Sunday, January 10, 2010

'You only get them in big countries, like Africa, or India.'

On Friday, the Togolese soccer team were ambushed shortly after crossing the border into Angola on their way to an Africa Cup of Nations game. They were six kilometres into the country, in the tumultuous region of Cabinda when a team of gunmen opened fire with machine guns, killing three - the driver, team spokesman and assistant coach - and injuring eight.

Soon after this awful incident, murmurs surfaced - I'm not sure where from - that this gave rise to concerns about security in South Africa during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. This speaks to a very narrow minded view of Africa, as one giant chaotic wartorn country, which is patently untrue. Of course, parts of Africa (i.e. Countries) suffer more than their fair share of turmoil, hardship and conflict, but some of them have managed to achieve stability and prosperity. I lived for nine years in Botswana, which shares a border with ailing Zimbabwe, and yet it is a very rich and peaceful country. It is also probably the most boring and uneventful place on the continent.

For all the political bickering and parastatal scandal, South Africa is admirably peaceful and stable, and very ready to welcome the world. Yes, it does have an astronomical crime rate, there's no denying that; what annoys me is that this suddenly became an issue when viewed in light of this attack. South Africa is well known for its crime - no one should be surprised about that - but it cannot be compared or judged because of this attack in any way. South Africa and Angola are two disparate countries, with two very different temperaments. Angola is over 2,500 kilometres away, and yet people worry. This was an act of terrorism, not crime.  When the time comes, we'll have our criminals to deal with, not terrorists.
And we'll be ready.

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