World Cup

To the Youth of today: Let us not kill the spirit of World Cup unity

Posted on June 25, 2010. Filed under: World Cup, Youth |

PSHASHA SEAKAMELA

Last week we celebrated June 16 – Youth Day.  It seems we may need to repeat an important message – in the spirit and commemoration of the brave youth of 1976, the youth of today need to become the driving forces of reconciliation and transformation in South Africa. Only now, youth face the continuing struggle of achieving a better life for all. At the same time, South African’s older generation should not abdicate their responsibility to be a part of these ongoing efforts for change.

Prospects for unity brought about by the World Cup soccer tournament are in the minds and hearts of many South Africans at the moment. It is also important to remember that Youth Day has always been a commemoration of the activism of young people of all races. Writing in the Cape Times on June 15, education specialist Graeme Bloch recalls the protest marches of 1976 led by University of Cape Town students: “…So too UCT students marched blindly off campus when they headed towards the Cape Flats. Over 120 white UCT students were detained. The court roll shows most were 17, 18, 19 years old, while the oldest about 23.”

However, having attended numerous June 16 events myself, in the days that follow I often wonder about the noticeable apathy towards this day, particularly among white youth. It should not be regarded as a racist code for questioning why other racial groups are not participating together with the others. This day should be for all young people of South Africa, irrespective of their racial background and we should all actively participate and contribute constructively to the national debates and dialogue, on this day and beyond.

Young people of all races today should also follow in the footsteps made by the youth of the 1970’s by ensuring that they play a critical role in the development of the country. In the 80’s, movements such as South African Youth Congress (SAYCO), initiated by Congress of South African Students (COSAS), focused on organizing the non-student and unemployed youth, with the goal of unifying and politicizing progressive young people irrespective of race. It adopted the Freedom Charter, pledged to work closely with COSATU, and was affiliated to the United Democratic Front (UDF).

The Cape Youth Congress (CAYCO) also brought together a number of youth community groups with the aim of mobilising the youth sector under the banner of the UDF. These movements persisted despite the challenges and threats to activism under apartheid, and remained unified irrespective of race.

Currently, unified movements of this kind seem imperceptible in democratic South Africa. Today’s youth are in disarray, and not sufficiently conscious of their commonality in race. The youth of today should not forget they are free because in the past, young people made great sacrifices for future generations – this freedom has, in turn, brought about many opportunities.

At the moment the World Cup has ignited a spirit of unity among all South Africans. Let us use this opportunity as young people and citizens of this country and unite for a better future for all. Let’s commit ourselves to pursuing a society based on a life lived in harmony with oneself, others and the world around us, and acknowledging and encouraging the active participation and contribution of the youth in general.

South African youth have never been silent, and have always been active in the life of this nation. Let us trust that youth activism will not end, but will evolve to address the current challenges of transformation and nation-building. It will be our failure if we do not demand explanations from our leaders because we, as young citizens, are discontented with the state of our education and healthcare systems, service delivery, and levels of employment and job creation. It is our role to push government to renew and strengthen interventions to address these problems. This all depends on how unified we, the youth, of today become to challenge for transformation.

Reflecting on Youth Day during the World Cup, it is clear that South African is united around our national soccer team and the hosting of this event overall – collectively, we have great strength as a country.  Even in Uruguay’s defeat of Bafana Bafana on Youth Day, the gloomy mood that descended on the entire nation the following day showed our spirit of oneness even in defeat.

Questions can inevitably be asked about this phenomenon: is this sudden love for soccer just a matter of sweeping our differences under the carpet for foreign visitors? How far will our patriotic displays, as shown by all race groups during this tournament, go beyond the World Cup? Can we prolong this spirit and wave the flags of reconciliation and transformation, even after the end of the tournament?

Unless we commit to this collectively, we will miss an important opportunity to really make inroads into solving the challenges South Africa is confronted with today, together. There should be a demonstration that after 16 years of democracy, we did not only win the war against apartheid as a nation, but we can continue to work together for peace and reconciliation. Let’s use the inertia of the spirit of the World Cup to forge a unity of purpose to participate with one voice as the youth of South Africa.  We have found a start, let us continue with it.

This article appeared in the Cape Times on 25 June.

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Shasha Seakamela on Youth Day and the World Cup

Posted on June 17, 2010. Filed under: Reconciliation, World Cup |

Ah, wena, julle, this year June 16 brought a crushing defeat for Bafana Bafana at the soccer World Cup! Nonetheless, it is important that this very important day is South African history not pass by without reflection and commemoration. This is what the IJR’s SHASHA SEAKAMELA had to say…

To the Youth of today: Let us not kill the spirit of World Cup unity

Yesterday we celebrated June 16 – Youth Day.  It seems we may need to repeat an important message – in the spirit and commemoration of the brave youth of 1976, the youth of today need to become the driving forces of reconciliation and transformation in South Africa. Only now, youth face the continuing struggle of achieving a better life for all.

Young people of all races today can follow in the footsteps made by the youth of the 1970s by ensuring that they play a critical role in the development of the country. The youth of today are free because in the past, young people made great sacrifices for future generations –  this freedom has, in turn, brought about many opportunities.

Prospects for unity brought about by the World Cup soccer tournament are in the minds and hearts of many South Africans at the moment. It is also important to remember that Youth Day has always been a commemoration of the activism of young people of all races. Writing in the Cape Times on Tuesday, education specialist Graeme Bloch recalls the protest marches of 1976 led by University of Cape Town students:

“…So too UCT students marched blindly off campus when they headed towards the Cape Flats. Over 120 white UCT students were detained. The court roll shows most were 17, 18, 19 years old, while the oldest about 23.”

However, having attended numerous June 16 events myself, I often wonder about the noticeable apathy towards this day, particularly among white youth. This day is for all young people of South Africa, irrespective their racial background, and we should all actively participate and contribute constructively to the national debates and dialogue, on this day and beyond.

The World Cup has stimulated a spirit of unity among all South Africans. Let us use this opportunity as young people and citizens of this country and unite for a better future for all. South African youth have never been silent, and have always been active participants in the life of this nation. Let us trust that youth activism will not end, but will evolve to address the current challenges of transformation and nation-building. We have found a start, let us continue with it.

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Kevin Bloom on Integration in SA

Posted on June 15, 2010. Filed under: Race Relations, World Cup |

Kate Lefko-Everett

This morning I came across a new article by Kevin Bloom in Global Brief magazine – self described as,

“…Canada’s confident, 21st century answer to The Economist, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Le Monde Diplomatique and a host of other world-class international affairs media platforms. Global Brief is at once a top-tier print magazine and a highly subscribed, hyper-multilingual website…It has no moral mandate. It is not Anglospheric. It is not sensationalist. Nor is it fatalistic. Rather, it seeks to analyze and explain the world in all its bald complexities…”

Anyway, I digress, but I enjoyed that description…

Bloom is a writer and journalist who released his first book, Ways of Staying, in 2009. According to Book Southern AfricaWays of Staying explores the day-to-day realities of living with violence in South Africa, provoked by the killing of the author’s cousin, Richard Bloom, and actor Brett Goldin in Cape Town in 2006.

In his Global Brief article, Integration in South Africa – How’s it Going?,  Bloom suggests that while issues of racial integration remain important for the country, the “will to continue the conversation [about race] has flagged.” Notably, Bloom cites the findings of an IJR submission to the National Conference on Racism held in 2000:

“For its time, the report offered a number of revealing observations; some were reasons for optimism, some less so. It noted, for example, that 58 percent of South Africans, including a majority of white respondents, opposed segregating their communities and schools. It noted that, while a large majority of black South Africans supported affirmative action, a large majority of whites opposed the policy. It noted, too, that there was no evidence that racial animosity was on the rise in the country.”

He suggests that while these conclusions now “seem almost quaint: they point to a moment when, in democratic terms, South Africa was still a small child”, events this year including Julius Malema’s singing of dubul’ibhunu and the killing of Eugene Terre’blanche present challenges for a country “that was apparently moving towards racial harmony”.

In the context of the World Cup, Bloom concludes that while the event may be of  “no benefit to the legions of poor who live on the bread line in South Africa”,  South Africans are nonetheless “quietly hoping that the tournament will increase their ‘happiness index.’”

Read the full article here. Stories, anecdotes, pictures related to the impact of the World Cup so far? Leave a comment below!

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World Cup has arrived

Posted on June 9, 2010. Filed under: World Cup |

Kate Lefko-Everett

Ready or not, the soccer World Cup is here, and I can hear the vuvuzelas outside my window this morning!

I think its fair to say that many in South Africa have mixed feelings about the event – the costs of hosting are high, as are expectations of the economic and social boons the World Cup promises, yet even knowing this our excitement is difficult to contain.

I thought this week’s Mail & Guardian editorial (excerpted) captured these sentiments quite well:

“There have been some terrible things perpetrated in the name of football.

Children in Nelspruit were evicted from their schools – currently being used as Fifa’s offices in the city – and teaching was only properly re-accommodated three years later.

The urban poor have been criminalized and removed from cities like Durban and Cape Town: either dumped at the city limits to fend for themselves or in inhumane transit camps like Blikkiesdorp…

National sovereignty and our Constitution appear to have been ignored as municipal bylaws and countrywide legislation have been passed to abet Fifa’s profit objectives. This despite criticism that they are infringements of the freedom of movement and speech, among other rights…

South Africans have had a lot to put up with – including seeing money splurged on mega-stadiums, the viability of which is questionable. Despite all that, on some level, the ordinary punters have won. There are indications that 2010 may be the most attended World Cup in history, with Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke projecting tournament ticket sales of more than 97%.

This is because South Africans have responded to the World Cup with staggering enthusiasm. We’ve demonstrated that we love football and are ready to fall in love with the World Cup and all those who visit us. More to the point, we are in love with the idea of ourselves as a happy, successful country, united in diversity.

So we are angry at the government’s supine posture before Fifa, but we’re brimful of enthusiasm at the way South Africans have claimed back the Cup and we’re hanging onto that joy for all it’s worth.”

Full text of the editorial is available in the M&G’s print edition this week. Of course, the media has featured extensive analysis of the World Cup over the last few months, but I thought I would share a few interesting sources…

Collette Schulz Herzenberg of the Institute for Security Studies recently edited an interesting monograph entitled Player and Referee: Conflicting interests and the 2010 FIFA World Cup ™, which can be downloaded from the Information Portal on Corruption (IPOC) website.

This morning, I also came across this article by William Reed, which features analysis by IJR’s Jan Hofmeyr – South Africa in the Spotlight.

Other interesting pieces to share? Leave a comment below!

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