Wallow in a job superbly done. Swallow the rest of the celebratory champagne. South Africa defied the naysayers and can hardly wait a decade – a whole 10 years – for the Olympics so we can do it all again.
Just less than a year ago, I moved back to South Africa from Mud Island. During my time there I was told constantly by a miserable acquaintance who frequented my local that it was nutty to ever consider going back to the land which was on its own terror pathway to Zimbabwe. He told me it would get so bad we’d end up eating the dog when the tinned food ran out, and drinking out of the swimming pool. I argued with him every day and neither of us ever changed our points of view, right up to my return.
It’s a breed of people, which, as you know, is fairly prevalent – within our borders and without. Most of these miseries and their ubiquitous bitching can be seen and heard on numerous news and information websites, suburban Perth and in almost every pub in south-west London. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can get them to deviate from their devoted cause: Utter negativity for everyone.
In contrast, the applause after the 2010 World Cup is yet to die down and, continuing the great feeling of mass national pride – last felt when the Boks won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 – was an announcement that South Africa will make a bid for the 2020 Olympics. In one stunningly swift swoop we discovered the most effective way of keeping Philip here – for another 10 years, nogal.
Within 10 minutes of the announcement that South Africa was going to apply did the irrepressible South African naysayers immediately highlight themselves. I am talking about those South Africans who find it impossible to be happy about anything, who have to piss on every good event with stories of crime and how much they hate it here. Who cannot see anything good happen because it happens to share a path to success with the ruling party.
Well, you cynical bastards, we did it, and we did it well. Singing and dancing and vuvuzelas rang out among the throngs of people flooding to and from stadiums. From Cape Town to Polokwane we defied government-sanctioned songs and comment sections of the media as we were all friends for a month and ran a slick operation twixt our park-and-rides and iconic stadiums. Even with the Orange Thugs and a ball so light it defied gravity (unless Diego Forlan was kicking it), we still put on a highly entertaining spectacle. The foreign press poured praise over us (bar the odd publication – one of which involved a man who asked for help at an ATM and then got his credit card skimmed), the local press gushed and we had a month-long wankathon about our country, our guests and ourselves. And it was great. I will be hungover for days yet.
Yet, unfathomably, there are those who chose not to join in the fun – their determination to walk around with a face like a cat’s arse being outdone only by their utter resentment of good happenings in South Africa, made even worse by having these successes ratified and expanded upon by our visitors. Instead of acting like many pessimistic locals who came around and ate their previous words baked into a lovely crust of humble pie, this troupe behaves like we were all fooled into thinking the last month was fun. And that we shouldn’t have had fun in any case because South Africa has problems. The implication of having fun being that we don’t care or we think our country’s problems are solved.
While they sit there sipping their half-empty glasses of ditchwater, many of us are clinking our half-full glasses of champagne together – glasses which will overflow if either Durban or Cape Town is awarded the 2020 Olympics.
I don’t doubt the nitty-gritty is not all resolved. There has been a glut of opinions from the pens and keyboards of economists – some saying we broke even on the World Cup, some saying we didn’t, some saying they don’t know. We don’t know what colour the elephants living in the stadiums are yet. We’re still trying to work out how the new-but-very-similar-looking Hospital Bend cost R273 million.
But even the most hardcore realist couldn’t resist a smile at least once during the tournament (come on, even when England were sent packing?), notice different groups jolling together, admire the capabilities of South Africa when we all pull in the same direction, and say that it was good.
And if there is occasion to resurrect that by means of an Olympic bid, then I say we bloody do it. While some of you cry into your tea, I’m going to see if I can book flights to Durban 10 years in advance.
And my mate I mentioned at the beginning? He emailed me asking if he could stay with me when he flew out for the final. Sorry mate. We’re too busy mourning the dog we ate for dinner.
Simon Williamson was once in advertising before realising that trying to convince people to think differently was far more purposeful than getting them to buy stuff. He once wrote for TV websites before flittering around the world with the sole purpose of seeing more of it. Nowadays, he writes for GoTravel24 as a travel journalist, telling people where to take their holidays.
"Man is by nature a political animal" ~ Aristotle