The mood in the stadium was electric. The piercing wails of vuvuzelas1 could be heard far beyond the confines of the stadium. I was still standing in a slowly-snaking line waiting to get into Loftusversveld Stadium. I’d never had a reason to come here before, the bastion of South African rugby. But I wasn’t here for rugby. I was here for the soccer. I was here for the FIFA World Cup.
The crowd around me was impatient. We wanted to be inside, singing Shosholoza2 and showing the foreigners that we have gees.3 Complete strangers struck up conversations with one another. South Africans and foreigners. A few words in English. Hand gestures. Excitement on every face. It didn’t matter that we didn’t understand each other. All that mattered is that we all spoke one language today: soccer.
As South Africans, we were excited to be playing host to the world’s greatest soccer tournament. We were showing the world that we could do it. Just months before, there were fears we wouldn’t be ready. The stadiums, airports, and the roads were far behind schedule. The FIFA president Sepp Blatter had become an almost de facto president, usurping the powers of our own government, telling us what we could and couldn’t do.
Blatter kept threatening to take the tournament away from us, citing failed construction deadlines, crime, terrorist threats. They were worried it would be a fiasco. The trouble was, they just didn’t understand how South Africa works. We never get anything right the first time. But we get there in the end. By hook or by crook.
And we did. Miraculously all the construction work ended within days of the opening match.
It felt a little surreal to stand in line to watch Spain play Chile in a first round match with my commune buddies. I was draped in a Spanish flag I’d bought off one of the hawkers4 down the road near where I had parked my car. Dave was wearing a Chilean cap that a South American fan had exchanged for his South African scarf. Pauline was wrapped in as many flags as she could find!
It didn’t really matter. We were swimming with the tide of national pride. We weren’t there to support a specific team. We just wanted to be a part of the South African magic. And we wanted everyone who came to South Africa to enjoy the party!
Finally, after passing through several checkpoints, we presented our tickets and made our way into the stadium. We got lost trying to find our seats. So, we just sat down in two empty ones. We could always move if the real occupants showed up. That is the South African way.
The field was far below us. The players warming up were just tiny specks. But we had a birds eye view of the entire stadium. The game hadn’t started yet, but the crowd was already in high spirits. Everyone was trying to sing their songs above the din of the vuvuzelas.
“Sjoe, this is a lekker vibe!” Dave shouted into my ear. I nodded in agreement, knowing he’d never hear me above the noise. Instead, I snapped pictures of the crowd. I wanted to remember this moment forever. More than that, I wanted time to stand still. South Africa at its best.
(…to be continued…)
1. Traditional horn-like instrument characteristic at soccer games.
2. South African sporting anthem.
4. Street vendors.
Series – Evanescent
January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)
February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)
March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)
May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)
July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)
September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)
October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)
December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)
Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)
Background – Context
Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)
Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Johannesburg, South Africa – In the midst – Vladimir Melnik (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed