Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Any Lessons for the Togo's CAN2010 Abortive Adventure?

The loss of lives any time is sad and unfortunate, but when it simply could have been avoided, it becomes even more sad.

In my humble and candid opinion, the Togolese team should never have decided to go to Angola by road! Even assuming that the sojourn through Cabinda might have been a smooth one, there was never going to be any guarantee that it would have been. When all the teams flew to Luanda, why did only one out of fifteen countries decided to go the slow route? I think we can blame Angolan security--or lack of it--till the cows come home, but bottom line is that the decision of that trip exposed not just possible security lapses by the host, but an unforgivable ignorance of the Togolese team!

Come on now! Did they not read about the country before they hopped to Angola? Did they not know it was a country that had gone through brutal civil war? Why tempt fate in any way at all? Had they read about Cabinda beforehand, they might have decided against a bus route. Given that total security is never absolute, it was paramount for the team to have been cautious about their travel.

This event reminds me of the unfortunate Black Star John Paintsil showing off an Israeli flag during World Cup in 2006. The ignorance was understandable, but ignorance in 2009 about politics of any kind is, frankly, unpardonable. And when it leads to the loss of lives, it's too tragic for words.

After hearing the cacophony of opinions throughout both foreign and local media, I have only three lessons to offer:

1. READ about any country you are travelling to, especially if it is a war-torn country so you can avoid taking certain routes

2. You might not be a fan of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but information is online 24-7, so ignorance is not just bliss, but fatal--and unacceptable

3. large parts of Africa are at peace now, but there remain pockets of unrest--so keep yourself informed about your continent if you're an African.


Yesterday, I read news that a bomb had gone off in a European country of Greece's parliament. So would that mean that the democratic, albeit chaotic country, should be avoided like the plague?

Afghanistan and Iraq it is not.

But I also think Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma bombings in 2001 should remind us that bombs and shootings are not the exclusive preserve of the African continent.

In the year that the African Union has declared as a "Year of Peace and Security", I think the Nigerian panty bomber and the tragedy afflicting the other West African country of Togo should remind those in West Africa to get serious, through ECOWAS, on crime prevention and anti-terrorism management (through its-already worldwide-acclaimed peace and security infrastructure); and those in Africa to look within to see how they can make a difference in the promotion of peace throughout the continent.
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