There’s good and bad

Now and again, people accuse me of doing the whole ostrich thing. Not the having huge eggs that a grown man can stand on, but the burying one’s head in the sand thing. I know that it’s a popular misconception that ostriches actually do this, but I’m willing to go along with it, at least for the purposes of this post.
I do dispute that I do the whole ostrich thing, though. Being a positive or optimistic person is only any use if you have a over-riding accompaniment of realism on a sideplate. Blind optimism is as foolish as pessimism – it achieves nothing and gets you nowhere.

As an example – the new Koeberg flyover. I had high hopes for this ending the misery of the constant queues around the N1/M5 junction. This is healthy optimism. And they opened the first of the new flyovers (the southbound one, in case you’re interested) this week. And it does seem to have had some effects. Just not all good ones.  In their wisdom and in an effort to remove the queues, they have – as a side-effect – channeled all the M5 traffic through one lane. In short, it doesn’t work.
This is realism. Blind optimism would ignore this heinous deficiency and wax lyrical about the speed of the flyover.
I’m not into that.

Furthermore, I was unimpressed by Cape Town Airport’s efforts to welcome international visitors to the World Cup. My main criticism is that there was actually no effort whatsoever. No flags, no posters, no noise, no fuss. And there needs to be fuss. This is the World Cup, for heavens sake. Even the “World Cup Welcome” desks were empty – and that’s shocking. Perhaps as shocking as my vocalising this annoyance may come to some readers of this site. But there’s no value in ignoring the deficiencies of this country or any other. How are things supposed to improve then?

But I do want to finish on a positive note. And that’s my prerogative.

I think that if there is one symbol that will become synonymous with this World Cup tournament, it is the vuvuzela. And I was lucky enough to win one, which was delivered to me today.

Just check out that beadwork in Proudly South African colours. Absolutely stunning.

And that’s what realistic optimism is all about. Enjoying the positives while not ignoring the negatives.

Tomorrow is the big day. Opening ceremony, Bafana Bafana v Mexico, France v Uruguay.
We’ve been waiting six years.

Ke nako.

Hooliganballs

Great news as South Africa’s new Advanced Passenger Processing (APP) – which I complained about bitterly when I flew to the UK last year – nips the plans of 10 Argentinian hooligans in the bud.

And while that’s just brilliant, this quote from Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni has got me confused and amused all at once:

Asked about whether the department will be able to bar other possible hooligans entering the country, the Director General said: “What we are saying is that in terms of the risks to the country we’ve put in place systems which will eliminate that risk to zero percent but I can’t say that I’ve got a foolproof system.”

So don’t worry, South Africa – zero percent risk means that you’re completely safe.  Although of course, the system isn’t foolproof.

Right.

Anyway, Apleni’s staff will face another stern test this evening as I collect my parents from Cape Town International for their much-anticipated World Cup visit.
Here’s hoping they don’t get deported before baggage reclaim…

Goosebumps

I’ve watched the Cape Town stadium grow from nothing to the stunning landmark it is today. And with the excitement building in Cape Town, this amazing collection of timelapse videos from African Renaissance Productions gives me goosebumps.

The rusty goalpost shot early in the video is from the Greek Club where The Firm AFC used to play (when it was dry enough). It’s incredible how much has been achieved since then. And now we’re less than 100 hours away from kick off the France v Uruguay game.

Ke nako – it’s time.

EDIT: Ha! Just noticed that the countdown clock in my side bar has obviously fallen foul of the FIFA lawyers – “3 days and 4 hours until Football Cup”.
“Football Cup”? Ivo Vegter’s going to love that!

Positive thoughts from Gordon Gilbert

I don’t have too much to add to this excellent interview with footballer Gordon Gilbert – “The Jock who became a Bok” – from The Scotsman:

Although he was brought up in Scotland, Gordon Gilbert was born in South Africa, where he now lives and works. For a few weeks every summer, he is back in Perthshire, telling people what it is like over there, and why it is special, but too many of them just don’t get it. Too many of them have no idea about the host nation of the 2010 World Cup finals. 

Firstly, putting the record straight for the “experts” on the country who have never even been here (one of my pet hates):

“People have the wrong impression of South Africa,” he says. “People who have never been there think that there are elephants roaming about the streets and monkeys climbing the trees in your garden. Once you’ve been there, you realise how far that is from the truth. You see how beautiful it is, how the crime and all the negative stuff is blown out of proportion. It’s certainly not a third-world country in my eyes.”

See? It’s not just me.
On vuvuzelas (also here) and the atmosphere at South African games:

“I don’t know if you’ve heard of these vuvuzelas, horns that are constantly being blown during the match. My stepdad, who has watched football all his days, came over to watch me in the Nedbank Cup final, and he said he’d never experienced anything like it.
The noise is unbelievable. They are up dancing, playing the drums, getting very emotional about the outcome. For the players, it is just brilliant.”

And then, the really serious stuff – how will this tournament help unite this historically and culturally divided nation?

Whether the finals will help football to bridge the racial divide is another matter. Gilbert is one of few white players in South African football. Another is Matthew Booth, who plays for the national team. There will be plenty talk these next few weeks of the Rainbow Nation, of the game’s potential to unite black and white, just as there was after the 1995 Rugby World Cup – when Mandela famously donned the Springbok jersey – but is it realistic? 

“It’s difficult for me to think that, just because we’ve got the World Cup finals, everybody is going to mix overnight. Yes, they are now living and working together in the same country, but the cultures are very different. If you go to a rugby game, the guys are very reserved. They’re not blowing horns like they do in football. Will there be more whites in football because of this? I don’t know. What I do know is that South African football will be the stronger for it. People are not going to look down on it anymore.

Of course, this interview, published on Sunday, was almost certainly done before the all South African Super14 final between the Bulls and the Stormers. Because that was packed full of vuvuzelas, start to finish. And gave us these amazing photos.
Maybe Gordon might want to revise his thoughts on that one…

Many thanks to Altus Momberg for the heads up.

FIFAFanFest in Cape Town

As you might imagine, we get a lot of media releases sent to us here at chez 6000 and it’s lucky for you that we filter them through a very fine mental mesh so that we only give you the best and most relevant information, rather than simply hitting copy, paste, publish and whoring ourselves out like some other Cape Town blogs we could mention but actually are choosing not to right now.

This one tickled my fancy (which loves the attention) and since I was already planning to spend some time here over the next six weeks, I’m happy to tell the world about it. Read on.

Of the 31 days over which the 2010 FIFA World Cup is to be staged, 25 are match days.
And it seems very likely to me that if you’re in Cape Town but you can’t actually be in the stadium for the games, then the best place to go and enjoy all the festivities of the World Cup will surely be the Cape Town FifaFanFest on the Grand Parade. As they describe it:

…it is definitely the most fun you can have without a ticket!

And they’re probably right: remember the success of the fan parks in Germany in 2006?
They nearly had to re-annexe Poland just to get everyone in. 
Then, put that memory aside for a moment and recall the amazing party atmosphere of the World Cup draw back in December.
Well, mix those two together and you’ve got the Cape Town FifaFanFest.
I’ve been watching this place going up for the past couple of weeks now and it’s looking fantastic.

Each match day during the tournament, the FanFest will broadcast all the day’s games live on their MASSIVE 70m² (that’s an incredible 753½ ft²)  screen and between games (or during the uninteresting ones like New Zealand v Slovakia or the huge clash between Honduras and Switzerland) there are 5-a-side football pitches, food and drink and the mysteriously-named “Interactive Activity Zones” to keep you entertained.

Add to that a huge range of over 100 live music performances on offer including the likes of Goldfish, Gang of Instrumentals, K’naan (not just a Somalian rapper, but also a bready accompaniment to Indian cuisine), Prime Circle, Flash Republic, FreshlyGround and (cough) Danny K and you’ve got a winning recipe.

All you need to know about the Cape Town FifaFanFest is right here – but let me fill you in on the basics: the capacity is 25,000, entrance is FREE and it’s open 11am – 11pm on match days.

Look out for their hospitality packages too, which – at R225 to R1,500 per person – look like fantastic value for money.