No matter what good we do or achieve, Africa keeps being looked at by the outsiders as a continent associated with failures. Yet at a time when Africa is about to prove to the cynics that we can do what ‘they’ can…and/or even better, then we appear to shoot ourselves in the foot.
With exactly five months today before the 2010 Fifa World Cup kicks off on the African continent for the first time ever in South Africa, incidences like what happened to the Togolese national football team in Angola, is the last thing we (Africans) need if we’re to controvert the negative criticism that has been labelled on us since time immemorial.
Analysts are already predicting the 2010 Fifa World Cup on the African soil to be the ‘best ever’ yet critics continue coming up with more negativity about our beautiful continent, which of course produced United States of America’s first coloured President in Barrack Obama.
Every African, including definitely yours truly, is looking forward to the greatest football show on earth closer to home than ever before yet I don’t know why clouds of doubt in our ability to turn this opportunity into a real kill, keep appearing in my head.
That’s why when you’re in a situation that I find myself; you don’t need to see or even think of mindless terrorists attacking and killing innocent players as was the case with the Togolese delegation on Friday.
The machine-gun attack on the Togo players may have taken place in northern Angola but the shots would have been heard around the world.
Shock waves from the brutal terrorist attack that left one (person) dead (instantly) and several others injured reverberated around planet football. Two more died on Saturday, and another was airlifted to South Africa in very critical condition.
Military rebellions and endless civil conflicts are constant features in Africa, almost in every corner of the continent, you hear rebels ‘fighting for independence’, ‘fighting for this and that’ which at the end of the day affects their own populations.
Even though it’s not very clear why rebels, who are reportedly “fighting for independence” from the mainstream Angolan government would turn their guns on a convoy of a visiting delegation, entering the country to celebrate Africa’s football by competing in the continent’s biggest competition!
But again, when you look at the bigger picture, you’re left to wonder why the Togolese team decided to enter Angola from the neighbouring Congo where they had been camping since December 27, by road.
If the area is well-known for harbouring wrong elements, why didn’t the tournament organizers arrange enough security for the Togolese convoy? Didn’t they know the visiting team would travel by road? Why didn’t they suggest otherwise for security purposes?
If the Togolese team go ahead and withdraw from the tournament, make no mistake not only the tournament organizers but Angola, the country will be affected in more than one way or another.
For a country that badly wanted this tournament to showcase to the outside world that it has managed to rebuild itself from the years of civil wars, these attacks will surely remind them that their wars are still far from over.
Case of South Africa
If the attacks were bad for Angola and the Nations Cup, then they are a tragedy for the first-ever World Cup on our continent.
South Africa doesn’t enjoy a very good crime rate record, here am talking at the highest scale and only this issue, at one stage threatened the country’s hopes of hosting the event in the first place as mostly European team expressed their worries about their safety.
South African government’s fight against crime in the cities will certainly be put on an unprecedented biggest test because if, God forbid, anything (bad) happens to one of the participating teams, then we will be faced with a similar situation as the one of Togo where a team withdraws from the tournament for safety reasons.
For the attacks on the Togolese team, there will obviously be an urgent investigation at the highest level as to how some of the most prized footballers on the planet could have been left vulnerable to such a shocking, mindless attack.
And many people, who will not want to hear of the vast differences between South Africa and Angola, will use this as ammunition to justify their fears about security at the World Cup.
But, if anything, Friday’s attack in Angola will serve to heighten plans to ensure South Africa goes off smoothly as Africa organizes the ‘best ever’ Fifa World Cup.
I hope we don’t shoot ourselves in our foot!