A travel moment in South Africa


The problems of South Africa were well documented before, and indeed throughout the month of the World Cup, and as a result, these issues were at the forefront of my mind throughout my visit. A trip to one of many deprived informal settlements in the heart of Soweto made me see these issues first hand, when my 11 year old brother stood speaking to a boy his own age. They were polar opposites in terms of wealth and culture, but sure enough, within minutes, both were engaged in a game of street football.

Celebratory and downbeat feelings were lodged side by side in my mind, and these were with me up until the defining match day. It was one of the most important matches for the billion people of Africa, with the last home grown team in the tournament, Ghana, playing against Uruguay. 84,017 people came to see the spectacle. At least 80,000 of those attending were draped in the green, yellow and red of Ghana. There seemed to be more black stars in Soccer City than there were white ones in the night sky.

Taking part in a discussion typical of any English pub - of course about the mediocrity of the England team - I was forced to pinch myself when I noticed I was in discussion with Canadians, Brazilians, Spaniards and a lovely Chinese family. It was now that the more mellow feelings took hold of me. As I looked around the sea of Ghanaian support, I wondered how many appreciated the red of the flag they wore, representing the blood of those who died fighting for the countryís independence. How many had experienced and lived with the forests the green stripe stood for? What did the black lodestar of African freedom mean to these people?

Then, as the sound of American music that was blasting out of the stadium's speakers was interrupted by the loud drone of the boy behindís vuvuzela, I had my moment of realisation. Most of the fans here did not appreciate the brilliance of the country they were supporting, but they still had a connection with the Warrior King nation. When Asamoah Gyan would miss the last minute penalty that could have sent Ghana further than any African team before them, these people from all corners of the globe would stand together for their fellow man in the heart of Accra. The compassion and empathy of the people in this world is far more powerful than the problems we face.

The World Cup alone was never going to end poverty in Africa, or cure the inequalities of South Africa, but the exposure of the good nature of the mere individual can be the force of change in this world.

I returned back home to Watford a few days later with a newborn optimism. When people asked me how the World Cup was, I chose to say inspiring, and it was definitely not Wayne Rooney that had inspired me.

L Trup

More information on advertising opportunities,
Click Here