Fuck – im so privileged its scary. That was the original title to this post. Since whenever I think about something critical, it gets dismissed as a luxury point of view due to privilege obtained through colonial and apartheid domination. Never underestimate how persistent the tokoloshe* can be.
I see a great corollary between the way people support a football team and a political party. In both, the dominant theme is ‘association with success’. Nobodies grab onto the colours, emblems and slogans of successful teams and parties and due to their so called support they feel a sense of legitimate belonging! In football the number of Barca, Madrid and United fans living in small African towns proves the point. The problem is not The support, it the fervour and disproportionate vigour that makes me question the legitimacy of the relation. he sudden rise and subsequent following of teams like Bayern, Chelsea and City proves that for many the choice of following has been made recently. Even the support of lesser teams like Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Dortmund or Valencia, still holds the same implications, but instead of choosing the no-brainer, one goes for the top underdog. Higher stakes supposedly yields higher reward?
In politics, its a bit more complicated. But there is still the dominant no-brainer, assured of winning: ANC, ZanuPF, Frelimo. The majority can’t even begin to think critically beyond emotions. Even reading this, you will have an emotional response and back that up by pseudo-history and quasi-intellectualism. People convice themselves that their opinion is the perfect and only smart opinion. Yet, despite the overwhelming support of the top dogs, some folks are beaten for supporting MDC, Renamo has people currently killing and being killed. Clearly there are different ways of looking? In SA the struggle is still framed as against the 20 year old tokoloshe* that is post-apartheid denial and blame. I’m sitting in Mozambique and I wonder if folks desire the ideals of democracy to the same extent as they value the consumption of capitalist consumerism? Everyone wants to chow the fruits, few has the vision to plant and care for the tree.
Back to sport: Instead of simply enjoying good football and supporting your team with a smile, recognizing your team is one of many, people prefer brainless dedication – exhibited in tunnel vision fighting mode. The same in politics. Yet, football is about entertainment and politics affects the lives of millions in significant ways. No one can blame you for supporting Hull, Black Aces or Rangers; its even cute. But in politics your choice makes a huge difference. Once every four years your party respects you- for those 2 seconds that you make a cross, then you are the boss, you decide. Do you use your cross to say ‘thank you, keep up the good work’, or to say ‘no, wake up – Im not happy’?
Still whether I read a Chelsea or ManU post on Facebook or an ANC comment, to me it all sounds the same. The fans see all the good, the hope. They play down or rationalise the bad and the ugly. Nothing will swing the fan, the idea of loyalty to this arbitrary decision they made at some point is the cement that keeps the bricks of ignorance and naivety together.
Fanatical support in football and politics reveal the same thing: The lure of the illusion of having a voice.
Why the title refers to my privilege? First I know how little I mean, to Arsenal and to whichever party I vote for in an attempt to strengthen democracy.
Knowing your sad limits is important. Once you know how small your role is, only then can you play it with dedication, intelligence and balance. Not as a pawn, but as a player.
Being free to vote without emotional blinds, having a real relationship with the football club I support makes me feel lucky. Realising the finite nature of both and that we are friends before we are enemies, knowing we have more in common than we have differences- that makes me feel privileged.
Ans I apologise to all who never had the opportunity to think about this.
I also apologise for my privileged upbringing that taught me to type in English and I apologise for my privileged education that taught me how to be sarcastic.