With this week’s release of Clint Eastwood’s film Invictus, many are wondering if football really does have the impact to be a ‘force for good in Africa’ as it seems to have had in 1995 apartheid South Africa.   The BBC conducted a survey in which they included two historical examples in which football has had an impact on the political, military, and government agencies in Africa and then asked for readers opinions on the importance of the sport.

Ethopian Football Fans

Here are four responses from individuals in various African nations.

“Football, like anything else, can be a focre for good or ill.Off the pitch, its influence to a large exent is positive.In Liberia for instance ,during the civil war when the nation had nothing to look up to,people like George Weah and his team mates through football gave his compatriots the invaluable gift of HOPE for the future.Something to cheer and live for.In Ghana a good performance of the national teams as happened in Egypt 2009, and Germany 2006 helps in calming the political space,

Kojo, Accra , Ghana”

Yes I believe in Africa Football can change Africa. The most important feature with football is its ability to bring people together because of one cause. Africa has many tribes and ethnicities but with football all this is put aside and people celebrate as one. This has been witnessed in Uganda. Its also through football that resources in the dark continent can be discovered and utilized.

kagga Louis, Kampala Uganda”

“Football is the only language that Cameroonians speak in unison. This is a complex country of about 245 ethnic groups, each with its own language and culture. Plus, politics has polarised Cameroonians to the extent that some citizens canot bear to see their fellow country men eye ball to eye ball. But when it comes to football, we are one: enemies become friends. The government is so much aware of this that it can seize advantage of a football mach and raise fuel prices without any qualms.

Austin achunkwe, Buea, Cameroon”

Football can’t change africa for better neither can 8s improve any segment on the continent.since 1930 we heard of football history we having seen d impact football had made cuz we only know of millionaries footballers n having seen any estates of these highly paid soccer legeed.we cheer them everyday but they r not willing 2 give 2 their respective country.footbal had only change our mind from stress and an unhappy spirit.we don’t ve an academy of sport in africa.football made us 2 b happy

Jefferson G Togba, Monrovia, Liberia”

Uganda Bans Female Mutilation

December 12, 2009

The Uganda parliament has unanimously passed a bill banning female genital mutilation, a practice mostly used in the northeastern region of the country.

Female mutilation, or female circumcision, involves the removal of a female’s clitoris or other genital parts at a very young age in hopes of ensuring virginity and in preparation for marriage. Critics say it prevents pleasure for women during sexual intercourse, leads to complications during childbirth and increases other health risks such as infection and bleeding.

Anyone convicted of female circumcision may face up to10 years in jail, or a life sentence if a victim dies as a result of the surgery.

In some countries FGM is seen as a way to ensure virginity (BBC)

MP Alice Alaso told the BBC’s Focus on Africa program that, “It’s a very bad practice. It’s cruel, it traumatizes people, it’s led children to drop out of school, it’s a health hazard.  This is a warning signal – whoever dares practice female genital mutilation will be subject to the law.”

And another MP, Lulume Bayiga, said the ‘law would liberate both men and women – who often face being ostracised for shunning the custom.’

Uganda’s shadow health minister, Francis Epetait, told AFP, “This operation is so painful, so cruel, and these so-called surgeons are paid to do it.  I supported the bill with all my strength and heart.”

In 2007, the United Nations passed a resolution which labeled female genital mutilation “irreparable, irreversible abuse” and deemed it  a violation of the rights of women.   The United Nations estimates that 100 to 140 million women worldwide are victims of female mutilation.

Rwanda has declared a war on government corruption and has fined and jailed more than four of the country’s top leaders to prove they mean business.

The UK’s Telegraph writes, “Most African governments like talking about their fight against corruption, seen as one of the biggest barriers to development on the continent, but Rwanda, most notably for the past two years, has been putting its money where its mouth is.”


According to AFP, close to 1,000 people have been investigated for corruption in this small central African nation.

Rwanda ranked top amongst central and eastern African countries and 89th worldwide in the 2009 report of Transparency International, which compares the anti-corruption efforts of 180 countries.

The chief prosecutor for Rwanda, Martin Ngoga, is leading the crusade against economic and financial crimes in politics.

Ngoga, despite the high praise from world organizations, states,  “I am keen not to be complacent about our very modest achievements. Even if Transparency International says that Rwanda is less corrupt, it is not a very good position. It is still a comparison among the corrupt.”

Zulu Ritual Remains Intact

December 4, 2009

Every year during a thanksgiving ritual known as Ukushwama, young members of the Zulu tribe kill a bull using their hands.  Animal Rights Africa, however, has been trying to ban the bull-killing ritual in South Africa. But Judge Nic van der Reyden of the Pietermaritzburg High Court in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) province disagrees and ruled this week against the animal rights group.

Digital Journal reported  van der Reyden stating, “the bull was killed to transfer powers to the king, if this is stopped, the symbolic powers would be stopped. In effect, you are killing the king.” Also likening the prevention of the event as “ tantamount to telling Catholics not to take communion”.

ARA claims the ritual takes upwards of 40 minutes and involves dozens of men forcefully trying to break the bull’s neck with their hands and feet.

Meanwhile, Inkatha Freedom Party Member of Parliament, Albert Mncwango told the BBC that the killing “doesn’t even take a minute”.

New sagency Xinhua reported Zwelithini’s spokesman, Nhlanhla Mtaka, comments on the court proceedings, in which he stated, “We view this as nothing but a publicity stunt aimed at seeking donations.  It will be interesting to see how many donations they (ARA) have received after taking this matter to the media.”


Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said in a press conference this week that the country is “turning a new chapter and that chapter is providing opportunities for Zimbabweans who are probably now living in worse conditions abroad (than they would at home).”

South Africa has promised to overhaul the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients within the African nation.  In a speech marking World AIDS Day, December 1, President Jacob Zuma outlined a number of policy changes, which he hopes will be put in place before April 2010.

The BBC reported that UK’s Department for International Development welcomed the changes, saying, “South Africa has turned a corner and is embarking on a new and bold drive to take responsibility for tackling HIV and Aids.  The UK will continue to support South Africa to realize its ambition of reducing new HIV infections and increasing access to effective treatments.”

Zuma announced all South African babies under the age of one will be treated if they test HIV-positive and promised more anti-retrovirals – ‘drugs which the previous government said were too costly’, according to the BBC.

In his speech, President Zuma said, “Let there be no more shame, no more blame, no more discrimination and no more stigma. Let the politicization and endless debates about HIV and Aids stop.”

The speech conveyed a completely different message than the previous president who outright denied any correlation between the HIV virus and AIDS.

However, not every is so confident in the leaders abilities to raise awareness. Al-Jazeera English reports, “In some ways, Zuma is an unlikely champion for Aids activists.  In 2006, while being tried on charges of raping an HIV-positive woman, he was ridiculed for testifying that he took a shower after sex to lower the risk of Aids.

An estimated 59,000 babies are born with HIV every year in South Africa, adding to a country with highest number of people living with the virus- over 5 million.

AIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA

5.2m people with HIV

17% of people aged 15-49 HIV-positive

1.5m adults need Aids drugs in 2009

106,000 children under 15 need ARVs

413,000 new infections in 2009

59,000 of these are children

Source: Statistics South Africa

Last month, the African nation of Uganda proposed an anti-homosexuality bill, making anyone caught engaging in homosexuality liable to be sentenced to life in prison. Homosexuals, who are HIV positive and knowingly take part in a sexual act or engage in sex with an individual under the age of 18, are liable to be sentenced to death under the crime of “aggravated homosexuality”.

Speaker Edward Sekandi told Daily Monitor that the new legislation was necessary “to do whatever we can to stop” homosexuality in Uganda. “We don’t support that practice.”

However, the global response has been anything but supportive of the initiative.

Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, said, “This draft bill is clearly an attempt to divide and weaken civil society by striking at one of its most marginalized groups.  The government may be starting here, but who will be next?”

The United States has said they will continue  President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding to Uganda despite the antigay violence.  QUEERTY, a gay blog, writes that the PEPFAR coordinator’s decision is  “…propping up a nation that still treats HIV as “the gay disease,” that further stigmatizez the queer community, and is now calling for the murder of anyone who dares involve themselves in same-sex sex.”

Truthwinsout.org comments on why they don’t support the PEPFAR decision. “HIV/AIDS in Uganda is primarily a heterosexual phenomenon; Goosby falsely contends that it is a homosexual phenomenon that threatens the “general population and the bill would criminalize key aspects of comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention education and imprison health-care workers who refuse to report sexually active gay patients to the police.”

Uganda, the outgoing chair of the Commonwealth,  is expected to promote, among other issues, human rights as part of their membership in the international organization.

But, Times Online quoted Stephen Lewis, the former UN envoy on Aids in Africa, as saying Uganda’s bill goes against the Commonwealth’s principles, stating, “Nothing is as stark, punitive and redolent of hate as the Bill in Uganda.”

The proposed anti-homosexual bill also threatens anyone found promoting homosexuality or anyone who fails to report known homosexuality activity.

The bill is currently making its way through the country’s Parliament.

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries.  Currently, South Africa is the only nation on the continent that legally allows gay marriage.