jeudi, 18 avril 2019
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Niger’s emperor

“HAIL THE Emperor,” I say as Ismalia Tiemoko walks towards me and the Niger coach breaks into a big smile. He then rather shyly goes, “Merci, Merci.” It’s a moniker that Tiemoko had received as a youngster in his homeland and one that he’s carried proudly ever since, from his playing days to now guiding his young team in their first-ever appearance at the under-17 World Cup. He doesn’t shy away, however, when asked to recall the time when he was anointed as the Emperor. And the narration has a lovely filmic feel for good measure as he uses dramatic pauses—aided by the fact that there’s a translator in the mix—after each line. It happened back when Tiemoko himself was an under-17 player and the coach then announced that the best player of the tournament would get a “special gift”. That best player turned out to be Tiemoko. “My teammates lifted me on their shoulders and carried me to the coach,” he recalls. Dramatic pause. “I didn’t know whether he was going to give me money or some gifts. Seeing me on their shoulders like that. He just bent down slightly and said, ‘Hail Emperor, that’s what you’ll be known as from today’.” The coach was right. Emperor Tiemoko is still in charge...

Sandip G/Bharat SUNDARESAN/Shamik CHAKRABARTY (The Indian Express)

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