Wednesday, February 3, 2010



By Amon Mbekiza
Kampala, Uganda

I had resisted the temptation. But as we were taught in elementary school regarding matter, you can neither create nor destroy the truth: so my efforts to destroy it through suppression eventually caved in. At the beginning of the millenium, it was all excitement about Africa in the 21st century, with theories and counter theories as to whether Africa will own the century. This is what led to the now almost defunct NEPAD, with its ineffective APRM spearheaded by Abdoulaye Wade and Thambo Mbeki.
One decade into the century, with close to 20 African countries into their Independence Golden Jubilee, what do we see? Is there any discernible, clearly defined road-map to Economic Independence, which should be the second phase, 50 years into political independence?

Hardly a decade into political stability, Angola, one of the continent's giants if we go by its vast mineral wealth, is already into 'statue-building'. As the dust settles down after its statue event of the decade, we take stock: was it worth it spending one billion US dollars to host the Africa Cup of Nations, in a country still reeling from the wounds of an imperialist war fought on its territory? I took keen interest in and followed a feature story by a BBC reporter a few days to the opening of the CAN in Luanda and Cabinda. It was very revealing as it was disturbing: men driving in the lattest Hummer models, golden wrist watches on outstretched arms, inspecting the final touches on the 'Eleventh November' Stadium, the centrepiece of the CAN and one of the statues. Amidst this glittering, a motley crew of amputated youth and young men ( landmine victims), swarm the limousines, limping on famished bodies, arms outstretched, begging from the outstretched 'golden' arms. A few metres away, a dozen women are shouting 'amiga, amiga' ( friend, friend), beckoning the white lady to buy their mangoes, collected from the nearby wild trees ( cf Kampala scenario!!). Asked as to whether it was worth the billions for the country to host the CAN, they answer in the affirmative, pointing to their mangoes, that people will come and buy. Unconsciuous incompetence, excused!

How about the educated leadership? Was CAN really a priority versus the reconstruction urgently needed after decades of war?As CAN ends and the hullaballoo settles down, of what importance are the 'statues' to the limping amputees and the mango-gathering women? Who was Angola targetting to impress and attract, in the argument that the billion dollar expenditure was worth it, to ' restore confidence and improve its international image'? Who is the leadership accountable to? 'International Perception' or its long suffering citizens? If that billion dollar had been focused on post-war social service reconstruction and human rehabilitation, wouldnt that have been a better way to influence international perception? But it had to be via satellite television, and all the paraphenalia of western capitalism disguised as sports.

How about the Cabinda Question? As the fateful events against the Togolese team tell, it is not yet over. Well, it could be an act of criminals claiming to be FLEC, as argued by an ex-FLEC leader now in government, but what is the genesis of all this ? And the solution? That the whole thing was capitalist-driven is betrayed by Issa Hayatou's shameless dancing on the graves of the Togo victims of CAF's debacle. A fine US $ 50,000 and a suspension. In Africa, Monsieur Hayatou ( si vous etes tousjours Africain!!!), we would instead expect CAF to send a delegation, with an official condolence message, to Togo and the families of the muredered men, leaving twice that amount to the bereaved. Here we have several African names for this amount and ' fine' is not among them!!.

Interestingly, at the same time as Angola blew up a billion dollars, one key ideologue of 'African Renaissance', Mzee Abdoulaye Wade, was fighting off critiques over a whooping one million euros for the construction of an 'African Renaissance Statue' which must be taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York!! And a few months today, 'the whole world will be on Africa, because South Africa is hosting The World Cup'....but it has always been focused there, focusing on xenophobic riots and killings, occasioned by frustrated unemployed and unemployable youth, almost two decades into independence. It has always been there, focusing on demonstrating slum dwellers protesting municipal public toilets without doors, that deprive them the very basic of has always been and will always be there focusing on the sense civil war in DR Congo that is a cover for pillage of minerals disguised as UN peace-keeping!!

And will the billions spent on hosting The World Cup make a difference to an ordinary Xhosa eking out a living in barren soil in Qunu? Perhaps it will be....just like Uganda gained from spending billions on hosting CHOGM,....celebrating a quarter century of liberation with decorations of medals while in a single village in Mubende District , 28 infants died of malaria in January alone, the very month of celebrating with medals; and one multinational telecom company cheating gullible Kampala wannabes of billions in hosting a 'world-celebrity' of questionable moral credentials, in the name of 'aiding the war victims in the north'.