Fabrice Muamba turns from sponging black immigrant to footballing hero
FABRICE Muamba is the Bolton Wanderers footballer who stopped breathing on the pitch during his team’s FA Cup match with Spurs yesterday afternoon. Once upon a time he might have been the tabloid’s black immigrant, the son of an asylum-seeking African. But the tabloids have changed their view of him. (Not everyone has seen the light – twitter, as @LiamStacey showed us, is a haven for bigotry and spite.)
Firstly, how do the newspapers report on the horror?
The front pages are an escalation of Mumaba’s abilities:
Telegraph (front page): “FA Cup tie abandoned after footballer fights for life”
Express (front page): ” Premirship footballer, 23, fights for life after collapse”
The Sun (front page): “FA CUP HORROR ON LIVE TV – PREM STAR SEIZURE ON PITCH”
Mail (front page): Horror as top football star collapses in live TV game”
The Star (front page): “Prem hero moments from death”
From footballer to hero, Muamba, formerly of Arsenal and Birmingham City, is changed.
The other question is whether or not to show photographs of Muamba?
As for Fabrice Mumaba, his story is extraordinary and his life and drive exceptional:
Jonathan Liew in the Telegraph:
Muamba is a man who has had to fight battles everywhere he goes, who made it from the bullet-flecked battlefields of Zaire to the pristine pitches of the Premier League through hard graft.
It was a life that began in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Muamba’s childhood as one of four siblings living in a flat in the city was one marked by bloody civil war that engulfed the country throughout the 1990s, played out to the rhythms of gunfire. “It stopped us going out to play football, because we were scared we would get killed. One or two of my friends were hurt,” he said.
The civil wars in the Congo are believed by many to have been the deadliest conflict anywhere in the world since World War Two. An estimated 5.4 million lost their lives, and it was only through a combination of foresight and luck that the Muamba family did not join them. Father Claude was an adviser to the prime minister Kengo Wa Dondo, who was forced to flee the country after rebel forces began to close in on the capital.
One morning, Claude woke up Fabrice and told him he was going out. In fact, he was on his way to Britain, where he intended to seek political asylum.
It was not until December 1999 when the rest of the family, including Fabrice, were able to join him in London. In the meantime his uncle Ilunga had died in the conflict, a loss Fabrice still struggles to talk about
Indeed, far from increasing by 21%, the rise in the number of immigrants coming to the UK rose by 1.4% between 2009 and 2010.
The Commission is concerned that editors should ensure that their journalists covering these issues are mindful of the problems that can occur and take care to avoid misleading or distorted terminology.
“It was very, very tough. I saw the war. I saw people die. I grew up with it. It was scary. I didn’t live far from the gunshots and the sound of them going off. It was difficult to get used to, especially hearing guns at night. It did have an effect on me. It stopped us going out to play football because we were scared we would get killed. One or two of my friends were hurt, one or two of them have since died.” On arriving in England in 1999 and being reunited with his family, Muamba commented; “I thought to myself: What am I doing here? It was amazing the family being together again, but I couldn’t speak a word of English. I did extra work at school and that helped me.
“My first day at school was just a big puzzle. There was nobody who was from the Congo. I did OK in French! But that was about it. People were talking too fast and I was just puzzled.”
Minds turn to what the Mail’s Richard Littlejohn said:
Gloucester City Council is sending out census forms in no fewer than 56 different languages. …why waste time and public money printing leaflets in 56 different languages, many of them scribble?
Muamba controlled his “scribble”.
The Express adds:
“I saw the war,” he once said. “I saw people die. I grew up with it. It was scary. I didn’t live far from the gunshots and the sound of them going off. It stopped us going out to play football because we were scared we would get killed.”
Five years after his government worker father Marcel fled Africa to seek political asylum in the UK, Fabrice, 11, and the rest of his family arrived in London.
Despite not speaking a word of English, he gained A-levels at Kelmscott School in Walthamstow, east London and, with his talent for football, attracted the attention of Arsenal.
Asylum seekers are flocking to Britain because they love X Factor, the Queen and state handouts.
Thousands of illegal immigrants will flee riot-torn Egypt and flood to Britain, the leader of Nato has warned. Many refugees are desperate to escape and head here to milk the benefits system.