Whoever is familiar with the name George Weah would definitely know that he is part of a glorious history of sports in Africa. Just as we had Okwaraji in Nigeria, Kazadi Mwamba from Zaire, Pat Mboma from Cameroun, so do we have Weah from Liberia.
George Weah became a football star at the age of 21 when Arsene Wenger spotted him playing for a team in Cameroon. The manager brought him over to Europe, where he played for AS Monaco. From there, it was on to Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City and Olympique Marseille. Mr. Weah, who retired from football in 2002, became the only African to be awarded the Ballon d’Or to date.
The Liberian star is a football legend who is also politically ambitious. Former President Charles Taylor, who stepped down in 2003, suspected Mr Weah was after his job when the footballer refused to remove his sunglasses in the president’s presence – seen as a sign of the utmost disrespect. Perhaps he was right. Mr Weah formed the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) ahead of the 2005 election and ran as the party’s presidential candidate. Ever since, the father-of-three has inspired crowds with talks of economic empowerment for the masses, drawing on his own, poverty-stricken background, and dismissing his opponents’ claims that, at 51, he remained too politically inexperienced to lead.
His April 2016 announcement that he would make a second bid for the presidency was met with cries of “George Weah is the man we want, George Weah is the man we want”. But can popularity match the hot-race of African politics? Will King George be the one to take over from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf?