I had never in my 28-year oxygen-consuming spree watched a soccer match, not even at my village where the only Sunday afternoon entertainment is checking out rippling farm boys in action. In times when I found myself in a room where the TV is switched on to a game of football, my vision automatically switched to interface CAN mode. That all changed on 11 June 2010, when something took control of my body, put me in an 11-car convoy that stretched the breadth of Gauteng province picking up fellow charlatans in a yellow and green haze. Driving with one hand freed the other for alternately waving the flag and blowing the vuvuzela. The destination was Centurion fan park (which ran out of alcohol).From the first whistle to the last I was tense; in those 90 odd minutes I started to understand why people suffer fatal heart attacks during games.
This thing that took over my body that day has not left. I watch games I have no vested interest in, because I am a diski konvert, a fully fledged football fan. I now drink beer, get mad at fans that don’t agree with me, know players’ marital status, criticise team formations and invent the foulest cusses to hurl at the screen. If the World Cup ran longer than 30 days, I would qualify as a hooligan. I want to go to Switzerland, lock Massimo Busacca in a small windowless room and make him eat 32 kilograms of beetroot, and as waste pours from his every orifice torment him with allegations of costing us the match against Uruguay. As I write this Brazil just scored its first goal against Côte d’Ivoire, and tears threaten to short circuit my laptop.
I refuse to listen to taxi ride and boerwors stand debates about how the man at the bottom is getting nothing out of this diski fiesta. Not because I don’t care, but because it has never been about the man at the bottom. When has anything ever been about the man at the bottom? More importantly when has anything ever benefited everybody?
People are happy, there is a festive mood in the air and it feels nice. This unity vibe we have going on, genuine or partially speckled with delusion is good for hearts and morale. I’m loving it, so should everybody. Everybody including you who in your Fanon-inspired, anti-everything-that-makes-the- world- tick philosophies curse the big M, but are in the drive through every Friday 3 o’ clock in the morning. You know you also drink Coca Cola, so open your happiness.
What will happen when FIFA is done with us, rolls over puts its pants on and trots back to the drawing board for 2014? We will go back to our mundane existences; Malema and Vavi’s tantrums will once more be daily headlines. As the spirit wanes, and the flags, petrol tank and side mirror gloves come off somewhere deep in our hearts we will forever acknowledge that it was nice to have felt good for a little while than to have never felt good at all.