Africa should be livid. But why… you may ask?
Here are the reasons:
On Friday, an unfortunate incident occurred in Cabinda – which is a province in Angola that is under dispute – involving the Togolese football team.
As the heart-rending incident unfolded, media in places like the UK turned it into a premiership issue. It is now about the safety of Adebayor, Essien, and Drogba. Are they insured to play in Africa?
One newspaper was brash enough to write: “Michael Essien flies into the death zone.” Another described it as "a disaster for the forthcoming first-ever World Cup in Africa.” Yet another said: "Africa\’s dream is in tatters."
I have news for the writers: Africa is not in disarray!
The attack on the Togolese team is quite regrettable and my empathy goes out to the victims, their families and the people of Togo. I also think it was proper for the team to pull out of the tournament.
Africa needs to move on from this untoward incident but reports in the West are not helping much by linking events in Angola to the safety of players in the World Cup in South Africa which is just a few months away.
For a start, South Africa is not Angola and for those who do not know, Africa is not a country… It is a continent.
The sort of perils one may be exposed to in Johannesburg are the ones you will encounter in a London street. Your safety could even be more compromised in New York.
Why isn’t there a campaign to prevent people from flying to America after the failed Christmas bombing on flight 253? This is despite admissions that there were serious security lapses that allowed the suspect to board the plane at one of the busiest and I suppose most secure European airports (he has since denied the charge but that’s a story for another day).
Back to the World Cup…
South Africa is ready to host this prestigious tournament. The continent has the infrastructure, transport and most of all the necessary SECURITY.
If we didn’t, you would not find the likes of Prince William, Flavio Briatore, Bill Gates, Nicholas Cage, Angelina Jolie or Madonna cavalcading to the continent from time to time either for holiday or charity work.
Even those who have never been to London know that you cannot compare security in the upmarket Western part of the city to an address in the South or East of the UK capital. That does not mean that the entire city of London is unsafe!
Every city has a security advisory for its visitors: “Stick to the high streets.” My advice to drunken foreign fans once in South Africa is to keep away from stumbling to the wrong parts of town to avoid making mince meat of the continent’s gallant effort to host the World Cup.
The linkage being drawn to the Angola incident and the World Cup reminds me of “The Danger of a Single Story” by award winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
She tells how when you refer to people as one thing over and over again, that is what they become… The incident that occurred in Cabinda is not representative of the security situation in Africa.
As she concludes, when we reject the single story; when we realise there\’s never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.