South Africa: World Cup Madness, Vuvuzela’s And The World Media’s Obsession With The Most Dangerous Country. Well, So They Say…
South Africa has been and is under the microscope of the world media for the next few weeks. It is interesting the different events in the history of this beautiful, restless, rich, diverse and ever evolving nation. From apartheid to the release of Nelson Mandela to the fractions between the Zuma and Mbeki camps to Julius Malema, gotta love that dude to its cultural heritage, its music and my, my, my, its theatre landscape, there is always something exciting. However, the focus the World Cup puts on South African and South Africans is different due to the fact that, there are other nationalities involved as the world celebrates its biggest game.
There is a consensus that this World Cup has been very dramatic on different fronts, from the French team acting like prima-donnas to Germany’s stunned defeat at by Serbia, and Italy being held to a draw by New Zealand…please, do not get me started on Nigeria and its chickens…sorry…I meant Eagles. It is a case where Nigeria’s performance has become the subject of comedy, from Facebook to BBC commentators. My favourite jokes so fare are, “Maggi is introducing a new cube with green white green wrap, as a tribute to the super eagles – to be called ‘laughing stock’!” and “Yakubu is like the BBC iPlayer, he makes the unmissable, missable.” I personally made up my mind before the World Cup started, no way in hell was I watching a live match. I already take medication for high blood pressure. I will not add more to it because of some grown men, who get more money than I currently make in a year, yet, cannot kick a bag full of air. It is not worth my time, the arteries and veins in my body and most certainly not worth my heart or life.
Over the years, the media has done its job bringing attention to apartheid and the ills, which befall South Africa whenever they start and leave when it ends. But this World Cup and the news reportage leading up to it, has to be one of the most imbalanced and sometimes appalling, disgusting, disrespectful, in fact, one of the most annoying news reportage I have heard and seen. They focused so much on the levels of crime and sexual diseases in South Africa, to the point where I had to take a step back and ask if it was worth getting on a plane at all? If I, an African, who loves South Africa for different reasons asked that question…I wonder how many other people did the same?
If South Africa is so frigging dangerous, why did FIFA give them the go ahead to host the games? If South Africa was so unsafe, its roads and has starving poor communities, why then, do British and American expatriates keep flocking there for business, studies, to settle among the many other things they do? Obviously, there is gold to be mined but the media decides to focus on the negative stories everyday. Allow me ask this question? Can anything good come out of South Africa? Hell to the yes. Now, for the record, it is not only western media guilty of this “Image damage” campaign. From the North pole to the South side, even the most educated media personalities are getting it wrong. Now tell me, who is bloody ignorant…you or the people you are writing about. What happened to checking your facts before you publish or broadcast? What happened to the mantra of ‘balance’ in news or was my journalism teacher really too stupid and taught me crap, which means I have to go out and start learning the trade all over?
There is no denying South Africa has had security issues in the past and will continue to do so after the games are over. However, I have to ask if the media, especially, the ones from Big Brother West thought it was their given mandate and right to brainwash us all into thinking that as soon as we get off the plane, we are heading into a ‘perfect’ hailstorm of bullets, rapists, armed robbers, carjackers, unsafe roads…the list goes on and on. To date, I am yet to hear of a foreigner who was killed due to events at the World Cup. There have been one or two tragedies, the road accident which claimed the lives of British students and my heart goes out to them and their families. I wish them strength for their pain and loss.
Without digressing much further, every British newspaper I can think of made it their goal to paint South Africa, as a sex obsessed nation due to the high levels of rape. They would go on to paint the grimmest of pictures that murder was so high, Britain is a vault of protection for us all. Not once did they mention that murder rate in South Africa was going down. In fact, it has gone down by 44 per cent since 1995. I wonder their source of information and if they did their research. It is also a well known fact that there are areas of South Africa where crime rates are higher than others, we do not deny that factor and I am not so naive to say, every news report is a lie but to paint a nation as if going to the World Cup is the catalyst for Armageddon is shameful and I say shame on those, who think it is okay to continue the trend of painting other nations to look like ghettos. You would be shocked to know that some of you, especially the reporters, who live in the West cannot afford the houses and lifestyle some South Africans live (I am referring to those who make their living through an honest means.) How about that? Chew on that, you frigging hypocrites.
I do not for one second, deny there is crime and yes, it is very important that people are aware, so they can be safe but has every news report got to have the issue of crime in it? It amazes me how, after a reading a good story on a news website, I shall not mention but you can figure it, there is always the need to end the story on the crime and poverty rate of the country. It makes you wonder how lazy the journalists who writes those kind of stories are and if that is the only background information they could find about a whole nation? Besides, is the crime and poverty rate relevant to a story, which can stand on its own without being reduced to another bashing session of the country you are writing about? We already know these things. We know, Copy! We know, so stop.
Every nation on the face of the earth has its dangerous spots and that inludes the US, UK and South Africa. I wonder why we never get that about the US or the UK? According to a report in 2009, the UK has the worst crime rate in Europe, in fact, its crime rate is worse than South Africa – check the league of shame. I lived in Nigeria as a child and I cannot remember counting the number of times, CNN told me about the ghettos of New York or the East End of London. All I saw was what Hollywood gave me and the news CNN thought was appropriate to our region. So, imagine how shocked my senses were when I got to London and found out the number of sick perverts there are? Imagine my shock at children killing each other. Imagine my shock at the number of rapes and the fact that these rapists get away with it. So, let’s balance it out. I am not advocating that we stop telling worthy news stories. No, that is what we do. I do however, have a problem when the trend and ideology to keep making other nations look terribly bad at the expense of other important gains such as tourism, investment and many others come into focus.
No one has mentioned the lengths to which the South African government have gone to ensure safety. No one has discussed how well this World Cup will benefit South Africa. Instead, we are focused on what is wrong with the nation and not what has gone right with it. No one has talked about the unity these few weeks brings to a nation still heavily divided along racial lines as they all got behind Bafana Bafana, and ask, how can we keep that going after the games are over? No one is asking as yet, where does South Africa go from here? It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that hosting the World Cup will not change South Africa overnight but we must also admit significant changes, where infrastructure is concerned, have been made? Is anyone asking, what becomes of the stadiums when the games are over? Oh, I forgot, that is the problem of the South African government to worry about.
Instead, I am watching a news report on the BBC and they are interviewing foreigners, who talk about being nervous when leaving their hotel. So, they have all decided to gather at the rich end of Joburg to watch the football because all they hear is ‘be careful, don’t go to this place or that place.’ If it is so frigging dangerous, why did they leave their country? Oh, I know, the adventurous spirit that every westerner has…they have just got to know. Well, stay at home and watch the National Geographic Channel. What irritated me the most about these choice of interviewees was the fact that they were from South America. Hello! Anybody there? I mean, do not get me started on the drugs epidemic in some countries from that part of the world. Just goes to show, we all have our national issues. But I do have to hand it to them. They also admitted that they had been brainwashed by the media reports they had heard so far and so, they are going to go out and see things for themselves.
Now let’s talk about the sex industry and the warning to English men from the FCO, (Foreign Officer over there in SA) about staying safe. The last time I checked, if a man is going to have sex, he is going to have it. Nothing will stop him but I would also like to believe that he thinks long and hard about his future before he decides to stick his weapon inside a prostitute, and so have protection with him. Bottom-line, we all need to stay safe but we can do it without the scaremongering tactics used by media outlets.
My mutual facebook friend summed it up when she wrote this as her FB status, “The news tends to exaggerate in showing the ugliness of a country rather its beauty. No new news here. But for those who are afraid to go to other countries because of what the news tells you, I feel so bad for you. They want you to live in a shell. Exploring the beauty of a country and its culture is what the beauty of life is about, get out of the shell and find out for yourself.”
Now to the Vuvuzela’s, all I want to say is, I am mighty glad they were not banned. Yes, they make a lot of noise and can be annoying but you cannot go into another man’s house and tell him what he can and cannot do. We are not in London or the US, where you can tell your neighbour how loud he can play his music. This is South Africa, the country that has given the world some magical cultural moments and then you go and tell them to tone it down at a time of euphoria. Who the hell are you? Deal with it, its only for a month. I do apologise to the players, who have complained and I can understand their frustration at not being able to hear but you do have to admit, there is something about the VUVUZELA! And forgive me, Patrice Evra, Captain of the French football team is fine but honey, blaming the vuvuzela on your side’s poor showing was not a good move. We know why you all showed-up and played poorly…you all acted like naught kids. Grow up please!
You cannot go into another man’s nation, the host at that and tell him how to express himself. It is argued slavery ended years ago, though we know that is not true but please, we are no longer under colonial masters, who tell us how to behave. So, if you want a quiet game, there is the golf course, cricket grounds among many other sports that can be played with little noise but I bet you, they will not be as exciting as a South African Stadium for the remaining weeks of the World Cup. And if your challenge is that you cannot hear and feel the need to call into the BBC to make a complaint, be sure to switch channels, find a programme that has no vuvuzela’s, check the scores on the internet or turn on your teletext!
In the words of Sepp Blatter, FIFA President, “I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound.”
So, you best get with the programme!
Gotta admit, there is something about the VUVUZELA!