Thursday, June 10, 2010

Waving the flag and the black market

It seem that all the media in South Africa is currently gushing about yesterday's Bafana bus parade in Sandton. Euphoria, unity/ united and sisonke (Zulu for togetherness I believe) were the words of choice, with my favourite phrase being "basked in the glory of a loving nation". Positively nauseating. It wasn't just in Sandton that the craziness was happening. Driving around Johannesburg between 12 and 2, Bafana fans seemed to be on every street corner (and in the middle of the roads), cheering, dancing and blowing their vuvuzelas in support of the national team. This event showed Johannesburg in a positive light; a place of celebration and carnival rather than the face of crime and poverty. But almost anyone can wear the national colours and wave the national flag. If this is all it takes currently to be a good South African, this national unity is a weak and fragile one. Once the World Cup is over and the flags are put away, what is left? Just a thought.

I never made it to Sandton as I got delayed but this turned out to be a stroke of luck as I gained a window into the black market of replica football shirts.  At a stall selling football merchandise, numerous people came up asking for Bafana shirts. It quickly became apparent that they were after the cheap, pirated copies from Thailand rather than the real thing (made in another south-east Asian country no doubt). Charging R400 each for what he had left, this infuriated one Afrikaans women who unleashed a torrent of abuse towards the stallkeeper (none of which I should print!). Afterwards he described to me how he was in fear of being raided by the police for pirated goods so he mostly kept authentic merchandise on display. However he knew how to source the copies, explaining that they had steadily risen in price because of the success of such raids. For all the success, these fakes are everywhere on the streets. Even some companies are buying these in bulk for their clients and many cannot tell the difference. The two policemen that came up to the stall just for a chat with the stallkeeper were oblivious to the fake Bafana shirts on display, even as they picked them up and considered buying them. Or maybe they did know and had come to an "arrangement"? I couldn't find out.

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