newritings

March 9, 2010

Trust me, I love the game

Filed under: opinion article,some of my favorite things,sports — newritings @ 2:21 pm

fifa empire

I am no spoil-sport, trust me, I love the game although it is not what it used to be. The game has been taken over by those who love money. Big, big money. But for my sins, it is a double standard that I will endure for most of my life until I die.

On 2 March, I spoke at a government organised meeting to coordinate African countries’ efforts as they deal with greater powers. The conference was called Capacity Building for South-South Solidarity, or something close to that, and as all radio stations and media in general were obsessed with football, I prefaced my talk with football as it was everywhere and could not be ignored.  In addition, I was speaking to our African brothers and sisters in whose name we are doing all this organising. I said that I wish we could bottle up all the energy we are now generating (let alone the bucks) for tackling the burning issues of our continent, and our country. I was speaking seriously and not in jest, so I quoted Madiba, to show this, when he was speaking at the 1994 meeting of the OAU. He thanked Africa for working towards our liberation, and pointed out that our challenges remain in governance, and the fact that Africa remains a net exporter of capital. Specifically he wrote that

“Africa shed her blood and surrendered the lives of her children so that all her children could be free. She gave of her limited wealth and resources so that all of Africa should be liberated. She opened her heart of hospitality and her head so full of wise counsel so that we should emerge victorious. A million times she put her hand to the plough that has now dug up the encrusted burden of oppression, accumulated for centuries. The total liberation of Africa has now been achieved. One epoch with its historic tasks has come to an end. Surely another must commence. Africa cries out for a new birth; Carthage awaits the restoration of its glory. If freedom was the crown which the fighters of liberation sought to place on the head of mother Africa, let the upliftment, the happiness, prosperity and comfort of her children be the jewel of the crown. The fundamentals are known to all of us: Africa continues to be a net exporter of capital and suffers from deteriorating terms of trade. Our capacity for self-reliance, to find the resources to generate sustained development remains very limited. Equally complex questions that bear on the nature and quality of government are also central to our capacity to produce the better life which our people demand and deserve. We must face the matter squarely that where there is something wrong in how we govern ourselves, it must be said that the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are ill governed. Rwanda stands as a stern and severe rebuke to all of us for having failed to address these matters. As a result, a terrible slaughter of the innocent is taking place in front of our very eyes. Thus do we give reason to the peoples of the world to say of Africa that she will never know stability and peace, that she will forever experience poverty and dehumanization and that we shall be forever knocking on somebody’s door pleading for a slice of bread? We know that we have it in ourselves, as Africans, to change all this. We must assert our will to do so. We must say that there is no obstacle big enough to stop us from bringing about an African Renaissance.”

So my grouse, if you can call it that (although I prefer the word passion), is for justice, and the right to play  is  part of this passion, and I reiterate my hope. It is a simple request, almost genie in the bottle, but this time it was oozing out  and we could  not get it in. I said and repeat that  I  have a wish that we could bottle up the energy generated by all our mobilisations, yes and with leadership from the top.  At this stage, I sing the song, and  do what is required… t o no avail.

I’m a genie in a bottle / You gotta rub me the right way / If you wanna be with me / I can make your wish come true / You gotta make a big impression

And I have a love for footie too. Too much? Maybe not. Futbol, call it what you want – the beautiful game, and stop you from calling me names, I have war wounds acquired playing the game, i.e. the knee op and the resultant long scar on my beautiful left, which bears the name of the Dr Ig Noble (not the real name but close), and to boot I am a Pirate (reluctantly) and a Culé (Barcelona FC) supporter (enthusiastically). By the way, we are forming a Barça Penya, i.e. is for the Uninformed a supporters club here in SA, and we are organising under the name “més que una penya”, more than a fan club. Of course they are loved by me, and millions of others, for the brand of football they play but importantly because they are owned and democratically run by their fans. (I shudder to think of how ManU are fighting to get their stolen club back to the fans!). You get the drift, I hate the corporate take over of our leisure time and how we produce our livelihoods. Take a look and see how our politics, our sports, our games, our schools, our health systems – the works have been corrupted by the politics of greed.

So…

I know that men (and women) cannot live by bread alone, although I know that the billions of our tax payers’ monies (yes –including Vat payers) will go to building of stadia, security, etc. I know that these amounts would have funded our public schooling and our National Health Service for years to come. But I am not a naysayer. I read daily in the media how our leaders fight naysayers, telling them like Mr. Blatter has done, “I Know Africa can do it, South Africa can do it!” I want us to say this after the World Cup for all our other social challenges. Imagine the World Health Organisation officials inspecting our hospitals and it is covered by global media, and debated in our press and radios… and our president talking in foreign country telling them, “Yes we are on Track. Come and join us in solidarity. Those who doubt us – come, we will have the best health system in the world!” (and the call shows will be buzzing and I will call in and wait for a few minutes to make my point…)

All I lament is that we do not have an anti-rape Monday, and a food-for-all Wednesday (not to compete with Wacky Wednesday of Steers) and this leadership comes from all cabinet ministers, and the premiers. If we had a dance that was a Diski against inequality, with Sho’t Left leading in the training of it at Malls like they did this weekend in my kasie… oh, how jealous I am for this mobilization! And ask those with the powers on earth and beyond to help us capture it in a bottle…

And, by the way, today we have 93 days before the kickoff… and we have some time to halve poverty, tackle gender inequality… in a nutshell, to surpass the goals of the MDGs, and our constitutional imperatives.

Pssst. Got any tickets for the final?

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