An African Football Festival Mourns15 January 2010

The deadly attack on the Togolese bus two days before the beginning of the competition transformed the anticipated joy and hope into dismay, desperation and mourning.
By hosting for the first time the fan and tradition rich Coupe d‘Afriques des Nations (CAN), the former civil war torn nation of Angola wanted to show the world the positive developments it has made and is making in the aftermath of the decades-old civil war which ended in 2002. The 27th edition of CAN was regarded as the local prelude to the first World Cup on the African continent, in a year in which the media focus and attention on the continent will be unprecedented.

Bella Bella Bitugu, project coordinator at FARE partner FairPlay. Different Colours. One Game said:
There are a range of ongoing activities which specifically address these issues and problems. With constructive and sustainable strategies designed through sport and football, we hope to tackle the phenomena of conflict and violence on the continent. This incident must therefore not be seen as the ONLY face of Africa and not to be judged as such. The incident in Angola shows however how urgent, pertinent and necessary it is for projects within the realms of football for development and peace to be initiated nurtured and supported.

A new perspective for Africa?

The organisers of the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa have presented the FIFA World Cup finals as an affair and occasion for the whole continent. The official slogan of the competition is Ke Nako. Celebrate Africa's Humanity (“It is time to celebrate Africa’s humanity”). South Africa 2010 intends to use this occasion as reminder of and to emphasise Africa as the cradle of humanity and its contribution to human civilisation. This in the face of poverty, hunger and crises which shoud the reality in many parts of Africa.

After a long silence about security concerns, and with the competition five months away, the discourse on this issue is now being revisited due to the incident involving the Togolese national team in Angola. The South African organisers are defensive, and rightly so against the unjustified and baseless generalisations (“Africa is not a country but a continent made up of 53 independent sovereign nations”) and European media double standards.

The head of the World Cup organising committee Danny Jordaan says,
If there is war in Kosovo and the World Cup takes place in Germany, no one would demand the cancellation of the World Cup because everybody knows that the war is in Kosovo.
The distance between Cabinda (where the incident occurred) to the nearest World Cup host city of Polokwane is 2800 Kilometres, the approximate distance between Vienna and Bagdad.

Once again there is absence of differentiation in the media and public perception of Africa. Variously, there is lack of basic knowledge and information of the historical background and context of African conflicts which date back to colonial times. The hope that the FIFA World Cup 2010 as a worldwide media event will lead to and bring about a new perception of the continent of Africa devoid of prejudice and stereotype is for the moment in doubt. The simplistic and familiar headlines about chaos, excessive violence and disorganisation are now dominating media reports and headlines.

Austrian wide Ke Nako initiative

Ke Nako Afrika, an Austrian wide initiative to commemorate the FIFA World Cup 2010 was unveiled at the end of November 2009. The Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) together with Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and Africa-Network Platform intend to communicate through Ke Nako Afrika the diversity and positive image of Africa among the general public without keeping mute over the obvious miseries.

On the 23rd and 24th of April this year, an international conference will take place in Vienna under the theme “Development through football – Sustaining the potential of the first African World Cup“. The conference will present and emphasize among others that throughout the continent, there are several social and community projects and initiatives committed to using sport for the attainment of peaceful and humane societies. The conference will invite actors and representatives from Ghana, Nigeria, DR Congo, Kenya, South Africa and other African and European countries to discuss the perspectives, roles and potential of football for peaceful development and coexistence.