The World Cup Soccer is drawing near, and this weekend the final draw was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. My friend, Ron Gaunt, master sports photographer, was there to record the glamour.
Very late in the day, when the festivities were pretty much in full swing, and by the time 50 000 people had gathered in Long Street to watch the draw on the big screen, be entertained by our local bands and to dance in the streets, I made my way downtown to see what’s up. And it was simply incredible!
Those sadsters like myself who had wandered into town too late to be allowed into the main festival area thronged at the gates, and pleaded with security guards and policemen to be let in. At that stage, the fellows had been on their feet for about eight hours, were hungry, tired and fed-up, and had heard every story imaginable. They were buying none of it. Not one more person was getting into the festival.
And so I meandered back down the road, and back up again, and back down, looking for some semblance of festivity to photograph for Ron. More and more people started arriving, excitedly making their way to the festival end of the road, where they would be sorely disappointed. All they would find were policemen on horseback and a mass of people all trying to catch a glimpse of the party on the other side of the fence.
And then the mood changed. You could feel a shift in energy. A whole new party started on the other side of the fence. People made their own music, honking their vuvuzelas, drumming, chanting and singing, and they danced to their own beat. Laughing people with their arms around each other, all wanting their picture taken, danced and ran down the street. A crowd of people would suddenly stampede down the road, coming straight at me, singing at the top of their voices, waving flags and making a noise.
It was an amazing experience. People of all nationalities and all races were united in celebration. Everyone was everyone’s friend. On my own in the middle of town, carrying my camera, I felt completely safe. We were all looking out for each other. It was a great day in South African history. I am very grateful to have been a part of it.