The nation's capital Pretoria, now called TSHWANE is in a festive mood. From my involuntary vuvezela wake-up call around 6.30am outside my window, it was all vuvuzela in and around the city. Many businesses were closed all day or closed by noon and colourfully dressed South Africans were blowing their horns and streets were full of parties.
In the centre at Church Square where fans were gathered they had a troupe of African dancers performing. Church Street is one of the longest urban streets in the world, and mostly traffic free, and there are more embassies in the city that anywhere but Washington D.C. Tshwane was a local chief. His father Chief Mushi had moved up from Zululand before the arrival of the Voortrekkers, the Afrikaners who trecked from Cape Province in the 1830's.
All along the street people were dressed in the nations colours and formed conga lines and groups a hundred strong or more marching up and down and to Sammy Marks Square with hundreds of impromptue stalls selling all the fan parafanalia required. Cars, buses, trucks were blowing their horns as they wizzed past each other. TODAY IS THE START OF SOMETHING SPECIAL.
I just moved into the old and charming Victoria Hotel, and a three room suite for less than the cost of a Formula 1 chain cheapie. Brilliant lunch for R25 and a splendid bar. Beers, wines, ciders for R10. It was opened in 1880 and built by Jacob Joffe to coincide with the arrival of the railway, and is the oldest in town. It is across from the brilliant refurbished train station, where local Metro trains go around the city and even to the station at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. long distance trains including the luxurious Blue Train to Cape Town, and the even more luxurious Rovos Rail the world's most luxurious train. More about that later.
Also outside in the new square are 15 seat Toyota taxis which take you anywhere in town for R9, (under 1 pound sterling), and to the airport and to Johannesburg and elswehere for about R130. Next door is the busy bus terminal with about 8 competing luxury bus services to Durban, Cape Town. Polokwane, Bloemfontein, Nelspruit, even to Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, Uganda, Victoria Falls and Harare, Zimbabwe and anywhere.
Ignoring most of the opening ceremony I watch the opener, South Africa v Mexico, and it's sad that 'MADIBA ' Nelson Mandela misses it. Sadly his 13 year old great, great grandaughter Zenani Mandela was killed the day before on the way back home from the FIFA Kick-Off concert at Orlando Stadium. She is the niece of another Mandela, Kefuoe Seakamela, 7 who drowned in a school swimming pool in 2008.
SIPHIWE TSHABALALA scores the first goal of the cup and is a brilliant one as the Rainbow Nation, supported by a crowd of 94,000 at Soccer City, apart from many Mexicans supporting EL TRI. The pass from Katlego Mphela swepped it wide to the left and he beat goalie Oscar Perez with a cracker off the post. Unfortunately only one point gained as the 15th ranked team in the world scored and equalisez from Rafa Marquez.
Out on the streets the fans poured to chant sing and blow. Vuvuzelas were taking their toll, and plenty of lip balm needed for bruised lips. 20,000 were at the fan zone at Centurian, where some people were trying to charge people at the free location. at Pretoria High Court, Deputy Judge President Willem van der Merwe wore his yellow and green Bafana Bafana team shirt on the Bench to show his support for the team and the nation. He suggested that other judges follow in his footsteps.
For the second match at Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town I chose HATFIELD SQUARE. Near University of Pretoria and next to Hatfield Mall it was full as the drinking continued . Dozens of bars and outside streets full of restaurants, night clubs and cafes. I listened to a brilliant band on stage and then a giant screen showing of France v Uruguay. I joined in the group dancing with South Africans, Argentinians, Germans, Brits, Ghanains and lots of Algerians.
For the third time of meeting these teams tied 0-0. L'EQUIPE in Paris called, Les Bleus of Raymond Domenech team's performance STERILE and IMPOTENT. I personally thought I was a great match, full of skill from both sides.
WAG OF THE DAY from Four Four Two Magazine on line: Bianca Kejlick, Seattle born actress and former wife of Landon Donovan. Oh! she is looking for John Terry's cell number. Can anyone oblige?