Africa Cup of Nations
Two years ago, I was very lonely, miserable and possibly desperate, as my wife had died. If anything helped to get over the loneliness, it was football and in particular the Africa Cup of Nations.
For many nights in that January, there was entertaining football every night, played by countries who had a lot more problems than I had. So I watched and enjoyed. It helped!
This year, I was looking forward to the 2010 cup in Angola. In just ten years since one of the most nasty and vicious of African civil wars, Angola has progressed enough to be awarded the finals. With Africa in the news so often for the wrong reasons, here was a reason to be cheerful.
But then we had the attack on the Togo players as they drove to Cabinda. Perhaps they shouldn’t have driven through one of the most dangerous parts of Angola. But they did and three people died. It is easy for us to say they should have flown, but then we don’t know the finances of the Togo team and flying is not as safe in some parts of Africa as it is in Europe and the US. Remember too, that the Zambian team was wiped out in an aircrash in 1993. Did this influence the decision?
We will probably never know, but sadly the attack has cast a very sombre gloss over the tournament.
This quote from Thomas Dossevi of the Togo team will be remembered as it has a dignity and a maturity.
We are all heartbroken. It is no longer a party but we want to show our national colours, our values – and that we are men.
I can feel their pain and my heart goes out to everybody.
But football is proving to be one of the values of Africa. It might even be some of those footballers, who in the end, lift some of the more troubled countries out of their problems of poverty, disease, famine, bad government, dictatorships and corruption. Many are doing a lot more than their governments.
We must support them in every way possible.