Food For Thought

On February 26, 1993 the World Trade Centre in New York, US was bombed for the first time. It was three years before the US hosted the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. At the time none of the countries preparing to go to the Olympics threatened to withdraw due to security reasons.

Then on April 19, 1995 Timothy McVeigh blew up Oklahoma. A terrorist attack in the US was so real that during the actual Olympics a bomb went off in the Olympic village. Since then the US and its interests have been attacked so many times that the world has lost count.

During the 1972 Munich Olympic Games in Germany 11 Israeli athletes were abducted and slaughtered by the Black September Organisation, a Palestinian liberation movement. Since then Germany has successfully hosted the 2006 FIFA World Cup. This has happened irrespective of the country’s skinheads who target foreigners and the Baader Meinhof Group which is a terrorist organization.

To add insult to injury Nazi Germany hosted the 1936 Olympics regardless of the pogroms being government policy. Barrack Obama, recently justifying his premature Nobel Award said that, “a non-violent movement couldn’t have stopped Hitler’s armies”. Hitler was slaughtering Jews but the world sent its athletes to Germany.

Maybe you are wondering why are all these gruesome incidents mentioned in relation to sport? Simple; they posed no threat to humankind because they happened in Europe and northern America. If they happened in Venezuela or Cuba any sporting event would have been moved to ‘a more secure country’. The so-called secure countries are the ones on the scope of so-called terrorists. Spain has the Basque Separatist group but that did not stop the Barcelona Olympics from being hosted there in 1992.

England, with its potent threat from the Irish Republican Army has campaigned and hosted sporting events including the ICC Cricket World Cup. Greece-Cyprus-Turkey quagmire, which is a recipe for terrorist attacks was swept aside for that country to host the last Olympic Games. For all we know the Greeks were even accused of poisoning stray dogs in *** to keep the city clean.

South Africa, based in Africa experienced xenophobic violence two years ago and immediately the events of mostly Gauteng and Western Cape made headlines there was talk that the country might lose the right to host the FIFA 2010 World Cup because the safety of foreigners can not be ensured.

Then the crime statistics were released and the foreign media speculated that the number of murders made the country unsafe to host the FIFA spectacle. Truth is, every country in the world has its own crime problems, which are either deliberately under-reported or focus is shifted to the problem at hand – like a war in Afghanistan and a possible one in Yemen. We hosted the IRB Rugby and ICC Cricket World Cup at the peak of the PAGAD and Boeremag terror.

Then last week, just prior to the start of the Africa Nations’ Cup a small terrorist group operating in the oil-rich Cabinda enclave decided to attack two buses transporting Togolese players and suddenly South Africa must justify why it has to host the FIFA World Cup irrespective of the attack in Cabinda.

South Africa owes no foreign media or travel agent any explanation or response. If anyone wants to visit South Africa they should do so without asking funny questions. What makes the hypocrisy of foreigners so sickening is that they are the same who never raised the same issues when their rebel rugby teams were visiting South Africa during apartheid in the 1980s.

The situation then was so worse that Mozambique, Angola and South West Africa (now Namibia) were engulfed in their own civil wars. The possibility of any foreign all-white team being blown by a bomb planted in Pretoria or Cape Town was so real. However they did come and today they have the audacity to question if a black-led country with a black-led Local Organising Committee can secure the tournament.

LOC Chief Executive Officer Danny Jordan was on point when he questioned if the war in Afghanistan rendered the whole Asia, including Korea and Japan unsafe. He could have mentioned that there was a terrorist nerve gas attack on a Tokyo subway in 1995 but they still hosted the World Cup years later. However the very same vigil foreign media did not touch on that. There was a rape by US Marines of Japanese women in Okinawa Island years earlier and that was not touched on as a crime situation that can affect visitors.

Every country has its own problems. It is the extent of that country’s intelligence community that determines if such a fire can be put out or not. Africa has its own unique terrorist problems like Sudanese Liberation Army, Militia for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta etc. Europe as well has its own Baader Meinhofs, IRAs etc. The US has militia organizations and the Ku Klux Klan. South America has FARC and the Tupac Amarus. The Middle East has Kach and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Asia has the Abu Sayyaf and AUM Shinrikyo.

Does that mean the world should stop meeting in the spirit of sports and allow terrorism to triumph? Does that mean the actions of the Togolese government which played on the hands of Africa’s detractors should be condemned or condoned? There is no right or wrong answer. But the yardstick that the international media uses to judge Africa, especially South Africa should be the same everywhere else. Or rather they should just purchase a political map of the world and use rulers to calculate the distance between Cabinda and South Africa, New York and Atlanta, London and Paris, Madrid and Copenhagen and then advocate from an informed position.