Thursday, 6 September 2007

Sarkozy and the Big Match

I have not yet commented on French President Sarkozy's speech on Africa last week, delivered in Dakar. It included this particularly patronising paragraph:

"The African peasant, who for thousands of years has lived according to the seasons, whose life ideal was to be in harmony with nature, only knew the eternal renewal of time ... In this imaginary world, where everything starts over and over again, there is room neither for human endeavour, nor for the idea of progress"

Sarkozy's description, apart from being historically inaccurate and bordering on racist, is totally unhelpful in the current climate. It reeks of the former colonial master justifying their involvement in Africa as a civilising mission, to help these poor, backward people 'progress' towards some undefined end. Let's also hope it was his desire to shock, and not out of a genuine belief, that he purported to summarise a continent of 53 countries and 900 million people as never having 'entered history'. As an analysis from the President of a major world power (sorry I meant France) it was not only personally offensive to many Africans, but was also politically mistaken. He had a chance to recast France's relationship with Africa on more equal terms but I fear that opportunity may now have been lost.

In Kampala tension continues to build ahead of Saturday's game between Uganda and Niger. Everyone is talking about it and I wouldn't be surprised if the complex qualification scenarios have significantly raised the nation's mathematical IQ. Star player David Obua, who plays for Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa, has been involved in typical club v country battle but has promised to fly in tonight, much to the relief of coach Csaba. Radio stations are urging anybody who can to make sure they go to the stadium so I expect it will be quite an atmosphere.

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