A Nation Mourns As One (Almost)…

I know that I’ve previously mentioned (here and here) the issues around race and sport in South Africa and the difficulties these have caused in gaining support for the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, which is due to start in South Africa at ten past eight. Or something.

Well, those issues surely came to a head this weekend, when the Springbok (rugby) side played Samoa in their World Cup, while Bafana Bafana (the football side) played Zambia in a vital African Cup of Nations qualifier SIMULTANEOUSLY AND AT THE SAME TIME!!!


A clear opportunity for a national racial divide then? Well, actually, not quite.


The Ad Wizard (if we were the less-amusing-than-it-used-to-be 2oceansvibe.com, we’d link to a list of friends, including the revolting Nic Marais, with nicknames related to their employment here, but we’re not, so we won’t) was despairing at my lack of commitment to going and watching the football and SMS’ed:

How on earth am
I going to find a
safrican to watch
the footie with. I
only know white
people.

In actual fact, things worked out ok and he, myself and The Political Analyst (dear god – it’s catching!) headed down to Newlands to support the boys in yellow, ignoring the apathy of the possibly predominantly white, rugby-watching couch potatoes.What we found there amazed us. A truly cosmopolitan crowd of every colour imaginable. (Actually, that’s a lie, there were no greens or lilacs, but you get what I mean, I’m sure.) And with unreserved seating, the atmosphere build up started early.

White kids dragging their parents into the dark, vuvuzela-laden world of African football; the middle-aged, delighted at the opportunity to watch international sport at one fifth of the rugby prices; children of every age and creed sat on proud dad’s shoulders; and of course, the true fans in their colourful numbers – the ones who turn out rain or shine to watch the beautiful game.

This truly was a demonstration of The Rainbow Nation: race, preconceptions and issues left at the turnstiles, problems forgotten for 90 minutes as everyone waved their flags, blew their horns and got behind the national team. You just don’t get this universal, inclusive passion at rugby matches. Check the video if you don’t believe me.

What an opportunity for Bafana Bafana to win over the sceptics, the naysayers and the critics.
And what better way to do it than going 0-3 down to Zambia inside 21 minutes, each goal presented on a silver platter by a hapless defence to a grateful Chris Katongo?
Amazingly, the atmosphere didn’t die, as Bafana created chance after chance. And local hero Benni McCarthy did score early in the second half. But despite a valiant effort, the damage was done and the fans went home entertained, but disappointed.

Even though the game ended in defeat for the home side, I’d like to think that a few more 2010 supporters were gained from the fantastic support and the amazing mood inside the the stadium.It was all in stark contrast to the last 15 minutes of the rugby we watched when we got back home, which seemed quiet, dull and distant in comparison, despite the more positive result.

Spring Day and more…

Once again, South Africa’s unofficial “Spring Day” (today) is ruined by the typically unspringlike weather which has left puddles on my lawn and rendered Table Mountain completely invisible, in a spookily David Copperfield kind of way.
Is this some hideous effect of climate change? Season creep? Or just a hopelessly optimistic plan by the locals to pretend that winter is over?
It ain’t – the sudden influx of wading birds into our garden surely proves that. September or not, this sort of weather hints that you should be indoors, under a rug, a glass of red wine in your hand (might I suggest KC 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot from Klein Constantia just down the road?) and some decent music playing (unless there’s footy on the TV, obviously).

Decent music? Can of worms, anyone?
South Africa has a number of very good bands and singers. I have eluded to several of these previously, but just to run you through 6000’s Top 3 once again, they are the incredibly James-esque Parlotones (new album out 28th September), aging rocker Arno Carstens* with the Springbok Nude Girls, and the incomparable FreshlyGround, who can’t be compared with anyone, because they are incomparable.

And now add to that a couple of other names. One for the laydeez amongst you, pretty-pop-chick-folk-piano-and-vocals-with-nipplestand-in-a-laid-back-Tori-Amos style, Louise Carver, which is currently playing in the background here (good place for it) as Nix wrestles with another terrifyingly large spreadsheet full of terrifyingly large numbers; and the “the power of the Foo Fighters meets the pretty pop of Britney Spears” (their words, not mine) of Love Jones – whose imaginatively-titled debut CD, “Love Jones” is certainly well worth a listen.

But why would any South Africa muso want to stay in and listen to local stuff?
Well, let’s look at the international artists winging their way down to see us in the near future, shall we? Lest we forget, SA is a small market for the big stars and it’s a long flight, so we don’t get spoilt for choice.
And I think I’m about to prove that right here, right now:

  • Pink: September 07
  • Enrique Iglesias: October 07 – followed closely by his dad:
  • Julio Iglesias: November 07
  • Michael Bublé : December 07
  • Elton John: January 08 – and then to add insult and injury to insult and injury:
  • Celine Dion: February 08

The worst bit is, this isn’t a selective list. This is the list. There are no others.

Dear Lord. I know I don’t believe in you, but just supposing for a moment I did, please save us. Please.**

And with that, it’s back to the red wine, I think…

* He won’t thank me for calling him that. In fact, he won’t say anything to me, because he won’t read this.
** He won’t thank me for asking him that. In fact, he won’t say anything to me, because he won’t read this.

SA’s bad press

Just look at the news stories involving South Africa which made it to the front page of the BBC News website (more than 800 million pages served each month) over the last week and you can see why some people claim that SA gets a bad press. We have good old African corruption, political crisis, more self-publicising Simon Grindrod nonsense about crime and a completely laughable story about Durban being named after… well… bulls bollocks. A bad press, yes, but that’s not to say that these stories are not true – sadly, they are (although Simon Grindrod is an idiot and has a vaguely amusing name). It’s perhaps just a little unfair that the country’s dirty laundry is out there for so many to see, while the neatly folded stuff in the cupboard remains… in the cupboard.

But that’s not the only “bad press” that I’m talking about. South Africa’s own news sites – such as News 24 and IOL – are pretty awful: laden with poor journalism, sensationalist rubbish and more adverts than actual stories. That’s why it’s sometimes very hard to actually get a handle on what is going on in this country.
After all, why would one trust any content from a front page that features a dark picture of a dodgy looking gent, claiming to be a 25-year old man “looking to date men and women between the ages of 18 and 100”?
Not the most specific of parameters, I think you’ll agree, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to the fact that bad news sells newspapers, gets viewers and snaffles a nice big internet readership too. Those good news stories are kept for the final item: the “and finally…” to leave the viewer feeling all snuggly and warm and ready to come back again at the same time tomorrow; that despite the fact the world is filled with crime, disease, earthquakes, war and poverty – Snookie the labrador is looking after some orphaned piglets, so everything’s OK.

Sadly for SA, most people on the BBC News site will have read the headline SA’s Table Mountain ‘needs army’ and moved on, probably with the thought that they’ll leave Cape Town and BullsBalls off their summer itinerary this year, Snookie or not.

More on our ARS

The sun has shone upon Cape Town this week. And about time too. the four cold fronts which swept through last week gave us floods, gales, thunder and hail. Miserable.
I await the figures for the number of caprine casualties with a heavy heart. Regular readers of this site will be all too aware that these gentle creatures are more susceptible to inclement weather than other more hardy livestock and I know of a herd of cattle lost in the floods and at least two donkeys which were blown away in the high winds.

The weather even halted work on the new stadium for the 2010 World Cup. That in itself is pretty unusual as they have been working from dawn til dusk (and beyond) in order to keep ahead of schedule. Here’s a magnificent picture of how they were getting along before rain stopped play. I think you can see from this aerial shot why the Metropolitan golf course now has a par of just 17 rather than 70. Look on the bright side, guys – at least you can get back to the clubhouse bar more quickly now!


Looking the other way (we call it “east”), towards the city centre, you can see the proximity of the stadium to the Waterfront (which is next to the marina) and Cape Town CBD. Other points to note are the nearest shop selling alcohol (red roof, right-hand side) and the nearest MacDonalds (green roof, dead centre, between building site and roundabout)*. It’s comforting to think that they consider the workers’ needs when they site this sort of massive project.

There are, in fact, still a few legal challenges – mainly from the “mean green” environmental lobby – to be overcome before stadium gets official planning permission.
Now, I know what you’re thinking and yes, you’re right – they’ve actually done a teeny-weeny bit of work already. Hell, even I can remember when all this was fields – it was only 4 months ago! It’s ok, they were given special permission to start. It seems unlikely that work will be halted at the eleventh hour (well, actually, looking at those pictures, it’s more like the fourteenth hour now, isn’t it?) but this being South Africa, one can never rule it out.

All in all, it’s an amazing sight and there’s already a great deal of interest from various corporate sponsors as to who will run the stadium post 2010. Whoever does so is going to have control of one of the most remarkable structures in one of the most beautiful locations in the world.
All they’ve really done so far is dug the foundations and yet already it’s been described as the southern hemisphere’s Wembley.


Let’s just hope that doesn’t mean that is going to take 7 years to build…

*My place of work is also on this picture. I work in a big yellow castle (Yes, seriously I do) (No, it’s not an inflatable bouncy castle) – I’ll give a prize to whoever can find it first.