From the threshold of the Great Karoo, 400 kms from the Green Point Stadium, 1100 kms from Soccer City, the World Cup was something that was happening to other people.
It wasn’t going to be great anyway. Tourists would be ripped off, or worse, just ‘offed’ – I could see the headlines, feel the shame, hear the “I told you so’s” from the world’s media. Tour bus crashes, gruesome murders, hijackings, robberies……….
So, tuned out of the World Cup hysteria and most of what’s on TV anyway, I missed the opening ceremony. I half-watched the big concert – all those lights! all that equipment! – wondering when the power would go down and plunge the nation into irredeemable embarassment in full view of an audience of a gillion million viewers.
At the very least I expected a series of Eskom’s banners to sail past the performers with warnings to “use electricity wisely” as the national supply was “under severe pressure”. Huh? Nothing happened. Well, that’s a start, I thought – at least the nation can stage a big concert.
Our neighbouring town, baby sibling de Rust, had for months, sported swathes of patriotic red, yellow, green, blue, black and white wrapped impressively round an avenue of bluegums on the main road through the town between Meiringspoort and Oudtshoorn. Why hadn’t I seen anything at home in Prince Albert? I started to feel a little indignant. My soccer sap was rising. Where was our dorp’s spirit!
Better late than never, soccer balls were hoisted in the bluegums outside African Relish, flags raised at Onse Rus guesthouse, balls and bunting appeared outside the Tourism Bureau, Rudy van der Ley hung two giant soccer balls on his stoep, and car flags and mirror flags bedecked every second vehicle in the town. I didn’t have a flag to my name and the World Cup was under way. Nor did I have a vuvuzela, which had finally penetrated my consciousness as the soccer accessory du jour.
Now I was a woman on a mission. Although I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a 16-inch plastic bugle made in China, I was on a hunt for a flag.
First let me explain that flag suppliers and vuvuzela stockists are thin on the ground in a small town in the middle of the Karoo. We have Pep, the co-op, the bottle store, a hardware shop…….. and aside from a lot of guesthouses and restaurants, not much else in the way of the sort of places where you can just stroll in and buy a flag.
My first flag (a scrap of nylon on a plastic stick) arrived from Oudtshoorn via a friend who’d gone to do a day’s shopping. “But I wanted two” I wailed “one for each side of the car.” My R25 flag was the last one left in Oudtshoorn.
By now, patriotism was pumping through my veins. I surprised myself by engaging in a furious Facebook debate with someone who thought the vast new SA flag raised on the Donkin in Port Elizabeth (presumably in honour of the World Cup) was reminiscent of Nazi Germany, and by trawling the internet for the meaning of our flag’s colours. I mastered the words of the national anthem in minutes. And I boughtt a HUGE flag at the farm stall a few days later, which spanned my front gate right in the face of every tourist driving into town. Now it was time to get a vuvuzela in time for the first match : SA against whoever.
Too late. Although I hadn’t heard a single blast in town, every vuvuzela in Prince Albert was sold out. I trudged from shop to shop and by the time the petrol attendant at the BP garage told me smugly they were “alles uitverkooop” I nearly strangled her.
The last resort was “Maydays” Handelswinkel, the Chinese shop round the corner. Now possessed by a near demonic need to own a vuvuzela I was way beyond a rational response when they told me new stock would be arriving “only on Thursday”. I stormed off doing wheelies all the way home.
When I remembered to go back they had ONE vuvuzela left. It was black. It was short. It was ugly. But it was MINE. Never was R15 more willingly spent. I tried to give it a blast on the way home but all that came out was hot air.
I still have no idea who our opponents were in that first match, but when Tshabalala scored That Goal I grabbed my vuvuzela, inhaled deeply, strongly and patriotically and sent out a very respectable blast towards the TV screen. And then several more.
My only audience was two alarmed dogs, who rushed off, barking hysterically, so I captured it on cellphone video for myself and posterity. I’ll show it to my grandchildren : The Day Granny Blew the Vuvuzela.
Urban emigre, living in the Karoo.
Former journalist, author, and profound soccer ignoramus.
Got gripped by world cup fever and may never fully recover.
Now inseparable from vuvu, delivering (usually inappropriate) blasts at every opportunity.
Misses the world cup spirit that pulled South Africans and the world together for a whole wonderful, bright, shining month.