Mozambique Sport ‑ Giving Peace a Chance

 

Sport is always associated with fun and enjoyment in a peaceful environment.

The joy of competing at various levels brings happiness to winners and losers alike. It brings out the best in people with the knowledge that if we have won today, we must work hard to win again next time and if we have lost, we always have an opportunity to rectify our mistakes and win in future.

Sport helps to develop character for both winners and losers. This is why sport is used, as part of social therapy in post-conflict situations. It helps bring people of diverse backgrounds together. Various international non-governmental organisations have sprung all over the world advocating for the usage of sport in achieving development goals and peace.

Conflict is flaring up again in Mozambique, threatening the peace that has existed for almost two decades. Like in all war situations, the concerned parties point accusing fingers at each other. However, the truth of the matter is always that both parties are to blame for the conflict, which engulfs them.

Mozambique is a very beautiful country, an integral and indispensable part of Southern Africa. That country has contributed immensely to the liberation of Southern Africa and has suffered terribly because of this contribution.

Mozambique is like a mother to Southern Africa suffering terrible pains during the delivery of a baby. When Mozambique suffers, we all suffer as Southern Africans. Readers might think that this kind of discussion does not belong to the sports pages of The Southern Times but it is out of the realisation that sport does not exist in a vacuum. Sport is part of social, economic and political development.

As sport lovers, we cannot sit and watch as hostilities are renewed in Mozambique. It is, therefore, the conviction of The Southern Times Sports Forum that sports people must add their voices to the calls for restraint, dialogue and peace in Mozambique. Since attainment of peace about 20 years ago, Mozambique has been developing in leaps and bounds and has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, judging by what expert economists say. 

It cannot be denied that they have been festering wounds, which needed healing after the official end of war in 1992. It is now evident that those wounds have not healed but then sliding back to a war situation is not just a nightmare for Mozambicans but for the entire Southern African region.

Mozambique successfully hosted the 10thedition of the All Africa Games in Maputo in 2011. The whole of Africa celebrated with Mozambique and toasted the success and resilience of this great nation. Furthermore, the country has gone on to host many other major regional and continental sport events, thereby contributing to the development of sports tourism in Southern Africa. Taking this strategic importance of Mozambique into account, it follows that renewal of hostilities between the FRELIMO government and the opposition RENAMO is very bad news for Southern Africa.

As sports lovers, we can also add our voice and call upon other Southern African leaders to urgently take steps to mediate between the two parties and restore dialogue and peace to the Mozambique.

From a purely sporting heritage perspective, Mozambique has a rich and proud tradition of producing world-class stars and role models. The country must be allowed to continue to do so. Mozambican children and youth must be allowed to play in peace and security without fear of guns, landmines and bombs.

This is the country that has produced the great Eusebio of Benfica Portugal, Carlos Queiroz of Manchester United FC fame and the indomitable Maria Mutola. Other sports stars to emerge from this beautiful country include gifted and skillful footballers such as Chiquinho Conde, Domingos Elias Pelembe and Dario Khan. Even in CAF competitions, Mozambican teams, at both club and national level, provide serious headaches for the opposition. The national team, the Black Mambas and the country’s clubs, Costa do Sol, Maxaquene and Ferroviaro have all become household names on the African continent.

In basketball and handball, Mozambique is undeniably among the giants of Africa providing great entertainment and sporting competition not just in Southern Africa but also to the rest of the continent and the world at large. It is, therefore, very important for the warring parties to think about others before they thinking of advancing their own interests.

 They must think about the women, children and youth in war zones. The misery, deaths, the anguish of displacement and instability are challenges that should be avoided now at all costs. As the Setswana saying goes, “Ntwa kgolo ke ya molomo” meaning that nothing beats dialogue in settling differences.

 It is the only solution. We need to learn to sit down and talk over our differences, no matter how long it takes. We should never leave the negotiating table when there are still acute differences of opinion.

In Angola, the guns have fallen silent. We need to keep them silent in Mozambique too in order for this beautiful country to continue developing and looking after its people and the region by extension. As sports lovers and leaders, we can only hope and pray that our political leaders do the right thing. 

The choices are obvious. One is the path to death and destruction and the other one leads to peace and prosperity. We can only encourage them to take the latter route, which will ensure happiness for all, not just in Mozambique but also in the rest of Southern Africa.

We have come too far on the road to peace and prosperity. It is not an easy road, not by any means, but we cannot turn back to the other alternative of abject poverty, pain, loss of property, life and limbs. The whole world is watching and Mozambique cannot be allowed to slide back to the situation of chaos, death and destruction.

The Southern Times Sports Forum makes no apologies for its allegiance to and focus on Southern Africa but is alive to and sympathises with Africans suffering in war zones elsewhere on the continent. We pray that peace will be achieved in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Mali, Nigeria and Sudan. 

We remain optimistic that peaceful solutions will be found to all these conflicts to enable children to run and swim freely, to come out without fear of any sort to play with all types of balls, bats and rackets and enjoy the warmth of the African Sun in the land of their forefathers. Peace!

November 2013
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