Hlengiwe Mnguni

Let’s act like the World Cup is over

2010-07-16 07:49

It seems everywhere I turn there is someone appealing to South Africans to keep the wonderful spirit of the World Cup alive. Prayers and parties have been suggested to help keep the gees.

The sentiment is good, but it is not practical - the World Cup is over and with it went most of the gees.

That type of gees, at the levels we have witnessed during the cup anyway, is unsustainable. It was fuelled by an excitement difficult to duplicate in any other setting. It is unrealistic to think we can maintain those levels of excitement with no other motivation except day to day life.

What we can hope for is that the memory of that spirit informs our actions as citizens in the little things we do, because to replicate that collective gees will be almost impossible with the games over.

South Africans keep proving over and over that we thrive on big events. We should not pressure ourselves into recreating that amazing energy. We should understand that although it might seem more fun and fitting to make one big fan fest of the country, we still need to remember where we were before the world descended on us.

Although years of preparation have gone into the World Cup, for most of us it was a month-long event in which we lived in the country of our dreams with heightened transport, entertainment and security amongst other perks. Clearly, these were unusual circumstances.

Hosting a World Cup was a project. We should take care not to let it take over the definition of who we are beyond the tournament. It helped reveal strengths we didn’t know we had and it built up our confidence. But it isn't the be all and end all of us.

The vuvuzela and all the other World Cup spirit paraphernalia have done their job, let's put them away and take a reality check.

Maybe rushing in to ask about crime statistics and questioning spending on the World Cup are too sobering thoughts less than a week after the tournament, but perhaps that is what we need to jolt us back into reality.

When Sepp Blatter read out loud at a press conference part of a column describing how the world had been "seduced" by the Dark Continent, I felt a vain pride. But as the days wear on I get the feeling that we as South Africans are also in awe of ourselves. We too have been seduced. But as South Africans we should know too well not to peg our happiness on single events, no matter the magnitude.

Nothing will ever take away the successes gained during the World Cup. The world will never forget the show we put on, but we need to get out of celebration mode at some point and ensure that we prove to not only ourselves, but the world, that all the money spent and all the sacrifices made were worth it.

Because it is only in years to come that real success beyond June/July 2010 will be measured.

Enough with the partying, let’s take a reality check and get back to work.

- Follow Hlengiwe on Twitter.

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