Friday, 11 June 2010

Beautiful Occasion.

I was on the verge of tears (of joy) this afternoon watching the opening ceremony of the Football (Soccer) World Cup live from Johannesburg. It's still very much a novelty for me seeing people of different-coloured races mingling in this former pariah country. Even a decade and a half since the end of apartheid it seems a miracle that it happened at all - especially to people like me who, during all our politically-aware lives, had seen South Africa as a living, suppurating scar on the face of humanity. Sure, we have other 'scars' now, some of a different quality, and some indeed still within that very country, but for so long South Africa was the litmus-test for a person's attitude towards justice. I recall Mrs Thatcher, as she tried every which way to block sanctions, actually denouncing Mandela as a 'terrorist' ("Anyone who thinks the ANC will ever rule in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land!") Then there was the famous Conservative Party conference which she presided over as Prime Minister where T-shirts were widely sported bearing the legend "HANG NELSON MANDELA". (Ha ha! What a joke! What fun!) When I was working then, my colleagues would try to wind me up by bringing in sanction-flouting South African apples to eat with their lunch - announcing that they were doing so, of course. I just sat there and seethed.
Anyway, thank heavens those days are well truly past. (Thatcher shortly afterwards had the gall to claim that it was her influence that helped to end apartheid. ["Talks, yes - sanctions, NO!"] But then that same 'gracious lady' also claimed that it was her influence and that of President Regan which were paramount in bringing down the Berlin Wall and Communism in Europe. Well, as she is now in quite advanced dotage, let's allow her that comforting view of her former megalomania, shall we?)
South Africa today, despite it's searing difficulties, still offers a brilliant symbol of hope demonstrating that man, at least in some respects, can advance out of darkness. I salute you all - well apart from those Afrikaaners who want to turn the clock back. Dream on, losers!


  1. I'm glad things are so different in SA now. However I don't think I will want to visit any time soon.

    I used to work with a guy from SA. A white guy. He told me some terrible stories about vigilante justice there, and the practice of 'necklacing'. I was horrified beyond all expression that one human could do such a thing to another.

    No, I'll keep my distance, thank you.

    As far as World Cup goes, according to the schedule I found on the internet, the US will begin kicking UK's ass in approximately 6 hours. Be prepared for defeat!

  2. S.A. - yes, Cubby. 'Necklacing' was something that (allegedly) Mandela's first wife, Winnie, was fond of threatening, even maybe actually carrying out, through her associations with gangs. 'Horrific' is truly the only appropriate word. I am pretty well sure it still goes on, as well as other horrors, such as the systematic rape of young girls carried out by 'rape gangs' especially formed for that very purpose- not to mention so many of the country's population heavy reliance on drugs and the economics of its trafficking. So, yes, I agree. It's not a country I'd want to visit in a hurry. But as long as there are people around like Mandela and that wonderful character, Archbishop Tutu, there's just got to be hope that things will improve. I say people 'like' them, though I don't know of any younger ones - and surely Mandela and Tutu won't be around for much longer.
    World Cup - it's taken so seriously here you've just got to laugh. I'll be considered unpatriotic if I say it'll be much more entertaining if England get slaughtered tonight. They're such a bunch of big babies anyway. I'll laugh my socks off amid all the recriminations and sight of grown men weeping at what is, after all, just a game. Btw Wish I could explain why the UK gets four chances in this tournament - separate teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, though only the first qualified this time. So why isn't Germany allowed a separate team from Bavaria or USA another one from California? Anyway, good luck America. (I want to go to bed with a smile on my face.) However, if England do win the Cup I'll eat my shorts - without ketchup!