Category Archives: Angola


From: Joachim Omolo Ouko
News Dispatch with Omolo Joachim

Sylvester De Margaret from Angola has posted on his Facebook timeline interesting story on Angola independence: “When an African country is celebrating its independence, I ask: are the people celebrating an independence because they were able to send away the oppressor and became oppressed by their own or do they really know what it means to be independent?

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santo

Angola today celebrates 40 years of what? Independence? May be a camouflaged independence where we continue to suffer the same marginalisation, oppression, domination and above all, the only rule that governs Africa is Eat as much as you can despite the plea of the dying population. Who will help you get real and lasting independence from these greedy-heartless African leaders?”

Even after independence Angola is still fighting. The three liberation groups, MPLA, FNLA, and UNITA, have been provoked into a bloody civil war. The cause of the war lies in the contention of the two superpowers for domination over resources.

The government continues targeting outspoken journalists and activists with criminal defamation lawsuits, arbitrary arrests, unfair trials, intimidation, harassment, and surveillance. The police use excessive force and engage in arbitrary arrests to stop peaceful anti-government protests and other gatherings.

Outspoken human rights activists, journalists, human rights lawyers, and youth protest activists reported repeated harassment, intimidation, and pervasive surveillance by police and intelligence agents.

Freedom of expression is severely restricted in Angola due to censorship and self-censorship in state media and ruling party-controlled private media and other forms of government repression. In such a climate, Internet blogs and social media have become the main channels for open debate.

Economic hardship and poor governance remain core issues. There have been numerous demonstrations by youths and war veterans, protesting about economic misery in a country where the cost of living is among the highest in the world.

Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578
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From: joachim omolo ouko
News Dispatch with Father Omolo Beste
TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014

Rachel from Nyali, Mombasa writes: “Fr Beste you really shocked me. Since when did Catholic Church receive married Anglicans or other Protestants clergy to return to the full communion of the Catholic Church as priests? If this is the case then the Pope should just waive celibacy as a condition to become a priest or religious.

In fact I have a boy in form two who wants to become a priest after he completes school. I am afraid if I tell him about married Protestant clergy who return to catholic priests I am sure he will also be shocked. Otherwise I liked the way you answered Jerry. With his high sexual urges which he cannot be able to control better not to become a priest. My advice to him is that he should just forget about it and let him focus on other things.”

Thank you for this important question Rachel. Since according to long-standing Church discipline, Roman Catholic priests and religious are chosen from those who pledge to remain celibate, it is not a grantee that since married Anglicans become Catholic priests the Pope Francis should waive celibacy as a condition to priesthood.

I am of the opinion that you should just tell your son about it. This will help him make a mature decision. The Code of Canon Law reads: “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity” (Canon 277).

According to this Canon, permanent deacons can be either celibate or married. The decision must be made prior to ordination. In Kenya and many parts of Africa we don’t have permanent deacons as yet.

What you should also know Rachel is that priestly celibacy isn’t a tradition in the major sense of a dogmatic teaching, but rather an ancient and honored discipline which can be changed. You should also be aware that just because the issue may become a topic of discussion within the Vatican does not mean change will happen anytime soon.

For any change in the Catholic Church it must be gradual and very carefully considered. If a change happens, it will be the result of careful deliberation, pastoral and prayerful contemplation. This may not occur during the tenure of Pope Francis as reformed catholic priests would wish. To their surprise it is unlikely to happen so soon.

Another point you should also know is that Pope Francis has not himself said there is possibility of waiving celibacy. This is just the mainstream media, which is all atwitter made by Pope Francis’s incoming secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who is set to replace Cardinal Tarciscio Berone as the head of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State about the possibility of eliminating clerical celibacy.

He said this in Caracas, Venezuela, where he has been serving as papal nuncio (ambassador) to Venezuela. Apparently, it was an interview in anticipation of his leaving his role as the apostolic nuncio and going back to Rome to become Secretary of State.

In his discussion with the interviewer, following exchange occurred- Archbishop Pietro Parolin was quoted to have said: “Aren’t there two types of dogmas? Aren’t there unmovable dogmas that were instituted by Jesus and then there are those that came afterwards, during the course of the church’s history, created by men and therefore susceptible to change”?

In other words, it is not a church dogma and it can be discussed because it is a church tradition. According to Archbishop Pietro Parolin therefore, the work the church did to institute ecclesiastical celibacy must be considered.

This is a great challenge for the pope, because before he decides he must weigh the attitude of Catholic faithful, majority I believe would love to see priests and religious remain celibate. This is because pope is the one with the ministry of unity and all of those decisions must be made thinking of the unity of the church and not to divide it.

It is just the way you have been shocked that married Anglican clergy can cross to Catholic and become a priest in the Catholic Church with his family. This asserts what the archbishop stated that clerical celibacy is not a dogma but a matter of discipline- otherwise married Anglicans clergy would have not allowed crossing over to the Catholic.

Even though in the book Pope Francis: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio (an interview book done before he was pope), Cardinal Bergoglio said: Let’s see . . . I’ll begin with the last question: whether or not the Church is ever going to change its position with regard to celibacy, we cannot rush to the conclusion that this is what he meant exactly.

Conversation continues: “First, let me say I don’t like to play mind-reader. But assuming that the Church did change its position, I don’t believe it would be because of a lack of priests. Nor do I think celibacy would be a requirement for all who wanted to embrace priesthood.

If it did, hypothetically, do so, it would be for cultural reasons, as is the case in the East, where married men can be ordained. There, at a particular time and in that particular culture, it was so, and it continues to be so today.

I can’t stress enough that if the Church were to change its position at some point, it would be to confront a cultural problem in a particular place; it would not be a global issue or an issue of personal choice. That is my belief. . . .Right now I stand by Benedict XVI, who said that celibacy should be maintained.

Now, what kind of effect will this have on the number of those called to the priesthood? I am not convinced that eliminating celibacy would cause such an increase in those called to the priesthood as to make up for the shortage”.

The Eastern Catholic Church, like the Orthodox Church, has allowed either married or celibate men to be considered for ordination to either the diaconate in Christ or priesthood. Celibacy or marriage as a state in life is determined before the first ordination to the Diaconate. Bishops are chosen from the ranks of the celibate clergy.

Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578
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U.S.& Angola: Africa: Remarks While Touring a GE Facility in Luanda

From: U.S. Department of State
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Luanda, Angola
May 4, 2014

Well, Jay Ireland, thank you very much for a generous welcome here to General Electric in Luanda in the center of this extraordinary economic activity. I’m very excited to be here. I’m sorry that my wife is not here, because she was born in Mozambique and speaks – her first language is Portuguese. (Applause.) So I hear it around the house all the time – muito obrigadoand all that stuff. (Laughter.)

But it’s a privilege for me to be able to be here, and I want to thank Foreign Minister Chikoti for his welcome and for the opportunity to be able to meet the president tomorrow and have a good conversation about the bilateral relationship between the United States and Angola. I am particularly pleased to be here with other representatives of the oil and gas industry, a representative from Chevron, from ConocoPhilips, as well as from ExxonMobil – Esso, as you call it here. And I’m very grateful that the representative from the U.S.-Angola Chamber of Commerce is here, too.

As you’ve heard in the earlier introductions, I’m here with former United States Senator Russ Feingold, who is our – President Obama’s and my special envoy to the Great Lakes region and who is working to produce greater stability and peace in the region. President dos Santos and Angola have provided important leadership, and I want to thank you, Angola, for the leadership an the participation and the help to solve conflicts that have gone on for too long.

But as I mentioned a moment ago, we’re standing in a place of enormous economic activity with great promise for future economic growth and development. I am accompanied on this trip by the president and CEO of the EximBank[1], Elizabeth Littlefield, because the EximBank[2] is very much a partner with General Electric and very involved in helping to support economic development here in Angola and in other parts of Africa.

In fact, though EximBank[2] we have just provided a $600 million, just about a $600 million loan guarantee that will assist in the purchase of a Boeing 777 for Angola. This will grow the opportunity of, obviously, more ability to have business and more ability to have trade, and also for people to simply come to be able to engage in some of the exciting things that are happening in Angola. In addition, Exim[2] is providing another $300 million or so of additional economic investment here in Angola.

So let me just say quickly why being here is important today. Africa is changing. Eight of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world are here in Africa. There is enormous opportunity for the people of Africa, the people of Angola, to be able to gain in healthcare, in education, in jobs, in the quality of life. And I know the government is very focused on how to provide for increased standard of living for the people of the country. That comes from fair and reasonable trade agreements where everybody benefits, where there’s an ability to create jobs. When a Boeing airliner is bought from Boeing, it creates jobs in America, but it will also create jobs and opportunity here in Angola.

General Electric has recently sold four power turbines to Angola. This is for a project in Soyo. And this will help provide the power that then generates the ability for hospitals, for schools, for homes, for cities, for stores to be able to grow and prosper. So we believe there are great opportunities on which we can build where, most importantly, Angolans will benefit.

I just spoke with the representative for ConocoPhillips, who tells me and the representative for Chevron – who tell me about the several thousands of employees. ConocoPhilipps is newer here, but Chevron has about 3,500 workers employed. So more and more Angolans are being trained to take on more and more different kinds of important jobs.

The first lady of Angola was in Los Angeles a number of years ago, and she was talking with the executives there about a disease here in Angola. A lot of people thought you couldn’t do anything about it. But Chevron, which had been working here for many years, stepped up and they talked with the Texas Children’s Hospital and they got care to be able to come her to help cure this disease for children. More than 3,000 children’s lives have been saved

So this is not just about business. This is about building a relationship between two people, two countries, and building a future. And when I look out at the economic energy out here in the port in all these containers and these ships and the work that you’re doing, I am confident that Angola, working together as you are now, will be able to help contribute to an extraordinary journey in Africa as a whole, and we will provide greater opportunity to everybody.

Thank you for the privilege. Muito obrigado. (Applause.)

[1] Elizabeth Littlefield is the president and CEO of OPIC.

[2] OPIC

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Race relations in Angola

From: This is Africa

Hello friends,

You’ve heard about the Portuguese emigrating to Angola to escape the economic pain in their own country. There have never been as many Portuguese people in Angola as there are now, not even when Angola was under Portuguese colonial rule. But with a 26% unemployment rate in Angola, not to mention the colonial history shared by the two countries, you can’t help wondering what the Angolans think of all this. What are race relations like between black Angolans and the white Portuguese? Well, the answer depends on who you talk to, as we discovered in our investigation of race in Angola. We hope it provides some food for thought.

I’d like to take this opportunity to give you a heads-up on some improvements coming to the TIA website in the first half of October. I won’t go into details here, but we’re confident in saying the changes will make your visits even more enjoyable.

Enjoy the rest of this update.


Siji Jabbar (Editor)

– – – – – – – – – –

investigation of race in Angola.

ANGOLA, LUANDA | “Angolan women don’t like the Portuguese,” says Amelia (30, office cleaner) in a matter-of-fact manner to This is Africa. If you’re not familiar with Angola you might expect this to be the start of a rant against her racist ex-colonisers, but it is, instead, more about aesthetics, as she goes on to explain that the Portuguese are “ugly, impolite and arrogant”. “They’re hideous and short, with fat stomachs, and their asses are turned inwards,” she says with a broad, naughty smile, hilariously imitating their allegedly inelegant walking style and funny accents. “Of course some of them are nice,” she adds.

The jokey way in which she says all this is illustrative of the relaxed way the various races in Angola interact.

[ . . . ]

What does Angola’s middle class have to say about the elections?

From: This is Africa

Hello people,

Received wisdom has it that political change is largely driven by the middle classes. For instance, most of those coordinating the North African protests were middle class. So why, in Angola, did the protests against the re-election of the party of the world’s third-longest serving ruler remain so small scale, despite the fact that many of those protesting were middle class? As the country goes to the polls today, we bring you the third instalment in our series about the world’s fastest growing economy.

We hope you enjoy the piece, and the rest of this update.


Siji Jabbar (Editor)

third instalment


By Agwanda Saye in Cabinda.

Authorities in Angola’s enclave of Cabinda must immediately launch an investigation into the robbery at the home of an independent journalist on Sunday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Unidentified assailants ransacked the house of José Manuel Gimbi, a correspondent of the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America and a human rights lawyer, at around 4 p.m., when no one was at home, the station reported. The assailants stole items related to the journalist’s work, including two computers, an external hard drive, a voice recorder, two USB sticks, and a bag containing important documents related to his work, Arão Tempo, a lawyer and Gimbi’s mentor, told CPJ. VOA reported that the assailants also stole some personal items, including books and jewelry belonging to Gimbi’s wife.

Although the motive for the attack was unclear, local journalists told CPJ they believed the assailants were targeting items used by Gimbi for his professional work. VOA reported that Gimbi had not reported any threats recently. The journalist filed a complaint with Cabinda’s police Criminal Investigation office, but officers had not yet visited the house, Tempo told CPJ.

Gimbi is one of only two independent journalists in Cabinda, a volatile region where the government is locked in a conflict with a low-level separatist insurgency. He had recently interviewed members of opposition party UNITA about their objection to proposed government amendments to the electoral law ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled in August. Last week, he reported from Abuja on a forum of experts and civil society members, where participants raised issues that included wealth disparity in oil-rich countries like Angola.

Gimbi has been targeted for his independent reporting and human rights advocacy in the past, according to CPJ research. In August 2011, gunmen raided his home and threatened unspecified harm against him, CPJ research shows.

“We condemn the attack of the home of José Manuel Gimbi, who is the ongoing target of threats and persecution for his independent reporting in Cabinda,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “We hold authorities in Cabinda responsible for Gimbi’s well-being and call on them to explore all leads in the case, including a political motive linked to the sensitive nature of the journalist’s work.”

Romão Macário Lembe, the vice-governor of Cabinda, told CPJ today that he was not aware of the burglary. “I have not heard anything, either on radio or in the independent newspapers. There are things that people say on the airwaves of VOA that are not true. My first reaction is to cast doubt on your information. But I am not saying that it is false, either. I am going to try to find out.” He also suggested the robbery could have been a random act. “Here, robberies are numerous. The robbers come from neighboring countries and go back there. We lead investigations, but we never find them.”

Angola: End Violence Against Peaceful Protests

from Yona Maro

(Johannesburg) – The Angolan government should end its use of unnecessary force, including by plainclothes agents, against peaceful anti-government protests, Human Rights Watch said today.

On December 3, 2011, police and plainclothes security agents violently dispersed a peaceful rally of about 100 youth in Luanda, the capital, and injured at least 14, one of whom had a serious face wound, Human Rights Watch said. The demonstrators were protesting the 32-year rule of President José Eduardo dos Santos, whom they blame for rampant corruption, widespread poverty, and political repression. The security agents used an irritant spray against journalists and a Human Rights Watch researcher, who were covering the demonstration. The police briefly detained four Angolan journalists, but denied the arrests in a statement quoted by the state-owned news agency Angop on December 4.

“If the Angolan government was hoping to hide its violent attacks on peaceful demonstrators, it has failed,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Government agents used unnecessary force against peaceful protesters, and then tried to keep journalists from reporting it.”

The December 3 rally by the youth movement, which is loosely grouped via social media, was one of several anti-government protests over the past few months. Marches were planned to start at two points in Luanda’s poor and populous periphery – Cazenga and São Paulo – and to converge at Independence Square in the city center. From there they were to head to the presidential palace. In keeping with legal requirements, the organizers informed Angolan authorities, but the organizers did not receive an official response.

In Cazenga, a Human Rights Watch researcher observed several police officers with military assault rifles – in addition to the police with batons and plainclothes agents – enter the area of the demonstration after journalists left the area. At that point, demonstrators told Human Right Watch, the security forces violently attacked them with the batons and irritant liquids. The researcher saw a police car moving at high speed down a street that was partly occupied by demonstrators. Witnesses reported that the car, which they alleged was the local police commander’s, struck and injured a demonstrator.

In the city center, the authorities blocked access to Independence Square and deployed a large force of uniformed and plainclothes police, dog and horse squads, and helicopters.Security agents in civilian clothes, most of them wearing hats and sunglasses to conceal their faces, were highly visible at the rallies and participated in the police crackdown.Human Rights Watch observed police officers near Independence Square striking demonstrators with batons and chasing them to the main boulevard, where there was heavy traffic. Police did not seal off any streets to prevent accidents during the demonstration.

In Cazenga and the city center, Human Rights Watch observed plainclothes security agents carrying mineral water bottles that contained an unknown liquid. The agents were observed spraying the liquid at demonstrators, journalists and others, irritating their faces and eyes, causing temporary blindness and in some cases fainting.

In the afternoon at the boulevard near Independence Square, the same agents were seen spraying the bottled substance directly into the faces and eyes of protest leaders, and then beating them with batons. Security agents also targeted a journalist from Novo Jornal and unsuccessfully attempted to seize his camera. The agents also sprayed a Human Rights Watch researcher who was observing the crackdown and interviewing demonstrators, police officers and journalists. These attacks took place in front of uniformed police, who did nothing to intervene.

The Human Rights Watch researcher described the incident:

I was walking down the sidewalk toward Independence Square, waiting for a calm moment to cross the boulevard and join a group of journalists. I was interviewing one of the demonstrators, the rap musician Dionísio “Carbono” Casimiro. There were at least seven police officers and a dozen passers-by. We were about 20 meters away from the traffic island where the police were striking protesters with their batons. Suddenly, several men wearing plain clothes sprayed a liquid into our faces and eyes. The liquids created a burning sensation that blinded me for an instant, and I lost my glasses. The attackers didn’t beat me, although they later beat Carbono, who had fled in another direction. After I had washed the substance away with water, I went back and asked the police officers if they had seen anything. They denied any knowledge of the incident.

Human Rights Watch later identified the attackers on a video taken by a demonstrator. They were four men wearing hats and sunglasses, and carrying mineral water bottles.

At 4:30 p.m. near the Independence Square, police arrested four journalists – Isabel João and António Paulo from the private weekly newspaper Novo Jornal, Coque Mukuta from Rádio Despertar, and the prominent investigative journalist Rafael Marques – and drove them to the police post, where they were briefly detained.

The arrests occurred after several plainclothes security agents approached the journalists and the Human Rights Watch researcher, and aggressively ordered them to leave. The journalists asked them whether they were police agents who had the authority to order the journalists to leave a public place. One of the men replied, “We don’t have to explain anything to you. Just get out immediately.” On several occasions during the day, police officers accused journalists and observers of “encouraging” the demonstrators.

“The Angolan government should respect the rights of journalists and other observers to cover and report on political demonstrations and events,” Bekele said. “This is particularly important at a moment when Angola is heading for elections in 2012.”


Human Rights Watch has previously reported about excessive police violence at antigovernment rallies in Angola in 2011. In March, Human Rights Watch reported about a ruling party intimidation campaign and arbitrary arrests of journalists and rap musicians as they gathered for a demonstration planned for March 7, which eventually didn’t take place on March 7.

Many demonstrators involved in demonstrations since March have told Human Rights Watch that they have been subjected to intimidation and received anonymous phone calls threatening them and their families. Some said they filed complaints, but haven’t been able to get any information from the police about whether an investigation had taken place.

In September, Human Rights Watch documented excessive police violence, arbitrary arrests of demonstrators and attacks against journalists by police in plain clothes on September 3, and reported about the denial of due process to demonstrators, 18 of whom a police court unfairly convicted on September 12 and sentenced to terms varying from 45 to 90 days in prison for disobedience, resistance and “corporal offenses” against several police agents. On October 14, the Supreme Court overturned the convictions for lack of evidence and the imprisoned demonstrators were released, but they still face possible retrial by the lower court.

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On the 8th of January 2010 the Togolese national team – The Hawks – set out for Cabinda, Angola from the Congo to commence their campaign in the African Cup of Nations. A brief domestic risk assessment of this strategy would show that it is fraught with danger. And  it has proved to be a serious error of judgment.

The Cabinda region is almost totally engulfed by the two Congos on its northern, eastern and southern borders. It has the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The Congo had been particularly strife-ridden since the twilight days of the late Mobutu Sese-Seko. By the time Laurent Desire Kabila (Kabila Snr) was head of state, six separate armed conflict was on-going in the Congo. Congolese rebels were challenging Kabila Snr (they are still challenging his son Kabila Jnr); Rwanda had pushed the Interhamwe rebels deep into DRC territory and fighting was reported frequently; Uganda was fighting her rebels in the Congo; Sudan was doing the same; Burundian authorities and FFD rebels, Congo-Brazzaville and forces loyal to their deposed former President Lissouba; and between the Angolan government and UNITA rebels. This conflict became known as Africa’s Seven-Nation War. At some point in time even Namibia and Zimbabwe as part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had troops stationed in the Congo. The Cabinda region has been – to put it lightly – unstable for three decades. The area could be likened to the Niger-Delta area of Nigeria. It is oil-rich but poverty stricken. Reportedly more than half of Angola’s oil reserves are situated in the Cabina region and disgruntled separatist movements believe that the central government in Angola takes too much of it’s revenue. In the last decade hostilities have heightened in the Cabinda region with the emergence of the Renewed Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC-RENOVADA) One of its modus operandi is to target foreigners to try to gain international attention and news coverage for its movement to gain independence from Angola. Though there appeared to have been some sort of peace pact between Angola and FLEC, it appears not all within the separatist group has been carried along. It was this splinter group that ‘machine-gunned the team like dogs’ according to Togolese striker Thomas Dossevi. 

I have set this background so that we can get a brief glimpse into the international power play and geo-politics that existed and still exists to certain degrees in that theatre of conflict. This ban by CAF headed by the Cameroun’s Issa Hayatou has now brought up a series of serious wide ranging issues that goes beyond slapping Togo on the wristor the face, depending on which side of the fence you are.

To begin with the Togolese authorities need to ask the following questions:

1. Who was responsible for the bus trip?

The Vice President of the Togolese Football Federation Gabriel Ameyi told the Associated Press (AP) ‘They should not have travelled by road. They did not tell CAF that they were travelling by road. They should have flown to Angola.’ It does seem to me that there was a breakdown in the chain of command when the No. 2 man of a nation’s football body does not know the itinerary of his boys.

2. Why were the Togolese authorities not informed of the bus trip?

3. Why were the Angolan authorities and CAF not informed when a change of plans became imminent?

4. What measures were taken to ensure that an adequate security plan was in place before the team ventured into enemy territory?

There was a reason for the team to fly into Angola and not drive. The reason simply is that the team would have bypassed ground risk which caused this kind of fatalities. Also Angola had been locked in a deadly civil war since the late 70s that only lulled when the rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was ambushed and killed. One of the legacies of that war is that Angola remains one of the most landmined country in the world! Some experts say between 500, 000 and one million remains buried under Angolan soil. Others say it may be up to six million. Everyday there are dozens of landmine victims in Angola many are women and children. There is a proverb of the Yoruba people of Western Africa and it literally translates: ‘The visitor has eyes, but he cannot see.’ There is no way the Togolese delegation or any foreigner could have known Angola more than the Angolan government. Local knowledge of the area is invaluable. I remember vividly a field trip to Rwanda in 2001, we were guests of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Kigali. We travelled the lenght and breadth of Rwanda viz; Kigali, Butare, Gitarama, Murambi (I can’t remember the other cities now) under UN escorts to visit the UN facilities, the Gacaca Commission, Gacaca Courts, the prisons, various genocide sites et cetera. Everyday we were briefed on the risk assesmentment indicator and I think a trip to Gisenyi a border town to the DRC had to be cancelled. One of the drivers told me on one occassion that the DRC was just about 60km away.  That is what risk assesment is about and you must remember this was even seven years after the 1994 Genocide. Sometimes when the foreign clubs which pay the huge salaries of these players are scared to release them, the risk assesment plays a part. The clubs have a vested interest in protecting the huge investments they made on their players. God forbid, imagine if it was Emmanuel Adebayour that was hit? I think Manchester City’s lawyers would have gone for the jugular of both all parties involved namely the Togolese and Angolan authorities and most especially CAF. I think Issa Hayatou would have been battling with a negligence law suit right now. Not in hispersonal capacity of course, but as the corporate face of CAF.

Granted the Angolan authority might have wanted some of the games to be played in Cabinda. It is a political decision. It was meant to appease the disgruntled region and to make them feel a sense of belonging
to the Republic of Angola. The Angolan government also realises the power of sports. Football is like opium, it gives you a high. It transports you away from reality especially if your team is doing well. When the freest and fairest elections widely believed to have been won by the late MKO Abiola was cancelled by the Nigerian military in  1993, the anniversary of this shameful act coincided with the World Cup campaign in the US in 1994 Nigerians conveniently forgot that their mandate had been stolen; forgot the fuel scarcity and the long queues at the petrol pumps due to oil workers strike; forgot the skyrocketing food prices; forgot that the universities were shut down due to lecturers strike action forgot; that Abiola had declared himself as President and gone into hiding. As soon as Roberto Baggio literarily kicked us out of the World Cup, The country woke up from its slumber and Nigeria burned. But everytime Nigeria burnt, but we won trophies like the Tunis Cup of Nations in 1994, the Olympics Soccer Gold in 1996 it was a soothing balm on the festering sore of the nation’s political wounds and the international sanctions levelled at the military junta of General Sanni Abacha. Ironically, Nigeria did well in the sporting world under him and he used this as a trump card in international politics.

Thus when CAF say politics should be kept away from football the reality cannot be more far from this. The power of sports in international politics cannot be underated. The hosting rights given to South Africa for 2010 is political. Germany robbed her of that glory in 2006 when Franz Beckenbauer of Germany ran a very effective lobbying campaing to persuade the Oceania delegate Charles Dempsey, who had initially backed England. He had been instructed to support South Africa following England’s elimination. He abstained, citing “intolerable pressure” on the eve of the vote. Had Dempsey voted as originally instructed, the vote would have resulted with a 12-12 tie and Sepp Blatter who favoured South Africa would have casted the decidng vote. I rememember even the goodwill of President Mandela didn’t get the hosting rights for South Africa that year and he gave them a very strong worded piece of his mind. I can’t remember FIFA slapping a ban on SA because of that. Recently, the US President Barrack Obama had to appear in Copenhagen to lobby for his city of Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics. Brazil asked Pele to lead  Rio De Janeiro’s campaign. I leave it to you to conclude whether we can separate power play and political intervention from sports? However, Hayatou should have told the Angolan authorities that Cabinda was not going to get the nod giving the political and security assesment of the region. I am sure the Angolans would have accepted that than to lose the hosting rights of the tournament. And that leads me to the more serious error of CAF’s policy making judgment.

Here is a team that was subjected to a 20 minute unprovoked machine gun fire resulting in the death of three people.The goalkeeper was seriously injured and had to be flown to South Africa for emergency surgery. We could all see the shocking pictures on television and the players were traumatised. There was indeed conflicting information coming out of the Togolese camp. That information could have been properly managed. At some point they wanted to play, some did not want to. Eventually the Togolese government came out with a position -Come home! That decision would not have been taken lightly. Some of your citizens are dead, one severely with a career threatening injury, the rest are traumatised, your nation is mourning, some parents will never see their children again, some children their fathers, some families their breadwinners. That incident almost automatically undermined the hosting of the World Cup in South Africa. The international community panicked and rightly so! South Africa had to bring out its PR machine to contain the situation. The sensible thing for CAF would have been to just kept quiet and pray that the incident blows away quietly or they could have come out with a more compassionate and humane disposition to Togo.

It seems to me that Hayatou wants to score a political point with the Togolese authorities here. It sends a message of: ‘I am in charge! How dare you try to scuttle my tournament. I will send you away for the next two tournaments, you will also pay me $50, 000 for daring to pull such a stunt’. ‘Nonsense, nonsense upon stilts’ apologies to Jeremy Bentham. I was taught Jurisprudence and Legal Theory at the premier University of Ibadan by the revered Professor Agbede and he posits that the notion ‘Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’ is wrong. Agbede submitted that ‘Power tends to corrupt,and absolutely power tends to corrupt absolutely’. He cited the great Nelson Mandela as the example of his theory and an exception to the rule. Mandela was wrongly jailed for 27 years, became the most powerful man his country, never took revenge on the white minority government and relinquished power after four years. Hayatou became President of CAF in 1988 and it is a shame that after being the helmsman of CAF for about 22 years the best he can come up with to deal with this situation is to apply the letters of the law without examining the spirit of the laws. The draghtsman did not have it in mind that when a country is the object of a terrorist attack; the nation’s morale low; families in tatters; and it says come home my children let us cut our losses and bury your fallen comrades you must ban them and slap them with fines. What the legal draughtsman had in mind is that governments should not use it’s power in hiring and firing Football Association officials or to use government machinery to rig and impose officials. The law is to ensure stability and independence but for the greater development of the sport! Hayatou has done the exact oposite in this case. Once again Africa brings under scrutiny the  mentality of our leaders. This decision has made us the laughing stock of the world. What is wrong with Africa? Why must we always put ourselves in a position of mockery? The consequence of this ruling is that it will not stand on appeal, and the court of public opinion has condemned Hayatou. I think the honourable thing for him to do is to stand down as CAF President and allow room for fresh blood, fresh ideas for a more humane and compassionate CAF. Hayatou’s ridiculous decision is an indicator of why we are where we are in Africa today.

              Yona Fares Maro
I.T. Specialist and Digital Security Consultant