What can we learn from Chinese aid?

June 11, 2010

Good and bad ideas on climate change; soccer for Americans; contradictory views; bad Canada; mobile banking; what motivates people? Links I liked

June 11, 2010

The World Cup – with a development twist

June 11, 2010
empty image
empty image

I’m not even a great football fan, but as I settle down for a few weeks as a couch potato, here are some of the more interesting (from a development point of view), things I’ve seen on the World Cup.

Will the coverage end up reinforcing bizarre Western stereotypes of Africa? You bet. This has been really bugging the contributors (and soccer fans) to the ‘Africa is A Country’ blog, who have been collecting some real stinkers – see here and here. But their golden raspberry goes to the New York Times, for

“Jere Longman’s latest uninformed screed, “Don’t Bet on Home Continent in African World Cup.”  As Teju Cole over at Not a Safari summarizes it:

‘… Every available stereotype of Africans (violent, corrupt, disorganized, malnourished, capricious, emotional, and just plain weird) is conveniently included in this story by Jeré Longman in the New York Times. Bonus: A cannibalism allusion from Jürgen Klinsmann.’

But at least there’s the football. Their pick of the best places to keep up with the World Cup from both an African and footie fanatic perspective includes The Guardian’s World Cup coverage, Chimurenga Magazine’s Pilgrimages Project (featuring some of the continent’s best writers), David Lane’s The Other Football, Football is Coming Home, Dundas Football Club, Africa United and Kickoff. Any dispatches from Time’s Tony Karon are also worth the read.

To which I would add anything written by my mate John Carlin, who is a winning combination of football obsessive, long-term South Africa expert (he lived there and wrote about it for years, and wrote Playing the Enemy, the book behind the Invictus film – the book’s much better) and a lovely writer. Here’s his curtain raiser in Time magazine.

As an antidote to the hype, Africa is a Country also provides a very different look at the power of sport in Africa – amputee soccer in Liberia

Meanwhile, Oxfam’s redoubtable (and inventive) campaigners manage to link football and aid through the metaphor of ‘keepy uppy’ (everyone send in your personal keepy uppy video). They also unleash an awesome public demonstration by the Ronaldo of keeper-uppers and some suspiciously skilful bystanders

Sit back, grab the junk food, and enjoy……


  1. Well it is here, the World Cup in South Africa. It does not matter if Bafana-Bafana drops out in the first round because we are united and for the first time feel like one nation, everyone is excited, people talk to each other and we all know that this is a time of celebration. As a proud South African I do not care what others think, I know what is happening here, it is great stuff.

    Europeans, Americans and whoever else has no idea how much this means to our country. The financial cost is extremely high and the noise just as high, but boy are we enjoying it. Is it a question of “jealousy makes you nasty.” We are not the most perfect people in the world but who is? We are not a crime free country but which country is? But hell we enjoy ourselves.

    Mexico, France and Uruguay we will give you a match that will tax your strength, if we lose so be it, it will never break our spirit, nobody can do it. Come and enjoy our country, it is great even if we have problems. Giving us aid is of course important but that does not allow you to come and rain on our parade.

    Wishing every competitor country a great World Cup.

  2. It´s an interesting topic, there are just so many wider issues you can say related to the world cup. There are an awful lot of reports that have been highly critical of major tournaments, particularly when they´re in developing countries, for having strong anti-poor biases (I heard there´s an exclusion zone for informal traders around the stadia, for example), diverting resources, encouraging corruption, etc etc. At the same time, I think no one can deny that this is still an incredibly exciting thing for South Africa, albeit in a rather intangible way, and it´s really hard to say where those intangible ‘goods’ will outweigh the bads. The Vuvuzela debate is also quite interesting, and really rather telling… it seems to be largely driven by European sentiments over what amounts to a ‘good’ atmosphere…

  3. It is interesting how nothing has been mentioned about wider social issues in Africa, it seems that FIFA manages to steer away from anything that could cause contention. FIFA manages to keep a lid on “politics” that covers a whole range of issues from poverty to debt to trade to human rights to corruption, whilst celebrating “Africa”. For me, as a massive football fan, there is a problem here.

    FIFA fails to recognise that a football tournament is not played in a vacuum, it is played in an environment such as South Africa. With the biggest global spectacle in the history of events taking place, is there not a better forum to discuss the issues of AIDS or poverty that persist in Africa? But it seems that any talk of broader social issues is mysteriously absent from the FIFA World Cup. There is no need for a World Cup to be about “politics”, but an African World Cup ought to promote shared humanity and the need for global equality.

    Currently, the only difference between Germany and South Africa’s World Cup has been the noise of the vuvuzelas and the design of the stadiums. Plus a few African traditional dance routines and designs plus a official theme song sung by a South American. The 1Goal campaign has been very effective, but I feel that FIFA managed to scare everyone away from discussing broader social issues on the best platform that we could have.

    Anyway, Duncan, I have been trying to email you but your email address is nowhere on the web. I’m just finishing a Bachelor of Development Studies at University in Australia and am currently doing an intership with Jubilee. I am looking at doing a Master’s in Development Studies, hopefully in Europe and preferably France. Have you got any recommendations for a good course? Thanks!

    Duncan: Hi Nic, afraid I don’t know the development studies scene in France – can other readers help?

Leave a comment

Translate »