COME September 5, we will go to the Oval in unprecedented thousands to witness the brilliance of the Brazilian footballers and in particular, the world's greatest footballer, Pele.
The applause that will meet Pele's every move will in fact be the same applause that we have been giving to Muhammad Ali, whose boxing ability and strength of character have caught the imagination of people all over the world, to Garfield Sobers, the cricketers' cricketer, to the musical giants — Sparrow, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and the hundreds of African descent who, today, dominate in one field or the other.
The African has made his mark in the New World and we in the Caribbean have contributed to that making. But because our society is more than the African we can never be satisfied until non-African brothers in the Caribbean are given the impetus they require to make their own particular contribution to the civilization in which we live.
If the Afro-American has made an impact on the New World it is only because he is here in vast numbers relative to the numbers of, for example, the Indians whom history has uprooted and brought across the seas into the West. But what they have is too special to be lost to the West simply because they are small in size, therefore, we have got to ensure that any federation of our territories must have as a result the strengthening and projection of minority cultures.
Finally an observation about the match, itself: the result is not all that important. But we have to wonder at the growing insistence that the country's professionals ought to be brought back home to play against the Brazilians. That people should want our best team to play is understandable, but, surely, the larger question has to do with the fact that our football structure still does not afford our top footballers a chance to make a living off their skill. For after the Santos-Trinidad match and the professionals leave our side will be as weak as it was before.
While applauding the Brazilians we may well consider this point even if the applause, in a way, is an applause of self.