17 June, 2006

Soccer: the model!

I am not much of a soccer fan, but - the World Cup is some thing else! Like soccer or not - one feels it: the World Cup! Large screens have been placed in several public places around Mukalla; some one tells me, Germany provided the screens and projectors - I don't know if that is a fact.

A few days ago, I decided to watch the second half of the Tunisia-Saudi Arabia match on one of the screens; as both teams are Arab, most viewers found it difficult to side with either. And it was sort of strange, watching most viewers simply cheering both sides. But, it is last nights matches that I have so far, found most interesting. Two African teams, were involved: Ivory Coast and Angola.

I could not help thinking of the situation back in Africa where the teams came from; Angola, rich with oil and other minerals - has, still, most of its population living in poverty and disease, with most of Angola's 13 million people living on less than $2 a day and one child in four dying from a preventable disease before their fifth birthday. While its leaders, live lavishly and have huge foreign bank accounts!

And there is: Ivory Coast, a country once economically stable and strong- but now torn by civil war; a civil war that has caused, and continues to cause, enormous suffering and many deaths but the Ivorian national team, however, seems immune to nationalism and xenophobic taunts!

If only African leaders had the same spirit as these African teams! If only Africans could be as proud of their leaders and governments as they are of these African teams! Africa would have been totally different; and we too, could look forward to an 'African century' just as there is talk of the present century being an 'Asian century'!

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