Friday, July 16, 2010

Fly the Flag Fridays: clinging to the past

With my cynical hat now firmly back on after the euphoria of the World Cup, the latest attempts to retain some semblance of national unity post-tournament has had me rolling my eyes, shaking my head and muttering in disbelief. In the build-up to the World Cup, South Africa had "Football Fridays" where every Friday South Africans were encouraged to wear their Bafana shirts to work and/ or other national colours. In the aftermath of the tournament, Football Fridays have become "Fly the Flag Fridays" in which South Africans are encouraged to continue wearing the shirts of the various national sports teams. Apparently, Football Fridays were a success as they were "a meaningful collective experience of a lifetime". I know I moan on about this but how meaningful is it to wear a football shirt and wave a flag (today that would make me an English Kiwi)?

I first heard this on the radio one morning recently as I was driving to work. I couldn't believe this. I fail to see any substance behind this call for continued flag waving. There is no more excitement to fuel this simplistic nationalist exercise. Maybe a fraction of the populace might get excited about the Tri-Nations rugby but few are going to go out buy Springbok shirts in the same manner as Bafana shirts. Our bank balances are smarting after the World Cup. Fly the Flag Fridays seems a dismal failure anyway. Bafana shirts are difficult to spot now, the vuvuzela is silent and some of the flags adorning the highways are in a questionable state. We are reaching the death knells of hyper-nationalism, the denial stage. Clinging to the highs many got from the World Cup, many want to relive that feeling but not all good things last. Reality (whatever that is) tends to get in the way. Time to get back on with the daily grind of Jo'burg life.

And to make matters more farcical, President Jacob Zuma wants one of the SA cities to host the 2020 Olympics. Unifying the nation through fencing, archery and synchronised diving?! Or maybe as I'm not South African, I just don't get it?

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