Posts Tagged World Cup

Even more past Ayoba Time – Stories and Pictures from the 2010 South Africa World Cup – Part II

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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Slightly past Ayoba time…Travels to the 2010 South Africa World Cup – Part I

Well, okay…a little more than slightly past Ayoba time…but better late than never?

Check your calendar Dan, you’re about 5 months too late with this post. You gotta get your priorities straight and stop living in the past. (Am I allowed to use the cliche excuse that I’m on African time?). So maybe being on time isn’t my thing – but I think there are still some cool stories and philosophizing to share so even if this is maybe no longer categorized under current events, I hope you’ll make it past this paragraph.

For your reference back home – It’s Ayoba Time! was the advertising campaign being run by the World Cup telecom sponsor MTN and played incessantly everywhere in Africa during the lead up and main event itself. The Ayoba vuvuzela “tune” was a common sound heard whenever you were in a World Cup host city and  may have interrupted more than a few conversations along Durban’s Florida St. restaurants and cafe’s as we got everyone into the world cup spirit during a particular night of revelry.  And yes, the 2010 World Cup was exactly like that street party scene in the last shot of the ad.

Editor’s Note: Part I…what’s up with that?

As I have been told many times and have readily admitted on this blog before – I have a bit of a problem keeping things concise. This post has been in various progressive forms of draft mode since I returned to Canada on July 9th – and with each of my visits it grew and grew in size until became in danger of becoming  an unreadable-in-one-sitting-novel. As such, I have split the post into a two-part series (and they are both still bloody long!) – more dusty foot philosophizing to love for all of us!

“baby, I would follow you to the ends of the earth”

Where I left off on this blog  during the travels down to SA we were headed to the Zambia/Zimbabwe border to see the mighty Victoria Falls and I promised not to do anything too stupid. Well, the jury is still out on that one.

The first of my two “at the ends of the earth” moments I experienced on this stage of the trip was from the air. It was  the less-stupid decision we made to take a ultra-lite/micro-lite flight over the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls to get a birds-eye view. When you visit the falls from the ground level you truly understand why the indigenous people here called the falls Mosi-oa-Tunya or “the smoke that thunders” for all you non-Kololo speakers. I loved that name the moment I first read it. It’s (obviously?) neither of those things and yet it fits so perfectly. When approaching the falls from the ground you can see the mist rising up from miles away and a hear a dull roar where the river suddenly drops off. When you get up close on the trail that goes beneath the falls – you are completely soaked,  can only see a blanket of mist in front of you,  and can hardly hear each other over the roar of the water.

The ultra-lite flight is the perfect counterbalance to intensity of the ‘smoke and thunder’. You soar up into the air with no walls keeping you in and your bare feet hanging off the edge and blowing in the wind. It’s a glorified go-kart with wings and until the jet-pack becomes commercially available (The Jetsons promised me such technology by now…) – I think it might be the closest thing to human flight available. It was eerily quiet and peaceful up there and you see a side of this spectacle of nature that you thought was the sole domain of those BBC Planet Earth film crews or National Geographic photographers that us mere mortals weren’t allowed to witness.

I don’t know if this will make sense to you but I will try. There are moments in life when you are just purely happy. When you have a big goofy smile on your face that starts to hurt your cheeks but you can’t reign it in. When you say to yourself, “damn…Louis Armstrong was right”. Where, if real-life had a soundtrack, there would be an epic classical masterpiece hitting its crescendo during this scene. When you know that what you need to do in life is chase these moments, that feeling… maybe it is a person for you or a place or an experience…but you need to find it wherever it is on this planet…. and that the bad parts of life or stress of work  and earning a paycheque is purely there to enable this. Yeah, it was kinda cool like that.

The less intelligent “at the edge of the world” moment was a bit more straightforward. Put one foot in front of the other and walk off a cliff.

According to the stats I just looked up on their website – the gorge-swing jump was a “160 ft pure Free Fall…….Reaching speeds of up to 180 Km/h.” and was supposed to last 4 seconds or something (yes, that is enough time to both fully comprehend that it was a stupid decision and subsequently urinate your pants) before the rope catches just above the ground below and whips you into a high-speed swing across the tree tops. I would like to say that if I had thought more about those numbers at the time I wouldn’t have done it – but that’s probably not true. Ah well, you learn your lessons (and your whiplashed neck and lower back pay the price) – I have absolutely zero desire to ever do any “extreme” jumping again. Well, I should probably be completely honest with you – we climbed back up to the top and proceeded to try the  aptly named tandem-death-drop where you tie yourself at the ankles and waist to a buddy and flip backwards off the ledge. But going forward…I have absolutely zero desire to ever do any “extreme” jumping again.

“It’s the people that make the place”

Okay, so maybe this is obvious as well -but isn’t it kind of funny how a place, a neighbourhood, a city, a country even – can be defined in your memory not necessarily by its actual tourist attractions or natural beauty but purely by the people that you meet there?

Two such experiences from our trip stand out which made me want to include this observation here. The second was in Durban, SA. Two strangers in a city meet some people out while watching a game. Instead of the easier/safer/conventional goodbye we are invited into their lives for our 3 days in Durban. Keys to the apartment, cooking dinners, visiting workplaces, going to house parties, exchanging good books & music, and lots of jokes makes Durban stand above its more famous Cape Town and Johannesburg counterparts in my books.

The first was in Bulowayo, Zimbabwe where six dirty, smelly, pretty much random travelers were taken in and made a part of a family for our brief  stay. Cooking barbeque feasts, giving relationship advice, white-bread eating contests, joining  family monopoly night, and sitting around the living room hearing personal stories of how one family dealt with Zim’s unbelievable inflation crisis of 2008 and why they choose to stay when the easy path to just leave is available. That’s what I will always remember about Zimbabwe.

I guess the moral of the story is  - be kind to strangers, be especially welcoming to guests, and just know the effect you can have when someone else passes temporarily through your world.

“This is Africa’s World Cup”

The hype starting building even before we arrived in Tanzania a full 11 months before the opening kick-off. What started then as an email sent out to my fairly unknown two future roommates in Dar while preparing for last years trip (and I copy and paste) – “Hey guys. I’m looking at possibly staying until the beginning of June and then hopefully heading to South Africa to take part in some World Cup festivities before heading home” – turned into those 3 guys booking their return flights out of South Africa with no plans of how to get there – turned into some purchased game tickets – evolved into some rough plans involving trains, boats, buses, and cars – and finally turned into a reality. kinda cool.

In the months leading up to the tournament I talked with a lot of people about it and that buzz just kept on building. Everyone was excited that Africa had an opportunity to be on the world stage and play host to the world’s game. It didn’t matter that SA was the official host – this was Africa’s World Cup and I was told that many times over. I particularly remember meeting a man in Mbeya, Tanzania who, when I told him we were going,  told me he was religiously buying bottles of Coke to look under the cap and try to win the grand prize trip and tickets to the final. He laughed and said he knew he wouldn’t win but how could he not try? This was once in a lifetime and this was Africa’s World Cup.

As we got closer to the World Cup (both geographically and chronologically) it was like there was a giant funnel on the continent – draining everyone you met down to SA for the opening. Of course, its sad that most of these people we met heading to the event were foreigners as well – and only the most privileged percentage of Africans on this continent were able to come experience their very own continent’s World Cup in person. But I think you could probably argue the same about Canada hosting the Olympics or other major events like this held anywhere – and in the end the immense continental pride and ownership was still there at all levels.

“Welcome home, we’ve been waiting 200,000 years”

Finally, I’ll leave you with a video of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s speech from the launch concert the night before the opening game. He welcomes the world to not only South Africa – but all of Africa which I thought was a very nice touch given the proud ownership of the event that we saw throughout the continent on our travels.  ”Africa is the cradle of humanity”  and so if we go far enough back…we are all African. True that, Archbishop, true that.

Welcome home world. Now doesn’t that just bring a tear to your eye?

Stay tuned for Part II of this post dealing with some of the actual World Cup fun ….coming soon (or at least sometime in the next 5 months…)

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Most sequels suck – but hopefully not this one

Hello again and welcome back to the another dusty foot philosopher blog!

First off, all apologies for the major gap since the last post. The last post came from Zambia during the self-declared epic trip down to South Africa for the World Cup. Certainly had every intention of making some more updates since then but surprisingly enough, finding an internet cafe and writing a blog post wasn’t so high on the priority list during the World Cup.

I don’t have such a good excuse for why there was nothing done in the month and a half spent back  home visiting -thats just laziness I guess. Had a much needed time relaxing and seeing family and friends back home though and very thankful for that opportunity heading into another long stretch away.

If you don’t know yet – I am back in Tanzania already for round II. At the very end of the last contract here I agreed to return to Tanzania for a one year contract beginning end of August. In the end, it came down to a great job opportunity here and experience that I don’t think I would be able to get elsewhere at this time. I would love to share more about the new job, but a few things need to clear up yet and I will try to keep this one relatively short so that will have a future post.

What Hollywood has taught me about life (besides the bad guy is wearing black, the high-school outcast can still get the girl, and that animals really can talk) is that, when it comes to sequels, they mostly suck…especially if they try to do the same thing.  The list of horrible sequels is not a hard one to compile; Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, Jaws II: The Revenge, Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Son of the Mask….it gets ugly.

I definitely thought a lot about this before coming back – this year won’t be the same as last year and it can’t be the same. Probably shouldn’t be the same. Need to approach it with a different storyline, different expectations (or maybe no expectations?), and different goals. I mean, most obviously, Zach and I are back but we’ve lost the third musketeer. Who will the thieves target now that Jer is gone?…I think I am in trouble.

So, I guess what I am saying is….let’s make this particular sequel more of a “The Dark Knight” kind of refreshing goodness and a little less of a “The Next Karate Kid” failed imitation.

I am definitely planning on keeping up the blog again for the year ahead. I really didn’t like the idea of it at first – but have really come to enjoy sharing some stories, pictures, and occasional ramblings with the friends and randoms that visit. I have about 7 drafts of new posts either started here on my computer or sitting in draft mode in my brain which I hope will someday see the light of day. I can’t promise anything but I will try to make some more regular updates in this year ahead.

Until next time (but hopefully not too long),

Dan

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