Welcome to Part II of my posts about the June/July adventures travelling down to and around South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. If you missed Part I – you can check it out here. That said, this is (as usual) just a collection of ramblings, pictures, and stories with very little common-thread…so its not so much necessary that you go back and read it…I’ll leave it up to you.

Tales of ordinary murder

No, this is not a reference to all the hype and media scare which built-up to the World Cup about how every fan was risking their life to visit SA. Lucky you – it’s a new addition to Dan’s “I doubt Oprah even reads everything on her book club list” Book Club! Throughout much of my time in SA, I was reading a book that I would like to tell you a bit about and add to the reading list: My Traitor’s Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe and His Conscience by Rian Malan. First off, warning for all you young children that read this blog before bed-time – this book ain’t a Fun with Dick and Jane light-hearted jaunt. It was definitely one of the darkest and most disturbing accounts that I have ever read. That said,  South Africa under apartheid in the late 80′s was not a pretty place for anyone.

The book is an account of a white South African Afrikaaner who returns to SA after many years to become a journalist covering crime cases. He tells the compelling story of SA through the lens of the crimes he reports on and what they say about this society. It is a very raw and personal account of his own battle to understand the entrenched racial systems, his own place in all of this, and the violence that were very much tearing South Africa apart when he wrote this account.  I really enjoyed his writing style -unedited, emotional,  honest, confrontational, and conversational. Here is (one of the more intense) snippets:

“…I think I should rest my case right here, for fear that I lose control, leap off the page, and tear out the throat of the nearest enlightened white man.

….Am I upsetting you my friend? Good. Do you want to argue? Do you want to tell me about the evils of apartheid? Do you want to talk about democracy and the allied civil and human rights that fall under the umbra of its name? Okay. Let’s open my bulging files of tales of ordinary murder. You choose your weapons and I’ll choose mine, and we’ll annihilate the certainties in one another’s brains.”

Phew! Don’t let that scare you though – he’s not that raging angry the entire book! During 4 weeks travelling through SA, I read a lot of other historical accounts and visited the both Nelson Mandela and Apartheid museums  (all amazing as well) – but I have to say that this book provided a completely unique level of analysis and eye-opening understanding. If you are interested in learning more about SA under apartheid and especially the turmoil and events that began the chain of events which led to Mandela’s release – I highly recommend you check it out… of your local library branch (everyone is looking to save money in these hard times you know).

Think happy thoughts and look at the pretty pictures

Was that a bit dark and troubling? I don’t want to leave you with bad taste in your mouth about that beautiful country. No, that would be no good…we must do something to fix this. Or do I just want a chance to post more photos? Either way -Let’s take a tour through some of the breathtakingly beautiful scenery in South Africa as captured through my camera… which was at last fixed and operational for the final 3 weeks of the journey.

The photos from the trip are starting to make their way up onto my Flickr Page little by little – so if you want to see more check out the South Africa Roadtrip Set here.

A brief tutorial on how to make tax-free billions off the taxpayer

Overall, the World Cup pretty much lived up to all my expectations. South Africa put on a great show and were amazingly hospitable hosts for the tournament and proved all of the bad press and nay-sayers wrong which was certainly nice to see. Unfortunately, how it will do with the giant white-elephant stadiums and debt legacy that these giant world events leave a country/city with is a different story.

To skim the surface of this topic  - the most corropt sports organization in the world, our host FIFA, made off with $3.5 Billion USD in TAX-FREE profits from the event – meanwhile  while the SA government was saddled with an estimated $2.9 billion USD in debt to build new stadiums and airports for the two month event. Congratulations goes out to the taxpayers of Russia and Qatar – the recent winners of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups… BUT since there isn’t much to do about that now and its all a bit depressing (blame the system not the fan, my friend) – I think they should be lauded for a truly great achievement and for showing the world a different and truly capable side of Africa than many might have expected.

Just can’t shake that poser feeling

That said, there was something a little bit off the whole time. This nagging feeling I just couldn’t shake. Like a square peg and a round hole, like most of us on that first day of Grade 9 in high-school, like the Pope giving the key-note at  World Condom Day  - I just didn’t quite belong (yes, i am pretty sure i just made that up -go ahead, google it). It felt like everyone there had one distinct advantage over me in the are-you-a-legit-fan-or-just-some-poser-who-can’t-name-a-player-on-the-pitch assessment that sports fans often do when meeting….they actually had their country participating in the tournament.

There were even quite a few other lost Canadian souls at the tournament. At one game in Joburg I rubbed my eyes when I saw a banner hanging from the stands reading “Newfoundland and Labrador – Canada’s Soccer Capital“. Really? Really? Too much Newfoundland Screech for some hoser I think.

…but a super interesting poser at least?

May I present to you, the jury, Exhibit A in the prosecution’s case of Grand World Cup Posering:

During the World Cup travels I found myself  interviewed on four different occasions by the time I headed home by various international tv stations. (What can I say? I am on my way to the personal goal of becoming one of those most interesting people in the world who gets invited to fabulous parties for the sole reason that they are interesting and might make the party more interesting just by their presence.) In a true mark of a World Cup poser, I was supporting a different team in three of the four interviews.

  1. Supporting Argentina – interviewed by Argentinean TV outside the Ellis Park Joburg stadium before the Argentina-Nigeria game
  2. Supporting Denmark (who the hell supports Denmark? Dislike of Dutch > Fear of being the lone Denmark fan I guess) interviewed by Bolivian TV - In the Soccer City stadium -Joburg after Netherlands – Denmark game
  3. Supporting Spain interviewed by Japanese TV – fanwalk outside the Capetown stadium on the way to Spain -Portugal game
  4. Supporting Argentina, interviewed/made the butt of many jokes by a Brazilian comedy show – In a bar across the street from Capetown stadium watching/crying during the live- next-door Germany- Argentina debacle.

So you see, the evidence has clearly been broadcasted out to the world to judge and convict me of crimes of world cup fan posering. But until the year that Canada makes the World Cup (see you in Brazil 2014?), I guess I’ll  have to be that hardcore fan that tries and tries, but just doesn’t quite fit in.

What’s on tap barman?

Since it’s already almost mid-December and I likely won’t get another chance to update you before the holidays are here – thought I would provide a quick update and seasons greetings.

Time is flying by -can’t believe I’ve been back for 3 and a half months already – and I know it will only go faster and 2011 will be here before we  know it. I will be heading south this holiday season for 11 days backpacking around Northern Mozambique and spend the holidays there. It’s a bit weird spending christmas away from family and friends but I’ve found that hitting the road this time of year makes it somehow easier…so very excited for the adventure ahead and will hope to share some good stories and pictures in a new post next year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to everyone!

Cheers,
Dan

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