24 July, 2021

Hush...And Hear The Jabulani Sizzle

A soccer safari romps by, and the world watches hypnotised

Hush...And Hear The Jabulani Sizzle

My FIFA World Cup began when my 11-year-old son got hold of the nearest thing to an instrument of the devil from an indulgent friend. This metre of hard plastic, in cheap and cheerful colours, called vuvuzela, slithered home almost quietly. Quietly, because  at first go it’s difficult to blow; almost, because, sadly, the boy learnt to use it rather quickly.

In the run-up to the inaugural day, we joined South Africans in a state of barely controlled frenzy. Strangers leaned out of cars to toot vuvuzelas. Bankers, lawyers and grandmas sported football T-shirts, face paint and flourished vuvuzelas wildly. Football hogged media attention, crowding out passing distractions such as conflict, oil spills, Greek debt and gold prices. For a nation institutionally divided by race earlier, the World Cup is a unifying celebration of South Africa’s diversity to a degree that even the inveterate cynic finds overwhelming.

When June 11 arrived, the inaugural ceremony was almost drowned in the din of tens of thousands of...

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