Win or lose: In the township it's a party (Feature)
Jun 16, 2010, 23:07 GMT
Red Location, South Africa - The party in Jaya's Pub and Grub shebeen started when Switzerland scored the winning goal against hot favourites Spain. It continued long after the beloved Bafana Bafana went down 3-0 to Uruguay.
'No-one can win every time,' said driver Monwabisi Ngele, as he left the black-run tavern in the township of 500,000. 'Next time it will be France's turn to lose,' he added, referring to South Africa's next opponents in the World Cup.
South Africa's hopes rest on them beating the beaten finalists from 2006, but the eternal optimism bred from decades of survival under a brutal apartheid regime could not be killed by one painful football game loss.
'We have to win. We have to for our country. We have to for Mandela,' said a psychologist by the name of Poziswa Keke, who along with labourers, inventory managers, hotel maids and hundreds of unemployed packed in to the tavern to watch the all-important game.
Unlike many of the patrons at white-dominated pubs in South Africa most of those at Jaya's could not afford the official yellow and green Bafana jerseys of the national team. But fuelled by copious amounts of beer, whiskey and cider, their support was every bit as fervent.
Hours before the game the cinder-block tavern was packed with supporters, most of whom guzzled down litre bottles of beer and lined them up on their tables as badges of honour.
When the anthem played before the game the packed tavern rose to its feet, bawling out the song and launching into a constant stream of chanting, clapping and dancing as the game got underway.
Surprisingly their strong voices could be heard above the notorious vuvuzelas, which, acclaimed as part of the South African folklore, have been allowed to dominate the crown reaction in all the stadiums of the World Cup.
But in Jaya's no-one brought their own vuvuzelas. The only ones there were handed out by promoters for a local brewing company who gave them to anyone who bought two liters of their beer.
It's easy to imagine that the combination of alcohol and disappointment could lead to an ugly atmosphere, especially for the only white guy in the room.
But no-one there was ever anything but friendly, welcoming the foreign visitor with generosity, friendliness and a generous hospitality that included offering him the best seat in the standing- room only tavern.
Prices, by European or American standards were incredibly low, just about 1.5 dollars for a litre of beer. But that still put the beer out of reach of many in the townships, who despite the progress made since the end of apartheid in 1994 still live in ramshackle huts made of wooden pallets and tin, and dream of the day when they can get a brick house from the government with the luxury of running water, electricity and sewage lines.
The name of the township Red Location refers to the paint daubed on the tin roofs to prevent them rusting. But with many of the shacks decades old that protection wore thin long ago and many now sport plastic tarps to keep out the rain.
Yet there are also solid houses built of brick and plaster walls, sporting real windows and tile roofs. Their residents are black professionals who have made good under the post-apartheid regime, who could afford to move to the white-dominated neighbourhoods but who stay put for the sense of community and to be with their clans.
But most live in tightly packed shacks, with multigenerational families of 12 or more sharing a single room, using a plastic bucket as a toilet, and looking forward to the one day per week that lorries from the municipal authority come on their sewage collection run.
On a cold winter's evening men and children warm themselves on brushwood fires lit on the stone-strewn ground, while women bustle around boiling water, cleaning and preparing the kerosene lamps for nightfall.
Some of the more affluent women join the menfolk in the tavern, proud of the progress they have made. Under the tradition of the Xhosa and other tribes it is strictly forbidden for women to drink in public, said Keke. 'It was a big no-no. But with democracy and equality, who can say no to us. It is our right.'