Monday, January 11, 2010

Beauty overshadowed: the tragedy of Togo, and Africa

In anticipation of arguably the world's most popular sporting event, hundreds of publications are proclaiming that 2010 is the year for Africa. A year in which a predicted cumulative audience of some 30 billion people will learn to see South Africa, and by extension Africa, as a land of inviting arms, comforting smiles, incontestable talent/knowledge, undying perseverance, unparalleled economic opportunity, and much more. 
 
As the Economist says, South Africa will prove sceptics wrong. It will do Africa proud.

Tragically, Africa was anything but proud this past weekend, as terrorists' AK47 bullets pierced through the Togo national team's bus for over 15 minutes as the team travelled to Angola for the Africa Cup of Nations. 8 were injured. 3 were killed. Billions were left speechlessly in disbelief.

Being amongst the latter group, I won't write much, as I seem to be failing miserably at processing the unbelievability of the whole thing, let alone even collecting the facts. And words found in the papers certainly haven't helped much, with publications such as the NY Times surrendering hopeless realities such as: Sports are apart of life, and now death.

I will say this though, as a journaler and a big fan of everything beautiful: it's shockingly unsettling how simple it is to tarnish treasures, how quickly news of ugliness overshadows centuries of sacredness, and how -- despite all of the unspeakable beauty that Africa creates, and all the progress that it's made -- a tragedy (and it is a tragedy) such as this has the innate ability to destroy all of that beauty and progress, while resurrecting the stereotypes that too often enslave the continent.

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