Notes from underground

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Archive for the tag “soccer”

The Mandela effect

As a South African, I thought I knew what the Mandela Effect, also known as the Madiba factor, was.

It originated on the day Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected president on 10 May 1994. Having stood in the crowd at the Union Buildings and waved our flags, we returned home and sat down in front of the TV and watched an international football match — South Africa versus Zambia. And we won.

Nel;son Mandela had gone from the Union Buildings to the FNB Stadium by helicopter, and was watching the match in person.

The next year, 1995, South Africa won the Rugby World Cup, and Nelson Mandela’s role in that was documented and made known to world through the film Invictus.

In 1996 we made the trek to the FNB Stadium, and saw South Africa play Tunisia in the final of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Nelson Mandela was there, and South Africa won. The Mandela Effect was well established, especially when people noticed that when he wasn’t there, the South African team usually lost.

Nelson Mandela
By Arquivo/ABr – Agência Brasil [1], CC BY 3.0 br,

More recently I began frequenting the Quora web site, where people ask questions and others answer. I found I could answer a few questions, and answered a couple about Nelson Mandela. Then I began seeing lots of questions about the Mandela Effect, but they were quite incomprehensible, as were the answers.

I asked about it on Quora, and got largely incomprehensible answers. One said it had something to do with lots of people forgetting or remembering things, but with no explanation of how Mandela came in to it. I wondered if it had anything to do with the film Invictus, as it seemed to be something spoken about mainly by people outside South Africa.

So can anyone explain to me how there came to be two Mandela factors, with completely different meanings, one known to people within South Africa, and one, apparently, known mainly to people outside? And what does it have to do with Madiba?

Manufacturing news

We’ve known for a long time that the media don’t like reporting news, but prefer to manufacture it, but I don’t think it’s ever been as blatant as this: Louis van Gaal says ‘it’s over’ with Jose Mourinho tipped to take over at Manchester United | Football News | Sky Sports:

United have no plans for a victory parade in Manchester, and the club are believed to be angry that news of Mourinho’s potential appointment has overshadowed the club’s first FA Cup win since 2004 and first piece of silverware since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.

And they’re right to be angry.

  • Manchester United winning the cup is news
  • Media speculation that Mourinho will take over from van Gaal is not news

I very much hope that Manchester United will resist the intense media pressure to replace Louis van Gaal as manager with Jose Mourinho.

MUFCThe media have had their collective knives into Louis van Gaal since before Christmas, just as they have had their knives into Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders.

But are they so narcissistic as to believe that their speculation is news, and more important than the news of Manchester United willing the English (or is it the Emirates?) FA Cup?

Journalism and journalistic standards surely can’t sink any lower.





Twenty years ago today: first soccer match at Loftus Versveld

We went to Loftus Versveld for a soccer match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Sheffield Wednesday – the first soccer match ever to be held at Loftus, the shrine of Northern Transvaal rugby.

There was a curtain raiser with womens’ teams from Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns, which was actually the first soccer match at Loftus, and possibly the first time women had played there too. Chiefs won easily.

Then the Sundowns Masters played The Media, and the Media won. The big match was preceded by parachutists coming down onto the fields, and some people paraded round the field carrying a banner saying “Snor city welomes soccer” – a reference to the civil servants, many of whom have moustaches.

It was an exciting game, with plenty of action and movement, and ended in a 2-2 draw. Our daughter Bridget and her friend Tracy were wearing their Intermilan shirts, but got a Sundowns flag to wave too.

It was a historic occasion.

The Bafana Bafana-Sierra Leone match not televised – Times LIVE

The Bafana Bafana-Sierra Leone match not televised – Times LIVE: “The match between the South African National team and Sierra Leone which was due to start at 6.30pm on Sunday night would not be broadcast locally as the SABC technical team was stuck at an Ivory Coast airport.”

Boo hiss!

Surely they could have syndicated an international feed?

Been watching bowls at the Commonwealth Games instead. Always good to beat Australia!

And so it ends

For a month we’ve had the soccer World Cup, and last night it ended. In some ways we’re sorry. As far as the matches themselves were concerned, we watched them all on TV, so it might just as well have been anywhere else in the world. We did try to get tickets to the Serbia-Ghana match in the local stadium at Loftus Versfeld, but the online booking system kept saying that there were no tickets available, though when we watched it on TV, there did seem to be some empty seats — perhaps those were the more expensive ones.

But even so, it had an effect on local life, and now that it is over we’ll miss it. We’ll miss meeting foreign teams and fans in shopping malls. One of the advertising slogans was “Feel it – it is here” and it was. There was a palpable air of excitement. And it also became the subject of jokes. The World Cup is usually held in the northern hemisphere, but here it was midwinter, and some fans in Polokwane (normally one of the warmer towns in South Africa) carried a sign saying “Feel it — it is cold”. A local radio station commented on a news report that 46000 sex workers would be converging on South Africa for the World Cup, said “Feel them — they are here.”

People drove around with flags on their cars, and yes, they probably wasted a bit of petrol, but they also were conversation starters with strangers in the street, the newspaper sellers, the garage attendants, “Who will win?” and when South Africa was out, “Who do you hope will win?” It broke through the urban reserve, and made people more friendly. And it was good to see two teams that had never won it before in the final.

Our neighbourhood crime watch predicted an increase of crime durung the World Cup, as police were redeployed to match venues. But the police who were left seemed to be extra-vigilant, patrolling more, and actually there seemed to be less crime than usual during this period. There were warnings of child abductions by human traffickers, but there didn’t seem to be a great increase in those either.

The dire predictions in the overseas press (especially the British) about how disastrous it would be were never fulfilled. Some British newspapers produced an “expert” who predicted earthquakes in Durban and Cape Town during the World Cup, even though no part of South Africa lies in a major earthquake zone. In fact the 2012 Olympic Games in London are more likely to be disrupted by volcanoes. The London Daily Mail in particular appended to every report of crime in South Africa the observation that South Africa was to be the host of the 2010 World Cup. Well, there were no earthquakes, and no terrorist bombs wiping out Spanish and Dutch royalty and other VIPs at the final.

Among the high points was the referee from Uzbekistan, who reffed the opening match. Kudos to him. Among the low points was Uruguay’s cheating to reach the semi-finals. We listened to the 3rd/4th place playoff on the radio as our son was watching a movie on TV, and the booing when Suarez (Uruguay’s cheater in chief) got the ball was audible above the droning of the vuvuzelas. Among the entertaining diversions was Paul the Octopus’s uncannily accurate predictions of the results of the last few matches, which coincided with the feast of St Euphemia the Martyr and so provided material for my sermon on Sunday morning.

The opening and closing ceremonies seemed pretty good as such things go, but then we’ve had experience of such things before, having hosted the rugger World Cup an 1995 and the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in 1996, both of which we won, and temporarily, at least, they helped to foster a sense of national unity. Those for the cricket world cup a few years ago were also quite memorable, even though we didn’t win that time. And for this World Cup they were at least as good as the extravaganza put on at Beijing for the Olympic Games two years ago, without going on for too long.

At the closing ceremony I first became aware of the World Cup theme song, “Waka Waka”, sung by Shakira (whom I’d never heard of). The song that I associate with the World Cup is the Coca Cola advertising song, “When I get older, I will be stronger”, which seemed to be much more prominent, and probably shows just how commercial the whole thing is.

And here are some assessments of the World Cup by foreign journalists, some positive, some negative, noting that the core of the World Cup is big business.

Celizic: World Cup well worth the cost for South Africa:

Despite dire predictions, the stadiums were finished on time, the infrastructure improvements got done, security was leakproof and, other than some minor hearing loss, no one got hurt.

Spain won the Cup for the first time, the final was an entertaining — more so for all the fouls — match, an octopus became the Edgar Cayce of soccer psychics and the folks who keep track of such things say that as many as a billion people watched the final match.

Yeah, South Africa needs a lot of improvements in a lot of areas, just like most other countries in the world. Yeah, there are other places the reported $4 billion it took to build all the new stadiums could have been spent.

But this was money spent on an event that riveted South Africa’s attention for years and consumed it for a summer. It was money that made people feel good about themselves and their nation. It brought people from all over the world to a place they otherwise never would have visited. For the past month, I’m sure, life was pretty exciting in South Africa.

And, on the minus side: Bye South Africa, thanks for being had by us – The Irish Times – Mon, Jul 12, 2010:

And the corporate partners know how to use the muscle. In the World Cup zone you can only use an ATM if you have a Visa card. McDonalds are everywhere. This column attended a domestic league match here during a working visit eight years ago and the walk to the stadium was a long ramble and graze through a never-ending line of street vendors. For the World Cup, that particular flavour of Africa has been disappeared. Sponsors’ tents are the only thing selling anything within the commercial exclusion zone around the grounds.

The humourless nature of this pin-striped Mafia pervades everything. The heavy-handed treatment of the brewer Bavaria Beer for its amusing skirmishes was no surprise to those who had watched the local budget airline, Kulula, suffer the threat of legal action for using the mildly amusing slogan “the unofficial national carrier of you know what”. Even the acts which opened and closed the tournament to such high visibility were bought in from a international promoter with just a token smidgin of African music thrown in.

But even being aware of that, I think the positives outweighed the negatives. And some of the positives were apparent even before the opening match. Loftus Versveld rugby stadium in Pretoria needed to be prepared for the World Cup, so the Super-14 rugby matches were transferred to Orlando Stadium in Soweto, 50 miles away. The supporters of the Blue Bulls, the Pretoria rugby team, are largely Afrikaans-speaking, and twenty years ago most of them would have been supporters of the National Party. And what took place was a minor transformation.

Our transformation challenge: The Blue Bulls show the way! – South Africa – The Good News:

“Transformation is first about behaviour and second about attitude,” a sweaty, vuvuzela-blowing, horns-in-hard-hat Blue Bulls supporter said as he offered me a Captain and Coke in a shebeen deep in Orlando West. “I used to think it was the other way around, but crossing the boerewors curtain, coming to Soweto and watching die Bulle, my manne, wen has changed my life forever” he enthused.

“And if they’d lost?” I innocently enquired.

“Ag, voetsek man!” he laughed.

But therein lies the rub. But for the change of venue 60 000 Bulls supporters would not have made it to the semi-final and the final in Soweto. They would have played at Loftus and their attitude would have stayed north of the curtain.

When residents of the still largely white suburbs of Pretoria braaied on the streets with residents of the still overwhelmingly black Soweto, something has changed, and some of the wounds inflicted by apartheid are beginning to heal.

‘Near-riot’ in the sky as fans miss World Cup semifinal

Several planes carrying fans to the World Cup semi-final in Durban last night were delayed because of congestion at Durban’s brand-new King Shaka airport. Now the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) is saying (according to this report) that they will not compensate fans who missed the match.

‘Near-riot’ in the sky as delayed flyers miss World Cup semifinal | Football |

ACSA said problems arose because some VIP planes, which were supposed to land at King Shaka airport and later park at an old airport some 40 miles away, would not move. ‘The congestion problem was caused by some private airplanes [which] refused to move … after landing, therefore blocking landing space for other planes,’ airports chief Monhla Hlahla told 702 Radio. ‘Priority had to be given to VIPs who were caught up in the situation. We had too many flights wanting to land and at some point we had to instruct them to turn back.’ The company insisted passengers would not be reimbursed.

The airport opened just two months ago, and remember what was said then: – King Shaka airport ready to bring World to SA:

The newly constructed King Shaka International Airport in Durban came out with flying colours during a trial exercise on Thursday.

The mass trial at the airport in La Mercy involved the participation of an estimated 800 “fake passengers” and 300 staff members as part of the last leg of rigorous checks to ensure its preparedness ahead of its big day on 1 May, when it becomes operational.

“This trial has shown that King Shaka International is more than ready on all operations at the airport from landing and passenger/luggage transfer to safety and security, as well as road infrastructure, traffic around the airport, car rental and retail facilities and readiness of our personnel,” said it’s General Manager, Terence Delomoney.

The trial sees the culmination of the Operational Readiness and Transfer Program (ORAT) and it shows that King Shaka International Airport is now 100 per cent functional ahead of its official opening and of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.

Spokesmen for ACSA have blamed the congestion on pilots of VIP jets who they said refused to park their aircraft where they were told to.

If that is so, then ACSA should name them and shame them

  • Name the pilots.
  • Name the owners of the aircraft
  • Name the “VIPs” who flew aboard them.

If they are rich enough to fly around in private jets, they are rich enough to compensate the fans who missed the match because of their selfish behaviour.

So let’s hear it from ACSA — who were they?

World cup: hospitality and chauvinism

The World Cup is more than halfway over, and more than half the teams have gone home. The USA, England, the top teams from the 2006 World Cup — France and Italy — and many more. Ghana is the only African team left in the running, and many South Africans are supporting them.

But what will the returning teams and fans take with them when they go home? And what lasting effect will it have on South Africa?

Here’s a rather nice article by an American Shari Cohen: South Africa Rolls Out the Ubuntu in Abundance:

So, if South Africa accomplishes nothing more on the playing field, it will still have won as a host country. I am a cynic, no doubt about that. And yet I have to admit, I’m a little teary just writing this because I leave for home next weekend and I will be leaving a little piece of myself here in South Africa. I just hope I have learned enough to bring back a little piece of Ubuntu to my homeland, where perhaps with a little caring and a little water, it will take root as naturally as it does here, in the cradle of civilization. It’s funny, many people in America still ask me, ‘are the people in Africa very primitive?’ Yes, I know, amazing someone could ask that but they do. And when they do, I usually explain that living in a mud hut does not make one primitive, however, allowing kids to sell drugs to other kids and engage in drive-by killings — isn’t that primitive behavior? I think it is. When I think of Ubuntu and my recent experiences here, I think America has much to learn from Africa in general, in terms of living as a larger village; and as human beings who are all interconnected with each other, each of us having an affect on our brothers and sisters.

And remember, just two years ago there was xenophobic violence in many cities in South Africa, where people attacked foreigners. So perhaps the World Cup, and the welcome it encouraged us to give to foreign visitors, might make us a little more welcoming, and we can hope that the ubuntu won’t disappear after the final.

And this will probably also be remembered as the World Cup of the vuvuzela.

But an e-mail has been going around pointing out that it is not so new. The vuvuzela has been annoying people since 1660!

The Coded Message of the Vuvuzela

Some love them, some hate them, but the 2010 soccer World Cup will probably be remembered as the World Cup that introduced the vuvuzela to the world. Our daughter, who used to be a crazy soccer fan before she went to study in Greece, watched the opening match, when South Africa drew against Mexico, and phoned afterwards to say she wanted a vuvuzela. We sent her one. She also thought it would be a useful thing for when her neighbours hold rowdy parties that go on till 4:00 am — if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

But my blogging friend and former colleague at the University of South Africa Missiology Department has looked below the surface, to discover the unsuspected depths — Tinyiko Sam Maluleke’s Blog: The Coded Message of the Vuvuzela:

The sooner we will wake up to the fact that the Vuvuzela sound depicts a refusal by the working classes to entertain the middle and upper classes, the better. Vuvuzela blowing denotes a refusal not an inability to sing. It is an option for harmonic noise of a special kind rather than harmonic music of the familiar kind. It is assertiveness designed to impact and to solicit reaction – even if that reaction is the insertion of ear plugs, the switching of TV channels, or the technological and artificial screening out of the Vuvuzela sound during match broadcasts.

And now we are on the brink of the do-or-die match against France. If Bafana Bafana don’t win convincingly, it’s our last match of this World Cup. And it’s rather sad to see how negative the media have been about it — reporting that World Cup merchandise hasn’t been selling so well since South Africa lost to Uruguay (who were aided by the ref and the linesman). The reason for the drop-off in the sale of merchandise is more easily explained by the fact that the competition is nearly halfway through, and those who were going to buy green-haired leopard dolls and the like have probably bought them all already. But if Serbia could beat Germany after losing to Ghana, surely South Africa can beat France.

And then there is the makarapa, the decorated miners’ helmets popularised by Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates fans. If anything, they are even more a working-class symbol than the vuvuzela. I wonder if Tinyiko will decode the message of that?

Eighteen years ago we went to the unrevamped Socceer City stadium (without the fancy roof it has now) to watch Kaizer Chiefs play Crystal Palace, and Orlando Pirates played Mbabane Highlanders. It was the first international club match since South Africa had been readmitted to international football, so we were sporting Chiefs fan kit, yellow flags and caps (not the hard hats, though). And we found ourselves sitting among the Pirates supporters on the opposite side of the stadium. It would be unwise to sit there wearing Chiefs colours the following week, when there was a derby between the two. In the Crystal Palace beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-2, and the Bucs beat the Highlanders.

There were no vuvuzelas then, and the makarapas were just plain old miners’ helmets and as it got dark, we could see the Chiefs supporters, on the other side of the stadium, turning on the headlamps, quite an impressive sight. We also did quite a lot of passive smoking, as the ganja fumes wafted among the spectators. I wonder if that happened at the World Cup, and if the suppliers paid advertising fees to FIFA?

Football fever and winter chills

Winter arrived today, with snow in several parts of the country. They say it’s the first winter World Cup for several years. We watched Italy playing Paraguay last night, in Cape Town, in pouring rain. Cape Town, having a Mediterranean climate, is in the winter rainfall area, so the Italians must have felt right at home. I’m not sure about Paraguay, though.

We live in the summer rainfall area, so no snow around here (the picture below was taken in the Eastern Cape, and someone there e-mailed it to my wife). So we had bright winter sunshine, but there was a chilly wind, and no warmth in the sun at all. So it’s a good time to test our new solar geyser. And the water was warm, but not very hot. Good for a quick shower, perhaps, but not a long soaking bath.

Meanwhile, our daughter in Athens wants a vuvuzela. Apart from tootling it when South Africa scores a goal, she wants to use it when her noisy neighbours have those parties that go on till 4:00 am. She said the ones they sell in Greece have mutes in them.

And they are spreading to other sports as well. Our local rugby team, the Blue Bulls, were playing in the final of the Super Fourteen tournament, and their home ground, Loftus Versveld, has been taken over for the soccer World Cup, so they held the final in Orlando Stadium in Soweto, accompanied by the droning of the vuvuzelas.

Next thing, they’ll be playing them in church. The Orthodox Church doesn’t normally use instruments in worship, but in Greek churches they have a sort of droning base called ison which sometimes sounds like a swarm of angry bees, and vuvuzelas make a very similar sound. The difference between a soccer stadium and church is that in church there is also a melody that goes above the ison.

Vuvuzelas take the world by storm

Thanks to the soccer World Cup, the monotonous droning of vuvuzelas might replace singing at football matches throughout the world. According to this post, more than 1,5 million of the plastic bugles have been sold in Europe. Afrikaanse vuvuzela’s vliegen over toonbank: al 1,5 miljoen | Poundsterling: financieel nieuwsoverzicht:

Ondanks het groeiende aantal klachten over de Afrikaanse vuvuzela’s zijn de toeters een verkoophit. In Europa zijn er al meer dan 1,5 miljoen verkocht.

And “vuvuzela” is one of the trending keywords on Twitter.

My suggestion: reserve vuvuzelas for applause, when a goal is scored or something like that. It would be a pity if they replaced singing altogether.

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