By Farai Savenzo
Just over three weeks into 2010 and how has your year been so far? It's the same song and dance isn't it?
Get the school fees together and ignore the fact that the January disease is primarily a disease of the wallet – after all that holidaying there's just too much month left over for your money.
And new year or not, we are constantly reminded that our world remains a dangerous one – despite our eager embrace of holiday distractions, or our fevered appreciation of grown men kicking a ball around.
Ours is a dangerous world. Who could have told a mother and child in a Kenyan safari park that an elephant would trample them both to death before the year has ripened and the Chinese have declared it the year of the Tiger?
How could the Zimbabwean man swimming in the Cape Town surf just the other day know that a dinosaur-sized shark would eat him whole and leave nothing for his family to bury?
And, as in January 2005 after the Asian Tsunami, January 2010 has us struck dumb at the awesome fury of Haiti's earthquake.
Everywhere we look there are constant reminders of our mortality, of how it could all end in an instant with friends and lovers departed and an entire city turned back 200 years.
Emotional roller coaster
But we fight the odds and reassert our love of life despite the sharks, the elephants and the crazy Cabinda separatists shooting on a football team. We carry on with our African Cup of Nations and listen to an ailing Nigerian president in a hospital bed somewhere in Saudi Arabia telling his countrymen and women between coughs that he will be back and good luck to the Super Eagles.
Togo's sad exit from the Africa Cup of Nations had the commentators and a few football managers demanding an end to our competition and casting grave doubt over the safety of South Africa's 2010 World Cup.
To them, we are one place called Africa, where rebels with an oil cause float seamlessly between borders and threaten the safety of multi-millionaire footballers.
Angola is not South Africa, double-standards and hypocrisy – cried the defenders of our World Cup.
And as Togo's shocked footballers rode their emotional roller coaster, the sniping continued, this time from Africa's own football governing body that is the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
I don't know whether the men who run the business of African football are required by Fifa to pass a special idiocy test, but even as the Togo team struggled with their grief – abandoning the Cup of Nations then deciding to play after they bury their dead – CAF stepped in and disqualified them.
CAF can claim no part in the energy emanating from Angola's billion-dollar competition, for where they should have been decisive and supportive, they dithered and showed callous disregard for the football fans and for the departed Togolese.
Nor should we be surprised to learn that many fans across Africa were unable to watch most of the first week's games (Botswana still can't), CAF having allowed the rights-holders to price the screening rights beyond the reach of many national budgets.
Pharisees turned money-changers in our football temples.
But for those of us who have been watching and listening, what a competition this has been.
Little Malawi, breezy Mozambique, wild card Gabon, the drama of the fans, the costumes, the colours – it's all too much.
Across Angola's playing fields is evidence enough that the World Cup in June will be graced by perhaps the finest African footballers of all time and the football fever gripping us will sustain our spirits until 10 July in Johannesburg where surely an African team will face Brazil, Spain, Italy or England for the right to be named World Champions?
So what are January's lessons so far?
• That the sharks around Cape Town are as xenophobic as some of South Africa President Jacob Zuma's citizens
• That when life is beating one, two, three, four blows against you – with 12 minutes of the game to go, you must do like Mali and fight for a four-all draw.
There is always a way back – if you're alive.