"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


football [sic]

I realize that the following statement may cause me to lose half of this blog's readership, but here goes nothing: I am not a soccer fan.

Before you send me hate mail, let me note that:
  1. Yes, I understand that everybody else in the entire rest of the world thinks soccer is the greatest sport ever and the World Cup is the greatest spectacle in sports and that we Americans just don't get it.
  2. Yes, I know that it takes incredible athleticism and stamina to run around a field for 90 minutes.
  3. Neither of the above facts has been enough to convince me that watching a bunch of men run in circles for an hour and a half while the actual action is confined to two or three fifteen-second segments is interesting.
  4. I'm sorry.
  5. I'm still interested in the World Cup as a phenomenon, especially given that this year's event takes place in South Africa.
  6. I really liked the K'Naan song as it was before Coca-Cola got ahold of it.
That said, I will be cheering for Cameroon without actually watching any of their games, as has been my custom for the last ten years. What I won't be doing is blogging about the World Cup. (I did watch the end of the opening concert, but that was mostly out of a desire to see Shakira's crazy outfit. It sure wasn't for her singing "talent.")

Nope, we're going to stick to the usual agenda of politics, development, and advocacy for now. In case you're looking for some good coverage, here are some people who'd be good to follow:
Again, I'm sorry. But this is as good as it's going to get. Please feel free to add suggestions for other bloggers following the World Cup in African perspective in the comments.

(See The Onion for this post's title's origin.)


Blogger UPennBen said...

I take offense. Shakira is quite talented.

Friday, June 11, 2010 4:53:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For an intelligent site on football - with an international view as well - see www.wsc.co.uk

There are some relevant subjects to discuss. SA hoped for lots of tourist income but it looks like turning out to be much less than was hoped. Teams have played their warm up matches in Europe, mostly. Staging the WC is expensive leaving you with lots of stadia that you probably don't need. Will staging it be seen as a good idea? If too many fans get mugged or car-jacked will that reflect badly on Africa as a whole?

Friday, June 11, 2010 5:22:00 AM

Blogger Tauratinswe said...

We accept you with your faults. Maybe some day you'll overcome your lack of appreciation (fanatic love) of futbol. ;-)

Friday, June 11, 2010 5:24:00 AM

Anonymous Nicolas said...

I think one of the great appeals of football is that it's so universal. I remember when I was a kid going on holiday to Portugal, I met a boy who didn't speak English and only a few words of French so we had trouble communicating. So we just ended up playing football on the pitches outside the hotel. By the end of the week there were twenty people playing together there, from all over the world. I don't know, it may sound silly, but I think it's a great way to bond with people.

Friday, June 11, 2010 5:47:00 AM

Anonymous Ranil Dissanayake said...

I've done a rundown of the African teams' chances over on Aid Thoughts:


Summary: if Didi Drogba is injured, no African team has a hope in hell of winning, unfortunately. Cameroon are the next best bet, but only because Samuel Eto'o is fantastic. Only Alex Song after him in that team is worth spit.

I will also be in Cape Town for weeks 2 and 3, attending the Cameroon v. Netherlands (among other matches), a Round of 16 match that I hope will be Ivory Coast v. Spain and the Cape Town quarterfinal. Expect excited, barely coherent blogs.

I accept your admission of being a sporting philistine. But if you start badmouthing cricket, you may lose a reader...

Friday, June 11, 2010 7:07:00 AM

Blogger Rachel said...

I concur with your comments about soccer.

(American football is FANTASTIC, though. I could watch it forever.)

Friday, June 11, 2010 7:43:00 AM

Anonymous Rose said...

I think I dislike it for the same reason I dislike hockey. Suddenly, its WOW, you made a goal... but why didn't you just do that 10 minutes ago? Why don't you just make MORE of the goals? And why all of the drama with the injury-making and the ayiyiyiii oww oww owwieeeee, yellow-red-purple-brown card get up and I'm fine, let's play!? What is that?

I never trust that a futbol team will "come back" in the final minutes, because they just spent 98% of their time running around and kicking and pushing each other, and they didn't make the goals then... why would anything change in the last minute?

Nothing like Texas in the final minutes of some fine NCAA tournament involving an orange bouncy ball.... ahhhh. Back, forth, three point from half-court buzzer!

That said, I too will root for Eto'o fils and Les Lions Indomitables quietly... and because this is America, I will probably mention to many people, including strangers at Old Chicago, that I am watching the football game because I'm a big fan.

Friday, June 11, 2010 9:36:00 AM

Anonymous J. said...

I cannot stand sports. Never have been able to.

At the behest of a large number of colleagues, I will spend this Saturday (prior to the tweetup) at a certain pub near DuPont Circle cheering for the team of choice of whomever has bought me the most recent round...

Friday, June 11, 2010 11:53:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do you like hockey? If you do, how is the basis of that sport's goal scoring/action any different?

Friday, June 11, 2010 2:30:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

I actually don't like hockey. Or baseball. Both for the same reasons.

Friday, June 11, 2010 3:57:00 PM

Blogger linda said...

I actually do like soccer, and Shakira, although I've never followed either as closely as baseball, the NBA, and the NFL, partly because I grew up in the U.S. in the 1980s. Question, though, to all commenting about the lack of "action" -- do you watch ANY other sports that don't score more and more points? Soccer is actually more akin to boxing (which I actually dislike) in that sense - the defense, style, etc. being more/as important as the gooooooals. Or gymnastics, or surfing, or a whole host of things - or tennis or volleyball, which always end with the same score. Basically, I'm saying that I think a lot of people compare soccer to the wrong sports, namely, the three biggest pro ones in the USA. Also, it's really fun to play.

Friday, June 11, 2010 4:04:00 PM

Blogger Matt Vielkind said...

I agree. K'Naan's original version of "Wavin' Flag" is beautiful. Then the people at Coca-Cola got their hands on it and replaced all the lyrics with some meaningless verse that's clearly been written by the same people who wrote "We are the World". It's a shame most people won't know the song as it was written.

Friday, June 11, 2010 5:07:00 PM

Blogger Alex Engwete said...

This post is an outrage to FOOTBALL, to footballers, to Mundial, and to football fans like myself! Good grief! Need I remind you that the U.S. hosted with much success the 1994 Mundial? And do you know that Mayor Tom Menino of Boston is bidding to have his city host the 2018 or 2022 Mundial?...

Being a late sleeper and not an early riser, I didn't sleep on the eve of the opener as I was terrified by the prospect of missing the game! Though my "thoughts and prayers" went to the Madiba, Mandela, whose great granddaughter Zenani Mandela died in a car crash involving a drunk driver after the concert you mention...

BTW, to this day, I still don't understand baseball... An American friend of mine wanted to kill me in Boston when I turned down his offer to go to the Fenway Park to watch a New York Yankees-Red Sox game. I told him: "I'm not going to such a boring event!"

Saturday, June 12, 2010 12:26:00 AM

Anonymous Eamon said...

Puttn the "Texas" back into the blog. :-) Nice!

Really what I don't like to see is criticism of any of K'naan's professional decisions!

Saturday, June 12, 2010 12:12:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Alex, my first exposure to the World Cup came as a teenager in Boston, July 1994, when a crazed Spain fan dressed head-to-toe in red and yellow (including his dyed shoes) terrified my family on a T platform. Suffice it to say that didn't encourage me to get hooked.

Eamon, K'Naan has the right to do whatever he likes with the rights to his songs. But the Coke version is AWFUL and clearly not something K'Naan came up with himself. I think Matt put it best.

Saturday, June 12, 2010 5:53:00 PM

Anonymous Rachel said...

I forgive you, but I must admit that my attention will be less focused on politics and development over the next month (though I do wonder how hosting the World Cup is impacting poor South Africans, starting with tales I've heard of people being forced from slums for construction or image purposes). The Bauldauf article is an interesting one - refreshingly balanced, yes, but disturbing in the lack of analysis of what it means for South Africa (and the rest of the world) that comfy middle-class life now takes place inside gated communities, which seem to me to symbolize most of what is wrong with our ideas of economic development and wellbeing.

Monday, June 14, 2010 7:26:00 AM


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