It was supposed to be the football party before the South African festival, instead, Angola’s showpiece event has disintegrated in a hail of machinegun fire. The victims are the Togolese delegation to the games. They planned to make headlines in Angola, but not like this. The report of gunfire will resound in South Africa where football administrators will be squirming in their bullet-proof vests as they plan a hijack-free World Cup. With the death of the Togolese reserve goalkeeper, an already tragic situation worsens. The Cabinda insurrection is as old as the independent country, and if the Angolan war is over, Cabinda province continues as an incubation of resentment.
The FLEC rebels responsible for this cynical inhospitality will surely count the worldwide publicity that this incident has provoked as a great success for their cause. Adebayor says he feels disgraced by the incident. This is hardly an issue on which to contest equality, but terrorism does not pause for sports, anywhere in the world – in 1972, the Munich Olympics was marred by the murder of 11 hostage-athletes by Black September. More recently, British cricketers have been targeted in India.
What is clear is that a fifty-year-old dialogue that should have been conducted around a negotiation table is still being pursued by arms. The case for an Arms-Free-Africa is more valid than ever. The disgrace – and the nightmare – that Adebayo and his unfortunate colleagues have suffered keenly for thirty minutes is a life sentence for millions of Africans – and people in crisis areas around the world. For them, there is no possibility of a presidential jet waiting at the nearest airport to evacuate them from harm’s way.
We can do better than this.