matter what the colour of their skin is, what matters is “they’re the enemy, lets hurt them with our words”…

    I cringe at the realisation.


  3. James

    Well, I don’t know if it is racist per se … after all, we’ve seen Celtic “fans” singing about the Ibrox disaster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRbpuWHPDmE

    Limericks about the Munich crash in ’58: http://thefanclub.com/comment/mcfctillidie/1077243

    United “fans” chanting about Heysel and Hillsborough: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1365850/Manchester-United-edge-Liverpool-epic-FA-Youth-Cup-encounter-Anfield.html

    I’m afraid the Adebayor chant is in the same tasteless vein of opponents mocking the dead, regardless of race.


  4. Dez Lawford

    Yes. The Rugby fans that used to fill my front garden with their vomit and urine after a day down the road at Twickers are all jolly good folk, and shouldn’t be mistaken for the farm animals the immitate. Football fans on the other hand are monsters one and all. Singing nasty songs, behaving like the care which team wins – all truly shocking.


  5. Yassir Ahmed

    Hello steve, am a ugandan living in kampala.
    What I want to point out out is that although some chants seen racist, they add a lot to the english game, I mean I can’t imagine watching a game without hearing the fans come up with some rather catchy chants.


  6. Chris Reynolds

    Powerful piece and very well written.


  7. James Clay

    Sadly true Steve. I occasionally try and watch a game of football, from the comfort of my own sofa, but what I see on the pitch and hear from the stands makes me uncomfortable. When I go to the pub to watch rugby (a regular occurrence recently thanks to the 6 Nations) I feel uncomfortable if there is a football game showing first. I know that thuggery and violence are down to the minority but I struggle to separate any football fan from my opinion of football fans. I have friends who are respectable, intelligent men until they see the round ball being kicked and then they change. A lot of it is faux machismo I’m sure, but hurling abuse at a tv screen because a highly talented and supremely skilled individual failed to kick a ball exactly where they wanted it smacks of vulgarity.

    However, I think in your case I can make an exception. I don’t see the football fan in you above all other traits, you’re a good man.


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