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Durban Poison

Durban Poison

by Samora Chapman / 19.04.2010

I tend to dodge the typical debates around the braai-vleis on a Saturday arvy. The topics are predictable. The opinions even more so, pros and cons, who’s right, who’s wrong… it’s just a flock of words disappearing into the air with the sizzling fat from the carcass. “Malema is a racist tenderpreneur”, “Zuma is a sex machine with the moral hygiene of a pimp”, “Road name changes, street children, the poor starving masses…” Fucksake I’d rather be blissfully ignorant.

The embarrassing truth is that I would rather listen to American rap music than read the newspaper. One of my favourite rap dog prophets Sage Francis imagines a perfect world where, “the cool kids were all rocking votes, I shit you not I was pistol whipping cops for hip hop!” Sage mocks the apathetic cool kids and 50 cent candy rappers so poignantly. And I am one such youth. I have never voted. Neither have many of my peers.

However, there is absolutely no escaping the carnival of carnage. The newspaper headlines on posters fill the city with an on-going commentary of current issues. Everywhere I look the quotes jump out at me like little commands, unavoidably absorbed into my thought patterns. A lovely autumn morning in paradise is tainted by nauseating poetry from the merchants of chaos… “Welcome to hell on earth”, “Moscow Rush Hour Bomb Attacks”, “I believed I would suffocate in the hole”, “Girl Raped in Hospital”.

My problem (or excuse) is that I am completely desensitized. We’ve had this shit coming out of ours ears since we were old enough to tune in. Growing up in post-apartheid South Africa means being plagued by the lingering memory and manifestations of savage racial conflict, mish mashed with fear of violence and disease and surrounded with the gloom and thunder of the global economic recession. This coupled with the simple fact that if you step onto the street anywhere in Durban you have to avert your eyes from those starving to death in the gutter.

This brings me to the point. The reluctant revolutionary would like to ask one question. If you live in Durban, you’re thinking it. If you have eyes on your face, a brain in your head and a heart beating in your chest, you’re thinking it. No matter what race, creed, age or gender you have to ask the question:

How the fuck did Durban build a 3.4 billion Rand stadium for a one month sporting event when our people are dying faster than in the Middle East war zone?

Yes it is beautiful. A sign of grandeur to live on as a monument to the genius and power of our civilization. Like the pyramids of Giza or the Parthanon. Really? How does a third world country get tricked into this kind of gratuitous façade? The astonishing bridge over the stadium is aptly named “the victory arch” and reaches 100m into the sky. The answer comes in the form of some loosely strung words on the stadium’s website… “The Moses Mabhida Stadium is an engineering feat that provides Durban with a defining landmark to match the Eiffel Tower, Sydney’s Opera House or The London Eye”. And another herd of ants on the page; the stadium is “a state-of-the-art landmark sports facility with excellent amenities, and a sustainable recreational and multi-disciplinary sporting venue”. The key word here being, “sustainable”.

We have the worst HIV-Aids incidence on the planet. Poverty. Violent Crime. Minimal social welfare. Our public transport is chaos. Orphans. Homelessness. Corruption. Any other issues on the agenda? And we decide to build a stadium with a capacity of 80 000 people right next-door to the perfectly good, albeit shabby, little Absa Stadium, so the suffering masses in the depths of degradation can bow down and worship this vision of unattainable wealth and glory. Let us worship these international superstars – 80 000 Euro a week earning demigods – who uphold the image of beauty and success we should all aspire to. Let us build them a towering shrine, whilst our own people die in the gutter.

Children live on the streets sniffing glue for breakfast and on the other side of the ridge road the poor cats in Cato Manor don’t have quite the same view of our new skyline as the Musgrave mansions. If they had to look out of their shack window and see that monument of stupidity I would forgive them for rioting and inciting civil war, overthrowing the government and ransacking the Spar for some chow. Actually I would be right there with them.

Problem is it wouldn’t manifest like that. It’s all mixed up with race in this country

The Durban horizon is now dominated by this gigantic white shrine, like the sea gave birth to a most glorious pearl. Standing on the corner of Umgeni and Argyle, the same toothless rogue still begs at the robots sweating in the blazing heat. The same poor working class soldiers march diligently to work, insecure and in debt. And the few elite fat cats who got the 3.4 billion rand contract to build the Moses Mabhida stadium are laughing while they sip Martinis at the Sun Coast Casino where you have to pay 5 Rand just to go to the beach and sit on luminous green grass instead of god’s sand.

All imaes © and courtesy Samora Chapman.

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RESPONSES (30)
  1. artofkawaii says:

    excllent amenities but limited to whom? who can exploit these amenities to procure themselves to their full potential when busses, trains and taxis ship most of us back to the townships when we are done slaving for the day?

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  2. nissim says:

    Capetonians are obviously much more civilized and illuminated than our Durban brethren…

    Our stadium cost over R5bn! (no-one is saying for sure how much).

    A fuggen shame and a national disgrace! My father-in-law works for the department of Public Works and has told me how many clinics, schools and hospitals had to be shelved so we can enjoy our gleaming white “toilet” (to quote Mahala).

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  3. dan says:

    ohhhhh ahhhhhh but i bet ur butts will be warming those seats soon- as you digest the last of the tuna in the oceans – then you’ll have a drink later and feel good…..and say things like -wow its a great venue we might as well enjoy it i suppose-and damn those racist politicians and farmers but shit this is amazing wow-i would and that makes me feel rotten inside-

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  4. Stumpy says:

    If you didn’t vote, you don’t get to complain.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    @Stumpy
    Most people have swallowed the “we live in a democracy and your vote counts.:
    How is voting a democracy? Please someone explain to me how putting an X next to some politicians name every 4 years lets me have a say in how the country I live in is run. It doesn’t. Democracy, like Communism, is great in theory but in reality it doesn’t exist. Voting is the smokescreen that those in power use to give the illusion that we have a say. We don’t.

    Good article.

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  6. Stumpy says:

    I didn’t say ONLY vote, but you’re complaints have no legitimacy if you did not vote. VOTE and then be active in local and national politics through taking action in your own community.

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  7. bob says:

    what kind of action?neighbourhood watch duty?

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  8. Kukla says:

    THANK YOU!!! and what about the R6Billion plus spent on a new airport….because they needed an extra 500 meters of Runway…what a bloody joke greedy ANC fatcats…nice looking out for your people you promised houses too!!……AND HELL YEAH I VOTED..Ever since I could….ANC are greedy and don’t give a damn about their people living in poverty!!

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  9. Fuck Cape Town says:

    Maybe I’m diverting attention but Nissim don’t get on your fucking Cape Town pseudo European hi horse bullshit, you cunts in the Cape also have your issues and to say “Capetonians are obviously much more civilized and illuminated than our Durban brethren” is actually insulting, Durban is a real city, the middle class live with the working and upper class, there isn’t any sugar coated “Long Street” Eurocentric bollocks, this is Africa remember, and Durban represents Africa in all its multi cultural, multi economic facets. We aren’t claiming to be perfect, but at least we are honest, you cunts just have your heads up the arse of some pretentious ideals that you’re better then everyone, reeks of a sordid past that we are all trying to get away from. FUCK OFF!

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  10. Fuck Cape Town says:

    By the way nice piece of writing, Nissim your still a poes regardless of where you rich fat cat father in law works. Die yuppy scum!

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  11. Anonymous says:

    @Fuck Cape Town,

    You probably need to read Nissim’s post again. You really don’t get sarcasm do you?

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  12. mjg says:

    @Fuck Cape Town

    Wow my man.
    Got yourself a 1cm penis there?
    That some anger!!!

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  13. k-aba says:

    Eloquent article,I reckon it speaks for most people that drive past one of these incongruous stadiums which now dot the landscape all over South Africa.

    If you had that shoved in your face when you were living on nothing you’d also probably start a service delivery protest.

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  14. @Fuck Cape Town says:

    You really need a filter between your brain (assuming one is in operation) and your fingers/mouth. I think you owe Nissim an apology. (And perhaps while you’re at it, one to the superior people of Cape Town too).

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  15. helge says:

    I often see that naked lady on the streets around the Berea Centre. These pics are really great.

    Where else in the world would you find a 5B stadium named after a communist and built with german technology in a democracy!!?? I always thought democracy and communism were diametrically opposed.

    Sometimes the stadium looks like a giant birthday cake forlornly waiting for the party.

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  16. judy says:

    This is really strong writing, Samora! No Helge, it’s Stalinist state-socialism that opposes democracy while communism can only function democratically.

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  17. Luckmins 2cents says:

    Nice article bru! Dug it!

    Stump: whats the point farting into a hurricane, ous have got this jol waxed.

    Fuck Cape Town: HAHA! DOUCHE!

    Oh and has anyone noticed that the Durban stadium looks like a giant white va-j-j?
    The logo designers must have had a chuckle.

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  18. artofkawaii says:

    this is not a matter of just ANC its a matter of business and a host of other stakeholders, including FIFA, colluding against the poor. we must be wholistic in rooting out corruption and not be drawn into reductionist conclusions and finger pointing. There is not only one simple dynamic at play in anything. But the fact remains, the poor are losers here.

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  19. matmots says:

    One thing South Africans do well is complain. When sports doesn’t get money, somebody starves too. When the SWC doesn’t come to Africa, we cry too. Well, it’s coming! We begged for it.

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  20. SizTheDay says:

    all i gotta say is fifa is the biggest gang out on these streets, after the police of course!

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  21. @FCT says:

    Buddy, next time you manage to force yourself to our fair city for a bout of self-indulgent shopping and a decent cappuccino, take a walk down Long St on a Saturday night. Observe the partygoers and soak up the demographics – it’s far from Eurocentric and very representative of the broad spectrum of races and cultures that you would expect to find in any modern African city.

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  22. Anon says:

    I agree that its useless to not vote and then write a poetic (in fact very beautiful) article complaining bitterly about the state of our nation. It appears to point to apathy. Prehaps some suggestions as to how to develop our country and bring money in? without being so communist. I agree that communisim only works in theory and at the moment all you have is theory (words). Albeit cliche, actions, in this case, do speak louder than pretty words.

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  23. Tempus Fukit says:

    Great piece, Samora! Telling it like it is.

    Let’s not forget Sutcliffe, Ellingson, Mlaba & Co also gave the thumbs-up to a Durban 2010 website that, to be generous, is a piece of incomprehensible schlock. Which only cost 10 bar, and chugs along at the speed of walking. God forbid that the city should be represented by a world-class website, oh no. we couldn’t have that.

    Raise another toast to cronyism, corruption, and a firm disregard for the reality of the situation!

    Look skyward, Africa. The view below is too awful to contemplate.

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  24. JD says:

    Always thought it was a bit odd we “needed” a fancy arch over the stadium that cost, hell i can’t remember, R10mil, when there’s homeless people living down the road…

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  25. Lunga says:

    Nice article… hope one of the government officials reads it(jst to rub it in their face coz I know they wont take any action)

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  26. Irritated says:

    I believe that this article takes some truths and does not take into consideration of the big picture. it is idealistic thinking that a single cash injection into a problem of this nature would solve a problem. wake up the key word being sustainable. Do you honestly think that an immediate cash injection would alleviate the problems of poverty, aids and violence. its all linked and the only way for south africa to move forward is to spend on infrastructure specifically infrastructure that is stratgeically positioned to provide ore opportunities for the city and for the citizens of the city. i remember after the construction of the ICC in durban how people said who would come and what do we as durbanites need it for and it is one the most successful conference venues in the world.
    People wake up and smell the coffee study the economics behind infrastructure development, understand the multiplier effect of the construction industry, understand the temporary and permanent jobs that were created in the construction of the facility and its related services. dont let people pull the wool over your eyes thinking that oh its a 5 billion stadium that money can be spent better. You can spend it on poverty alleviation that would last for a year or two, but you will not create a facility that would provide jobs, attract tourists, provide a competitive edge in the winning of international events in addition durban now has an icon.

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  27. Irritated says:

    oh yes and in addition does everyone in south africa believe that problems regarding poverty will be solved overnight. i love the emotive imagery villifying the stadium and speaking of the people who continue their lives of suffering.

    Think about the fact that Durban is an Apartheid designed city, think about the fact that here in KZN we do not have the infrastructure budgets to provide services to the rural areas and therefore we have migration from the impovershed rural areas. Think of the problem holistically and factually and scientifically before you villify an icon of hope for the creation of article. Pragmatism is needed in this time, not fanaticism

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  28. Just bCos I can says:

    And in light of all of the above banter, ranting and raving, (ever so eloquent I must add), I have taken my business offshore, we plan a trip back once a year to collect dividends from my SA clients (many thanks, my new house is coming on nicely, good of you to sweat for it.) And the ANC, DA, IFP SACP and the many many others (and you lot) can fight it out, I must however thank them for raising the forex travel allowance to R750K… per person per annum, plus a maximum of 4Bar offshore investment… I need to speak to the wife, we may need to plan for another kid, yep thats another R750K per annum slipping out of a most beautiful hell hole.

    For those not getting it yet, whilst you’re sleeping with your alarm on, killer dogs and a gun under your pillow, I am thinking of my next venture to move more money out.

    Its not the place, its the people, those people who will kill for little to no reason, those who find it in there best interest to rape your daughters, kill your father and mother, brother … I can go on, the general lawlessness etc etc etc. From the above comments I see you all know why, but you bitches stay in SA, I need your cash, beside, someone’s got to do the work.

    Its not what my country can do for me (they’ve hardly got it covered) its what I can do for me to empower my family, what do the masses say (Gimme, gimme gimme) thus I’ll fuck them over (oh yes and you) at every turn because I care.(Its called tough love!)

    And after all that why one might ask… Just because I can.

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  29. irritated is just a dumb says:

    Mr Irritated. You ask this question: Think about the fact that Durban is an Apartheid designed city, think about the fact that here in KZN we do not have the infrastructure budgets to provide services to the rural areas…

    The budget has been spent on greedy politicians you stupid dumb as well as this stadium. I know schools closing down in township due to a lack of funds yet the “setas” don’t have money. Die you ignorant scumbag.

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