Holly & Holloway's World Cup Holiday

Jo’burg, Germans and Soweto
June 30, 2010, 18:11
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hi gang!

So we’re out of the World Cup, knocked out by our old enemy the Germans in the Round of 16.  I think before the competition started most England fans would have thought the absolute minimum we should have achieved was a place in the quarter finals.  Fabio Capello said the semi finals were his aim.  But while no-one is going to be pleased at us going out so early, I don’t think many people will be surprised having seen some really poor football from England throughout the competition.

Anyway, we shall come to that.  On Saturday we moved from Cape Town to Johannesburg.  We really loved Cape Town.  It’s beautifully scenic, has lots to see and do, and the people were all very friendly.  Jo’burg is completely different.  It’s known to be quite a dangerous city with a pretty high crime rate, but of course most of the crime is in the poorer, more run down areas. There are a lot of very wealthy parts of Jo’burg, including where our hotel is, but these places seem quite bleak to us.  All the houses are surrounded by high walls, and on top of the walls are electric fences.  So when you go about the city it’s like being in a back-to-front prison.  Everyone has locked themselves in, away from all this crime that they think is outside but probably isn’t.  It’s a weird place.

You can't see the houses in Jo'burg

So, Sunday, and the Germany game.  We had to travel on a coach for about 6 hours to Bloemfontein.  Quite a boring journey … except when a small aeroplane landed on the motorway in front of us!  The coach driver slowed down and by the time we stopped the plane had come to a standstill in the central reservation.  We checked that everyone was OK before carrying on.  Quite a bizarre experience!

We arrived in Bloemfontein at about midday and spent a couple of hours in a shopping centre before making our way to the ground.  Now, as you probably know, England fans do not have a good history.  Lots of hooligans have latched themselves onto the national team in the past and caused mayhem abroad.  It’s nothing like as much of a problem these days, and there has been no trouble at all here, but games against Germany are often quite tense due to the rivalry between the two sides.  However, the atmosphere between the English and German supporters was superb!  It seems that all of a sudden the fans have realised “Hmm, we like drinking beer and watching football.  They like drinking beer and watching football.  Perhaps we’re not so different from them after all!”.  The English and German fans were sitting amongst one another in the ground, and despite the thrashing we received, there was no trouble, no aggression at all.  It was excellent in the stands.  It’s a pity it wasn’t so good on the pitch!

Now would seem like a good time to answer your questions, since we’re on the subject:

Sally: I was quite upset, but I have definitely been more upset by football results, many times.  We were soundly beaten and deserved to lose, so I couldn’t feel anything other than disappointment.  We got what we had deserved throughout the whole tournament.  Most of the England fans seemed to feel the same – we were beaten by the better side and didn’t deserve to win, so that was that!
Emily/Amelia: That’s a good question, but I have no idea how to answer it!  I really don’t know who I want to win.  Not Argentina, not Spain.  It would be nice to see Ghana win, but I don’t think they will!
Jonathan & Matty: Hmm.  I am going to have to be careful what I say here, and probably not use many of the words I used at the time!  We were at the opposite end of the ground, and we thought it had crossed the line.  It was quite funny actually, because, knowing that they would not replay it on the big screen, I said to my mate that we’d have to wait to watch on TV before we knew for sure.  Then I realised we could find out straight away – I texted Mrs Griffiths’s husband “Was it in?”.  He replied straight away “By a mile!”.  It seems that everyone else in the stadium had had the same idea, and within a minute everyone had been told it was definitely in.  So the booing of the referee started then, about a minute after the incident.  Quite strange.  Needless to say, there was a lot of rather strong language being thrown in his direction!
Brandon: Wow, there’s a question!  To answer this would take forever.  If you want to read what I think it a very good article which seems to answer the question very well, go to http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2010/0629/1224273557820.html.  But my opinion is that the tactics and formation were not right, the players seemed to be unfit, they couldn’t handle a slower style of play in the World Cup and too many players were unable to bring their Premier League quality to the international stage.  I cannot answer why any of the above is the case, that’s anyone’s guess!

So, no more England games to watch.  In a way, that’s a relief.  We can now go to the quarter final, semi final and final and enjoy the event, not worry about England underperforming.  First up, Germany vs Argentina in Cape Town (YAY!) on Saturday.

Today (Wednesday) we went to Soweto.  I expect you’ve heard of Soweto.  It’s the biggest township in Johannesburg, and was home to many of the most prominent anti-Apartheid leaders during those troubled times.  Nelson Mandela lived there, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu still has a house there.  Indeed, these two residences are literally over the road from each other which makes this street the only one in the world that can boast two Nobel Peace Prize winners!

Soweto’s an interesting place.  Parts of it are quite affluent now, with houses that cost over £100,000, a very large amount for South Africa.  But of course there is also a lot of very poor, very run down housing, much of which doesn’t have electricity or water.  We were lucky enough to be invited into one such place, a small hut built of corrugated metal, by the lady who lived there with ten other people.  The hut was about the size of an average living room in the UK and was the home of seven adults and four children.  But despite this, the lady told us she was happy.  “We have no money, but we have this house and we are happy”, she said.  It was very humbling.

Inside a typical township shack. 11 people live here.

Being such a large place housing so many black political leaders, Soweto saw a lot of violence during the Apartheid years.  Most notoriously, the killing of Hector Pieterson took place in June 1976.  Hector was just 12 years old.

The issues surrounding Hector’s killing are long and complicated, and I will try to briefly summarise them here.  I suggest Mrs G reads up on it to fill in any gaps, as I am sure you will have questions about it.  Basically, when black, coloured and white people had been segregated into their own areas, the South African government which was entirely made up of white people passed many other laws which restricted the way that the non-whites lived.  One of which was to make it the law that black children were taught in the Africaans language, the language spoken by most whites.  Prior to this, most schools taught in English or the mother tongues of the various African tribes.  Few blacks spoke Africaans.  This, coupled with the fact that black schools were seriously underfunded and overcrowded, led to education standards tumbling.  After a while, many black students and school children started protesting at the Africaans rule by boycotting lessons.  This didn’t work, so in June 1976 they decided to protest.

On the morning of June 16th, students and children, rather than reciting the Lord’s Prayer in their school assemblies they sang the banned national anthem.  They then went onto the streets to march together to a local football stadium carrying banners calling for the Africaans rule to be abolished.  What you have to understand here is that this protest was made up of children and teenagers, most of them wearing their school uniforms.  Thousands of them marched.  The police came in but were unable to cope with the numbers.  Despite the march being a peaceful protest, during the standoff between protesters and police, some officers started shooting.  The first person to be shot and killed was 12 year old Hector Pieterson.  You can see his body in the photo being carried away, the girl next to him is his sister.

Hector Pieterson

An estimated 500 people were killed during the protest and the riots that occurred as a result.  The very idea that the police would shoot at school children is without question the most shocking thing I have learned about this country’s troubled past.

I’m sorry to bring up such a sad subject, but I think it’s a story every person, every schoolchild should know about.  It is important that we all know about these things so that we can learn from them.  South Africa has learned from them and they are much the better for it.

I was interested to hear about your trip to London.  Sounds excellent!  I’ve also been in the houses of Parliament.  It’s really interesting, isn’t it!  I’m glad you all had a good time, although your 5.30am start is nothing compared to our trip to Port Elizabeth for the Slovenia game – we left the hotel at 3am for that one!  Ouch!

I have a couple of World Cup questions for you.  Now that England are out of the competition, who do you all want to win?  Perhaps you could have a vote?  Also, who drew England in your class sweepstake, and how did you feel when they went out?

Right, that’s enough for now.  We’re going to the Apartheid museum this week before Cape Town for the Germany Argentina game on Saturday.  Hope you’re all still enjoying the football!



1 Comment so far
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Hi Rob,

Firstly, sorry for not replying sooner. Unfortunately, last week, aliens landed in Melbourne on space hoppers and abducted Mrs Griffiths. However, she wasn’t any use to them so they’ve returned her. She seems fairly normal, but has developed a taste for noodles.

Anyway… onto football issues.

About 2/3 of us would like Holland to win the World Cup now, although one of them is Matty – and he has them in our sweepstake!

Sally had England in our competition and she says she was disappointed, although I think Sam was more upset when Germany went out last night!!

So… a few questions…

Sam A: Who would you like to win on Sunday?
Luke: Have you got a suntan while you’ve been there?
Jessica: Is your hotel surrounded by fences like the houses you showed us?
Eva: If you had the opportunity, would you go to South Africa again?
Sam B: Have you heard about the magic octopus?
Ellis: WHat did you think about the person who ran on the pitch last night?
Amelia: How did you manage to get into the Houses of Parliament?

Ok, lunch time now so we’d better go. We’ve been practising for our production of Joseph this week and lots of us have been to visit our new school for next year.

We hope you enjoy the final and your last few days – when do you fly home?

Looking forward to hearing about the final,

from Holly Class.

PS – Would you like to come and see Joseph? It’s on Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st July at 6.30pm!!

Comment by Holly Class

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