From observing the bizarre to a surprisingly personal moment, my viewing of England’s victory of Slovenia was richer than I expected. Camps Bay, a remarkably beautiful (and wealthy) part of Cape Town, is where we chose to watch England’s final match of the opening round at the FIFA World Cup.
My traveling partners, as they’ve been for the last three weeks, were cameraman Richard Agecoutay and reporter Kim Brunhuber. Our driver, Mark Popham, is not pictured here. He’s a 41-year-old Afrikaans, who was four years into military service when the apartheid regime came to an end. The four of us couldn’t be more different, but we make good travel partners.
This is the beachfront restaurant/bar where we watched the English beat Slovenia 1-nil, to move onto the next round. The patrons were all whites, save for some “coloreds”. The blacks in the room were staff.
As the match started, a young couple from Toronto shouted out to us “Hey look! It’s the CBC!”. Lindsay Hillcoat, with her recently purchased vuvuzela, is here for two weeks visiting Greg Joffe. He’s a young lawyer doing a three-month stint with Legal Aid South Africa, defending people (mostly) from townships facing criminal charges and unable to afford a lawyer. This is the second year where he’s taken on this work, and he says he’s thrilled to be gaining this kind of experience in Cape Town. The bonus this year is the World Cup, and he’s obtained tickets to six different matches. The Portuguese 7-0 drubbing of North Korea was a highlight for him.
On the beach I introduced myself to two people at a tent where massages are offered. Turns out they had just met.
He is Tomas Musio, who moved to South Africa from the Congo two years ago. He moved because there’s no work to be had as a physiotherapist in the Congo. While he speaks English and French, he says there’s a language barrier that’s making it difficult for him to integrate. Remember that there are 11 official languages in South Africa, nine of them from aboriginal tribes. In this area, Xhlosa is the dominant tribe, and he says people from that background don’t like the fact that he does not speak their language (and we Montrealers thought we had it tough in Quebec/Canada)!,
She is Unesu, who had just come to Tomas for help because she’d been robbed. While Unesu sat on the rocks gazing at the ocean, someone stole her bag, which had her wallet, cell phone, and keys.
Useru is a law student at the Univesity of Cape Town. Her dream is to do international law – travel with her work and learn – and then to return to her native Zimbabwe to “make her country better.” She is finding the World Cup very exciting, and loves Cape Town’s diversity (but understandably doesn’t like the crime)!. She does add that South Africa is different from the rest of Africa, almost “ less African. It’s kind of semi-westernized.”
While on the beach, I also had a long talk with a man selling sun glasses. We instantly connected I think because we could both see that we were the same age, but have lived such drastically different lives. He lives in one of the poorest (and dangerous) townships, which is not 5 minutes from Cape Town airport. He was part of the ANC’s youth revolutionary group during the apartheid era, and speaks very proudly of that time. And yet, he speaks with a profound sadness of what his life has become. He spends far too much time talking with me (for his own good) , and lets me take a couple of photos of him and with him.
When we finish, he asks me to buy some glasses. I can refuse the glasses, but I can not refuse to give him some money – much more that he had asked for the glasses. He is litereally near tears as he expresses his gratefulness, and I am embarrassed and undeserving of his kind words of thanks.
Before I could let myself be swallowed into the emotions of that moment, a surreal acrobat took me to a completely different place.
I’ve seen street performers in many different places around the world, all of them with the ability to amuse. This guy, with his great instinct for Kodak moments, really did amaze me. So I turned my camera to video mode to share his performance with you.
I’m always amazed by the number of things that can happen in the course of a World Cup soccer match!!!