Soweto Stylingby JR Onyangunga / 02.11.2009
Sunday noon covered with blanket fluff from the squatter camp, giving my Shabba Ranks side tempo a little volume as if I just shampood my hair with Garnier, I’m excited to see the infamous Soweto that every white person from Sandton to Killarney fears and every European tourist craves like a junkie with a rooster on his back.
I’m hoping to see a couple of celebrities from the freedom struggle hovering around shebeens, guzzling down pedestrian drinks (black label) to distract themselves from the fact that the recession, indeed, has hit. But the Maponya Mall is like the Gateway, only it’s situated in the middle of the ghetto. It’s Big ‘n fake! Ed Hardy and Supras everywhere you look. I tell you, people still live large in Soweto. I felt like I was in the midst of an Entourage shoot at the Grammy Awards; everyone with their fancy handy cams hidden in their Louis Vuitton satchels, all smiling at each other like good fair-weather friends should.
So I was here for the Red Bull Street Style National Championship. It’s kind of a hip hop gig with breakdancing and DJs and loud music, and then all these guys compete on how well they can flair a football. iDiski! I tell you, I didn’t know boys could bounce balls like that. I’m talking about them Darkies. For the record: the white boy didn’t make it through the first round, he was like a reverse token player. I felt sorry for him.
Good footy and some serious skills went around. The competitors were pleasant and I made friends with the “General”, a man who plays footy in his George Boateng suit and “Rasta” who can take off his pants while keeping the ball alive and under control. Really these dudes did Soweto proud. It was quite a memorable Sunday; they shook hell up to heaven like rising the Pirates flag on derby day.
Then came “Nick Carter”, who recently died his hair black. I was surprised to learn that he has been spending this past year in Soweto, hosted by Kwaito and House stars in their ritzy studios. He has perfected the art of beat boxing, Hip Hop, Kwaito, and House. As your attorney, I would advise you German folks to get his newly released CD if you wanna stand any chance of jumping into our sisters’ pants here in Soweto.
Basically it came down to a flair-off between the reigning champ Khris Njokwana and this new guy Kamal Ranchod. It’s like a hip hop battle, the two contestants step to the matt and show off their skills with a soccer ball, each one trying to out do the other. And Kamal came out on top. And he didn’t exactly rub it in Khris’ face either.
“Khris is a great freestyle soccer player, with so much talent.” Said Kamal. “We have become friends since last years contest and to be up against him in the final again was difficult. I am happy to have won and will, like Khris, make South Africa proud at the World Final.”
Oh, so there’s a World Final of this thing? Yep. Cape Town will soon begin preparation for the Red Bull Street Style World Final. The best freestyle soccer players from 60 countries around the world will be battling it out next year. Just in time for the World Cup.
The final whistle blows and we gather for the Prize Giving at News Café and you know Red Bull does the job well (not just the soccer, but drinks, DJs, hospitality, friends,etc). I spotted a ghost but the resounding “BOOOO” that came from the crowd woke me up to the fact that it was, in fact, the pasty looking Bafana Bafana defensive hardman and mini-celeb, Matthew Booth, awarding the new Champion a trophy made out of old Red Bull cans. Were they afraid that if they gave him a real trophy the poor kid might get hijacked before he left Soweto? I’m just saying…
Images © and courtesy Justin McGee and JR Onyangunga