That’s the trouble with South Africa. We have so much good to show, but it’s never the good stuff that makes international headlines. We’re often in the news for all the wrong reasons – the highest crime rates in the world. The greatest levels of inequality between rich and poor. High unemployment. The endless pictures of our squatter camps. Xenophobic violence. Corruption. Scandal.
It was as if the world didn’t give us enough of a chance after apartheid. I sometimes felt like the media was always looking for reasons to show up our failures and ignore our successes. We also are a self-critical people. We see the worst in ourselves and forget the best.
The facts tell a different story. We transitioned out of apartheid without a civil war. Nelson Mandela’s vision for a non-racial South Africa may have been utopic, but his belief carried us through the first difficult years after 1994. Madiba5 is probably one of the great leaders of the 20th century on par with of Mahatma Ghandi, who incidentally, also developed the art of passive resistance here in South Africa.
Mandela served for five years and then passed the baton. Too soon, the magic of Madiba’s rainbow nation faded and hard reality set in. So far, no one has lived up to expectations. His successor made us an international laughingstock for his handling of the HIV/Aids pandemic and did little to build the much-anticipated momentum for economic recovery.
Now, it was even worse. Jacob Zuma started his presidency with a rape allegation. In the trial, he denied the rape charges, but consented to having unprotected, consensual sex with the daughter of a colleague. Asked whether he was not afraid of contracting Aids, he simply said he’d taken a shower. A cartoonist depicted him with a shower head above him. And it stuck! Another national disgrace.
And then there was the xenophobic violence. Living in a part of Johannesburg that contained a large percentage of immigrants from other African countries, I had watched first-hand in 2008 as my friends and their families had their businesses destroyed and their lives threatened by South Africans who claimed that the presence of the kwerekwere6 was the reason for all of the country’s economic woes. As the daughter of Angolan immigrants, the targeted violence affected me deeply and weakened my faith in the country that is the only home I have ever known.
South Africa needed this World Cup. We needed to lift our heads, raise our collective spirits. In times of trouble, sport has always united us. Our sporting gees reminds us of who we want to be. Who we can be. This is what I was thinking as I tried to capture the mood of the stadium on film. I wanted to freeze forever the moment when the diversity of 30,000 people in Loftusversveld gave me cause to celebrate our common humanity, rather than reasons for conflict.
The moment had come. The players took the field. The national anthems sounded across the stadium. The whistle blew. The game began. I sat back in my seat, soaking in the incredible euphoria of watching a World Cup match in my own backyard. I didn’t care who won. To be here, in this moment, was everything.
(…to be continued…)
5. Term of affection for Nelson Mandela.
6. A derogatory term for black foreigners coming from other African countries.
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: South Africa – Abandoned – Glen Carrie (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed