World Cup – what World Cup is that?

2010-06-13 10:43

There wasn’t much sweetness in Sweetwaters informal settlement.

Not

even on one of the most memorable days in the history of the country – people

there were not “feeling it”.


On Friday afternoon, the day of Bafana Bafana’s opening World Cup

match against Mexico, this forgotten informal settlement, whose abject poverty

and underdevelopment shocked President Jacob Zuma on a ­recent visit, resembled

a ­community in mourning.


Unlike many parts of the country, where the streets were bustling

with hordes of colourfully dressed, vuvuzela-blowing fans, the untarred roads of

Sweetwaters shackland were engulfed by a depressing silence.


Here there is no electricity. A few households have

generator-operated TV sets and battery transistor radios but most residents,

like Pertunia Mongwe (30), cannot afford the R40 to ­fuel their generators.

The

TV set in her cold, damp shack has not been switched on for a month.


“If I have money then I have to use it for food and cooking. I

can’t watch TV on an empty stomach,” said Mongwe.


For match news she will have to rely on the men who will converge

on a 37cm television set at Sam Sephuma’s spaza shop just across the road, which

doubles as a tavern. “Women don’t go there,” she said.


Sephuma said it cost him a lot of money to host such events

­because he kept the generator going for longer than usual and didn’t charge an

entrance fee.


“People are struggling here, so this is something special. I will

screen all the matches so people can enjoy themselves and stay out of trouble,”

he said.


Later about 20 men were packed into the cold shack, their eyes

fixed on the little screen overhead as they sat on empty beer crates. Two young

men excitedly blew vuvuzelas and beer flowed freely in the zinc shack.


Sesi Nkosi (34), dressed in a Bafana shirt, was basking in the sun

with friends as Zuma declared the tournament open.


“We thought the authorities would bring us a big screen after

Msholozi’s visit here but that has not happened, so we will only learn about the

World Cup in the newspapers,” she said.


Nkosi’s day had started at five that morning, when she stood

outside her shack and pierced the early morning silence with the sound of a

vuvuzela. “It’s a special day and I felt I needed to start it on a good note,”

she said.


That’s where it all ended. The rest of the day was the daily

struggle that is life in Sweetwaters: a long walk to the communal tap, cooking

on a paraffin stove, washing laundry, warming water on the stove for a bath in a

plastic tub and then basking in the sun to warm up and wait for night time to

erase the monotony of yet another day.


Nkosi said she had hoped to join festivities at a public viewing

area at Orange Farm, about 5km away.

But the long walk through a notorious bush

area would have endangered her life, especially after dusk when muggers emerge

from the shadows to rob their victims.


“If they don’t mug you in the street then someone will break into

your home and steal food,” she said. “People are hungry here.” – 

Mukurukuru Media

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