Bo Bennet once said: “If you have not taken the time to define what happiness means to you, what have you spent your whole life pursuing?” A difficult question to reflect on, as happiness is a really abstract concept sorrounded by many connotations. According to Jeremy Berlin, the “right” definition would be that of an emotional state in which our welfare is supposed to be absolute. In any case, every human being aspires to find the right formula in one point of their lives so as to reach that state. Whatever the reason, happiness does not have the same value or meaning for everybody. That is why Jessica Hilltout and Jeremy Berlin among others will explain how a mere shapeless and imperfect ball made of tires can bring an instant of happiness to an entire village.
Happiness vs. Africa
Not only currently but also in ancient times, famous philosophers and researchers tried hard to give an efficient answer to the question mentioned above. Connected to this, Augustine of Hippo once said:
He is not richer who the most has, but who the least needs.
This emotional state varies a great deal depending on where we are born as well as the mentality of a given society. Additionally, focusing on one particular continent, Africa holds most of the suffering and poverty of the world. However, it is astonishing the fact that many children lacking the resources and facilities of those from developed countries can sometimes experience a deeper and more intense welfare than those from wealthy countries. What is more, that short instant of plenitude may very well be connected to a single small round objetc. I am talking about a mere ball. Indeed, as Jeremey Berlin mentions:
Across the fields of Africa, plastic bags, old clothes and used tires are transformed into magical spheres.
The roundness of the ball may not be perfect, those children will for sure be playing barefoot and full of blisters until their feet hurt in pain. But none of this matters. It is surprisingly touching the way a mere shapeless and imperfect object can bring an instant of excitement and joy to those children who are simply kicking a ball. At the same time, when the World Cup was played in Africa for the first time, the photographer Jessica Hilltout stated the following:
Football is a sport which makes the passion of its participants triumph over poverty in Africa. It’s a game with its own ethics in which a ball can bring happiness easily to an entire village. The people I met long ago lived with very little. It is easy to see one of those ragged balls and feel sadness. My purpose is to see the ball, and the feel happy.
Finally, Abubakari Abdul-Ganiyu, a proffesor who oversees clubs in Ghana, points out the following:
It is the passion of all of us. It’s something that satisfies us and binds us. When there is a match, we set aside our disputes. Most clubs don´t allow kids to play if they dont´t go to school. We try to train young people and make them socially responsible. So for us, football is also a tool for hope.
It may sound too dramatic and touching, but maybe we should reflect on all this and value what we have, unfortunately, even then we would not be pleased.
1-Jeremy Berlin (February 13th , 2013), Happiness is round. National Geographic. Retrieved Novemver 18th, 2013 from http://www.nationalgeographic.com.es/articulo/ng_magazine/reportajes/7937/felicidad_redonda.html
2-Tom Bundervoet (March 28th, 2013), Poor but happy?. Africa can end poverty. Retrieved November 19th, 2013 from http://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/poor-but-happy
3-Martin Ruiz F. Pobreza de Africa. Economía, sociedad y población en su dimensión territorial. Anroart Ediciones, 2009
4-Ramírez P.Entrénate para la vida. Espasa Editorial, 2012