I can’t believe its Friday again. Fridays seem to come around so quickly when you’re sabbatical – it’s amazing. Anyway, so it’s Friday and every Friday I’m reminded of the fact that I still don’t own a Bafana Bafana T-shirt. We’re at the airport this morning to fly to Cape Town for a wedding and World Cup fever is everywhere. I’m sitting at Vida and I’ve just seen an American tourist accost a cleaner to find out where he got his yellow T-shirt. It’s like: screw my NYU sweatshirt, dude – where’s the “Baffanna Baffanna” gear?
Admittedly I’ve just realized that about 20% of the so-called Bafana Bafana shirts I’ve seen around are actually “Brazil” shirts. You have to take your hat off to the Brazilians for turning a bright yellow and green sports top into an international fashion statement. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do the same with Bafana Bafana gear? After all, there’s now a famous British rock band named after Kaizer Chiefs. Why can’t Bafana Bafana turn into the next Dolce & Gabbana? Ha ha. Sounds pretty hilarious when you put it like that but who would’ve though that you could slap the Brazilian name “Havaianas” onto a pair of plakkies and turn those into the high fashion footwear? And then Giselle Bunchen thought to herself, why don’t I do exactly the same thing but I’ll just call my plakkies after the Rio’s sexiest beach and before we know it, Brazilian football tops, Havaianas and Ipanemas are must-have fashion items.
But back to Bafana fever.
Whether Bafana shirts will ever rival Brazil shirts or not, right now you’re out if you’re not wearing yours on Friday. Which is pretty amazing considering that the national soccer team used to be the butt of jokes just 6 months ago. Towards the end of last year, when the newspapers were reporting that concerned international teams wanted to play their World Cup matches in bullet proof vests, several people posted comments about this on Facebook. These comments illicited a rather witty response from one Facebook friend-of-a-friend who wrote: “Ja, and it’s not as though Bafoona Bafoona are any good at shooting”.
I found that very funny at the time, but no-one’s laughing now. Everyone’s talking about how Bafana walloped Thailand and hoping that it’s a sign of things to come. I think the World Cup and our national team are presenting us with a new kind of opportunity at 21st century patriotism. Under democracy is no longer “sweet and fitting to die for one’s country” as Wilfed Owen once wrote. Instead, it is sweet and fitting to tie Saffer flags to your rear view mirrors and to strut around in your Bafana Bafana shirt on Friday – as though it’s a Dolce & Gabbana.