Monday, June 28, 2010

Rewriting the world: A Foreword

On the morning of June 11, 2010, the morning of the FIFA World Cup launching in South Africa, I walked the streets of my native Cape Town, my insides feeling like jelly. I was so astonished by the atmosphere on the streets (it must have been about 7 in the morning), I wrote a short editorial piece for my publication, which was published by 9:30.

The editor told me that she’d publish it because despite being sentimental (something which our columns most often are not), it was pretty moving. I decided to interpret that as... “Damn, man, you nearly made me cry.” That was the first time I really felt like what I had to say had resonated purely and absolutely with someone from a completely different background as me.

The feeling was reinforced when commenters on the story resoundingly agreed with its sentiment – another phenomenon that never happens on our forums. Again, this was and remains very meaningful for me, considering that the world cup was trashed unapologetically by most readers of a certain class...

Let me sidestep here and say that, as a black man of my particular age in South Africa, I am angry and sad about a great many things. I am not a reactionary, nor hysterical, but damn, my countrymen can be idiots. And many times over the course of a lifetime, there’s an inclination to let it all drop over the side of the ship and be done with it. But my experience of that day – June 11, 2010 - came to me as a gift.

Several times that day I was forced to hold back a torrent of tears that rose up from the pit of my stomach. Several times I failed to do so.  Those tears came for several things. For success, for failure, for happiness, for sadness, for memory of what we’ve achieved in my country, for sadness at a continuing selfishness that hurts us all, for bafana bafana, for my family, for the women I’ve loved, for friends I left behind, for football, for education, for dreams, for struggle. All of it. 

But mostly... mostly... for the idea that for that beautiful, morning, I felt like I belonged here in this country, on this continent, on this planet.

That is a feeling I've wanted all my life. The reasons that I do not feel that as often as I should was the launching point for this blog in disguise - I needed a friend to tell me that in her own unique way. I never knew it before... or maybe I just never realised it. So no more fitting in. It's time I rewrote the world the fit me.

And that’s really what I was writing about. Below I’ve “borrowed” my published column from channel 24.co.za. For the responses and such, go here.

I hope you continue to read the blog regularly.
A



We ARE the World
Published June 11, 2010


I had to get off the bus a kilometre from where I normally do, and walk the rest of the way to the work this morning. The line of buses stretched way beyond the fanzone on the Grand Parade in Cape Town, and even as the sun was struggling to break the horizon, I could see that this would be a long wait.

 This morning vuvuzelas and car horns were blasting - and still are as I write this - making it just a little harder to concentrate on work. It seems like every resident of Cape Town has invested in this most maligned and celebrated Mzansi paraphernalia.

This morning I heard that Madiba's granddaughter had died in a car crash on the way from the World Cup Kickoff Concert last night, and my thoughts went out to a man I consider to be a father in the African sense - how overjoyed on one hand he would have been to see a World Cup come to SA; but how bittersweet it will now be for this tragedy. Madiba, we are with your family in these times, as you have been with ours for so many years.

But this morning, I also felt like I felt that morning of April 27, 1994. This morning I felt like we - all of us - were actually feeling a true sense of joy and goodwill towards one another. Standing in that line on the way to vote back in '94, we looked at each other in much the same way. I saw in people's eyes then, as I did this morning, a dream realised. It's not that democracy had arrived, or that the World Cup was here, but that we felt happy about one common thing. Just one thing.

In this lifetime, it's idealistic to hope that so many of us can feel happy about a universal political ideology, a religion or even a share price. But in music, and also in sport, we come close. The World Cup is not just about football. It's about feeling - even for a moment - that we live in one world. And that at least for thirty days - at least for one day - at least for 90 minutes, we are citizens of planet Earth.

All of us. All.

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