This may sound strange especially for the young readers born in the late 80′s and after. Only from history will they know that serious rallying-for competition happened in Africa. I hope this post will be an eye opener, digressing on the unknown issues pertaining Africa and motorsport. Many could be asking why there are very few activities on rallying: it is not because this has never happened or is yet to start in Africa. Indeed, if it happens, it will just be a resumption-taking it from where it stopped.
Did you know?
- There used to be very successful motor rallies in countries such as Ivory Coast, Senegal, Libya, Tunisia, Mozambique, Morocco and Rhodesia (modern day Zimbabwe) to name but just a few African countries?
- Insecurity and poverty have been the major setbacks when it comes to matters motorsport in Africa?
- Dakar rally-originally held in West Africa-is now held in South America after being cancelled in Africa in 2008 due to security issues?
- Dakar (remember Dakar is in Senegal…) rally first took place in 1979?
- Only South Africa has made considerable and consistent development on racing facilities in Africa?
I bet with these few highlights my argument has gained some credence. As a matter of fact, motor rallying in Africa started and rose to prominence as early as in the 1920s and 1930s, as in the case of North Africa. This was during the colonization era and the events were organized and funded by the colonialists; the French, Italians and the British.
These races gained eminence and fame, making them a great attraction for many across the world. Take for instance the number of participants in the Dakar rally which had in 2011, 68 large trucks, 146 automobiles and 183 motorcycles all drawn from 51 countries. This is a proof of how big the African races rose to be.
Not just a fall, a thud!
Why did all this success come to a crumbling fall after all? How on earth can Dakar rally be held in South America when geography still places Dakar in Africa, Senegal to be precise?
The reasons are simple and direct. As enumerated above, poverty and insecurity were the major contributors to these. For instance, many African countries did very little to develop sporting facilities as they had more pressing economic issues to attend to in health, education, infrastructure and others. This meant that the sport was abandoned and orphaned with very little activity, if any, going on.
The other major reason, could be the deadliest blow, was, and still is the lack of security. In fact, this is the one that played a trick on geography, effectively taking Dakar Rally to South America! This took away what was known as ‘the most dangerous race’, ‘the most popular’ from Africa. It also killed the earlier races that had started taking shape in the northern and southern Africa in Mali, morocco, Libya, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
To reclaim this lost glory, stringent measures have to be put in place to address these thorny issues particularly insecurity. That way, Africa will grab its own Dakar Rally from South America!