The New York Times has published another of rock star Bono’s stupid “op-eds.” This time some nonsense titled “Ten for the Next Ten.”  The last item on the list is the 2010 World Cup to held in South Africa next summer (actually it will be winter down there then). Anyway, Bono goes on about how it is “… getting easier to describe to Americans the impact of the World Cup — especially the impact it will have in Africa.”

According to Bono,

… A few years ago, Ivory Coast was splitting apart and in the midst of civil war when its national team qualified for the 2006 jamboree. The response was so ecstatic that the war was largely put on hold as something more important than deathly combat took place, i.e. a soccer match. The team became a symbol of how the different tribes could — and did — get on after the tournament was over.

Not actually so says a friend of mine who is an expert on matters Ivorian (he has an unfinished PhD to prove it):

… Actually the civil war (which was minor in comparison to some other countries) lasted 4 months, from Sept 2002 to Jan 2003. The ensuing situation, of a territorial split with a tenuous national unity government, and continually postponed elections, took hold in 2003 and continues to this day. Whatever Ivory Coast was “in the midst of” in 2006, it still is now. Second, “a symbol of how the different tribes could get on” is idiotically reductive of the causes and expressions of the conflict, nevermind the colonial language. The item inscribes Africa as a place of “deathly combat” among “tribes” as if conflict did not have stakes other than primitive essentialism.

And I may add: If my friend is right about the time frame of the civil war, how could Cote d’Ivoire have qualified since no team can secure qualification for the World Cup four to three years before it actually takes place. Places in the final competition are usually decided within one year of kick-off o the World Cup.

Bono, also, after throwing around Nelson Mandela’s name in vain, also repeats the nonsense that somehow the World Cup will bring jobs and economic development to South African region. No football fan thinks that.

The full column if you have time to waste.

Further Reading

No more caricatures

Engaging seriously with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life could help us understand how South Africa got where it is and where it’s going.