“Togo terrorist attack is threat to the 2010 World Cup finals”, “Togo attack reminds South Africa of World Cup risks”, “Togo Attack Sounds Alarm for World Cup”,“Lessons from Togo attack for World Cup host South Africa?” , “2010 World Cup question marks after Togo attack, says Hull’s Phil Brown”-- Headlines from the Daily Mail, The Siasat Daily, Islamonline.net, Christian Life Monitor and The Telegraph respectively.
The recently concluded African Nations Cup, which was won yet again by the Pharaoh’s of Egypt, garnered headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Not for the historic Egyptian treble of African titles but rather for the death of two members of the Togolese squad who were gunned down by rebels in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda.
This tragedy, which cast a pallor on the entire tournament, rightly got plenty of headlines around the world. The fact that a team could get machine-gunned while being escorted by the police was outrageous.
The Angolan civil situation was forced into the world’s conscious, which I guess is what the rebels were aiming for.
But the tragedy wasn’t the worst part of the media storm. The worst part is the manner in which this terrible event was connected to this summer’s football World Cup which is going to be held in South Africa.
From footballing legends like Franz Beckenbauer and Uli Hoeness to barely known pundits in Europe came one reaction. “Giving the precious World Cup to South Africa was a bad idea”.
I’d assumed that this inane logic was a result of the heated atmosphere just after the incident. After all, I personally wished that the entire tournament be scrapped in respect to the dead athletes.
But the entire tournament was successful and full of good football, so I guess I was wrong in my assessment of the Angolan soccer fraternity and administration.
So while I was able to change my assessment after distancing myself from my initial horror and looking at the situation for what it was (a one-off cowardly, dastardly act of terrorism by a group that no one had heard of), I wonder why these people won’t do the same?
Is it because they are racist? That would be the easy way out except for one thing. I read a few blogs by black writers sprouting the same nonsense. So, if its not racism what is it? Ignorance methinks.
What have been the biggest selling movies in the last decade that depicted Africa? Blackhawk Down, Blood Diamond and Hotel Rwanda. With our image, as a continent, being governed by the horrors of Somali, Sierra Leone and Genocidal Rwanda (notwithstanding the falsities of that particular movie), I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the reactions of the Westerners.
I said I should be surprised, however I still am. To put this idiocy in context, should the tourist industry of Costa Rica been impacted by the bombs that went off during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games? Should the 1976 UEFA Euro competition that was held in Yugoslavia been moved to another nation because of the attack on the Israeli team during the 1972 Munich Games?
Look at the terrorist attacks on London, Madrid and New York. Should these cities not be allowed to host any international competition or event because of the acts of a few madmen? The resounding answer is a big NO.
So why can’t they see that whatever happens in Angola, however sad it is, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what occurs in Cape Town and the other World Cup cities? I think it’s because they simply don’t know any better.
I remember when I was younger, in the Diaspora, a Cameroonian boy was transferred to my primary school and class. Because he had been only recently moved into the country, his English language skills were so poor that the teachers couldn’t communicate with him.
So, guess who became his translator? Me. I tried to communicate with him in my rudimentary Kinyarwanda but as I learnt the hard way, whatever language he was speaking had absolutely nothing in common with mine.
The mere fact that the teachers, who were supposedly university-educated, could think that a Rwandan and a Cameroonian could speak the same language is symbolic of the entire problem.
The only thing that people in the West know about Africa is poverty, war and AIDS. And sadly, they can’t tell the difference between Somalia and Senegal.
So, if there is war reported in Chad, believe you me, a potential tourist will think twice about coming to Rwanda to see the Gorilla’s.
When I was in high school, to pass my geography tests, I made to be able to draw the German Ruhr Region, know Swiss industry and cram the intricacies of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
While I complained about having to study about places I would probably never go visit, I feel that this type of curriculum gave me a rounded education because it helped me understand that the world was bigger than simply Kigali.
Maybe school children in the West should copy this system…that is of course, if they can get it into their heads that Africans have something to give.
I conclude with this, the South African World Cup is going to be a success, and the boo-boys shall eat their words.