The short rain shower had ended and a rainbow highlighted the back drop of the stunning Amatola Mountains. I was riding in the cab of a truck on an orange grove near Ft. Beaufort, a small market town in the Bantustan homeland of Ciskei, one of a dozen or so 'independent' nations created by the white South African apartheid government.
I was with a white Boer part time farmer, whose family owned the orange farm, but his main job was a regional director of the black South African Education Department, one of four such bodies for white, black, indian and mixed races that were about to be moulded into one. We had just come from a 'Braai', an African barbecue with some area teachers, and we were on our way to a little town called Alice, and one of the most important universities in the world. Ft. Beaufort was the centre of 'Settler Country' with its ancient Martello Tower and an area where the Xhosa tribesmen and the British settlers had fought 9 small wars in the early 19th Century. Nongqause, a 14 year old prophetess had told the tribes to burn all their crops and slaughter all their livestock and the white man would be defeated. Of course, it only brought disaster.
We reached nearby Alice and crossed the Tyume River and drove through and under the giant wrought iron gates of Ft. Hare University, where many of Africa's leaders had been educated in apartheid South Africa. It boasted Nobel Peace Prize winners Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela as former students along with current or former African Presidents such as Seretse Khama of Botswana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Many students were jailed, including Mandela, who finished his degree and graduated at Wits University in Johannesburg. I had also visited the Healdstown Wesleyan mission school where he went to school, which is really run down.
" Be careful what you say in there" warned my friend and guide. "The guy we are going to meet hates the whites, and has been imprisoned by them" We went to meet Reverend Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile,a leading member of the African National Congress, and Vice-President of Public Relations for the University. We met and swapped pleasantries and then toured the campus together. I was shown the library and the 2nd floor balcony outside the Students Union where a young Nelson Mandella, the student council president, used to address the crowd. We went to look at the sports fields, and standing next to a rugby goalpost Rev. Stofile said that they were looking for funds and heavy equipment to mow the grass. I told him that since I was a capitalist I would loan the equipment to him for a profit. There was a pregnant pause and my friend looked as if he wanted the earth to swallow him, and then the Vice-President laughed at my English humour. For a time, Stofile and other ANC colleagues shared 'a vacation home', imprisoned on Robben Island, with Mandela. Today he is in the South African cabinet and is Minister for Sport, and also has degrees from Princeton, Tubingen and Port Elizabeth. Another superb higher education place of interestthat I visited not far away is Rhodes University in Grahamstown, a centre of the arts, on the road to Port Elizabeth.
The next day I was taken to the Ruritanian style small capital of Ciskei, called Bisho,('Buffalo in Xhosa'), which nowadays is the capital of Eastern Cape Province after all the homelands were incorporated into a multi racial country. I went to the main road outside the sport stadium, where the Ciskei security forces had fired on a peaceful march and many were killed back in 1992. No foreign countries except for South Africa ever recognised the 'Homelands'. They had opened a small 'International Airport' in Bisho, brought a passenger jet by road from East London on the coast 80 miles away and reassembled it. Unfortunately, when filled with fuel and passengers, it was too heavy to take off from the short runway, and was left to rust. Now I think the airport has been developed as it is now the provisional capital.
In 2010 South Africa will be the first African nation to host the FIFA WORLD CUP,after successfully hosting the Rugby World Cup and the Cricket World Cup. Already the anti-South African lobby is saying that it will be a disaster and should be moved to Australia or even the United States. There are supposed to be 10 stadiums used for the 32 teams, but after protests that most of the money would be used to update existing rugby stadiums used by white players and fans, it was agreed to build 5 entirely new stadiums. Costs and projections have escalated from $200 million to $850 million, and work has yet to start on any of the new stadiums. There is supposed to be a new high speed GAUTRAIN to link Johannesburg, its airport and Pretoria, but most of South Africa's transport infrastructure are a shambles. The local trains were and are wretched, designed to bring black workers into Johannesburg at dawn and take them home to Soweto and other black townships before dusk. Crime was rampant on the buses and most were burned or withdrawn, and thousands of VW style private taxis are used. " As soon as you reach Jeppe Street (downtown),someone has their hands in your pockets", said a local. I travelled on them and white friends thought I was crazy, but unlike normal taxis, they were cheap.
I stayed in the suburbs of Johannesburg because downtown was and is very dangerous. Suburbs such as Sandton have lots of hotels, indoor shopping malls and restaurants. I visited white friends homes, all surrounded by high fences and solid gates with "Immediate Armed Response" stickers and signs. Today over 50 people are murdered daily, for their cell phone, car keys or handbags. The Sport Minister Jeff Radebe stated this month that his government had a plan. It included removing 600,000 dangerous and unlicensed vehicles from the roads, making trains the backbone of the new transport sytem, and having 'car free' days. He admitted that they needed 60 new passenger trains, 2,400 new buses and 6,000 taxi buses. Also 1,500 luxury buses for visitors, and only had 400 of these tourist buses at present. FIFA was requesting 65,000 hotel rooms for delegations and officials, but where was all the money to come from? The nation's airport are quite good, with new low price airlines keeping fares down. The biggest airport, Johannesburg International, is to be renamed after Oliver Tambo, a former ANC leader and law partner of Mandela. In Durban there will be a new airport, King Shaka International.
For many years South Africa had been a sporting pariah, and I.O.C.-the International Olympic Committee had kicked them out in 1972, but rugby teams from New Zealand,without Maoris, and cricket teams from England minus colored players had persisted and some 'rebel' cricket tours of well paid whites. In 1962 South African had gone to the FIFA Congress prior to the World Cup in Chile, but their 'token' black delegate had been denied a South African passport. Their delegation had proposed that they enter an all black team for the 1966 World Cup, an all white one in 1970 etc. That didn't convince anybody. Unlike some other sports whose votes were 'weighted' in favour of the older European countries, FIFA had one country, one vote, be it England or Uganda. Soccer, cricket, rugby and other sports had four different governing bodies but the black, coloured and indian groups had to go to the local municipalities to use their playing fields, which were usually denied to them, with police often removing goalposts.
The 2010 stadiums include: JOHANNESBURG - ELLIS PARK, a 60,000 capacity rugby stadium, also used by Kaizer Chiefs and Moroko Swallows, to be renovated. FNB( First National Bank) SOCCER CITY, ,105,000. now being renovated and also HQ of SAFA and S.A W.C Committee. PRETORIA: LOFTUS VERSFELD, 50,000, a rugby stadium with its own train station-to be renovated. DURBAN:- KING SENZANGAKHONAKING STADIUM, 60,000, in KwaZulu Natal,totally rebuild on existing site close to the Indian Ocean,and looking like the New Wembley. BLOEMFONTEIN: FREE STATE STADIUM,40,000,upgrade. PORT ELIZABETH:Eastern Province,NELSON MANDELA BAY STADIUM, 40,000, new. POLOKWANE (Pietersburg): PETER OKABE STADIUM 40,000, new. Province of Limpopo. RUSTENBERG: ROYAL BAFEKONG SPORT PARK, 40,000, NW Province,minor upgrade., NELSPRUIT: - MBOMBELA STADIUM, 40,000-new. CAPE TOWN: - GREEN POINT STADIUM, new.60,000. retractable roof - plans look like Allianz Arena- near the waterfront. Next to SOCCER CITY, the new FIFA Headquarters for 2010 has been built - SAFA HOUSE, with a suite of 100 offices, to be used as the HQ for SAFA, the PSL, and SAFA ACADAMY afterwards. This week at Sun City, an expensive Las Vegas style Resort, there will be a World Cup LEKOTIA, ( a get together) attended by FIFA General Secretary URS LINSI. Danny Jordaan, the Executive Director of the organizers, is adament that Africans ' Can do things right'. He has told FIFA that in June and July 2010 it will be cold, and they may want to change dates. He claims that " No tax money is being used for stadium construction", only money from FIFA and other outside sources. It is his plan to have finalists arrange pre -tournament camps in neighbouring countries with a similar culture and language, such as Portugal and Brazil in Angola or Mozambique, Germany in Namibia, etc.
Brazilian Carlos Alberto Pareira will take up his new position as South African National team coach of Bafana, Bafana (The Boys, in Zulu) in January 2007, the 12th national coach in 10 years, and try and ignite a national team that has slipped down the FIFA rankings to 65th pace, below Burkina Faso and Oman,and failed to qualify for Germany 2006. One former national coach, Ephraim Mashaba,and there have been many, likened the teams playing style to 'PIANO AND SHOESHINE'. After apartheid ended ,their first match was against Mexico in Los Angeles in 1993 and by 1996 they had hosted and won the African Nations Cup, the first time that they were allowed to take part, and in 1998 and 2002 played in two World Cups.
A number of years ago I was visiting Soccer City to report on the South African Women's, followed by the Men's cup final. The almost exclusively black crowds wouldn't countenance the police in stadiums, such was their hatred for them, so private guards with long, swishey canes were employed to keep fans off the field. Outside are small stalls selling souvenirs and food for the fans.' Idombolo' dumplings, soup. braai chicken and beef, potatos, carrots, peas and beets, were on sale for about $1.50 a plate. All stall holders pay a small fee and have to get a health certificate and attend a short hygiene course. I had met the then Secretary of the SAFA, Stix Morewa, earlier in my stay, a colourful, to say the least guy, in his Soccer City office. Evidently he had got his nickname by being useful in the past with the cane. Later he and his cronies had 'sold' the rights to South Africa's international matches to an Irish company and shared the spoils. When the plot was uncovered there were trials, jail terms and fines. In 1992, a popular P.R. chief of the NSL, National Soccer League, Abdul Bhamjee, was discovered to have embezzled about $4 million in T.V. rights money,and jailed. The money was never recovered and was thought to have been shipped to Botswana. He is the elder brother of the FIFA Executive Ishmael Bhamjee from Botswana who was sent home in disgrace for selling his World Cup tickets in Germany for a profit.
The NSL is now called THE CASTLE PREMIERSHIP, with 16 clubs(recently reduced from 18) and has big sponsorships these days, and some colourful teams. Ajax Cape Town is an amalgum of former clubs, now run by Ajax Amsterdam. You have Jomo Cosmos, Kaizer Chiefs, who have great support home and away, Black Leopards, Amazulu., Mamelodi Sundowns, the current champions, etc. Jomo Sono had played in the NASL for Colorado Cariboou, and New York Cosmos. He returned home, bought Highlands Park and changed the name to Jomo Cosmos. Kaizer Motaung played for the Atlanta Chiefs, coached by Phil Woosnam, and returned to form Kaizer Chiefs. He is a very rich man and on many corporate boards. Trevor Phillips, a former English premiership sponsorship go -getter, has been executive director of the Castle Premiership for a number of years and brought in large sponsorships and televison deals.
I met another go-getter, Fran Hilton-Smith, a well educated former teacher who coached and organized the women's national squad, ran coaching clinics and the women's league. She is now a FIFA technical observer, going to all the FIFA women's World Cups, U 21 World Cups and African tournaments run by CAF (Confederation of African Football). She also works at SAFA HQ in Soccer City as Director of Women's Soccer. They will need hundreds like here to help get the job done in 2010. If you ever read any features or news about soccer in South Africa, or anywhere on the continent, there is a good chance that it was written by Mark Gleeson. I had phoned him up and asked to meet him and how would I recognise him at the stadium ?-NO PROBLEM. He is white, 6' 8" tall, and as thin as a beanpole. He lives in Cape Town and reports for as many as 7 agencies, newspapers and broadcasters at once. He is at all international matches and tournaments from Morocco to Mauritius, Egypt to Namibia, Cape Verde to Kenya.
The new Rainbow Nation has 11 official languages: AFRIKAANS, ENGLISH, NDEBELE, XHOSA, ZULU, NORTHERN SOTHO, SESOTHO, SETSWANA, SiSWATI, TSCHIVENDA, XITSONGA. Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans are the most widely spoken, with English in 5th place. HOWEVER, there is one song they all sing together - NKOSI SIKELEL iAFRIKA, the new national anthem, sung in triumph after the Africans Nations Cup Final 2-0 victory over Tunisia at Soccer City in 1996 and after the Rugby World Final at cross town Ellis Park in 1995 as The Springboks beat the All Blacks of New Zealand.
magazines of interest. NEW AFRICAN SOCCER www.newafricansoccer.co.uk : AFRICAN SOCCER MAGAZINE www.africansoccermagazine.com KICK-OFF MAGAZINE www.kickoff.com FOOTBALL AFRIQUE. glorious colour, published in Paris www.afrik.com (I can't find their own web site) WORLD SOCCER www.worldsoccer.com has monthly news about the continent. www.safa.net