Monday, July 12, 2010

Keeping a promise

When there was about a year to go before the football/soccer (choose your name) world cup in South Africa, I visited the country and had grave misgivings that things would be pulled together in time to make the event successful. I expressed these misgivings publicly. Not in any finger-pointing, accusing way, you understand, but with a heavy heart. I thought my homeland had taken on more than it could chew.

I also said that nothing would please me more than to have to admit - after the event - that my fears and doubts were unfounded.

May I take this opportunity to state publicly (as I have done on my Facebook page) that I was unequivocally wrong.

I believe the event was a resounding success. I know there were complaints about the ball, but that was FIFA's problem, not South Africa's. I know that there were complaints about the incessant sound of the vuvuzelas, but (to borrow an Australianism for just a moment) suck it up, princess. They provided a uniquely African soundtrack to the event, just as the steel drums did to the T20 world championship in the West Indies. Oh, and friends and family back home tell me that foreign visitors were just as responsible for the noise levels as the locals... and not just in the stadium, either... vuvuzelas abounded in the streets, in the malls, on the beaches.... everywhere!

South Africans came out in support of the event and their Cinderella team in a way that made my heart swell. Even after their own team was knocked out in the group stages, South Africans chose a team for every game, and supported them with all their hearts. My mother, who has never supported or been interested in a sporting event in her life, not even when I was competing, bought a bright orange T-shirt to show her support for the land of my stepdad's birth.

One thing South Africans can always be depended upon to bring to the party, is passion. It is the single thing most lacking in my daily life since I moved to the UK eleven years ago. I miss that buzz and vibe, and time has not diminished that loss. And it was evident in all its uncynical, unbridled glory throughout the weeks of the world cup competition.

Ndiyaba, abahlobo bam. Ek het my misgis. I was wrong.

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