For Africans, the Nations Cup provides an opportunity for us to show off our avalanche of talents splashed around the biggest clubs in the world. Every two years is for the CAN and despite recent outbursts by some European football clubs-especially the English to the effect that the calendar for the tournament should be reviewed.
They can go to hell, has always been the phrase in rebuttal. You pay the cash and so what? After all we develop the talents for you to come and take them away. The contributions of African players in the big leagues can’t be under estimated.
When Angola was handed out the CAN after African football authorities had done their assessment, people raised vey little objections. It’s true Angola had gone through decades of civil war and parts of the country are popular with landmines.
There are scores of amputees to prove this-but life still goes on. Thankfully after the death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, the government decided it was time to sit around the table and talk to moderate elements within the UNITA ranks. That final act brought silent to the guns, so most people say. However not everyone was happy.
The people of Cabinda, a small enclave stashed between the nostrils of DR Congo and Angola and said to be home to vast oil fields, are unhappy with Luanda. They want to be independent and control their own destines. Luanda will however have none of that. Oil, like blood, is life and Dos Santos, the president, would not let that happen. Over his dead body.
He needs the oil cash to stay in power till death.
The Nations Cup was a good opportunity to tell the world Angola is free from the war and that he is in charge. That all rebel elements are just making noise without any real power of their own. Well, he got all that wrong. A fractured arm of the group Flec(Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda) saw an opening in the Nations Cup.
They ambushed travelling Togolese team officials and players heading off to the tournament village in Cabinda and after only 5km off the border, the machine guns started blazing. When the guns went dead, three people had lost their lives with two others seriously wounded. The rest of the squad were left traumatised. Angola was suddenly in the news again for all the wrong reasons.
Why Cabinda? Was the question most people began asking. Flec rebels however were excited they had made their strongest statement. They splashed serious eggs on the face of Dos Santos, as former BBC journalist Lara Pawson, who spent several years in Angola, said. She knows Cabinda very well and despite that, she’s never failed to travel through that part of town without the help of some of the rebel leadership.
Flec has made a statement and forever in the history of the tournament, their names will forever be remembered.