South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper has an interesting article on the Dutch participation in the upcoming World Cup.
Some of it is nonsense about the vuvuzela ban as a symbol for centuries of colonial suppression (or something like that) and the local Dutch version called the Hoornietsmeer (‘I hear nothing any more’).
But there are some wise words from Bert Koenders, our minister for development cooperation, who does not believe in the “automatic trickle-down effect of the World Cup, or that there is no monopoly by Fifa-linked companies”. He’s rightly worried that there will not be a lasting effect for ordinary people, and doubts their will be much lasting employment coming out of this.
The article also reveals that to “ensure the safety and enjoyment of the World Cup for Dutch VIPs” the Dutch bobos, sponsors, WAGS and invitees will get half of all accorded tickets and will undergo the “true African experience” by removing themselves as far as possible from the real African world, but locking themselves away in a luxury resort at a game reserve every minute that there is no football.
Tellingly, the last paragraphs reveal the average European fan’s view of South Africa:
Many of the Oranje-clad supporters […] expressed their sadness at not attending the 2010 World Cup. Their main reasons: crime and the cost of long-distance travel to South Africa. In a country where no one has burglar bars on his or her windows and where many leave their doors unlocked, the stories of South Africa’s violent crime in the Dutch media have made the country a very scary place. “I’ll get murdered there,” one Oranje-overalled giant with teddy bears on his shoulder observed before spluttering incoherently into a vuvuzela.
Although the image of a trouble-free country with unlocked doors seem a bit unrealistic to me, the prevalent image of South Africa may have been captured correctly. But if the horror stories printed in the European press (like this rather funny Daily Mail article which tells of a woman called Smurfit [sic] who was victim of a shock horror fantasy ‘kill a tourist’ gang initiation rite) keeps the more gullible and less careful fans away that may be a good thing, for both their and South Africa’s sake.
Update: The reactions to the UK-uncovered plot to kill tourists is starting to make waves in South Africa. And a local site has discovered a shocking new threat: ‘Eat a Tourist Day‘ after a poor Congolese guy was (really) eaten by a shark in Cape Town.
Re-update: later reports confirm the poor chap was a Zimbabwean living in Mozambique.