By the time you read this I’ll be on my way to Cape Town, via Amsterdam. I am looking forward to the World Cup as a fan. I’ve grown very tired of the kind of images and debates circulating about the World Cup here in the US or what travels. (The last straw was a screening of the uneven “Fahrenheit 2010″–a didactic film that says nothing about the football itself or fan culture–at BAM where I was invited to provide context. I want to be among football fans. As I left, a friend stopped me and remarked about another screening of a film about Diego Maradona, where someone had to remind the audience who Maradona was.)
Finally, here is some last minute nonsense before I depart: Jere Longman’s latest uninformed screed in The New York Times, “Don’t Bet on Home Continent in African World Cup.”
As Siddhartha Mitter, over at Not a Safari, summarizes its contents:
‘… Every available stereotype of Africans (violent, corrupt, disorganized, malnourished, capricious, emotional, and just plain weird) is conveniently included in this story by Jeré Longman in the New York times. Bonus: A cannibalism allusion from Jürgen Klinsmann.’
I know this won’t stop–it will last through the World Cup. Then they’ll all express surprise that African hosts pulled it off. Still I think I need to go and spend some time among football fans. Not that I won’t grow tired either of South Africa’s cricket and rugby obsessed mainstream media quickly. But I am not going there for the media. I am going for the football.
My 4-year old daughter, Rosa, is traveling with me. (That’s her in the picture above taking aim for Bafana.) We’ll be mainly in Cape Town. Alas it is only for about 2 weeks. I have two game tickets confirmed (my brother did all the hard work of getting them, standing in line, etc.): France vs Uruguay and Italy vs Paraguay. Still trying for England vs Algeria. The rest of the games I plan to watch on TV screens.
On the real question: I am behind Brazil to take it (and not because they play “like Europeans” now), though I think Argentina will get it together at the right moment (I worship at the church of Messi and have a soft spot for Diego Maradona), Wayne Rooney will self-destruct, and 45 million vuvuzelas will make a lot of noise, but not get South Africa past the second round. But I won’t eat my hat, to quote Teju Cole, with pepper sauce, if none of this transpires. Oh, and this is my player.
Good places to keep up with the World Cup is of course The Guardian’s World Cup coverage, Chimurenga Magazine’s World Cup blog project, Pilgrimages Project (featuring some of the continent’s best writers), David Lane’s The Other Football, Football is Coming Home (I blog there on World Cup matters with Peter Alegi and David), Dundas Football Club, Africa United and Kickoff. Any dispatches from Time’s Tony Karon are also worth the read.
I plan to do some posts and put up some pictures for Africa is a Country and will put up more pictures on Flickr. Meanwhile, the rest of the Africa is a Country bloggers will keep you busy.
– Sean Jacobs