WHAT is the relationship between the eight MDGs and the ‘coming of age’ of Soccer on the African Continent?
For when the sounds of the ‘vuvuzela’ start blurring across four South African cities, MDG campaigners will also stand up to make a point in order to be heard.
A few days ago, the clock chimed a 100 days left before the global curtain is raised on the first-ever World Cup on African soil and for a continent where the poverty situation has almost adorned a lifestyle status, the soccer balls that will be kicked around in Johannesburg’s Soccer City and other stadiums during the World Cup in South Africa will not be far-off from this sad reality.
The host nation itself, is grappling with glaring poverty coming on the backdrop of the generations long apartheid system in that country.
But that notwithstanding, for the nations surrounding South Africa and those beyond, this country is an economic colossus and is a beacon of hope for many and it is therefore clear that the FIFA 2010 World Cup cannot be isolated from the issues that MDGs activists seek to entrench and achieve towards the attainment of the goals by 2015.
Last week, the Civil Society MDG- Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) Zambia in collaboration with the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) launched a ‘Kick Out Poverty’ Campaign towards the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa in June.
“The Civil Society MDG campaign has identified the FIFA 2010 world football cup to be hosted in South Africa as a major opportunity for leveraging and raising the profile of its activities targeted at supporting citizens’ efforts to hold their governments to account for the accelerated achievement of MDGs in Zambia,” GCAP Zambia national director Dennis Nyati explained. “The World Cup will be used as a platform to organise many memorable public mobilisation actions and re-position the MDG campaign strategically both within Zambia and globally.”
Nyati said proposed activities in the campaign would be useful in publicising and deepening policy tasks with the aim of strategically influencing the reports that would be prepared and presented to Zambian governments during the 2010 reviews leading to the high level summit in New York.
The implementation of the ‘Kick out Poverty’ comes on the basis that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Declaration and the beginning of the last lap to 2015 when the MDGs are expected to be achieved.
“2010 for Zambia means the year for political parties to prepare manifestos that mainstream MDGs in their political pronouncements and aspirations. This event will also give political momentum to civic activism and people’s rights to participate in decisions and actions that affect them and consequently offer an additional opportunity to put basic rights at the centre of citizen participation at the centre,” Nyati says.
Nyati further observes that ‘Kick Out Poverty Campaign’ therefore provides space for alternative policies including a more developmental role for the state.
“This marks a continuation of the climate change negotiations, the outcomes of which are crucial to prospects of achieving the MDGs. 2010 is also a special year in Zambia because the country will be among other African countries that will be hosting soccer fans and teams participating to this year’s World Cup,” Nyati points out. “2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the hard-fought independence of several African countries. It marks the 20th anniversary of the launching of the Human Development Report and Human Development indices. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark speech by British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in Accra and later in Johannesburg when he declared that the wind of change blowing through Africa was irreversible, a speech which recognised the irreversibility of the tide of political independence as well as the anti-apartheid struggle in Southern Africa.”
Nyati adds further, “2010 is also the year when the World Cup comes to a football-crazy Africa for the first time. These landmark occasions represent a challenge, a sense of urgency and an inspiration.”
It has been said that the rules of soccer are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does, which sums up the game and really goes to the heart of the Millennium Campaign’s thematic thinking for the 2010 World Cup – ‘Kick out Poverty’.
To sum it all, the story of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, is one that culminates into an African contemporary folklore, with chapters on African poverty, sports revolution, political discourse and a time to make a ‘Piga Debe’ or in other words a big noise on the MDGs.