Cape Town loves Bafana

Lindiwe Mlandu

The Mother City hosted Bafana Bafana for the first time since November 2010 on Tuesday. It was my first time seeing the national side play live and I was excited about the game even though I wasn’t expecting Bafana to win. Before you accuse me of being unpatriotic, let me set the record straight: I’m realistic. Bafana Bafana is not known for scoring goals and if you can’t score, then you won’t win games.

Anyway, back to the day of the game. I was having doubts about going to the stadium as I’d had a bad day, so I wasn’t looking forward to the game. However, I’m very responsible with my money so I wasn’t about to waste my R100. I decided to drag myself to the stadium. I had already warned the people I was going with that I wasn’t in the best of moods.

When I got to Green Point Main Road I was blinded by green and gold. There were thousands of Capetonians of all shapes and colours making their way to the stadium. They were singing, dancing, laughing and before I knew it, there was a slight smile on my face. I stood aside waiting for the people I was with to arrive.

I used this time to watch these people who had donned Bafana t-shirts with South African flags wrapped around their necks and their ‘makarapas’. The energy was positive; all was well with the world and people were looking forward to watching 22 men chase after a single ball.

People were going to support the National Team despite previous disappointments. I was amazed that the so-called racist Cape Town could support Bafana. We are all made to believe that Cape Town is the black sheep of the family. Commentators always paint it as the most racist part of South Africa.

I got to the venue and the beautiful Cape Town Stadium was packed. I took part in my first Mexican wave! There was a group of white Capetonians sitting next to us, and they knew Bafana players by name. They shouted and screamed when they got the ball.

I was surprised by what I saw, because leading up to the game, the media had us believe that fans were not buying tickets for the game. It was reported that only 16,000 people had bought tickets.

During the game we all got off our seats whenever the boys got close to scoring. Everyone wanted Bafana to win. The crowd sang Shosholoza even though some didn’t know the words to the song. They did not want to be spoilsports, so they made up the words as they went along.

But Norway scored and the atmosphere changed. The song died and the Mexican wave was no more. A drunken Afrikaans-speaking guy got up and tried to rally the crowd behind the boys. In his Bafana t-shirt he urged us to start the wave again. He tried over and over again, but people were deflated. He shouted “F*k mense where’s the undying spirit? Do it for Bafana!”

I looked at him and saw the passion and pride that he had for this team that keeps disappointing us over and over again.

Alas Bafana failed to score and the visitors won 1-0. People left the stadium disappointed. As we made our way out of the stadium, groups of people were reviewing the game. I was eavesdropping and the majority of fans agreed that the boys played well, but their failure to find the back of the net was a major problem.

One irate supporter shouted, “We need to ask FIFA to please suspend Bafana from international football. Clearly, they are not ready to compete at this level.”

We all went our separate ways, disappointed and worried about the upcoming African Cup of Nations (Afcon). South Africa is the host nation and if the friendly game is anything to go by, Bafana will not make it into the next round.

I’ll be the first to admit that Cape Town has many challenges, but we should not be selective in our reporting.

Yes, the city is not very diverse but there are some positives. Let’s look around us, before criticising it.

Lindiwe Mlandu is an Eyewitness News Online Journalist.