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Reality, Sport

After the Party

by Vuyo Seripe / 13.07.2010

We all felt the fever – it was here. Now it’s gone. What’s next? We all sort of knew the boys wouldn’t make it very far in The Cup – but we dared to dream. Which was good for us. It’s been awhile since we had something warm and good to rally around. We’ve seen pot holes being filled and a great deal of national pride on display. Millions were inevitably blown on sending government officials and corporate insiders to games, parties and bashes. But whatever. After all this, we’ll certainly have a hangover and it’ll need more than a Regmaaker or two to make it go away.
There’s a lot to savour. We are the first African country to host a World Cup. Beyond that, despite the severe economic downturn, we’re developing faster than most other African countries. Too many of our neighbours are still fighting over table scraps, mired in civil war, and yet to cash in on their “developmental potential” as independent nations. It could easily have been us. Hey, the momentous decision made in 1994 to create a “rainbow nation” instead of plunging us all into a fucking civil war is serving our country well!

We are haunted by what-if scenarios and difficult choices. All the money spent on The World Cup could have been spent on “better things” like educating several million children. Vast sums were put into building stadiums rather than increasing salaries for teachers, mine workers, and bus drivers, or supporting the millions who have lost their jobs in the first quarter of the year. This is life under capitalism. A hundred thousand losers lose in order for one winner to win. We need more real control over our own lives.

Anyway, I was recently filling out a “dissertation questionnaire” for a visiting American student. She’s writing about women in South African politics. Her questions were, like, so tell me about Mbeki being sexist, Manto being an alcoholic, Malema being a blabber-mouth, and Zuma being a rapist. South Africa’s infamous government officials! The usual suspects, right. What I hated most about her questions was how they sounded pretty much answered from her end – and none of them were positive. She even suggested that we’re headed in the same direction as Zimbabwe. No Way!
Nobody else decides who we are. It’s up to us. And the World Cup has taken our reality around the world. Everyone who visited and saw our land on their televisions and online can now judge ruling party slogans and promises like “A Better Life for All” and “2010 and Beyond.” How long ago was the promise of a “better life for all” made? Sixteen years – how long before the promise is realised?

No doubt, hosting the World Cup brought about genuine goodwill and much needed positivity. That energy is something to hold onto, something worth keeping. For a country like ours chances to be positive and proud are all too few. Opening our home to the world has made us feel good. There are new transport systems, massive stadiums, and a huge global advertisement for the “new South Africa”. It may have all been worth it, but the party’s over, and now we have to clean up and pay the bill.

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