Getting into the “gees*” of the Fifa Soccer World Cup 2010 in South Africa
Ke nako! It is time!
It's flags and vuvuzelas everywhere you look! With just days to go before the kick-off in the “greatest show on earth” the South African Broadcasting Corporation's (SABC) slogan is coming true in a big way: “It is here. Feel it.”
There is no need to ask what “it” is – our soccer-crazy country is just abuzz with enthusiasm for “the beautiful game!” And when I say “abuzz” I mean that quite literally as well as figuratively – the buzzing of the vuvuzelas is starting to drown out any other sounds and the flags are sprouting on almost every car and lamppost.
The street vendors are of course making the most of the situation. Every street corner has a huge collection of soccer-related merchandise (most of it probably illegal counterfeit stuff) being sold. Trade is so brisk at some corners that traffic jams are being caused.
Ever page of the newspaper is full of ads about the Soccer World Cup (SWC for short!) and Bafana-Bafana (the South African National soccer team). The word, by the way, means “the boys.” And everyone, from the President on down, is getting into the act.
Many new words have come into our daily parlance as a result of the SWC coming to this lovely land! Some of them you will have to know in order to understand the particular way that South Africa celebrates and plays the beautiful game.
Just to get you into the mood, whether you are coming here to join our party, or will be enjoying the vibe vicariously via TV in your lounge, this Hub will introduce some of the words and other cultural attractions that will surround this great event.
*"Gees" is the Afrikaans word for "spirit" and is used by almost everyone in South Africa in connection with events like the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
The vuvuzela is a plastic trumpet of about a metre in length with a built in mouthpiece, a little like a bugle. It makes a sound that can be compared to the trumpeting of an elephant when heard alone, but when heard in a soccer stadium, when thousands of fans will be blowing their lungs out, it sounds like a swarm, a gigantic swarm, of enraged hornets attacking. For the home side it is a morale-boosting sound, for their opponents it can produce sheer terror!
The characteristic vuvuzela sound is resounding even in hitherto quiet suburbs as more and more whites get into the act and learn to blow this weird and wonderful instrument which until a short while ago was only really known to black soccer fans.
On Saturday my daughter's school was involved in some inter-school soccer matches and even there the braying of the vuvuzela was heard (I have to confess I was one of those blowing one).
A makarapa is basically a plastic hard hat such as construction workers wear, but it has been modified to include symbols of various soccer clubs, and has now made it onto the international stage via the SWC 2010.
It has traditionally been hand made by fans, but now that the SWC is here they are being sold ready-made as well.
The original idea of the makarapa was from a soccer fan Alfred “Lux” Baloyi who in 1979 wore a hard hat borrowed from a friend as protection at a soccer match between local teams Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows. He then decided the hard hat was not colourful enough and so he decided to add something to it, and so the makarapa was born.
The makarapa is now marketed as the “Baloyi makarapa”.
South Africans are very musical and rhythm is in our bones! So it was inevitable that soccer should get a dance of its own. The diski dance is the result. It is made up of five moves based on various soccer actions. These are (1) THE JUGGLE, or "Teka" in township lingo. Juggle the soccer ball from your left foot to your right foot and back again. (2) THE HEADER where you simply bounce the ball on your head. (3) THE TABLE MOUNTAIN in which you position yourself bent over with your back flat like a table. The ball needs to be kept behind your back. (4) THE TREPA in which, after holding the ball from behind your neck, flick it over your head and hold it on your foot then kick the ball twice with your right foot. (5) THE BRIDGE, or "Brija" in local speak. Pass the ball over with your right foot over your left foot and back again four times. Now end the dance with kicking the ball into the back of the net.
Come join the party
These are just some of the sights and sounds that are going to make the 2010 Fifa World Cup the most exciting and colourful one ever.
No matter who wins, who loses, the spirit, the “gees” of the world cup is infectious and will no doubt be felt in South Africa for a long time to come.
This is the first Soccer World Cup to be held on the African continent and all South Africans seem to be aiming at making it the greatest ever.
The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.
© Tony McGregor 2010
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