The 2010 story no one tells

I was delighted to read Luke Alfred’s inspired and inspiring piece on the South African media’s view of the 2010 World Cup in yesterday’s Sunday Times, not least because it neatly sums up a lot of stuff that I’ve been moaning about for ages.

You may have noticed that when it comes to the 2010 Soccer World Cup there is an endlessly circulating merry-go-round of stories, each with its own shape and unique place in the system.
There is the tryingly familiar “stadium budget” story with quotes by ex-deputy minister of finance Jabu Moleketi; there is the “Sepp Blatter mildly reprimands the organising committee” story, and the grotesquely amusing “plan B” story with its many denials.

Interestingly, I note that we are not the only ones to suffer with these stories. The plans for Euro 2012 tournament, to be jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine are plagued with the same issues; who could forget that construction for the Athens 2004 Olympics was miles behind schedule (which we’re not) and they still managed to stage a thoroughly successful event? But it’s one of the duties of the world’s press to find the worst in everything and to sensationalise minor events in order to make mountains out of molehills and sell newspapers. And it’s something that the South African press are especially good at.


Soccer City, Soweto

With sport to some extent replacing nationalism (or being one of the ways in which the nation expresses itself in these post-nationalistic times) the stadiums for the World Cup will express the best of what South Africa has to offer as the century progresses.

They’ll become monuments by which the world recognises this country and by which we define ourselves.
In this sense, debates about what they will cost and how they will be used are profoundly beside the point. Despite the threadbare narratives of the present, stories of striking workers and an underachieving national side, the World Cup will be a pivotal event in the history of post-apartheid South Africa, a time that future generations will look back on with justifiable pride.

So besotted are we with the present that we can’t see it now, but over the long arc of time our children will look back on 2010 and tell their children “I was there”.

Alfred makes a good point, but no-one’s listening. There’s more to life than the present, no matter how tough times may be for many in SA right now. One of the major benefits of 2010, aside from the immediately obvious tourism and sponsorship revenue and its spin-offs is a shared national experience which will generate pride in the country. Our kids have yet to be tainted with the negativity running deep in the veins of the South African media and its followers. And it’s the children’s reaction as they view things with that objective innocence which will be the true marker of the success of the 2010 tournament.

It’s my intention to expose my son to as much of the atmosphere and spectacle as I possibly can.
He’ll be 4 years old and just beginning to form his first “proper” memories and I can think of no better time, place or event for him to remember. It’s going to be an amazing experience. Looking back to my own football-dominated childhood, I can only dream about having experienced a World Cup on my doorstep. (Yes, I was born well after 1966, thank you very much!)

Down the line, my son and I will watch rugby, football, concerts and gladiatorial events possibly involving tigers and pointy sticks at the Green Point Stadium. And while each event will be special in some way, the memories of 2010 that they trigger may never be matched.  

Live webcam feeds of Cape Town stadium site

 

Cape Town “still here”

Following the arrival of the American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt in Table Bay over the weekend, demonstrations by daft environmental groups have stepped up at Cape Town harbour.

Earthlife Africa spokesperson Keenen van Wyk said that although there wasn’t much they could do to stop the vessel from entering South African waters, they would protest outside the harbour as soon as the carrier arrives.

“Having this big nuclear vessel in our waters poses a danger and threat to humanity,” said van Wyk. “There are no safety precautions in place. Anything could go wrong, and then the people in the Western Cape are at risk.”

I can assure the concerned world population, including Keenan van Wyk that despite the presence of this nuclear-powered monstrosity in our waters, Cape Town is STILL HERE. This should actually come as no surprise: I have briefly researched the USS Theodore Roosevelt and it seems that it has a long record of not exploding in cities all over the world.

I figure that this must be just good luck since according to Earthlife Africa “there are no safety precautions in place”. Either they have just had a whole heap of good fortune or they have just got some really well-behaved uranium.

For the record, the USS Theodore Roosevelt is moored in Table Bay, about 15km south of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station just up the coast which, in a show of solidarity with the big warship, has also not exploded today.

ADDENDUM: 6000 miles… wishes regular reader G(asinB) a speedy recovery after his recent surgery and will raise a glass on Saturday regardless! 🙂

Sick Toddler?

Is your toddler running a high fever?

Does he have a history of copious vomiting in these situations?

Here’s a comprehensive list of what foodstuffs not to feed him:

  1. Cherry jelly

I’m sure there are others, but at the mention of that first one, my brain has gone into an immediate and complete automatic shutdown in the interests of preserving what remains of my sanity.

I think I need to go and lie down in a darkened room.
(That way, I won’t be able to see the stains on the carpet.)

Whites want Zuma in now!

In an extraordinary show of solidarity with ANC President Jacob Zuma, a poll today* suggests that a huge number of white South Africans want JZ to become President of the country as soon as possible. While this may come as a surprise to many political analysts, there is a very simple explanation: pronunciation.

It seems that many white South Africans have become used to having a president who has an easily pronounceable name, like Nelson Mandela or Thabo Mbeki. The suggestion that Kgalema Motlanthe is being lined up as acting president following Mbeki’s resignation has caused widespread concern amongst paler Saffers.

My wife asked me who was replacing Mbeki and by the time I’d told her, she needed to wash her face and hair. Look, he’s a great guy and all, but I just can’t do a K followed by a G without spitting. In retrospect, I suppose it didn’t help that I was eating a boerie roll at the time.

It was originally thought that the speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, would act as stand-in President until the election next year. And that seemingly wouldn’t have been a problem for most whities:

You can just mutter the surname and then you look all knowledgeable. No-one is going to hear the difference between Mbeki and Mbete after a few beers if you say it quickly and quietly.

Other potential contenders for the post, such as Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (“Phumzile” to the whities) and Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma (“That Zuma woman”) would have caused equal difficulties for white tongues.

What we need now is for Zuma to call an election as soon as possible. And then get elected. We don’t care about his policies. Frankly, it’s just embarrassing not being able to say the name of your country’s leader without covering the everyone surrounding area in saliva.
A Zuma presidency can save us from that.

In related news, ambulance service ER24 has also made an urgent appeal to Zuma and the ANC to sort out the presidential vacuum as quickly as possible, as it was hampering their triage routine in head injury cases. Spokesperson Daniel van Wyk** explained:

When our staff attend an incident in which there has been a head injury, they assess the level of  consciousness of the casualty using three simple questions: what their name is, what day is it and who the president of the country is. The current lack of a president is causing our staff difficulties and causing perfectly healthy patients to panic, as they think they are actually much more badly injured than they really are.

More later, sports fans!

* which I just made up.
** more make believe.

All change…

So he was pushed to the very edge and now he’s jumped.
Well, I say “jumped”: actually, it was more of a dignified step.


Mbeki – gone: “Butchered”, no less.

Yes, it’s big news, but it’s not bad news. It’s not even unexpected news after the Nicholson ruling on the Zuma case. Scandals, allegations, divisions, resignations: this sort of thing happens on a fairly regular basis in democratic society. Of course, it’s a new thing for South Africa, because democracy is still a new thing for South Africa. But one only has to look to the UK (it’s about 6000 miles, I’m told) to see much the same process under way there.

The papers are full of screaming headlines about political uncertainty, mass hysteria, turmoil and disorder across the country. Anyone reading them would think that there is utter chaos here. And of course, there is always a difficult transition period in these matters. But life does go on and it’s going on completely as normal today. Slightly more quietly, perhaps, because there’s a public holiday this week.
Here’s what we were dealing with on the way to work this morning.


Another tough day in Africa after Mbeki resigns

I’m sure there will be more news to come from this story: in fact, I’ll be gutted if there isn’t. But for now, that’s it. Stay calm, don’t panic, watch with interest, enjoy the weather and don’t believe all that you read.
Apart from on here, obviously.