The way I see it, we should stop being so silly, stop being such pansies and enjoy the rest of the ride. It’s not as if the pessimists didn’t warn us from the beginning. What were we thinking, hanging such important things as unity and national pride on the shoulders of 11 men? But we did it anyway.
The “realists” were always on the periphery, sounding off, with much haste and zeal, warnings about this false sense of security and unity. “Let’s be realistic,” they said, “this isn’t going to last. It’s all just euphoria. What happens afterwards?”
One prominent cartoonist even drew a bulging carpet under which we’d swept all our “problems and conflicts”.
What if we chose to follow the euphoria of the Soccer World Cup, and continued to smile and hug each other as if South Africa were a perfect place to live; a place with no racism, no crime, no poverty and our soccer team entirely capable of winning a world tournament? How would it hurt us if we didn’t see images of the 16 June uprisings on TV as they paled beyond images of crowded stadiums and useless commentary about soccer skills?
Think about it, we didn’t even hear Julius Malema’s ramblings on Youth Day because no one paid any attention to him? And to top it all, we discovered that Helen Zille can actually smile and has a sense of cheer as she sent a message to Bafana Bafana to “make the nation proud”? Would it have been so terrible not to hear about bus accidents in Limpopo, botched circumcisions in Eastern Cape or the news of a porn-star claiming to be the mother of Tiger Wood’s love child?
Come to think of it, I don’t care that Bafana lost the game to Uruguay. I really don’t, because for a while, life was great. Actually, it felt like I was on holiday – what with all the foreign accents everywhere, and everyone willing to pass you a free beer just because you were a South African. I could even speak Scottish. Yes, I know the “realists” warned us about silencing the sound of reality with the buzzing sound of vuvuzelas and good cheer. But it was fantastic for a while!
We have it good at the moment, and we can for another three weeks still. Everybody just has to suck it up, support our team and be good to our guests. We are at the centre of the world, for crying out loud! Even Port Elizabeth was featured on the CNN weather report. Men across the world have been granted their greatest wish – to keep their TV sets on the sports channels. So let’s use it, because it is not going to come back again.
I remember the surreal and sentimental conversation I had with a blue-and-wide-eyed stranger standing in a queue waiting to buy the surprisingly expensive beer at Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium. Both of us in awe of the stadium and completely overwhelmed by the atmosphere, we bonded as we enthused about how much closer the World Cup had brought us, and how great a country South Africa is, basking in our new-found brotherhood.
If we fell for the ploy that Zuma’s Bafana Bafana would achieve what Mandela’s Springboks had done – to unite us – then, clearly, we wanted this unity really badly. As we all know, if you want something, you work for it. Every day! We’ve had our fair share of miracles and magic, and anything from now on will have to come from hard work.
And as for the pessimists, I quote Robert Brault, “After 5,000 years of recorded human history, you wonder; what part of 2,000,000 sunrises doesn’t a pessimist understand?”
Xhanti Payi is a writer short of a few best selling books and a Nobel Prize. He works as an economist, researcher and advisor to various institutions. A staunch believer in clever blacks and would-be clever blacks short of opportunity. Proper pronunciation of the click is optional.
Watermelons were originally cultivated in Africa.