Cry the beloved country

2010-06-18 10:01

The procession of Bafana Bafana supporters to the gates of Loftus

Versfeld on Wednesday night was possessed with a religious fever of sorts.

And it was not only this journalist, standing on a pavement in

Burnett Street in Hatfield, one of the entrance roads to the stadium, who felt

the ecstasy.

A hawker gaped at the walking, dancing, playing, joking procession,

fantastically costumed in yellow and green, flung his array of fong kong soccer

chic on the pavement, executed a merry jig and yelled: “Hallelujah Jehovah! This is amazing! Hallelujah!”

This was clearly the mother of all soccer fancy dress parties in

the heart of Blue Bulls country.

Scores of proudly makarapa-crowned whites, wrapped in tribal

blankets, belabouring their vuvuzelas, scores of Africans in the same and even

more exotic soccer couture, battery-powered flags and spectacles, painted faces,

wigs.

Most of the foreign soccer fans who sat down in plastic chairs to

have their faces painted by pavement hawkers chose to be adorned with the

colours of South Africa, pledging to support Bafana in their battle against

Uruguay.

“I am for Bafana tonight,” said Timo Maakannas from Finland, as he

inspected the South African flag on his face in the mirror.

The bars and nightclubs of Burnett Street were hard put to squeeze

in all the Blue Bulls supporters, locals and foreigners who turned up to

celebrate and watch the match on huge TV screens.

It was a humongous explosion, a beautiful noise and a feast of

colour.

The gargantuan size of this joy that pulsed up and down Burnett

Street is what made the silence in the stadium so terrible after referee Massimo

Busacca drew the red card on Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

These were the terrible moments when the fans realised that

Bafana’s chances of proceeding to the second round had in effect been wiped

out.

All their joy evaporated into the night.

Yes, when unbelievable as it might sound, the mighty sound of

vuvuzelas died completely.

When those who entered the stadium in ecstasy, realised that they

would leave it in agony.

It was a funeral procession of Bafana fans who passed through

Burnett Street on the way to their cars.

And the crowds in the bars and the

nightclub started drowning their sorrows.

Shocked faces. Defeated bodies huddling in blankets, muttering

about the ref who drew the red card on Khune. Muttering about Khune.

“Useless,” cried Mpho. “Humiliating,” said Danie.

No more hallelujahs.

Why, oh why, Jehovah?


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