Controversy in the Cup of Nations

2 02 2012

It wouldn’t be a football tournament in Africa without a little controversy and this time it comes from Gabon’s co-host Equatorial Guinea.

Before the tournament began it was announced that Equatorial Guinea’s President’s son offered their national football team $1 million US for a win and an additional $20 000 US to anyone that scored a point.  This raised a couple of flags for many people but mostly are wondering how does the president’s son have so much money to throw around when 70% of the population of EG live below the poverty line and tens of thousands of those don’t have access to clean drinking water or electricity?

Actually, $1 million US is really just pennies in the bucket for for this man.  He is currently under investigation by the US government whom are hoping to recover over $71 million of embezzled money which they claim has been taken from the people of Equatorial Guinea.  He is rumoured to own a $35 million dollar mansion in Malibu, over $6 million of real estate in South Africa, a collection of 24 luxury sports cars valued at $10 million including 2 Bugatti Veyrons, $3.2 million in Michael Jackson memorabilia and many millions of dollars of assets in France and other countries around the world.  Who knew being the Minister of Agriculture could be so profitable?  He is also presumed to take over EG from his father who has been the president since 1979 when he overthrew the previous government in a military coup.

Despite the controversy, he paid out his promises after EG walked away with a victory last week.  There’s talk that he’s offered more compensation if they continue to perform well.

If you’re curious about this character you can read a bit more here and here.


Go Gabon!

31 01 2012

As blogged before, the Africa Cup of Nations has taken over Gabon & Equatorial Guinea.  Gabon has now played 2 games and won both of them and everyone is reveling in pride and joy over their team’s performance.  To be honest, it’s been so nice to see so many smiles on the streets over the last week.  People are sporting green, blue & yellow, Gabon’s colours, and the excitement in the air on game days is infectious.

There is a park a few blocks away from us and they have a large screen set up for spectators to watch the games.  When Gabon scores it almost feels like we could be in the stadium.  Cheers erupt, taxis are honking and vuvuzelas are blown up and down the streets.  Joe drove home from work at halftime for Gabon’s first game and he exclaimed just how dangerous it was to be on the roads.  Taxis and minibuses were packed to the brim with people hanging out the windows waving flags and scarves.  Vehicles were flying down the road doubling the speed limit, honking and swerving.  There were people dancing in the streets and exclaiming their excitement to complete strangers.

Because we live right down town, we’re right in the middle of all of it and even though the noise does get old hours after the game has ended, we’re happy to see everyone so happy.  I can’t even imagine how crazy it will get as Gabon continues in the competition.  (We have 1 game left in the opening qualifiers although with the last 2 wins we’ve secured a spot in the next round.)  The only thing I’m worried about is what happens when we lose, especially if it happens to be against a rival?

It’s here! The Africa Cup of Nations is here!

21 01 2012

Yes, you read that correctly.  Gabon along with Equatorial Guinea are playing host to the Africa Cup of Nations this year and it starts today.  Those of us living in Gabon have been hearing about this tournament a lot over the last year as the country has been scrambling to make sure everything is ready for the expected 80 000 footballers, fans & tourists that will be entering the country.  New stadiums have been built and infrastructure mildly improved in Libreville & Franceville so that Gabon can put it’s ‘best’ foot forward for it’s visitors.  The government is taking it seriously too; they mandated that all schools in the ENTIRE country will be closed for the 3 weeks the tournament lasts (obviously, football trumps education.  Duh.)  In Port Gentil, the mass exodus of expats have begun leaving the few of us staying behind with deserted grocery stores and beaches.

Will Joe and I take in any part of this football extravaganza?  Absolutely not!  In fact, most people I know in Port Gentil have no intention of heading to Libreville.  You may wonder why as it is a bit of a big deal and nothing much ever happens in Gabon so it should be exciting but we know how things generally happen around here and I’d rather not be in the middle of it.  Apparently, all hotel rooms, who even in normal circumstances are ridiculously overpriced, are completely sold out and it’s difficult enough to navigate Libreville as a tourist let alone with the addition of 80 000 other foreigners.  We’ll sit back and enjoy the lull in Port Gentil instead.

This morning I came across a rather funny take on the ACON.  Take a look here.