There is a distinct meme out there on the internet, and to some extent on the streets, that the world is hating on us. That everyone is out to spoil our party, to take away our vuvuzelas and poo-poo on our parade. Every day all I read on Twitter, Facebook, and in the news, is people saying that the world is lying about us, making up stories, exaggerating the problems and playing down the positives. People seem obsessed with headlines from Sky TV and the Daily Mail, as if they represent the entire world’s opinion. That’s like me judging South Africa on the crap spewed out by You magazine and the Daily Sun. I’d be a fool if I did.
Around the country people are frothing at the mouth at anyone who is a little bit alarmed by the ten-thousand pound wall of sound produced by the vuvuzelas in our stadiums. Disliking vuvuzelas does not make you a “bloody agent” or imperialist who wants to see Africa back in the dark ages. No, it just means you have sensitive ears or you’re a bit boring. But whatever! It ain’t no thing to get worked up about.
As a nation, we have a tendency to be super defensive to the point of paranoia. At the slightest hint of criticism, our natural reaction is to form a laager and man the machine-gun posts, ready to blast anyone who so much as looks at us wrong. It seems Juju isn’t the only one with anger-management issues in our country. We could all do with one of those courses!
And what makes this even worse is the fact that we are getting angry about nothing. The world does not hate us, the English are not out to humiliate us, the Aussies don’t want to steal our World Cup, and the Europeans are not plotting our downfall. If they were, there wouldn’t be hundreds of thousands of them in South Africa. People who came here despite the fact that there is a world recession on, despite the fact that the euro is at an all-time low, despite the fact that South Africa is a 12-hour flight away and that they are leaving their summer to come to our winter. After the winter Europe had, for them to decide against a nice cheap holiday on the Med for a really expensive holiday in cold stadiums, shows they have more faith in us, than we do in ourselves. Clearly they are not reading the same news that we seem to think they are reading. Clearly they treat headlines that rags like the Daily Mail spout with the pinch of salt we should be treating them with. Yes, some players like Ronaldo have complained about the vuvuzelas, but why can’t he? If he thinks something is going to put him off his game, he’s gonna talk about it. He is not trying to screw with our national identity, he is not trying to make us look like fools, he just wants to win the World Cup, and will do everything in his power to make that happen. And we will do everything in our power (ie blowing our vuvuzelas) to make that not happen. That’s how the game goes.
We need to start acting like a nation with confidence. A nation assured of its place in the world, not a loony on the fringe, howling to be recognised.
Living in a global society is a bit like Big Brother, you need to be the housemate who can roll with the punches, rise above the pettiness while always keeping your eye on the prize. There will always be World Cup Grinches, but there is no need for us to turn into World Cup bitches. Instead of moaning, we need to get out on the street and meet the peeps who have come to see us, hang with them and enjoy our moment in the sun (or in the rain if you live in Cape Town).