giant vuvazela recently erected on the road to nowhere
Newspapers, TV, and signs on the street have all been counting down to one day, June 11, the start of the World Cup. When I arrived, they proclaimed ‘310 days to go!’ I imagine they’ve been announcing the count down for longer than that. Now the number is eleven; just eleven more days.
Construction at ‘Hospital Bend’ is done; the new interchange is open. The new bus system started yesterday. The heavy blanket of construction that has covered the city for so long is lightening. But it’s not done, nor will it be soon. I don’t think the Koeberg interchange will ever be done. The passovers look like a toy city where a vengeful child took all the middles of the bridges out. Eleven days isn’t going to fix that.
Also under construction are two new pedestrian bridges over Buitengracht that may be open in time, but I’m sure they’re giving a construction manager sleepless nights.
The stadiums are ready. FIFA effectively owns them now. One in Pretoria acts as the home ground of a local and international rugby side; they had to play their ‘home’ semifinal and final in Soweto.
Most importantly, the people are ready. To say that almost seems ridiculous. Even using a cliche like ‘the sense of anticipation is palpable’ would be ridiculous. After all this build-up, after the hundreds of days of count-down, with South African flags adorning everything from houses to car side mirrors, with tickets in hand after standing in line for hours upon hours not to get a preferred game but to ‘just get something’, with every store selling merchandise or flags or gear, with the day of the first game apparently being declared a national holiday, the people are ready. The country seems ready to explode.
I just wonder what will happen when the number reaches zero.