We are supposed to feel lucky to be hosting this world cup, to be spending millions on stadiums that will stand empty and unloved once the cup flow is over. Few South Africans can afford tickets to the games and the swarms of tourists and the money they’ll pump into our communities, have simply not materialised.
What has happened is that our city centre has been “cleaned”. For weeks now the poor, homeless, the street hustling whores and begging street kids have been rounded up and chased out. They have been threatened with jail if they show their faces in the city while the games are on.
I am greatly relieved that I’ll be going to Kenya soon, to spend most of the World Cup in Nairobi in search of the soul of Ubabi, while watching Africa lose and asking what, what do we do, as thinking Africans to imagine ourselves out of this? I’ve been given a sexy little camera to document my pilgrimage so I decide to use it.
I find Coco and Chloe dodging the security guards in the back streets. They say that they are staying in a shelter in Woodstock. Others are in District Six, most are scared of arrest and staying away but Coco and Chloe, transgendered riffraff who have been selling their asses since they ran away from home, have come to see what’s up.
Home – another name for pain- for them was once Elsies. A ghetto flatland where employment outside of crime is rare, fathers are absent, doing jail time for the poverty which stinks up the air, and child rape, which is what stepfathers do. Chloe’s story is not unusual in its broad themes and outline but the details make my ears bleed.
Since the city went back into minority control, designed to protect white privilege and fear, there have been moves to make everything illegal, from Graffiti to street sports to bin picking, there are new bylaws in circulation to bland the city and keep the riffraff on its knees. Under the Fifa cordon policies like this find perfect expression.
They tell us we have to stay away because we are a bad influence on tourists, says Chloe. Coco, ever hard-faced and angry says: Yes, but who taught me how to drink piss?