Monday, January 11, 2010

Don't Buy Into the Africa Pessimism

The Togo bus attack is obviously a complete disaster for Angola, whose government had hoped its successful hosting of the African Cup of Nations would help polish the country's war-shattered image.

Predictably, the Africa doomsayers are also pointing to the tragic event as evidence that Africa is not ready to host the world's largest sporting event, the World Cup, this year, never mind that it's being held in a country a thousand miles away from Angola that is not battling any separatist insurgency or has been specifically targeted by terrorists. Africa is Africa.

Danny Jordaan, head of South Africa's 2010 World Cup organizing committee, moved quickly to quell fears about his country's ability to provide adequate security for the event. "Why are people suddenly applying double standards? When there are ­terrorist attacks in Europe, do we hear about the 2012 Olympics being under threat? No. Angola and South Africa are two separate geographical areas, two separate countries. Besides, the African Nations Cup is not the World Cup. We cannot be called to account for the security arrangements of Angola, which is far removed from South Africa," he said.

Sadly, his and other voices of reason will probably fall on deaf ears. Now, any negative incident related to the security of the tournament, no matter how minor, will be viewed as proof that South Africa is not up to the task. I'm not suggesting that the Togo bus attack was a minor incident. What I'm saying is that we'll have a couple of drunken Englishmen robbed on the wrong side of the tracks during the Cup and immediately South African security has failed. The narrative has been set.

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