The Chess Drum on  FIDE African Campaign

To the African Diaspora in Chess:

Over the past several months, the worldwide chess community has witnessed the unfolding of perhaps the most heavily contested race for FIDE President in recent decades. There is much at stake here and it appears that every federation is being courted for crucial votes. It is with much surprise that the continent of Africa has become the center of attention in recent weeks and the controversy is threatening to drive the continent's federations apart. Enough is enough!

As the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum, I take the utmost interest in what is being said about African chess, its federations and its players. What has occurred in past weeks does not bode well for the future of Africa, a continent with nearly 800 million inhabitants and approximately 600 active chessplayers. By looking at the sheer numbers of players (and of Grandmasters), it is apparent that there is little time for people of African descent to cast aspersions toward one another. Other regions are moving "fast forward" and Africa is being left even further behind. That much is apparent.

I have featured articles pertaining to the FIDE election campaign on this site and it was a decision I made with the intention to expose the issues to the worldwide chess audience. However, it has resulted in a horrid barrage of mudslinging that would make the other political fights pale in comparison. I have been in communication with several of the figures involved in the election and have conducted short interviews of both Presidential candidates. However, future plans for Africa's progress are still in question and it remains to be seen what will happen given the victory of either party.

Africa's chess resources are not to the point where federations can stand alone. As long as the African continent presents itself as a divided entity, the outcome of the election makes little difference… Africa will remain a marginalized region. It behooves African chess officials and federations to chart a course for the continent independent of what may come of the FIDE election.  Regardless of which ticket a federation supports, there must be a feeling that Africans (north, south, east and west) can sit down together in the spirit of Pan-African unity and chart a sustainable course for chess development. Even in opposition, there must civility and cooperation.

If there are any outstanding personal issues on the floor, settle them and do not let outside forces dictate as to whether African chess personalities can collaborate and successfully plot a course of action for chess development. Africa forward!


Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Posted by The Chess Drum: 17 May 2006