Saturday. Springboks v All Blacks. Soccer City (or whatever they call it now), Soweto. Historic event. The first time the Boks play a Test in the most famous “township” on the planet.
It also happens to be Springbok captain John Smit’s 100th test for his country. Our beloved country. Barney Smit, widely considered the best rugby skipper in the world. And you all saw the pictures of him standing alone in the centre of that phenomenal calabash of a stadium, holding his son and daughter. Ninety thousand fans waving The Flag. The captain was almost blubbing, wasn’t he? Quite acceptable.
If ever a stage was set for the under-performing Bokke to find their redemption, this was it.
But you all know, or should know, what happened next. Sickening. Especially for our Captain Fantastic. Even All Black captain Richie McCaw graciously said that “rugby can be a cruel game”.
But we move on. A year away from the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. There could be no sweeter redemption than to retain our World Cup in the backyard of the mighty All Blacks.
But let’s have a slightly unusual look at Saturday’s Tri-Nations heartbreaker. I’ve been playing with the 360 deg imagery that the Vodacom Player 23 Fan Cam put out after the match and, despite not having a clue how this technology works, captured three freeze-frames for your delectation.
Hold on to your Bok beanies, babies…
Worm's view of The Calabash on Saturday. Stunning, hey? But let's pan down a tad to see what's happening on the ground...
Ja, look, sorry about that bar thing above the players' heads... but I know diddly about Photoshop and couldn't shift it. Anyway, you'll see the All Blacks doing that haka thing they like to amuse us with before rugby matches... let's zoom in on that, shall we?
What's this?! The All Blacks doing their quaint little pre-match warm-up, sure... but who is that Bok player lurking behind them? What is he doing there?
And could somebody please tell the nation why, when presented with a green-and-golden opportunity like that, our Bok didn’t sneak up behind one of those Kiwi blokes at the back and give him a moerse skop (good kick) up his fat jacksie?
That would have given us a lekker start to the game, hey?
After watching this video featuring “The Ten Best Goal Celebrations of the 2002 World Cup”, I was struck between the eyes by two massive thunderbolts.
Thunderbolt One: Only the celebrations by the Nigerian and Senegalese goalscorers did justice to the goals scored. The pathetic gestures by the European players were, well, very European (read restrained). I think that might be because, in northern Europe anyway, one is required to be very drunk before celebrations are, by law, allowed to be unrestrained. And playing while drunk in World Cup matches doesn’t appear to be universally condoned. Shame.
Thunderbolt Two: African footballers – and, ye gods, their fans – need little excuse, and certainly no alcohol, to erupt in wild and totally unrestrained celebrations. A goal is all that is required to spark off a field-wide party vibe guaranteed to leave their Euro counterparts gobsmacked and the referee battling an intense panic attack.
You may remember Roger Milla of Cameroon selecting the best-looking corner flag with which to have public sex after he scored a cracker at the 1990 World Cup. The world gawped at his on-field tryst with a wooden pole and it inspired African footballers to devise all manner of unique and innovative celebrations.
Roger Milla gets jiggy with a corner flag after scoring a goal at the World Cup 1990
Nice, Now watch how Julius Aghahowa of Nigeria, after witnessing two very sad attempts by an Irishman and a German to execute a decent flick-flack, took it all to another level completely after scoring against Sweden. His celebration, in my book, appeared to include a quadruple somersault, a triple flick-flack and a cartwheel, mercurially topped off with a double pike. Too beautiful. I’m sure the United States Olympic Diving Association tried to create an American grandmother and passport for him after seeing that.
Anyway, after you’ve done the usual “pause-while-the-vid-buffers-to-allow-uninterrupted-viewing” manoeuvre, sit back and be mesmerised by how Aghahowa and Bouba Diop show the Europeans how proper celebrations should come across…
How cool was that, hey? I know. I am hoping that there will be a bagful of goals scored by the African teams in this World Cup, if only so we can soak up the 11-man after-party.
I trust that South Africa coach Carlos Parreira is giving the Bafana Bafana boys lots of time off to practise their Diski Dance. You never know. South Africa might even score a goal in this World Cup (pardon the sarcasm) and then we’ll see how well our guys have been paying attention to those hip-swerving fans in the Vodacom ads.
You lost me for a moment there. I was dreaming of our centre-back baldy Matthew Booth rising majestically to head home a cross against Mexico… and then settling with the rest of the team into a humungous hip-sway in the middle of the illuminated calabash we call Soccer City.
Three gee. 3G. My newly fave number and letter. The re-entry of 3G internet connectivity into my life means that I can (possibly) avoid blogging suicide after days in the Vodacom Desert and get a post out to my Heartpeople. I’m sorry.
And this is a post of two halves. Yes, the joy and the sorrow. From high to low. Just like the story of The Heart and Sole Tour. Rollercoasterness, babies! With your permission, I’ll give you the bad news first. Yes? OK. Good.
Here’s the thing. The unavoidable, somewhat inevitable, awful, chuffing nightmarish thing. After three weeks of toiling up mountains in absurd heat, rain, majestic electrical thunderstorms and a spot of hail, The Heart & Sole Tour has come to a grinding halt. Why? No money. Geen geld. Asinamali.
A humungous thank you to all of you who have contributed dosh to us but we simply do not have enough to continue. Apart from our “Spirit of Ubuntu” lunch (which I will shortly pictorialise for you) we had a bad day on Monday. Searing heat, virtually no hard shoulder on which to cocoon ourselves from flying trucks, crazymaking and potentially dangerous potholes and very, very, very tired bodies and minds.
The Heartman still managed to push himself 32km or so away from Engcobo towards Queenstown. But, because of the heat from hell, we only really rolled off after 5pm and, eventually, at after eight, we gave up and drove to Queenstown to rest minds and bodies. In fact, when we found a place to sleep, I didn’t so much find the bed as the bed found me. We came together as one. No shower. No brushing of teeth. El Collapso.
The next day was our birthday. Yes. Ours. Both born on January 19. Similar characters. With differences. I woke up The Heartman to give him a present. I had thought of getting him a pair of grey socks from Pep Stores, I told him, but I had something better. “Whashat?” he gurgled from his nightly slightly parallel universe. “Look. We’re not going to get much further. We’re knackered. We need a break. We need more funds. It’s your birthday. Spend as much of it as you can with your woman and your dogs at home.” His eyes opened. Wide. “Go. Get a flight from East London. Rest. Raise money. See you on Sunday.” He grinned and said something about Hatman not being so bad after all. He went. He’s recovering. And approaching some corporates about giving us the support we need to finish what we started and achieve our objective of raising awareness of the madness that are the millions of landmines still blowing off the limbs of people all over the world.
We are excruciatingly aware of the near-apocalyptic horror that is post-quake Haiti. It is only right that the compassionate eye of the world should be trained in that direction. But we are not asking for much. Just enough to cover fuel, food and airtime coasts to cover the rest of the Heart & Sole Tour from near Queenstown to Cape Town. We are closing in on the 600km mark, which means that old Heartie and I are a third of the way into this beautiful adventure.
The Heartman has used his rent money. I have exhausted my savings. It has been a giant leap of faith. But, even as we hang suspended somewhere along the arc of that leap, we still believe. I have always seen the two of us rolling into Cape Town and that vision is as clear and golden as the day this crazy wonderful idea was born. Please continue to help us achieve that.
OK. I promised you some snaps depicting what I am calling the “Spirit of Ubuntu” lunch. Quick preamble. We ride out of Engcobo on Monday. Blisteringly hot. We find a couple of trees offering shade. There are a few colourful rondavel huts nearby. The children come. Then the adults. The questions about the bicycle that has lost a wheel. The smiles. The shaking of heads. Our new friends sit around us and talk animatedly about the mad mlungus (white people). Heartie naps. I talk with the small crowd we have collected. They are hungry. Yes, we have some food (stored for camping) in the truck. Ah, I will cook it for lunch says Mama Cordelia, clearly the Big Mama of the community.
I bring out Imana beef mince, rice, a couple of onions, tinned tomatoes and some Aromat spices. Mama C sends oldest daughter Nosipho on a long walk to the spaza shop to get paraffin for the stove she has conjured up from a nearby hut. Pots and spoons magically appear. Mama Cordelia cooks lunch for us, her two daughters and assorted new arrivals, numbering about eight. It is beautiful. We sit on the grass under the trees next to the road to Queenstown eating Mama C’s impromptu lunch. Deliciousness. It tasted something like this…
Our Heartie is chuffed to have lunch served up for him by the redoubtable and indefatigable Mama Cordelia
This shy and delightful child rocks up for lunch. Nobody knows where her mother is. It doesn't matter. She is part of a bigger family. The community. She is duly fed...
Yes. I thought you might want to have another look at this adorable little girl. So I took this. Are you glad I did?
Mama Cordelia, unnamed sweetheart, Mamasolo, me and Nosipho devour the "Spirit of Ubuntu" lunch. Yes, those are (yugh) "Crocs" on my feet. Heartman gave them to me. Because I left my Havaianas in Umdloti. There. That's my story. And, yes, I'm sticking to it! Pic: Heartman
Ndiyabulela (thank-you in Xhosa), Mama Cordelia. And to your lovely daughters. And we’re sorry that we couldn’t accept your offer for us to marry them, even if they do cook as beautifully as you do!
Right. Back on the road…
Heartie gives a thumbs-up to the sign registering 117km to Queenstown. But the heat and dreadful road surface took its toll... Pix: Hatman
And I was going to give you a small closing ceremony provided by Mother Nature as we drove towards Queenstown but the internet connection has slowed down in solidarity with the Heart & Sole Tour. I’ll try again later. In the meantime, if you are able to help in any way – no matter how small – to fund our ride, here are the bank details…
G. M. Brink, Standard Bank, Musgrave Rd, Durban. Acc. 056706804 / Branch Code 042626.
* And, should you want to read Shaun Trennery’s interview with Geoff “Heartman” Brink on the excellent izimvo.com website, please go right on over to here.
In the fifth of my weekly interviews with interesting people living in Umdloti (on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, South Africa), I asked the Big Five questions of Germaine Horowitz, tireless founder and co-ordinator of The Kidz Clinic, which reaches out to and counsels children, living in and around Waterloo township, near Umdloti, who have been sexually abused.
FH:Please describe for us how you got into doing the work you are doing for the children of Waterloo township?
GH: Waterloo was once a sugar farm which belonged to the Rey family. I was at school with one of the daughters of the farmer and I had horses at the Ottawa stables. I have great memories as a teenager of my visits and Bob Marley parties at the farm house which is actually today a magnificent but badly neglected registered National Monument now known as Ottawa House. I have held several meetings over the last six years with the eThekwini Mayors Office, the Department of Housing, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Arts and Culture to establish an Arts Community Centre at Ottawa House. So far no signatures but the community continues to manage hosting conferences, various theatrical rehearsals and three weeks ago a radio station playing on FM 94.7 started broadcasting there from 5am to 6am – I did an interview this morning. Now we have the task of raising the funds to have an independent radio station. Where was I? While I was running the Market Theatre Photography School for David Goldblatt in the late 1990s, I met up with people from Women and Men Against Child Abuse whose anti-child abuse demonstrations made great photographic material for our photography students. I eventually started campaigning for them and have remained in contact with them over the years… so when their main supporters Vodacom asked them to go national in 2008 they called me to research and set up a Kidz Clinic in Durban. With the help of Jacki Bruniquel, the fabulous Umdloti artist who you have already interviewed, and two Waterloo artists, Linda and Xolisis, helped me to open a beautiful “clinic” in the Waterloo Community Centre and we had our first case in June of 2008.
Umdlotian Darren Aiken is a sculptor of international repute. He lives in a beautiful home which seems to tumble down a hill on different levels until it lands almost on Umdloti’s north beach. He shares a home and studio space with wife Audrey Rudnick, also an internationally acclaimed artist.
In this, the first of a series of interviews with some of a whole bunch of amazing people who help to make Umdloti the idyllic South African seaside village that it is, Darren spoke to fredhatman.co.za…
Darren Aiken... with some of his miniature sculptures. That's Archbishop Desmond Tutu listening in awe to Metallica guitarist James Hetfield... with Springbok rugby star Schalk Burger looking on Pic: Hatman
FH: What was your early inspiration to take an interest in art?
DA: My first introduction to plasticine, at four years old. My inspiration for it to become all-consuming was the 1978 World Cup soccer in West Germany. My dad was there on business, I collected the Tiger comic weekly (a sports action boys comic book) and I sculpted each player from West Germany, Brazil and England 4cm high, with pin pricks for eyes and a cut for the mouth and a blob or spike which suited the shape of the nose, complete with hairstyle and “sidies” of the time, full colour clothes, numbers and bootlaces and stripes. These players I used as working toys, physically striking the ball to each other (with my help of course) and at goal on a green painted field with lines on a wooden board – it was my favourite game or toy of my youth.
It’s not often I say PE (Port Elizabeth, South Africa for my Kazakhstan readers) is the place to be. It is tomorrow. But perhaps not for the elitists who want to take over our 2010 World Cup with their poncy “kuduzelas” (designed to appease non-Africans such as Fifa head honcho Sepp Blatter, who is fretting that 60,000 vuvuzelas in a stadium might give our wussy World Cup visitors a migraine).
But, according to The Sowetan, South Africa’s traditional vuvuzela (the People’s choice of weapon to cheer on our heroes) is fighting back. A loud paaaarp goes out to Vodacom which will hand out 20,000 free vuvus before the Chiefs v Pirates game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow night. Vuvucom is hoping to spur the crowd on to creating a new Guinness Book of Records’ mark with 30 volunteers urging the crowd to create a vuvu crescendo for 30 seconds before kick-off.
Nice one. Truly South African. I don’t suppose Sepp “He Who Must Be Obeyed” Blatter will be champagning it up in the VIP box for this one.