After the Cupby Dave Durbach and Andy Davis / 16.06.2010
“After the cup!” It’s a warning. A barely whispered, widely reported rumour that after the final whistle of the World Cup we’ll see the townships aflame with same kind of xenophobic violence that wracked the country in 2008. The disgrace of that widespread xenophobic violence stands in strong contrast to the current energy of pan-African unity as we focus on the FIFA World Cup. It’s a world away. Like those things could never happen in this country, not now. Not while we’re being celebrated, again in the spotlight of world’s fame bulb.
““Irrespective of whoever plays,” says Kofi Agyei. “It’s an African World Cup, so we support all the African teams.”
Kofi is from Ghana. He has been living in Pretoria for the past nine years. His aunt has been here longer. The systems engineer and his friends are some of the many thousands of Ghanians currently living in South African cities who have come to Loftus to support the Black Stars.
Kofi downplays the extent of xenophobia towards other Africans in South Africa. “It’s all overhyped. It’s not really like that. When you’re inside, it’s different. I haven’t had any problems. It’s only scattered incidents, I mean like one or two people, it’s not like an overall thing.” He explains. Kofi is confident that this World Cup will continue to surprise those who doubted Africa’s capabilities, on and off the field. “It’s awesome, really. People didn’t think we could make it, but its finally happening.”
Hardus Visser, 26, is a civil engineer from Pretoria. He’s one of many Loftus locals who, now that the Bulls’ Super 14 silverware is safely locked up at home, are putting their weight behind all the African teams at the cup. “Everybody is supporting African teams. If you’re South African, you’re supporting Africa. We believe an African team is gonna win it. We are from Africa. We’re proud to be African.” He’s backing Bafana to make the semis, and thinks Cameroon could go even further. He’s been looking forward to this day for a long time, and got his tickets in the first round of the FIFA lottery almost a year ago.
“I’m not surprised, I knew it was gonna be awesome.” He says. “All the time, I had no concerns.” Now he’s traveling around Mzansi supporting African teams, He’s going to Ghana’s next game against Germany, then Durban next week and a game in Cape Town.
“I haven’t taken off yet, but I’ve got the tickets!”
Osmond Alhaji is 20, from Kumasi a city in South, Central Ghana. But he has been living in Jozi for three years already. Like many, he was attracted to South Africa for, “business reasons”.
“No it was difficult.” He says of the xenophobic violence. “But at the end of the day we solved it, and now everything is OK. I think the World Cup will change South Africans, to become better.” He hopes out loud.
And like many, his support is for Ghana first, the continent next.
“I support all the African teams, Nigeria, Ivory Coast. Everybody in Africa.”
Richard Abi Adu-Kwaduwo is 27 and in the midst of a good time.
“I came to South Africa to weh the futbal match.” He says.
“Asamoah is from my home town. Asamoah is my idol, we live in the same area in Ghana… and he’s going to score the first goal… and I tell him, Asamoah, we are going to take the World Cup, to our motherland, Ghana. Ghana, Ghana! No size, Ghana, forever. Ghana, you are going to win!”
And what of the threat of xenophobic violence?
“Everything’s good. I’ve been here for almost one week. We are going to spend 30 days here. Let me tell you a secret… All the other Africans, they’re all supporting Ghana, cos they’re afraid of Ghana… cos Ghana have big players!”