There are many times when it’s great to be number one. The first.
When you win a race – you have beaten everyone else and you are the winner. When you conquer all before you in an exam or a test, you are the winner or the best. That feeling is incredible as you hold aloft a trophy or a medal – as an athlete at the Olympics you hear a national anthem being played and you beam with pride as you soak in the occasion. It’s great. You came first.
But, there are times when being first is not that great. How can this be you ask?
There are two fairly recent stories that came out of France that I felt made the ‘firsts’ feel a bit hollow. One involved a new mayor elected in Paris and the other a new manager for French second division football team, Clermont Foot 63.
Nothing particularly ground-breaking about either announcement, until one studies the headlines for both appointments which make reference to the first “female” mayor and the first “female” professional football manager. Personally, I don’t see how the fact that both appointments are female is relevant to the news story. The two ladies involved will not be judged on whether or not they they are women, but only on how they perform their duties and whether or not they achieve their objectives.
Closer to home, Pretoria-based football team Mamelodi Sundowns recently clinched the South African Premier Soccer League title. The manager who led them to victory was former Bafana Bafana manager, Pitso Mosimane, who has rightly won plaudits for guiding the team to success. However, once again there seemed to a lot of chatter around the fact that Mr Mosimane was the first black coach to win the PSL title since the league’s inception in 1996. Surely Mr Mosimane deserves credit and recognition for his leadership, man-management and tactical knowledge? Why should his skin colour have anything to do with his achievements?
On a related note, actor Idris Elba has often been rumoured to be one of the favourites to take on the mantle of James Bond. Elba has been asked on numerous occasions about how he would feel if he were to take on the role of the first black Bond, and the question evidently irked him as he replied:
He replied: “I’ve always detested the phrase ‘Black Bond,’ I just don’t understand it.
“We don’t say ‘White Bond’, we just say ‘Bond’ so it suddenly becomes a black man and he’s a ‘Black Bond,’ so I hate that phrase and it’s a rumour that’s gotten out of control basically, but that’s all it is.
“There’s no truth in it whatsoever.”
Elba’s statement cuts to the heart of my problem with the way in which certain firsts are celebrated. Let’s celebrate and acknowledge people for excellence in their lives without referring to their gender, skin colour, sexuality or religious affiliation.