Archive for June, 2010

Will the Real Cinderella please stand up!

June 30, 2010

I just finished watching a program on TV called the ‘Blou train to Soweto’; a highlights package looking back at the recent and historical Blue Bulls triumph in the prestigious Super 14 tri-nation rugby tournament.

The show examined the Bulls rugby pedigree, from being the leading team in South Africa during the heydays of Apartheid: their approach to rugby a symbol of all the enduring qualities of the Afrikaans culture it represented – passion, discipline, strength and pride, to how the Blue Bulls suffered during the radical age of professionalism, ironically, coinciding with the drastic change in the South African political environment. The show explored how the Bulls have risen, from winning only about three games in three seasons at the turn of the millennium to winning three Super 14 trophies in four seasons in what is probably the most gruelling tournament in the rugby world, if not the sporting world – four months pounding your body against the best rugby players from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, the best rugby playing nations in the world. The only thing tougher than the Super 14 is supporting Liverpool FC!!

But the focus of the show, and definitely the highlight, was probably the most significant crowning achievement in modern South African history: The Bulls hosting and playing the Super 14 semi-finals and finals in Orlando Stadium in Soweto. Interestingly enough the recent growth in the Bulls success has allowed them to become the fastest growing sports brand in South Africa, across all races! I have written about my personal experience at the game, but in the midst’s of the world’s greatest sporting event, the Soccer World Cup being played out in my back yard, my sense of patriotism has been heightened, like many others, in recent weeks and the country’s positivity is at an all time high. Watching this highlights program, a couple of weeks after the event, about how the Bulls brought the so called ‘hardliner’ Afrikaner rugby supporter to Soweto, a land they previously dare not dream to venture, and how the people of Soweto, for so many years fearful and angry at all that the Bulls represented, and how everyone just… well… got along so fabulously, was nothing short of spine-tingling.

Preceding the release of the movie Invictus, I read the book on which it was based, ‘Playing the Enemy’. The movie does not do the book justice, no matter how good Morgan Freeman’s accent was! Reading the book I was astonished as to what this country actually went through in the ten years leading up to the climax of story, the 1995 World Cup Rugby final. Being a mlungu/white boy growing up in a bomb-sheltered like environment in the protected suburbs of Joburg, too young and mostly too naive to know what was actually going on in this country, the book was a shock for me detailing how close South Africa actually came to civil war between the Afrikaners and the ANC, how ghastly the marginalisation of the blacks/Indians and coloureds actually was in those last years, and how miraculous the transition was in the dramatic and rapid change in power in the early 90’s led by not only the virtues of only one blessed man, Mandela, but by the willingness of both blacks and whites alike to broadly accept change and to make it work – a phenomenon of human spirit. I believe many white people of my generation are still unaware of the actual detail of Apartheid, we all just knew what it stood for, not what it meant to the degraded population of this country. My curiosity perked, I began exploring further into the history of South Africa, learning about the effects of colonisation in South Africa, from both a black and white perspective (we only learnt about the white side in school, even then it was watered down propaganda). I was amazed at the ill-treatment of the African population through hundreds of years of South Africa’s history, unfortunate victims of religious ideals, fear, power grabbing and of course money and greed! This was a story played out all over the world, not only in South Africa, when peoples more equipped advance to the detriment of others.

Which brings me back to the rugby: the current World Cup Soccer has proved to the world, especially the pessimists and naysayers, that South Africa is willing and definitely able, given the right incentives, to rise to the occasion to successfully host a world class event, the biggest in the world.

However, re-watching the rugby through this program, illustrated for me that this event did something that much more important for our country. It allowed ourselves to look within and believe in ourselves that all that Mandela, and the class of ’94, worked for was not in vain, and that the future is bright for this once pariah state. As Naas Botha, the rugby legend commented on the show, this seemingly insignificant event on the face of it could do more for South Africa than the magnificent World Cup 1995 victory, which was, up until very recently, probably the best symbol of the potential for unification and progress in this country.

South Africa is the REAL Cinderella-story, and sport is her unifying glass slippers. Maybe just last year she was stuck slaving away in the kitchen, but with the Super 14 being the before-party and the FIFA World Cup being the ‘Ball’,  the belle is knocking Prince Charming off his feet. The only difference is that this time Cinderella won’t turn into a pumpkin, because come midnight, the party is HOPEFULLY just beginning…

To quote someone interviewed on TV at the Super 14 final in Soweto: “This is South Africa. Anything is possible!”

Mzansi Fo Sho!!

Do YOU believe in miracles??

June 22, 2010

I was surfing a webpage the other day titled the ‘20 greatest commentator quotes of all time’.

As this was an American website, all but maybe 1 or 2 of the quotes were unfamiliar to me. The quotes were mostly from the big 3 US sports – namely (American) Football, Basketball and Baseball – in which the championship winning team of the year are affectionately yet arrogantly titled the ‘world champions’. So, obviously, there was no soccer, rugby or bullfighting quotes. What a shame as the list is missing at least one classic inebriated  Hughie Blayden’s “Jacque DeVilliers UNBELIEVABLE!!” (rugger fans will smile knowingly…)

That said, the #1 quote on the list was one I certainly did recognise, not because I saw the game (the match in question was played in 1980 I think) but because it was glamorised in the film ‘Miracle’ about the apparently underdog USA Olympic Ice Hockey team’s improbable victory over the undefeated Soviet Union. The usual classic Hollywood fodder David vs. Goliath come-from-behind movie that triggers mass American patriotism glorified by Disney. Whatever brings in the bucks!

The commentator of the day, with a few seconds remaining in the game, and with the US leading the Soviet Union by one goal, shouted out “Do you believe in Miracles???!!” which rated by the website is apparently regarded as the #1 sports commentator quote of all time.

The question is, and I refer this to our beloved Bafana Bafana fans, as our flavour of the month national soccer team embark on a seemingly impossible task later this afternoon, do you believe in miracles??

Looking back at the games so far I felt Bafana rose to the occasion, played beyond their capabilities, to eke out a draw against a highly rated Mexican team in Game 1.

Sadly, in Game 2, Bafana got abruptly bumped back to earth against a Uruguayan team who had obviously not read the Cinderella-story script penned by Sepp Blatter & his cronies. Then again, neither had the ref! Nevertheless, the gulf in class and pedigree between the 2 teams ranked on complete opposite ends of the football scale was there for all to see. The exuberance of the Bafana fans was unreal before the game, the perimeters of the stadium were awash in green and yellow and of course the fantastic rainbow colours of surely the best looking national flag in the world. OUR WORLD WAS ROCKING!!

Sadly, we were not ‘rewarded’ with the desired result, and the fickleness of the superficial South African fans was plain to see as they left in droves before the final whistle blew – this was not the product that FIFA and our media sold to them. I was sitting in the stands at Loftus at the end of the game and I felt really sorry for the players who tried their best on the day but were obviously just not good enough – which many pundits actually predicted before the WC commenced. I felt ashamed as a fan that when the game ended the Bafana players needed the love that  gushed over them in bucket-loads leading up to the game, none best illustrated than during the Sandton parade. But when they looked up into the stands for support, many, many empty seats glared back at them.

With kick off pending against France later today, the French team is riddled with controversy and turmoil, so never has there been a better opportunity for a football ‘minnow’ to beat a superpower of world football. The scene is perfectly set: If Bafana play the right team, come out attacking and manage to nick an early goal, and maybe another before half time, there is a chance, albeit a really small one, that the football world could be turned on its head. Coupled with either a win by Mexico or Uruguay (a draw will mean these 2 teams advance to the next round) then maybe, just maybe….

Time for us Bafana fans to get UNITED behind the boys for just ONE more game. Let’s DO it!! Kenako!!

Hopefully then we will have an answer to the question posed by the American commentator from that famous day in US sport: “Yes! Miracles DO happen!”

… And then, my friends, the PARTYwill start!

Viva Bafana Viva!

Mzanso fo sho!!

Afro-Optimism 6 Cynics 0!

June 15, 2010

Going back to work today after a crazy football-induced weekend was a sobering reality. And that was only after 3 days of the 2010 World Cup! Imagine the hangover the Monday 12th of July will bring after the festivities have officially ended.
I lucked out with a golden ticket to the opening game (thanks Kwatsies!!!!), and also endured the 4hr trip home in the early hours from Rustenburg after the Yankee/Pom game, and if the experience of being in Soccer City and Royal Bafokeng stadium is a measuring stick for what is to be expected over the rest of the competition, than we are in for a PARTY of the greatest proportions. This is GEES in all its glory!!
The sensation I felt whilst walking last night through a Melrose Arch teeming with foreigners reminded me of the same feeling I would get when rushing through a packed Times Square when I lived in New York: I would sometimes just stop in my tracks, as hundreds of people shuffled around me, and wonder in amazement that I actually lived ‘here’.
Such incredulous thoughts don’t cross my mind very often when thinking about living in Joburg (although riding the Gautrain last week was certainly a proud moment, watch this space), but bladdy hell, now is a grand time to ponder ek se!!
South Africa has experienced a wave of negativity in recent times, from the disastrous power outages of the summer of ‘08 (a conspiracy theory to validate price increases I tell you), to the Julius Dilemma Project with their no 1 hit “Kill the Boer”, and definitely my personal general frustration of tyre swallowing potholes… pessimism of living in South Africa had almost reached boiling point for many. With such negativity follows its ugly cousin, cynicism. None more so than that being directed at South Africa’s efforts at preparing for the World Cup. I have to admit there were days when I questioned the logic of spending a billion or so rand for building a probable white elephant stadium in Nelspruit, the capital of the Mpumulanga, a province ravaged by unemployment and other pressing social problems. I, along with many other South African’s, questioned the ability of SA to house, feed and transport the international travellers and supporters of the world’s most popular sport. And especially, from a Joburg point of view, what the hell are we going to do to entertain them all! Patriotically we aggressively argued, as is our nature, with the overseas newspapers who called into question South Africa’s (not Africa’s) ability to host an event of such magnitude, yet silently we thought that these journalists might be right!
And all it took was ONE…….. yes only one……… magical, fantastical afternoon in Soweto to prove every single one of the doubters wrong (myself included) especially those pesky British tabloids! All week long I felt it building up inside of me, a knot of anticipation that became so tight that I finally exploded with undulated patriotic emotion the moment I crossed over the pedestrian bridge and laid eyes on the imperious ‘Calabash’ Soccer City looking down on the thousands upon thousands of yellow clad Bafana Bafana fans streaming through its welcoming gates. And don’t forget the 15,000 or so Mexican fans who are surely going to go back home suitcases laden with Klipdrift and KWV… “Klippies an Coke Senor, we left the worm back in SA!” And guess what else – Joburg is the nerve centre and party capital of the World Cup! Unthinkable! (ok… maybe the Park & Ride has been a wee problematic)
Much more has been spoken, written and regaled over the weekend about this seemingly massive day in the ‘new’ South Africa’s young history, an event much bigger than our victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup according to François Pienaar, the winning Springbok Captain of that day. We all have our stories and pictures of where we were the moment the rocket of a shot left the boot of the pint-sized midfielder Siphiwe ‘Shabba’ Tshabalala and exploded through the Mexican goal. A split moment this country will never ever forget. Not only did we score the first goal, but a goal of such quality and precision to ‘boot’!
For me personally, on my way to the stadium I thought that just as the Red Sea of Apartheid symbolically opened up for the Black South Africans, led by the wise and virtuous Mandela adorning the Springbok Green & Gold , to a new and promised land in 1995, I thought that the World Cup would afford us Mlungu’s (whiteys) the same opportunity to finally show our commitment to the cause to the new South Africa, to embrace the game and culture loved by our fellow Black South Africans…. Well, how wrong I was!!
As I proudly stood inside the stadium splendid in my green overall, Bafana jersey, Makarapa and Rainbow flag wrapped around my waist, I glanced around at my fellow citizens around me – Black, White, Coloured, Indian, young and old – all equally as passionate and proud to be a South African on this very special day and then it dawned on me: this wasn’t a day for us Whites to prove we were proud South Africans, this was a day for ALL South Africans to stand together, Bafana United, to SHOW not only to ourselves and to our sometimes provoking leaders, but to the world that each and every one of us are the bricks on which the foundations of this great country are built. Hopefully now, we ALL realise this, no matter what song Julius comes up with next.

To quote a line out of one of the many articles I read on the internet, this one from a correspondent from the Telegraph summed it up best “To be part of the epic trek of 90,000 to Soccer City’s extraordinary calabash, a smiling, cheering, trumpet-blowing mass of pilgrims who could not help but stir you with their utter pride and joy at staging Africa’s greatest ever sporting event, felt like a rare privilege

And what a privilege it was!
Long may the optimism last…. because I don’t have enough Myprodols for the hangover!

Give ‘em 6 of the best!
Mzansi Fo Sho!

SacksintheSoccerCity!


The essence of the Soweto Super 14 final captured on camera

June 14, 2010

This excellent video clip was filmed by my mate at the Super 14 final  a couple of weeks ago.

Super 14 Final Orlando Stadium Soweto Blue Bulls vs Stormers: http://www.vimeo.com/12403233

“Pretoria and the marching Blue Bulls supporters invade Orlando Stadium in Soweto for the S14 final 2010 only 1 week before the Soccer World Cup kicks off in South Africa.”

The absolutely brilliant part with the national anthem intertwined with daily township existence is a sombre reminder that the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-not’ is still very vast. A legacy of  South Africa’s dark history and, I guess, recently of developing economies.

That said, for a few hours on this Super Soweto Saturday, worlds collided in only a positive way, sparking off a wave of New South African nationalism and pride not seen since the early days of mid-90’s democracy. Effectively kick-starting the momentum of GEES for the 2010 World Cup…

Watch this video, you will enjoy it!!

Mzansi Fo Sho!

Ps. For something completely different, check out this link for his wedding video speech. Something unique!!

2 days to go… but can you name our players??

June 10, 2010

How many of you were at the United for Bafana parade in Sandton today and couldn’t actually identify the Bafana players who you were screaming or blowing your lungs out for?? For all you knew, the guy you were going gaga over was the team physio or the media liason!

And without Benni McCarthy in the team, how many of the players could you actually name? Perhaps the only Mlungu in the team Matthew Booth or the current maestro of the team Everton FC’s Steven Pienaar. (PS Click here for great article about todays parade in the British Press: “World Cup 2010: rich and poor unite for Bafana Bafana’s open-bus parade”)

To be honest, and I am a massive football fan, but up until very recently I couldn’t name more than a handful of the current crop of players myself. Never mind being able to pronounce some of intricate Zulu of Xhosa names – but hey, try ask my brothers from another mothers to try pronounce my seemingly simple name “Sacks”… apparently its a tongue twister. The caddies at my golf course settled on Satch! Most of the players in the Bafana squad represent the pride of our local teams, and since many of us ‘whiteys’ don’t follow the local PSL league, the names are sadly just as foreign to us as the North Koreans or Hondurans!

But Sacksinthecity has saved the day, as I have came across an article entitled ‘Idiots Guide to Bafana’ by Khaya Ndubane, detailing all you need to know about the men in green and yellow who are hopefully going to do our country and continent very very proud!

Read the whole article here but for the ‘quick and dirty guide’ I have listed the players, their positions, shirt number (for easier identification) & clubs below. I have also highlighted the probable starting 11 – as these names you REALLY need to know!

You have less than 2 days to learn these names (on top of the Zulu and Tswana parts of the national anthem – dont forget!)

Ke Nako, its time! Cram baby cram!

SHAYAAA BAFANA SHAYA!!

Mzansi Fo Sho!!

BAFANA SQUAD FOR WC2010:

Goalkeepers:

16. Itumeleng “Ma’jivane” Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Bafana’s #1!

1. Moeneeb ‘Slim Kat’ Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Bafana’s back up keeper

22. Shuaib “Vat alles” Walters (Maritzburg United)

Defenders:

4. Aaron “Mbazo” or “The Axe” Mokoena (Portsmouth, England). Bafana’s KAPTEIN!

20. Bongani “Bongs” Khumalo (SuperSport United), Likely partner to Mokoena in central defence

3. Tsepo  Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Bafana’s starting left back

2. Siboniso “Nesta”  Gaxa (Sundowns), Bafana’s starting right back

14. Matthew “BOOOOOOTH” Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tallest player in and the teams only Mlungu (White man), hey we need at least 1 token whitey, just remember, they are not booing him! J

5. Anele Ngcongca (KRC Genk, Belgium),

21. Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows),

15. Lucas ‘Nsimbi’ Thwala (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders:

11. Teko “General Rau Rau or Deco” Modise (Orlando Pirates), likely starter and the local fan’s favourite as he is full of tricks

13. Kagiso  “KG” Dikgacoi (Fulham, England), likely starter, midfield hard man!

10. Steven “Schillo” Pienaar (Everton, England), likely starter, currently SA’s best export in the English league and was voted player of the season this year by the Everton fans.

8. Siphiwe “Clipz” Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), likely left winger, & should take the set pieces

7. Lance  Davids (Ajax Cape Town),

12. Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), surprise package and has been a revelation in the warm up games

6. MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia),

23. Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows),

Strikers:

9. Katlego ‘Killer’ Mphela (Sundowns), the name you REALLY need to know… the man tasked with leading the line and scoring the goals! PSL leading scorer last season with 17 goals.

19. Surprise “Masterpieces” Moriri (Sundowns),

17. Bernard  Parker (FC Twente, Holland),

18. Siyabonga  “Bhele” Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows)

A man had great tickets for the World Cup Final…

June 8, 2010

A man had great tickets for the World Cup Final. As he sits down, another man comes down and asks if anyone is sitting in the empty seat next to him.

“No,” he says. “The seat is empty.”
“This is incredible!” says the other man. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the World Cup Final, the biggest sporting event, and not use it?”
“Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. My wife was supposed to come with me, but she passed away. This is the first World Cup Final we haven’t been to together since we got married.
“Oh … I’m sorry to hear that. That’s terrible. But couldn’t you find someone else, a friend or relative, or even a neighbour to take the seat?”
The man shakes his head. “No. They’re all at the funeral…

Feeeeeeeelit, it is here!!!!

Choosing to live on the edge in SA

June 7, 2010

Why we choose to live in South Africa is seemingly a daily debate we have with ourselves, with our friends & family, work colleagues and especially with those close to us who have skipped our shores in search of a “safer” place to call home. Now that the supposed plane-loads of foreigners from all parts of the globe are descending on our beloved Mzansi, the question of “Why SA?” will seemingly be a constant topic of conversation between friendly local and curious tourist.

Its hard to exactly pinpoint why we choose to live in SA, especially those of us with skills and means to emigrate. One cause for reason, amongst many others (such as a plethora of first class golf courses!), is that South Africa is just an exciting place to live – hardly a dull moment, always a headline in the news, never easy on the nerves. A lot of people refer to this as uncertainty. However, it’s very uncertain if one would be happier anywhere else!  How many times do we find ourselves sitting back, after a great day in the glorious setting Highveld sun or on the pristine Cape beaches, commenting to someone “Where else in the world could you experience this…  and live it on a regular basis!” Too many times to mention.

A friend shared a link with me earlier, an article written by a South African journalist, Rian Malan, for The Observer, a UK newspaper http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/may/16/rian-malan-world-cup-south-africa. The article is a brilliant piece by Rian, a writer, journalist and documentary-maker, as he argues for the excitement of surviving South Africa or as he refers to it “living on the edge”. His article is aimed at the likely British tourist, many of whom have apparently taken a dim view of travelling to South Africa for the World Cup as a result of the constant and regular bashing of our ability to host the World Cup by the British press.

“I struggle to see how anyone can resist a country where such things happen. South Africa is amazing! At any given moment, all possible futures seem entirely plausible”. As I read these words, I felt enlightened and believe that I am that much closer to being able to answer the question ‘why do I choose to live in South Africa?’

…. And as for the British? they can keep their warm beer and rainy golf courses any day of the week!

Mzanzi Fo Sho!

World Cup road closures on Grayston Drive, Sandton

June 3, 2010
There is so many emails going around detailing road closures,

routes, transport plans etc during WC2010 that it is even more

confusing than the road closures themselves!

I just received this email explaining CLEARLY the road closures on Grayston Drive

– if this affects you, I suggest you update your playlists/cd’s in your car

cos GRIDLOCK here we come!! Remember patience is a virtue…


“We have been notified that certain roads will be closed around the

Innesfree Park Fan Fest during the FIFA Soccer World Cup.

The Fan Fest will operate every day from Thursday 10 June until Sunday 11 July 2010,

from 11h00 to 24h00.

The two extreme left hand lanes of Grayston Drive, between Katherine Street and the M1 (travelling towards the highway), will constitute a Traffic Free Zone and a Traffic Warning Zone.
The lane next to Innesfree Park will be a Traffic Free Zone and will constitute a drop off and pick up area whilst the other lane will be a Traffic Warning Zone and it will be utilised as a pedestrian walkway. All vehicles and shuttles entering those two lanes will require VAPP (Vehicle Access Parking Permit) accreditation.
Motorists travelling from Sandton will not be able to access the M1 North freeway from Katherine Street via Grayston Drive.
Alternative routes from Sandton:

  • Access the M1 North freeway from Sandton via Katherine Street onto Marlboro Drive
  • Motorists travelling from Pretoria can still use the M1 South freeway to get to Sandton and Wynberg
  • Motorists travelling from Johannesburg can still use the M1 North freeway to get to Sandton and Wynberg
Alternative routes from Wynberg:

  • Access the M1 North Freeway from Wynberg via Pretoria Main Road onto Marlboro Drive
  • Motorists will still be able to travel from Sandton to Wynberg and vice versa, via Grayston Drive


To receive sms notification
of unforeseen inconveniences that will

affect your commute to and from work, sms* the name of your region

to 32328 (Sandton, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth).

*Sms’ cost R1″


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