Saturday, August 18, 2007

Latvian Mustafa Mohammed, when?

Just happened to watch athletics competition in Genk (Limburg, Belgium). In 3000m steeple race the winner became Mustafa Mohammed from Sweden! He ran out the second best time in Europe this season, thus having good prospects prior World Championships in Osaka. But its not track & field races I want to speak in this blog entry, but the nationality question in small countries (Latvia and Estonia) sports competitions. Since the ideological competition between the capitalist free world and the socialist "people's democracies" ended in the late 1980's, once exclusive European national teams have started mixing in representatives from other cultures. French football team or Surya Bonalie (figure skating) is probably best example here, but in the same manner for quite many years Netherlands representatives have had their athletes from former colonies. In today's Europe there are such prominent examples as Wilson Kipketer from Denmark, A. Obikwelu from Portugal, Samuel Kirwa from Finland, and now also Mustafa Mohammed from Sweden.

Central European states still have many local representatives who are "hungry" and find that sports competition is a way for upward mobility. Jamaica born star sprinter Marlene Ottey and Nigerian born Emmanuel Olisadebe are rather exclusive, because they represent Slovenia and Poland due to familial reasons. However, they are unique because they were the first ones, but with years passing buy and economy improving, probably there will be more Asian and African representatives also in Central and East European teams? It is a probability question, and for home grown Asian and African representatives to appear in Latvian or Slovak jerseys the most important question is the improvement of economic situation. Growth of the economy will demand more immigrant labour, and also enable the national sports authorities to look for best talent in Africa and Asia.

For Mustafa, Xanxi or Karim to represent team Latvija are still some years to come. Nevertheless, to prepare for such day coming there is still question of xenophobia on agenda. It is not good news that in the Baltic States routine beatings by skin - head gangs or punks are not diminishing, with no Asian or African communities actualy living here (which shows how indoctrinated and brainwashed by internet propaganda the home grown punks are)! Multiculturalism can definitely go out of hands when government does not control it, and riots in Clichy sur Bois in Paris suburbian area are very good example of that. In the meantime number of Somali, Bosniak and Iraqi refugees is scrupulously monitored in Finland, and does not cause widespread domestic ruptures for example.

Actually for Estonian and Latvian common folks the first issue should be to digest that societies are multicultural already due to the legacy that the Soviet period. Just to name Latvian football players Igors Stepanovs and Aleksandrs Starkovs, ice hockey star Sergejs Žoltoks, star runner Jeļena Prokopčuka, or Athens olympic medalists Vadims Vasiļevskis and Igors Vihrovs, and Estonian footballers Sergei Terehhov or Andrei Stepanov, and most of the Estonian ice-hockey team, and it becomes clear that Eesti and Latvija jerseys are worn by the best athletes. Their individual qualities are more important than their collective belonging. To accept this reality in full diversity Latvian and Estonian multicultural teams could be used in education campaigns. Education campaigns are needed to avoid the hypocricy in the Latvian language, when even commentators themselves very often mix such terms like latvijas (team latvia) and latviešu (team representing ehnic latvians). With such education campaigns population would become more tolerant, there should be less xenophobia, and thus we should see Estonian Xianxi or Latvian Mohammed within a decade. But for this to happen economies must turn the wheels of countries forward. Estonian economy grows pretty well, and lets hope Latvia could emulate its Northern neighbour more (especially where good practice of governance is concerned), even if it is hard to accept it on the official level:)


Anonymous said...

Estonia is already moving towards this situation, and the racial minorities' communities are working to integrate pretty well. There is a lively amount of non-European communities in Tallinn and they help spice things up. But they understand the importance of integrating. Just look at the Estonian-speaking Andean-looking chefs at Argentiina or former civil servants with names like Villacis and Huang.

I don't think there anything wrong, as long as there is integration. Estonia (and Latvia) cannot go the way of the Netherlands or England or France, and end up with ghettos of un-integrated (and un-integrat-able) communities.

Baltic said...

To anonymous;

I agree with most of your comments. However, the present ethnic minorities groups are too small to have any impact on the possible solution for xenophobia undiminishing.

All in all, to use your description they rather spice up traditional & closed post Soviet societies, but have not any autonomous voice.

I agree that they must be integrated into the Estonian or Latvian mainstream culture, and that is what mostly happens in Estonia.

Riga is a problem however, because many ethnic minorities prefere to learn Russian instead. Thus creating resentment among ardent nationalists, thus continuing the promotion of xenophobia, and so creating the vicious circle of intolerance:)

Jānis Bērziņš said...
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Jānis Bērziņš said...
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Jānis Bērziņš said...

Even beign a defensor of tolerance and multiculturalism, I don't worry about his question. Latvian nationalists should admitt that Latvian language will desapear in 100-200 years, as well as Latvian culture, etc, as a result of dynamics of the own idiosincrasys of the Latvian society and its people. The country will be empty of Latvians in few years. The economic and political elite doesn't mind. Something like "Girls just want to have fun". In this way, all problems will be solved in few years. I'll write longer about this issue in my blog.

So, Mohammads, Juans, Pablos, Johns, Chang Ching, Sergejs, M'tumbos, Robertos, etc, will be the population of Latvia. Latvian people - as latvian language and culture - will desappear naturally after some years. In the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, someone of us will be there covered, with the caption: Latvian, extinct in 2108. So, as all these matters will be solved by themselves, I don't worry about them. It is just a question of years. Multiculturalism is the inevitable future. Everybody will be Brazillian.