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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: April 30 2010 »

by Dibussi Tande / pambazuka news

2010-04-29, Issue 479
With the official kick-off of the 2010 FIFA World Cup just 42 days away, anticipation is steadily building on the African blogosphere, especially after the recent release of a number of World Cup songs, such as K'Naan's 'Waving flag', Kelly Rowland's 'Everywhere you go' featuring a host of African musicians, and the Shakira/FreshlyGround track, 'Zaminamina Waka Waka (Time For Africa)', which is the tournament's anthem.

It is precisely about Zaminamina Waka Waka, is a remix of a Cameroonian military parade song, which Myweku writes about:

'Growing up in Africa exposed me to iconic African songs like “African Queen” and “Sweet Mother” which became the staple of most hip and self respecting radio stations across Accra, in my case. Most of these songs were great and brought joy to many at parties and occasions.

'However, as students we had our own favourites. Songs that had “naughty” lyrics and were seen by parents as befitting the dregs of society. These were mainly cheer (or cheer leading) songs, we called jama (in Ghana), that we sang during inter school sporting occasions and favoured by so called “uneducated” soldiers (mostly junior officers) during training sessions. None was bigger than Zaminamina, a Cameroonian song that swept through the African continent with its special brand of humour, subtle political connotations and authentic African chorus during the 1980’s when the “big men” of Africa and the military elite seemed to hold sway over their populace. The song is in the Fang language and sang by the group Zangalewa, originally called Golden Sounds. Zangalewa, which was a makossa group, were distinct in their use of military fatigues of a bygone era, exaggerated grey facial hair, quirky self indulgent “old man’s” dance routines and “stuffed” bellies and behinds (not dissimilar to those of the military elites).

'It is, therefore, heartening to know that the first ever FIFA World Cup in Africa will be forever remembered, long after the closing ceremony by one of Africa’s beloved iconic songs. One that parodies those who have, those who continue to and those who have designs on imposing their will, through the use of the barrel of a gun, on a people who will rather live by the mantra “Backwards Never; Forwards Ever”!'

The Flipside doesn’t seem particularly excited by the World Cup fever. On the contrary:

'Just for a bit of negativity, coz you all know we feed off of it… I am not feeling the soccer world cup vibes… and I don’t think the ‘whole’ country is behind it. I have quite a few friends who couldn’t care less, some even leaving the country during that period. I remember before the Soccer World Cup in Germany, Switzerland marketed themselves as a great holiday destination… cleverly however that marketing campaign was aimed directly at women, women who had men in their lives going to the World Cup. I wonder if Zim has been doing the same?

'I actually cannot wait for the World Cup to be over, then we will really be able to take stock of how much good it has done for SA. I also wonder if I should be stock piling food, due to supposed price increases, like many of my friends (those friends who are not leaving SA) are doing.

'On a positive note, the fixing of our roads is awesome! High Five to SA for getting that sorted, but did we really need a world sport event to kick us into gear to fix the roads? What about all these flower beds and trees that have been planted in and on traffic islands throughout the country. Who’s gonna continue to look after those or will the flowers just die, weeds grow between all the rocks and the trees grow so big that they actually become a problem.'

Sore Eye is ecstatic about the new infrastructure being developed in Cape Town as a result of the World Cup:

'I've never been a fan of the beautiful game but that's gonna change. This sleepy city is suddenly waking up - which is astounding because nothing bursts Cape Town's self-insulated bubble.
But the anticipation is tangible. Not electric yet but starting to spark...

'Ah well, it's all good. In my lifetime there's never been such dramatic change to the city's infrastructure. I'm sure it's the same in all WC cities across SA. Yes, FIFA might be a kleptomaniac bunch of rogues slapping priority rights on everything, and yes we have yet to survive the English hooligans, but consider the WC legacy.

'These infrastructure changes have already made a huge difference, and we needed it. Cruising down an upgraded highway into Cape Town is sheer pleasure compared to, say, Nairobi in Kenya. It too has three million people, and the roads have not been upgraded since the 1960's...

'As far as I'm concerned, I could kiss FIFA's ass thank-you. The city's improved forever and we're on the threshold of a global sporting event. Cities in developing countries get few chances to upgrade on a massive scale - especially when corrupt governments cream money into their own pockets - so SA's been lucky. The rest of Africa's cities are like Nairobi with not much hope for the future.'

But it is not all about the World cup on the continent as Ghanaian blogger Nana Yaw Asiedu comments about the accidental death of a college student on Anti Rhythm:

'A college girl dies. Her friend is between a rock and a hard place. They were only leaving a hostel as students do. A canopied walkway avalanches on them. The building was erected decades ago. Money is not for maintenance in Ghana. It is for creating, and then creating some more. Already existing infrastructure can take care of itself.

'Her parents were expecting a smarter girl back. They are getting a corpse. It happened in school; on school property. Somebody has to pay. Her parents are grieving, I know. But, they should PLEASE not simply leave it to God. Sue somebody. Sue everybody who should have cared. It won't bring Eva back, but do it anyway. Start with university authorities!

'God, I did not know her – why am I so upset?'

This week the shortlist for the Caine Prize for African writers were announced launching a series of discussions about the state of African literature. Naija Blog links to one of these discussions in the Guardian newspaper which questions whether the 'African Writer' really exists:

'But how can one prize possibly claim to assess the literary output of a continent of over 991 million people and its Diaspora? Is there any such thing as an "African writer"? Does the very existence of the prize encourage a continued inclination to ghettoisation of these writers and their work? Surely we've come far enough that Africans no longer need (if they ever have) the special consideration this categorisation implies? ...

'Many of the conversations around the prize will focus on the argument that writers from Africa do not want or need to be defined merely by their place of origin. Instead, they demand an engagement with their work that does not place limits on their imaginations or potential audience. But even if I could persuade myself to accept the idea of an "African writer", although three of the five judges are Africans, this is a prize decided in England, awarded in Oxford for work written in English. There are no stories translated from French or Arabic. And what about Shona, Twi, Hausa, Chewa, Lingala, Swahili or Afrikaans?'

Island in Crisis is dismayed by calls by former Mauritian President, Cassam Uteem , for Facebook to be blocked in Mauritius following the creation of a Facebook group that has been insulting Islam:

'Well this is what we call, destroying a planet to eliminate a worm! For the fact, there are about 180,000 Facebook users in Mauritius and Facebook receives a daily Mauritian access of around 75,000 people. So basically Mr Cassam Uteem (with all respect we do have for him) is implying that we block access to Facebook so that all these Mauritians cannot use it until a silly message against Islam is removed.

'We’ll dare to say this is RIDICULOUS Mr Cassam Uteem! ...

'Yesterday some people complained about it to ICTA and a request to delete the page was sent to Facebook Headquarters.

'While we do agree that the page consists of insults and unacceptable things, we can’t just go around and ask that the site’s access is denied to Mauritians! What’s the difference between Iran and Mauritius then? Any mature person will not access the Group’s page. So let those who wanna expressed themselves in a barbaric way do it among themselves. We all just have to avoid them. That’s all!'


* Dibussi Tande, a writer and activist from Cameroon, produces the blog Scribbles from the Den.
* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online
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