We are the reason Africa hates us with such passion
Have we ever wondered why the continent has such scant respect for us?
Whether it is on the political or sporting front, the continent has little regard for South Africa, despite it being a major role player, economically or otherwise.
Take the issue of Tokyo Sexwale that we are currently crying over. The man expected the African vote in his bid to become Fifa president but he never had the courtesy to visit African countries. Instead, he was busy gallivanting all over Europe, the US and the posh United Arab Emirates.
And now comes the Ajax Cape Town issue of them refusing to play in Angola, citing security matters. What security issues in a country where there is no civil war or strife? Maybe Ajax are seeing the ghost of former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi – a man who was killed in an attack by government troops more than a decade ago.
But jokes aside, these are the very same stereotypes that perpetuate the hatred Africa has for us. Aided by sporadic xenophobic attacks, we are digging our own graves when it comes to alienating ourselves from Africa.
We can go and play in Europe but have contempt for our own continent. We are part of this continent, whether we like it or not.
It is a slap in the face for all the hard work Orlando Pirates did by earning the country two spots each in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup.
And then this. So much for all Pirates’ hard work in Africa.
Ajax withdrawing from the Confederation Cup this week did not come as a complete surprise to me. Methinks Ajax’s withdrawal was long coming and they were just waiting for the opportune moment to announce it.
My thinking is that the decision had more to do with Ajax’s precarious position on the Absa Premiership log – fighting for survival in the league – than it did with anything about Angola. They are in 13th place and things are not looking too good for them. They know that taking part in a continental tournament will tax their young and inexperienced squad and compromise their performance in the league.
So what did they do? They came up with the lame excuse of not wanting to travel to Angola.
This is what Ajax said in their statement: “Ajax Cape Town has been attempting for weeks to seek clarity from the Angolan Football Federation as regards the internal travel arrangements for the match against Sagrada Esperança in Dundo on Saturday, February 13.”
But I happened to see part of the correspondence of January 29 from the Angolan football association to South African authorities, which read: “Every day we hear new stories from this team [Ajax]. Next thing we know, they will tell us that the region does not exist. The arrangements to connect to Dundo depends on their arrival and never the other way around, which is never heard of.
“Sagrada Esperança is a team of the Endiama, one of the biggest diamond companies in the world, which has partnerships with South African and world companies. They have private flights for their services.
“We should be talking football here. In Angolan sports history, we do not have records of teams playing in unsafe or non-appropriate grounds.”
It is clear from this correspondence that Ajax have no leg to stand on.
Safa must refuse the move by Ajax to withdraw or make an example of them by punishing them both financially and banning them. We know that CAF will also come down hard with its own punishments – but Safa must show a ruthless hand.
Financial punishment for this 11thhour withdrawal must work as a deterrent to other would-be offenders.
Next time we should not feel aggrieved if the continent treats us dismissively. We are the main instigators of what is coming our way.