Nigerians on social media were amazed by the kind of respect Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua simply known as Anthony Joshua gave to the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. The World heavyweight champion visited President Buhari at the Nigerian House in London, United Kingdom on Saturday where he presented his IBF, WBA, WBO, and IBO titles to the Nigerian President.
Though Anthony Joshua is regarded as a British boxer, he is a well-rooted Nigerian from the Yoruba tribe. His mother is Nigerian, while his father is of Nigerian and Irish ancestry. But in the history of his development as a world-class boxer, the government of Nigeria has made little or no contribution to his boxing career.
Recall that the only time the boxer spent considerable time in Nigeria was when he was a boarding school student in Nigeria which was cut short when the marriage of his parents broke down. He left the country at age 12 to the United Kingdom where he continued his education and pursued a professional career in boxing after winning Olympic Gold for the UK.
As funny as his ties with Nigeria is, there was speculation that the Nigerian Olympic team rejected him when he came to Nigeria to join the team before he switched allegiance to the UK. However, this speculation has never been confirmed or strongly denied by authorities.
This rumour and the fact that the country’s government did nothing for his career made a mockery of the news that he was planning to storm Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria to present his belts to President Buhari.
The presentation was delayed until yesterday when it had to be done in the United Kingdom instead. But what kept almost everyone talking was the fact that the Heavyweight Champion prostrated before the president which is actually a norm in Yoruba’s culture.
However, a critical examination of the video filmed at the venue and shared by the special assistant to President Buhari on new media, Bashir Ahmad, it can be noticed that there was something suspicious about the whole encounter.
Take a critical look at Anthony Joshua showing that he is well-groomed traditionally
If you critically watch the video to the point the champion stood up to reach out to the president, Anthony Joshua used the corner of his eyes to look at Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission. Immediately, the 30-year-old Nigerian-British boxer took that quick look, Abike made a hand gesture to him which can easily be taken as a quiet reminder for him to prostrate. He prostrated before he reached out to shake hands with the president.
Moments later, the champion was seen prostrating again before the President when they were about to take a group picture. This makes it more obvious that it was not really a natural expression of the respect people assumed it to be.
Anyway, we are happy that the champion still reckons with Nigeria despite the not too encouraging history between him and the country. Victory is sweet but the government needs to understand that there are thousands of Anthony Joshua on the streets of Nigeria longing to be discovered, groomed and projected to the world.