Supporting Bafana Bafana for better or for worse

2010-03-08 00:00

AS chief vuvuzelaist of the Bafana for Dummies (by dummies) Facebook group, I am proud to report that the Soccer World Cup support rehearsal we had when Bafana played against Namibia at Moses Mabhida Stadium was a success. The 1-1 scoreline and the shambolic football was not part of our responsibility, so that won’t be mentioned in this report.

In invitations to prospective members, the dress code was stipulated as being “very eager”, “very Bafana” and with certain accessories such as a vuvuzela and a makarapa. It therefore came as no surprise that so many of the fans came dressed as courageously as those frenzied fans you see behind the goal area. In fact, it could be argued that we were moving dangerously into that zone.

The band of vuvuzela players certainly improved, but unfortunately I had a bit of a poor game with respect to my instrumentation. First, an opportunity was given to shine with the deep-sounding kuduzela, a plastic device shaped like a kudu horn. I failed. A pitiful whimper emitted from the flute-like device, which caused great amusement to others.

A group of Durbanites then turned their perfect-sounding vuvuzelas at me, as if to say: “That’s how you do it, buddy.” I will have to do some late- night practising in Hilton to improve on it. Sorry, neighbours.

Then, not wanting to deafen a woman in front of me, I carried on playing my vuvuzela in soft tones, trying to match the boredom of the players in front of me. My companion — whose criticism I take quite seriously due to her brutal honesty — said my playing was rather weak.

In masculine response, I took a huge breath of air, readied my lungs and gave a gung-ho blast that must have shattered the stands beneath. The consequence was that the woman sitting in front of me jumped out of her seat in shock.

“I nearly had a heart attack,” she confessed. I simply could not win — a bit like Bafana.

Our friendly Armchair Expert, Lungani Zama, who again accompanied the eager beginners, taught us a new trick as professional fans. It involved a form of communication with the infamous Bafana striker, Teko Modise, whom we booed off the Harry Gwala pitch a few weeks earlier. It upset the Pirates striker to such a degree that he disappeared into the trashy streets of the City of Choice for over a week, much to the disdain of his coach. It would appear that many Pirates fans who had “gotten over him” infected the whole nation with their antagonism and, so, when he failed for the umpteenth time to boot a decent strike at goals, the trick was implemented.

It was simple, but with the whole stadium doing it, also very impressive. By rolling our arms in a circular motion over each other we were rudely seeking a substitution call: the people’s decision. And it worked. A former Maritzburg United striker, Katlego Mphela, came on and scored a simple yet crucial goal for Bafana’s draw.

It certainly helped his cause and he’s now off to Brazil on Bafana’s essential training camp. What the coach is going to do with them all there is anyone’s guess. But, secretly, I think we’re all hoping he’s going to pull out his magic wand and do some voodoo on the lot.

Part of our own education has been the crossover from that rugby stadium next door to the new, larney soccer one that we found ourselves in. Moses Mabhida brings together the chosen people in many regards. By “chosen”, I refer to the cross-section of races, religions and subcultures — the magic ingredient with which Madiba hoped to build a nation. It was a celebration and every­one was a part of it. Getting all dressed up and acting like a buffoon, well that’s just a bonus.

As our group was having its final photo op at the entrance to the stadium, a woman dressed in a crimson ball gown, who had left her VIP area for a breath of fresh air, asked if she could take a photo of us.

“You guys are just incredible,” she said. “I think next time I’ll bring my own makarapa.”

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