South Africans…

Are funny creatures. We tend to rally around the oddest of things. Elections, rugby, our barbecue technique and, after today, our football.

After watching the opening game and ceremony, in which we drew against Mexico 1-1 (a good score, considering how crap our team is!), I have yet to encounter the same amount of collective pride in a national team as I did tonight. When we won the rugby world cup in ’95, it was largely fat white dudes parading around celebrating, or at least to my memory. When we won it again in 2007 I was in Japan, but I believe the same kind of spirit was in existence for a brief period. After seeing this game, and the excitement in Johannesburg during the week leading up to it… wow, we are a strange nation!

The sheer passion witnessed amongst all kinds of South Africans during this game, the cheering of the simplest tackle or pass, it all makes for an incredibly inspiring show. When our goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune makes an easy save, or simply collects the ball, the entire crowd erupts in a cacophony of vuvuzela trumpeting and screams. I take part, because I feel the same invested passion in the importance of this game.

The opening ceremony was also quite appropriate. Austere, yet symbolic. Graceful, yet inherently primal in the kind of way only Africans understand. It wasn’t the excessive, bombastic display of sheer excess formalised into giant formations of drummers and soldiers like the Chinese olympics, but I would have been disappointed if it was. This is Africa (TIA) after all, and to spend billions on an hour long ceremony would have shown the world only our incredibly irresponsible side. Instead, the ceremony as it was (and to an extent, the game), showed that. yes. this is africa, and we don’t have much in the way of excess, but what we do have is a unique sense of self which Westerners can only contrast with depressingly bleak existentialist representations of society. Tonight was a celebration. I was initially depressed at the thought that this much energy and money was being focused into such a small project compared to South Africa’s more obvious problems, but the resignation that this kind of focus of energy would never have emerged without a soccer world cup prevails.

Johannesburg is the focal point for all this. I didn’t realise it until my brother noted that the myriad flags adorning the cars were not at all normal in his town. I’m sure they are now, but Johannesburg has traditionally been the heart and soul of South Africa. It’s not as pretty in the superficial way that Cape Town is, nor is it as obviously fun as the beach city of Durban is, but everyone comes to Joburg, no matter what! Here in Johannesburg, being South African is at least for this moment in time a fantastic thing to be. It’s patriotism and nationalism rolled up into one big bag. Sport is a matter of waging politics by other means, and it’s awesome for now! At least, that’s how we feel for the tournament.

So, much like the fantastic rugby world cup victory three years ago, I shall enjoy this month. Not because it represents a paradigmatic shift in South Africa’s conscience, because it doesn’t. But I shall enjoy it because it represents yet again what we can be. The ideal manifestation of South Africa society is forced through during this tournament. And it’s nice to be reminded of the superego, the heavenly aspect of ourselves, which we can be, which can strive for. Maybe one day our children or grandchildren will experience this kind of unity and enthusiasm on a daily basis. For us, however, it’s simply a taste of what this fantastic country can be.

Song of the day: – K’naan and Bisbal – Wave your flag (should have been the official theme anthem!)

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On Being Unique and Speshul

My brother pointed out several times over the past year and a bit that a good portion of facebook updates and photos are geared towards sheer self-indulgent “look at me!” moments. Put simply, everybody wants everyone to acknowledge how special and unique they are… by doing the exact same things as everybody else.

The prime example of this is the self-portrait “yay we went to the restaurant and were all scene-y” photos uploaded ad infinitum. The easiest tell of this amateur attention whore is the arm extended above in the photos, as if they’re beckoning some sort of bird of prey to swoop down and peck our their eyeballs. If you do this and upload a gazillion photos every Monday after your trips out, I’m judging you -.- Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing too horrid about being sociable. Just because I’m a recluse living in a high-tech cave occassionally scratching my belly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t got out. I just don’t want to see 1000 photos of you in the exact same pose, arm extended with pouty lips which became fashionable god-knows-when. The pouty lips is transgender, by the way, lest I be accused of chauvinism.

Then there are the trendy-but-obscure status updates; the kind of things which make the perpetrator, on the face of it, seem ‘edgy’ and hip and shit. “Harold Bobbit is turning awesome into fashion!” or “sadness is the new happiness”, and so on. They’re non-sensical, but so left-field as to be positively trendy. GOD YOU ARE SO FUCKING SPECIAL! Like a blossom, in a field of blooms.

Outside of this, I continually find it remarkable how people in their interactions with one another will continously try to explain to great detail some extraordinary characteristic of theirs, or how X trip or Y party was so off the chain because “I just like being crazy, tee hee hee”, in an attempt, subconscious or otherwise, to make the listener(s) think they are truly special and zany and crazy and worthy of exception. I find this remarkable because, for fuck’s sake, we are not special. I’ve written on this before on this site, but damnit it needs to be repeated. Nobody is a fucking snowflake. We’re all copying something or somethings no matter how unconventional you might think you are being.

Unless you’re the next Churchill, Freddy Mercury or Nelson Bloody Mandela, you are not going to make a huge impact on the world, and you are certainly not going to impress anyone by doing the same “special” things your friends do every other night (if Facebook is any indication). Come to think of it, those aforementioned “special” people were arguably so because of a sequence of circumstances in their favour more than some sort of divine grace. Churchill was a raving alcoholic who was a horrid peace-time statesmen, but just happened to have the right mojo, or rather the anti-Chamberlainness, to lead Britain during the war. If Queen had continued until irrelevance, much like Nirvana, would we really have idolised him so much? If Mandela hadn’t spent decades in jail and escaped imprisonment, would he be the icon he is today? I’m sceptical.

This leads me to the other kind of “I’m a speshul unique blossom”, is in one’s personal ‘experiences’. I seem have been getting into arguments left right and centre the past couple of months, and I’m not sure if that was always the case and I’m just more aware of it now, or whether I’m just being particularly curmudgeonly recently. Nonetheless, often I encounter people telling me of their own experiences much like a Pokemon trainer would unleash Pikachu and claim to have the ‘trump card’ simply because I don’t have the same experiences/pokemon. What utter bullshit. Nobody has truly unique experiences anymore. At least, nobody who doesn’t drop shitloads of acid, so playing up anectdotal experience as some sort of magical trump card that beats any kinda of intellectual, philosophical, legal or other understanding of an issue or event isn’t any more valid than the other. Put simply, very few people are truly smarter, nicer, kinder or less annoying than everybody else, so stop pretending like you are!

Finally, it’s always interesting to note gossip about people or a person who is ‘nasty’ or an ‘asshole’ or less wonderful than all the other unique and beautiful flowers in this world. I say ‘interesting’, because it’s fast becoming clear to me that, although we all generally think that we as individuals are never as annoying as Harold Bobbit, and we never can fathom how they aren’t aware of their annoying-ness, we never realise that maybe, juuuust maybe, we’re as annoying at the next meatbag down the line. Very few people are genuinely nice all of the time, and most of those turn out to be pedophiles anyway, so ragging on one particular person or persons for being a douche is really kinda ironic.

Of course, not that this would ever stop me from being nasty to someone else. That’s far too much self-medication. Likewise, this is all just based on me. And I’m one-of-a-kind. So There!

Song of the day: The Deftones – 976 Evil

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Crawling Out of the Pigeonhole

… is mostly what I’ve been up to in these many days hence! This is mostly because I tend to really dig listening to metal, yet this taste makes for unhealthy social conversation outside of the sub-culture. Aside from name-dropping ‘normal’ musicians and generally trying not to dress like Satan I have found the easiest way to show that I’m not completely mono-musical is to simply shove my ipod into doubters’ hands and make them browse through the library. (Album)pictures really do speak louder than words! Given how folks seem to take music so personally, yet become irked when you don’t appreciate their tastes unconditionally, it’s important that I fit in, lest I lose all my friends. Well, except the ones who also enjoy the soothing ballads of Bodom, In Flames and suchlike…

… yet at the same time I’m also trying to crawl back into some old habits. Snowboarding, for one, is something that I’m hoping to resume at the end of the year, if I’m able to get all my ducks in line. The financial duck is currently uncertain, and so too is the flight price duck, but the friends duck is definitely in line and eager to help out, which is nice! Along with this, I’m once again back in the debating pigeonhole with the ‘Jozispeak’ competition coming up in July, with ‘Jozispeak’ being the hipster version of National Championships. I make no pretence of my chances at winning the thing, but the event as a whole promises to be pretty damned ninja.

Academics-wise I’ve discovered that I don’t in fact have a holiday, unlike those damned honours postgrads. Bastards. No, instead I finish assignments in order to clear the month of June to complete my proposal for the school at large. While pirates are indeed fucking rad and I’ll be damned if I hear a convincing argument to the contrary, the humanities department at Wits can often have an unnatural leaning towards papers that have words like “discourse”, “narrative”, “identity” and other woolly inanities which the study of war neither encourage nor tolerate. I intend to tread carefully; saving the wrathful and fiery inspection of Abdi McSomali and his merry band for my paper proper.

Aside from all of these things, I have recently begun a quest to find these fabled peanut butter M&M’s which have recently emerged in SA. Americans would likely scoff at this, given how retardedly superior their ‘candy’ is to our apartheid-like selection. But for us, or rather me, peanut butter M&M’s sound delicious. Japan had a million different KitKat flavours and Wasabi-flavoured Doritos and America may have… well… everything… but in SA these M&M’s herald the coming of modern candy to SA. Or perhaps it’s because, like starved and abused children locked in Joseph Fritzl’s basement, South Africans perceive any new chocolate-like goodie to be awesome until proven otherwise. That being said, I am glad that Chomps are back, albeit in tiny pocket-sized portions.

Music at the moment: Children of Bodom – Lake Bodom

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