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Sports Features of Monday, 12 July 2010

Source: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

The World Cup Soccerscape Was More Than Vuvuzela

The World Cup Soccerscape Was More Than Vuvuzela –Witless- Honking Moments!

The heart of Africa was crudely broken by cold-blooded Uruguay because the entire continent’s hopes, its players and its soul were put on the game. But that is about to change because the game is more than winning the CUP. It’s about winning the respect. It’s about showcasing the beauty of Africa. It’s about proving to the world that we can and did protect our guests. So we deserve to celebrate.

Africa has already won the WORLD CUP GAME. That is the gospel according to my own analysis. No, I’m not trying to rationalize our loss of the game, neither am I psychologically impaired or delusional but we need to look at things philosophically.

Oh, yes, you do not have to tell me. I know that the World Cup soccerscape celebration comes a little early for us, but who says Africans can not be declared the winners of the game?

Mindful of the fact that it’s a little bit inappropriate, unrealistic and incomprehensible to celebrate our loss and for Africans to high-five each other to declare ourselves as being the winners of the World Cup games. However, whatever the outcome South –Africa and the entire continent are the winners. The bottom-line is, so far South Africa has flawlessly hosted the game (knock on wood and I have my fingers crossed with some crazy glue hoping and praying for things to go our way!) and that makes me proud with a megawatt happiness.

For one thing I was ahead of every body else in the rooting department. Well, while everyone was rooting for their home team I was cheering for Africa instead of Ghana. I was also on my knees praying and hoping that we would not experience any unwelcoming news—so far so good. Hallelujah!!

The game is not over yet, but we only had just a few incidents and accidents, here and there .So far nothing out of the ordinary has happened—this is for our critics who care to know.

Off the bat, nobody (including the world media) really ever thought that Africa could host the World Cup game with grace, competence and honor. To the surprise of no one in Africa the expectation for Africa to host an event of that magnitude ,without any major hitch was very, very low---to say the least.

Ever since South Africa won the right to host the Word Cup game four years ago, many people, including those in the international media were predicting a major disaster with tsunami proportion, to befall on the game to prove their points. Some doomsday pundits and prophets of an Armageddon prophesied and professed that the “crime rate in South Africa would turn off spectators” and that Africa was “not capable” to host a world event---you know the rest of the story. I find it a bit distasteful. But, look Africans can now have the last laugh. People who were poking fun at Africa are now scratching their hair in frustration.

I mean some narrow-minded people who only could see Africa in their narrow racial bi-focal lenses could not wait to trumpet or vuvuzela any mishap that could befall on Africa during the one month event.

Yes, Africa did not go too far in the game but it’s an understatement to say that Africa makes me proud. And, I’m still rooting for Africa. As a practitioner of Public safety with safety concerns, I follow the game with intense interest of the dynamics and security issues of South Africa. And, I sincerely feel South Africa and the entire continent did a marvelous job in providing security to Africa’s diverse guests for one month.

Fact: So far there were 316 arrests and 109 were crimes committed by foreigners. Half of the crimes were mini World Cup related ones; like currencies counterfeit practitioners, stealing of trophy replicas, jerseys, Adidas bag and laptops. I think that is very impressive, considering the amount of people who descended in South Africa to watch or participated in the game.

Now let’s compare and contrast it with the Group 20 meeting which was held in Canada for just a week end. There were over 900 arrests for public disturbances and disruptions.

What I’m trying to portray here is that no one gave Africa the chance to host the game without a hitch. There was little room for mistakes or error in protecting the players and spectators. Because that could have ruined the chances of Africa being the host of any game ever again. That is why it calls for celebration.

We surely beat the odds and made the enemies and critics eat their own words with sour taste in their mouths. Africa has done the unthinkable!

On top of things, this game allowed Africa to showcase its beauty and the remnants of Apartheid regime, to the outside world, which seems to have no idea how bad things were and that there is a better side of Africa(beside tribal wars and starvation) which international media—for its own convenience ---tends not to focus on.

Yes, there are shopping centers and a lot of beautiful wildlife besides the vuvuzela honkers and vendors hawking their sun-tanned merchandise in the traffic—Africa has a lot to offer the world cup sport fans and humankind!

South Africa has a lot to offer and showcase its beauty and hospitality if only its guests left their prejudices and low expectation at home.

Unfortunately, for centuries Africa has often been portrayed unfavorably in the western and international media .And that is considered biased news coverage, which has hurt the continent’s fragile image and battered interests abroad beyond repair.

Undoubtedly, this is the only time we have been allowed the opportunity to present Africa to the outside world with an African perspective by our own accord.

However, whether Africa can utilize the newly-minted acquired image enhancement capital and improve its international status or use the occasion to find solutions to our emerging socio-economic problems, remains uncertain. Because our leaders still don’t get it and our policymakers are virtually visionless and aspirationally impaired. While we’re jubilantly rooting for our teams they were probably hatching up plans to loot the nations’ coffers with impunity.

Paradoxically, a continent which has been a victim of International media does not even own or operate a media outlet (like CNN or BBC) that can tone our concerns and aspirations and offer a better view of Africa to its international viewers without alterations and biases--- what is wrong with us? No thanks, I’m not interested in your excuses!

Well, whatever the case, let the vuvuzelas honk from the deserts of North- Africa where the river Niger meanders through to the shinning sea of Southern Africa. Let the vuvuzelas honk from the coast of Western- Africa with its tropical forest to the waters of Lake Victoria to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro in the east. Let’s honk them louder because it’s our time to celebrate our newly-minted status; glory, grace and competence. For we have been down in the pit for too long. Arise Africa, play on, this is your Day!!

This is Vuvuzela - honking moment for all of us. So let us honk them witlessly to assault the ears of our hearing -impaired doomsday prophets and critics, who do not require earplugs.

Oh Lord, it feels so good to witness this unfolding soccerscape’s development in Africa. Certainly, ‘uncertainty’ is a great ingredient in sport and in life because no one saw this day coming!

It’s the uncertainty that made grown men cry in disappointment in South Africa and beyond. It’s the same uncertainty which is making grown men and women dance unrestrictedly with joy across Africa and beyond its borders.

To the South Africans and the entire continent, soccer is more than “just a game”. It was (and still is) a tool, a spirit and a therapeutic process that helped the Apartheid system’s political prisoners on the dreadful Robben Island prison in South Africa, to maintain mental equilibrium.

In order for them to maintain their humility, humanity, dignity and unity, they (the political prisoners) needed something as simple as soccer to numb their pain. Yes, soccer did bring relief from the demonetization and dehumanization of prison life .So the soccer field more or less became the makeshift ‘conference center’ or a meeting place for the anti -Apartheid organization groups in the prison system.

Paradoxically, and amazingly, the Robben Island prison’s soccer field ultimately became the training ground for the present and former leadership of the ANC.

Yes indeed, a bad situation always has its equal amount of opportunity. And bliss always comes after a terrible disaster. That explains the reasons behind our jubilation and the vuvuzula moments.

So let’s party all night long!

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi ( Voice Of Reason)

*The author is a social commentator and the founder of the Adu-Gyamfi Disadvantaged Youth Empowerment Foundation of Asuom, Akim.E/R