Sunday, 6 June 2010

Cape Town and the Football World Cup 2010

Here we are, part of the "twenty ten", as the South Africans call this "mega-event", an adjective they do enjoy a lot. People like "mega" things here. Have you ever heard the sound of a vuvuzela (Wikipedia calls it a "stadium horn"!), the "mega" trumpet-like noise-maker secret weapon of mass distraction used by South Africans to destroy opponents by irritating them to the extreme? Ixe, I'm a bore saying this. I guess I'm getting too old to enjoy so many decibels!

OK, we're here. But Cape Town is not South Africa and some friends have already called it "the last refuge of whites in South Africa", which is sort of true, although a tough thing to admit. Demographically speaking, the Western Cape Province is the whitest of the South African Provinces, with most of its population being "coloured". 54% of people describes themselves as Coloured, 27% as Black, 18% as White, and 1% as Indian or Asian (2001 Census). The province is the only one led politically by the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, which is led by a white (although extremely good in dancing the African dances) woman, Helen Zille.

Having said that, I must tell you: when one talks about "World Cup" here one means nothing else but RUGBY! Yes, rugby is the sport in the hearts of the people, and they're crazy about it. I've seen finals, and it's indeed impressive! I do not know much about rugby, but after watching "Invictus", the film (sort of) about Nelson Mandela, I got to understand it a bit. This is because the film tells the story (Clint Eastwood tells the story) of Mandela's release from prison, his taking power, the whites' fear of retaliation by the blacks and his using the South African rugby team during a World Cup to "unite" the country. Cute. Mandela is always great, even when played by an American.

Using sports to "unite" people and creating a national identity is an old political card, and it works well enough to get repeated often times (oh... Brazilian Lula's also great on that, as "he" got Brazilians the Olympics AND the Soccer World Cup for the next runs!). I remember my first Football World Cup. 1970. The hight of the military dictatorship in Brazil. People disappearing in prisons. I was a cute little innocent girl. It was the first time ever that we'd have colour TV broadcasting. ("Men" had just landed on the Moon the year before, remember?) Brazilian generals needed a victory. The Brazilian football team got it: three times world champions! Pele's team! etc etc

There was a slogan: Brazil, love it or leave it! wow! That was democracy. I actually heard it here today on the news too. The chairperson of the so called opposition party COPE (the Congress of the People!) said that they are a very democratic party: one must love it or one can leave it! Just right!

Anyway. I'm diverting here.

I wanted to tell you that in Cape Town there is not so much of that football atmosphere as there is in Johannesburg. There will be only 8 matches here, and people are quite cool about it all. Maybe this is because they read newspapers. The construction of 10 Stadiums in the country was supposed to cost usd 200 million but ended up costing usd 2 billion, just 10 times what Government told the people they would cost when South Africa bid to host the tournament in 2004 (source: The Sunday Times of today). It seems that tourism is expected to bring about usd 1 billion to the economy, and one can only guess where this 1 billion is ending up.

Well, but I'm spoiling the fun!!!! Hurray! Viva Bafana-Bafana! Talking about the guys (Bafana-Bafana is the national team), you know that their coach is the Brazilian Carlos A. Parreira, who makes some millions (of rands) every month to make an impact? He actually is making an impact in the last weeks, as Bafana-Bafana has been winning on a string of 11 matches. They open the Cup on the 11th of June, playing against Mexico (as everyone probably knows!).

Ah! And more about soccer! Tomorrow "Brazil" will play "Tanzania" in Dar es Salaam, in the Stadium called President Benjamim Mkapa (the former president before the incumbent, Kikwete). I read that the Tanzanian Government had to foot a bill of usd 2.5 million (I'll never get used to so many "millions" being spoken so easily!) as an incentive to the Brazilians to come... And tickets of course are only for the elite: prices between 20 and 120 usd each. Nice Brazilians. The guys mean business!!!!

Meanwhile, in other news, President Zuma continues projecting the image of a very open South Africa, creating a lot of food for the red press: it seems that his second wife is pregnant of his body-guard, who allegedly killed himself. This second first lady was the one accompanying him to his last week's visit to India. She's also said to have paid him a goat last week as compensation for her bad behaviour when he announced that he's gonna get married to his fifth wife soon - see below... And I thought I would have a good time with South Africa, Brazil and India playing a strong body of emergent countries to lead the world into a new era of social justice, when they formed IBSA some years ago!

Ah, guys, I have the newspaper in my hands, and I must tell you, as it's really juice! The prez Zuma is said to have already paid lobolo (the dowry, for non-African experts) to his fifth wife to be, the one mentioned above. Mama Gloria Ngema, with whom he has already a son!

OK, I'll stop now with this Zuma thing, as it's too easy news.

More of other news? Guess what? I work and work and work but got motivated to come here and write because Nina sent me a quick nice message telling me that she read my posts and liked them, saying that I should write more. So, Nina, here's South Africa to you!