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Fire in Soweto!

A majestic view of Johannesburg's Central Business District.(time.com)

By Tony Ubani, in South Africa
I stood in the middle of Soweto and watched as youths streamed out from a bus clinging on to their vuvuzela . They ran in different ways. Both boys and girls. Most of them were blacks.

Then suddenly I saw chills all over me. I pulled my winter jacket and zipped it to my neck, trying to avoid the effects of the chilling cold that dropped as if someone somewhere opened it on me. The multiple clothes I was wearing were of no effect.

My eyes flashed on yet another group of black kids making merry celebrating the world cup that finally kicked off in |South Africa despite all the alarm of a possible attack from nefarious extremists.  I saw myself whistling to the music of Sony Okosun, the late Oziddi King = Fire in Soweto. “I looked at my people, dying in Soweto. I looked at my children, burning …..”. I hummed the music and realized that this was the same Soweto that Sony Okosun sang those beautiful hits that highlighted the suffering and killing and discrimination of blacks by the apartheid regime.

I remembered the Soweto uprising of 1976 between black youths and the government of the apartheid regime.  I decided to walk into the streets despite warnings that Soweto was a tough area to visit unaided. But I looked at the people and there was no difference between them and me.

There was no difference between their lives and the lives of those who live in Lagos or Nigeria generally. Moved by the music of Sony Okosun, I felt a bond existed between me and Soweto. It made me remember how police opened fire in Orland West on 10,000 students marching to protest government’s policy on education. And here I am in  the middle of Soweto watching people free.

I remembered Sony Okosun and felt a sudden surge of droplets of tears. Okosun needed to be alife to sing at the World Cup. But I know that wherever Okosun is(God bless his soul), he would be proud to see that his people are not being killed again.

Soweto, an acronym from South Western Townships has become the centre of attraction and it is at the middle of Soweto that this imposing edifice of a Stadium called the Soccercity is erected. The Stadium is a beauty work of architecture with signatures of Sowetans on it.

As the weather became so unbearable, I beckoned on my taxi. And as we manoeuvred through the crowd, I became happy that at least, I am part of the history of covering the first world cup to hold in an African soil. It is Africa’s world cup and South Africa is the venue. I remembered Sony Okosun and realized that we have lost a legend in the likes of Bob Marley who used music to bring awareness to the world on the sufferings of black people in the world.

Today, the whole world is in South Africa. The same South Africa they avoided like a plaque. How ironic! And South Africa has done Africa proud with perfect organization and world class facilities. Who says that black is not beautiful? Honestly, I am black and proud of South Africa. Bravo Nelson Mandela!! Bravo Desmond Tutu!!

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Bang!   Bang!!  Bang!!!
From one great musician to another great one who though many believe has been riding high with
the name of his legendary father. It was not a mistake that Femi Kuti carried the flag of Nigeria when he sang during the opening ceremony of the World Cup. The organizers of the world cup decided to bring a lot of history to the first world cup in Africa. It was paramount that he played bearing the cross of the great one, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

I received calls from Nigeria querying why Femi decided to sing Bang, Bang Bang among his many beautiful tracks that would have electrified the crowd. I had to explain that that track was the best that suited the occasion and the weather. If you listen to the lyrics of that song, you would agree that the freezing weather in South Africa needed a song that would make people Bang, bang bang! Truly,  a snake would never give birth to anything that is short. South Africans danced and wriggled the waist in a banging way to shake
off the cold and celebrate the world cup. For some of us who were privileged to be at the stadium, Femi made us proud with the song. The world cup is about fun, friendship and love. And Bang Bang Bang  typifies the ingredient of love and friendship. It cements love and builds bridges. That singular track has cemented a lot between races, men and women, young and old. I doff my hat for Femi for his brilliance on stage and for entertaining Africa and the world with that song.

Where are the Police with arms?

Many Nigerians who are visiting South Africa for
the first time have not stopped asking
questions over the beauty and development of the once apartheid enclave. Francis Ajuonuma who is having his debut of international coverage in the world cup laughed to scorn and said that South Africa should not be referred to as African country. Perhaps, he based his argument from Nigeria, the acclaimed Giant of Africa. It is indeed laughable to refer to Nigeria as the giant of Africa when the real giants are watching.

There is no aspect of development in terms of roads, water, electricity, discipline, traffic that really makes South Africa look like an African country. I guess it is the population of blacks that really make it African. Even the winter that we are experiencing is un-African. I do know that North Africans are equally in this rank of development.

With the world cup and the attendant number of tourists, one expects hordes of policemen and women wielding  guns and patrolling major roads or even forming road blocks with drums or felled trees as it were in Nigeria. Apart from the stadium where you encounter policemen who keep a distance, most of them are without guns. And yet we hear they are one of the world’s best trained enforcement people. They are polite and humble and always ready to assist.

Not even the many heads of Government that attended the opening ceremony of the world cup at the gigantic sportscity stadium in Soweto attracted hordes of policemen. Yet security was beefed. I have come to realize that many of the ordinary people who mingle and play with you are plain-cloth policemen and women. You have to be with the people to obtain information and nip problems from the bud.

It is not by carrying archaic machine guns or extorting money from motorists or bullying Okada riders and still, when armed robbers open fire, the policeman dives for safety removing his uniform and disguising as a civilian. If Nigeria had experienced apartheid like South Africa, we would still be in the shadows today. The civil war that Nigeria had still bears the scars everywhere in the East. Most of our leaders, Senators, House of Reps members, Ministers, Governors, Commissioners etc are in South Africa for the World Cup. They would all go back to Nigeria

with extra luggage from shoppings. They have never seen their electricity blink. Their roads are as immaculate as the white of cherubim and seraphim. They would tell everybody how beautiful and organized South Africa is. But they will not go home with any lesson. They would not think of introducing good things in their own country.

Instead, they would prefer to come out for medical checks and bring their girlfriends on holidays. All on government account. They are all here living a normal life without body guards. The only sound of siren is that of medics. Once they touch down in Nigeria, they are possessed.


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