Are you ready?

2010-05-11 13:40
The World Cup is upon us. We do not guarantee you 100% safety. If you are a journalist we do not guarantee you that one of our country’s youth leaders will not throw you out if you ask a question that displeases him. We cannot guarantee you that we will not have any form of political drama or any kind of drama for that matter. No one is ever sure what will happen next here. The climate hardly fails us. The action never stops. The only real trauma you should experience in South Africa is too much excitement.

The people are warm and friendly. We actually boast one of the best cities in the world. When you get here your mother will have to drag you away. We guarantee that you will have an amazing experience in South Africa. The only way to be bored in this land is if you are dead and that is the only way I can think of boredom - as death because I have never been there.

Let me assure you that you are not just coming here for football or soccer; you are coming here for the time of your life. You will live to tell of your experience here to your children, their children and the story will become a legend.

Let me prepare you a little bit more. I have spoken to countless tourists who get here and once they are here they do not want to leave. The women are all so beautiful you might just be dazed and eventually you will not be able to pick one; your best bet is a foreign woman because at least you can pick her out among the rest. I have seen tourists smiling in the streets I would swear they must be in heaven.

In fact I remember once as a student; I was a waitress and my German customers could not stop looking at me smiling from ear to ear. Their eyes collectively could not leave me. I eventually became concerned as I thought something was wrong but they were shy to tell me perhaps they thought that I would finally get it. I gathered up courage and asked if all was well. They answered in unison “Oh, you are just wonderful. We are not used to such friendly people.” I feared that they might just take me with. The truth is that I am not that amazing. There are better South Africans far friendlier than I could ever wish to be and yet the least one in the nation was something to marvel at.

I have told you of our imperfections. You will see our mess, you will see our poor, and you will see our rich. We have a third world and a first world in one country. We have the largest inequality gap in the world the last time I checked.

Yes there is crime here but I know people who never encountered crime while they lived here until they moved to England, France or Italy. My fear is not that you will be mugged - you might be - but security promises to be tight and I truly hope it will not happen to you.

My only real fear about your visit is that you will not want to leave. Am I arrogant? Am I overconfident? I will prove to you that I am not. I have encountered numerous foreigners who are still yearning and dreaming of seeing this land again.

Jan van Riebeeck didn’t leave this land for at least 10 years when he first landed on its shores and today we still have thousands of his descendants that testify of his love for this country. History tells us he was destined to the East but he landed here and he could not get himself to go any further. He remained. The rest is history.

Where was I? OK, sorry. This is about why it would be difficult for you to leave this country. Our country is so beautiful and so rich that Britain fought a bloody war all along the South African coast line. There were 100 years of battles in the Eastern Cape against Xhosas. There were wars fought against Zulus. There was a war between the English and Dutch. Blood was spilt for a piece of this magical land. Blood my friend. Do you still think I am exaggerating?

I know that you will not spill any more blood. However, you will be met by very loving warm South Africans who love this country. The battle will be a little different this time; the nations will battle against each other. The war will be over a small piece of green land and the weapon will be the Jabulani ball. Whoever wins gets to walk away with a chunk of gold. I hope we will walk away with the gold.

Those who know soccer know that this is a giant leap of faith - but this land begs me to believe. South Africans love being South African but we are delighted that we will be hosting the nations. We have been waiting for you and you will feel it. Do not believe those who have told you that it will be a disastrous event. We live on the edge of excitement.

If you are expecting elephants and lions in the street, you will be very disappointed. We actually have roads and street lights and tall buildings. I have only seen a lion in my dreams and photographs so do not get your hopes up. If you want to see lions we will tell you where to find them so do not worry - we are ready for you. Are you ready for the African experience? The party is on!

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