The World Cup and Southern Africa

During the world cup I will be traveling around South Africa. After the tournament is over, I plan to travel over ground about 1800 miles up to Nairobi, where I will fly back to the states from in early August.

In this blog I hope to share my experiences, thoughts, and stories. I am not completely sure why I am here, I hope to know by the time I leave. I will focus on a few topics:
1) How do we develop people? (Education, Values, etc..)
2) Is there any absolute truth? I hope so.
3) Football

This will not be clean and edited, it is my journal. I will write very much in stream of consciousness, most statements I make are questions that I wish answered. Please feel free to add to my inner-dialogue.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday 9 June

Today I started in Sandton City, a suburb of Joburg. My understanding of Sandton is after the Apartheid, many businesses moved outside of the Joburg central business district. Sandton has very nice restaurants, shops, hotels and business parks. Today all of South Africa was to show their support of Bafana Bafana approximately during lunch time. Sandton was the center of all this with the team riding through the city on a double decker bus. Every inch of Joburg had people blowing vuvuzela, honking horns and celebrating their team. I will try to attach a video of one brief pocket, I dont think I got any sound. We’ll see if it works.

I was wearing a Bafana jersey for the days festivities. I crossed paths with a few Argentine fans. One approached me enthusiastically repeating “Bafana Bafana, Bafana Bafana.” I speak no spanish, he spoke no english, so we could’nt talk about much. I tried to tell him that I was in fact an American just jumping on the bandwagon, but it didn’t get through. He continued on to communicate that Argentina and Bafana are best of friends, perhaps from the same blood lines, and then implied that we should trade jerseys. He was wearing a tank top version of an Argentina jersey. Although I slightly preferred my shirt, I couldn’t refuse the offer, perhaps subconsciously attaching it to swapping jerseys after a world cup match. The cut off sleeves were nice in the sun all day, but I was no longer representing the in-fashion side.

I took a couple breaks in the festivities to catch museums. I first went to the Johannesburg Art Museum. It was lovely, it had regional art, some of which gave a bit of history. It had an exhibition about Cuba’s struggle for freedom from Spain. They compared Cuba’s struggle with SA, putting it in a positive light. This was refreshing, as I have hardly learned a positive thing about Cuba in my US-centric education. And then, there it was. Two rooms, 12 screens, showing different perspectives on the last world cup final between France and Italy. Here are a few examples, there was a screen committed to each of the following:
The normal match
A dot representing each player to show the movement of both teams
Lines representing movements of the players’
Animated Zhidane
The guy who says what camera should be shown
Two seemingly intelligent fellows just talking about the match
The outside of the stadium
Security cameras inside the stadium

There were a couple others as well. I spent a long time watching the dots. The back lines almost never get more than 30 meters apart. I also spent a bit watching Zhidane, he is definitely brilliant, but very comfortable. He did lots of standing. I may have stayed the entire day, but I am still disgusted that Italy won that match, they must be the least innovative/dynamic team in the world. They have as much talent as anyone, yet they insist on playing a bland counter attacking style.

I also went to the Africana Museum in Newtown. It was interesting, I was a bit burnt out at that point, but I learned a bit about Ghandi’s time in Joburg, which was cool. I always enjoy learning of people’s development. More on that to come.
Overall, the energy in the streets was the main interest of the day. The blowing and honking was constant. At one point about 40 construction workers were playing with a soccer ball in busy downtown streets. A police car patiently waited until the game drifted out of his way. There is no doubt this country is in solidarity behind their team, but what lasting impacts will this tournament have. Last night we spoke of 9/11, and how it brought NYC together, and our country. What lasting impact has that unity had? Completely different circumstances, but what long-term impact can an event achieve? I guess the answer varies greatly depending on the event, we’ll see. That’s all for today.


  1. Surrounded by soccer....Are you in heaven??

  2. I don't like Italy, but I'd have to disagree with your comment. Soccer is as much about strategy as it is the finesse. Sometimes patience is more prudent than undisciplined flare..which some may say is the weakness in most African team's play.

    I think the WC will have a positive effect on SA. They have a decent team, who are pretty disciplined (with the exception of the defensive mistake in the game opener costing them the win). They have a good shot advancing past the 1st round, which by any measure would be considered a "success." Barring any egregious behavior (a la Zidane head-butt), I think they'll be able to hold their heads up high. Plus that first goal (the first goal scored in the first WC in Africa by an African team..and it was NASTY), that can NEVER be taken away from them.

  3. I've started reading Soccer Empire about French soccer and its colonial legacy. The books spends time on Zidane and Thurman. The author is an american history prof and an unabashed French football fan. I saw that film on Zidane that literally follows him for an entire match. He does stand around a lot, but the burst of speed are almost frightening and perfectly timed.