Sunday, January 10, 2010

SAfety at World Cup 2010

The SAfety World Cup

South Africa, still, is the biggest casualty of the machine-gun attack on the Togolese national team bus headed to the African Cup of Nations tournament, CAN - French for le Coupe d'Afrique des Nations - in the Cabinda enclave of Angola, on the evening of January 7th.  The African audience's collective conscience is used, even inured, to news of tragedy, and I trust the CAN will proceed, even with a shaken limp or upon a crutch.  It is the wider global followers of this football religion who will be hit hardest. 

FIFA's Josep Sepp Blatter feels it a low blow on African football, having hosted three truly successful tourneys in 2009, in Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa.  In his 35 years of working at FIFA, he confides, this is the first such direct attack on a football delegation.  He believes this is an isolated incident, that should not damp the enthusiasm and happy mood that is enveloping the continent in this new year of great football.  The World Cup in South Africa, is under direct scrutiny.  Danny Jordaan, South Africa's Chief Host for the global fiesta in five months' time, believes it is unfair and even warped, to think that what happens in one country should influence the hosting of a global event in another. 

"When there was the bomb in Spain, ...the bomb in London, nobody said we should reconsider London 2012!  When there was a war in Kosovo, and the World Cup in Germany (in 2006), everybody understood that the war in Kosovo had nothing to do with the tournament in Germany.  We should not apply double standards," he says, adding that he does not understand the thinking that underlies the fears of those questioning security arrangements for the World Cup down South later this year.

And some fans in Ghana agree.  Manchester United lived after the Munich air disaster.  Liverpool survived their stadium collapse incident in a European final.  Both teams lived on to win more glory.  Surely, Togo will live on, despite the loss of its three citizens that has curtailed their participation in CAN 2010, following their president's executive order to withdraw the traumatized team.  It is the right way forward.

Still, South Africa is in the cross-hairs of all the world's watchful lenses.  Let Mozambique, Lesotho, Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Tunisia, Egypt and all the main nations of Africa help Azania to keep secure the World Cup.  Any incident in any of these countries is critical to this perception.  Act, and explain later, rather than explaining your failure to act.

And Kenya must be under greater scrutiny.  Neither at CAN 2010 nor at the SA 2010 Fifa World Cup, we still matter most, simply because we are President Obama's Uncles, and he is the world's perceived chief anti-terrorism campaigner.  How about that for kinship and responsibility!  What would it have meant if that Nigerian scourge of Detroit was from Kenya?  Obama would have resigned, or come very close to that.  He can avow all his soul to America, but they all do not love him as much as we do.  And they know he still has breathing relations at Nyang'oma in Siaya, here.  We all owe him that presidency.  We cannot afford a terrorism act linked to East Africa in this new decade.

Let me ask, can we deliver?

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