December 08, 2008
A Chat with the 2010 World Cup Team: First on African Continent
We met with the South African World Cup team to learn about their goals for hosting the World Cup. We talked to them in their offices just outside the main stadium which is currently under construction as you can see below.
From the CEO and director to the communications manager, we learned about their goals from a cultural, economic and political perspective. Of the four we met with, World Club 2010 Local Organizing Committee CEO Danny Jordaan takes the lead on the de-brief with our blogging team.
Says Jordaan, "we want infrastructure improvement across the board, from broadcast, transportation, roads, accommodation and human resource capacity. We also want to promote growth in tourism as well as job creation which we're struggling with right now."
He continues, "our past comes from a past of a long struggle between black and white. What is important in that process is to create projects that are shared by the majority of the population."
Below is Jordaan with his Chief of Communications Rich Mkhondo
He references the German World Cup created a new nation....remember up to 1990, there were two Germanies. It was two separate countries. In 1990, it brought down the wall but didn't bring together a single nation. The World Cup did that. The Germans were embracing themseJordalves as one country. It is important for this country to develop that sense of a common South African nation."
Lastly, they hope to develop a brand for South Africa. Because of the scale of the World Cup event, it can help develop a brand essence for South Africa, one which embraces democratic rights. They want to attract businesses and tourists to come to this country.
They hope to allocate at least 30% to help create economic opportunities for smaller businesses in South Africa, to that smaller micro-businesses can begin to grow and thrive.
While South Africa has hosted global sporting events including the 2003 Cricket World Club and the All African Games, South Africa has struggled to get the World Cup. In July 2000, they also tried to get the rights to host it, but lost to Germany. Finally, in 2004, they won the right to host in 2010.
Some of the sponsors and partners for this event includes Sony, Visa, Coca Cola, McDonalds, Emriates, Adidas. They go to great lengths to talk about economic gain from this World Club vis a vis others. The revenue generated from Germany was $2.8 billion. They tout that this event is moving towards $3.4 billion as a result of the commercial activities around this event to-date, more than any event in the last one hundred years.
He says, "it has been said that the two mega events that should not be hosted on the African continent are the World Cup and the Olympics. Now that we are hosting the World Cup, we hope this continent will next host the Olympics."
There are various stadiums being built around the country. In Johannesburg, Soccer City is now 95% complete and will host 94,000 people, the largest stadium since Brazil in 1950.
In Durban, the Moses Mabhida Stadium will have 5,500 steps you'll be able to walk up for a magnificent view of Durban's coastline.
They're also building the Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit (46,000 capacity), which is near the Kruger National Park. The capacity is currently at 46,000. In less than an hour from the stadium, people will be able to go into the game drive and witness elephants, impala, kudu, exotic birds, giraffe and other game popular to the region.
They'll be able to sit 48,000 in the Port Elizabeth stadium. All of the seats are already in, and they're currently working on the roof, all of which is due to be completed by May 2009. Rustenberg will be able to host 42,000 for the Confederation Cup. There are others being built including Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, which will sit 45,000 and be completed in October 2009. Green Point photo below.
Jordaan expects 450,000 people visitors during the World Cup, which gives you a sense of growth of tourism in the country. He shows us year to year growth which is steady. "We want to move beyond 10 million tourists by by 2010," he says.
Then he talks about IT infrastructure and our ears perk up. It will be the first World Cup where you can watch the entire game on mobile devices. IT partners include MTN, Sony, and local telecommunications company Telekom.
They plan to implement approximately 40,000 voice and data network ports, build in support for 10,000 communication and network devices, 4,500 notebook PCs, and 4,000 mobile telephony devices across 41 primary locations, which includes ten stadiums and ten FIFA venue hotels. They also expect to have 99.99% network availability up-time.
Then there are fan parks around the world. They want to create fan parks in all the host and non-host cities. Germany had 15 million requests for 3 million. In South Africa, we have 47 million population but here too we only have 3 million tickets that need to be distributed across the world, hence the importance of the fan parks.
They want people in Johannesburg to talk to people in fan parks in Cairo, Berlin, New York, Lagos and everywhere else in the world, so this becomes an "African celebration" around the world. The initial idea was to promote communication through satellite link-up....they haven't thought about how they'll use blogs and social networks yet, but they plan to explore the possibilities here, locally and internationally.
Teams coming to the Confederations Cup, which starts on June 14, 2009. The Champion of Champions who will be attending include the United States, Egypt, New Zealand, Iraq, South Africa, Spain, Brazil and Italy.
A chief challenge for them is obviously cost. They need at least 3.2 billion rand, and to-date they have raised roughly 1.4 billion rand. The good news is that they are about 80% complete.
Obviously since our lives are largely on the web, we want to know about their online efforts. Duncan Alfers, their online specialist, talks about some of their plans. According to Duncan, they're working on key word search with Google. Other than that, we weren't able to extract additional information about their social media and online efforts or their global marketing initiatives.
Nic from SA Rocks, wants to hear more about their marketing efforts since he doesn't feel that it has been hyped enough locally or worldwide. And that there have been some issues about local transportation and accommodation.
Yet, when asked about publicity roughly 18 months before the event, Jordaan referenced local television campaigns, but this is a far cry from what needs to be done to get worldwide buzz going, particularly online which is where younger demographics live. What about using social media? Blogosphere viral programs? Contests on Twitter? YouTube interviews?
What we learn more about is infrastructure and security efforts. They're bringing in an additional 1,400 buses for the event as well as three international airline entry points to accommodate various parts of the world. Durban will cater to everyone flying in from Asia, Cape Town will handle people coming in from the Americas, and Johannesburg will handle visitors from Europe.
They are looking at additional 200 airplanes to take care of additional demands as well as charter flights. He also talks about South Africa's infamous Blue Train, which is a 5 star hotel on rails, a bit like the Orient Express.
There are 55,000 rooms for the 'event' requirement. In other words, their obligation is to provide accommodation to FICA family, the teams, the media and the organizers. Based on current availability, they will still have to contract 20,000 rooms.
Jordaan tries to reassure us that there will be plenty of capacity. While they expect 450,000 people, he reminds us that the event starts off with 32 teams. After the first round, it gets reduced from 32 to 16 which means that not everyone will be here at the same time. They get about nine million tourists in December so he feels confident that they can host 250,000-300,000 at any one time.
On the media side, they're expecting 20,000 international media of which 360 are broadcasters. I ask them of the 20,000, how many will be bloggers and they haven't figured that out yet. With a smile, we all get an invitation to return in 2010 to cover the Confederation Cup in 2009 and the World Cup in 2010.
What we don't learn is whether they have seriously thought about integrating bloggers into their media campaign and no one seems to have put together a budget to accommodate them since we all know that bloggers or blog networks are unlikely to have the budget to fly someone across the world to cover the event in real-time. Hopefully they will start thinking about their online, social media and blogging strategy soon - the event is only a year and a half away.
Montana Meets Tuscany: South African Sky
December 07, 2008
Global Blog Buzz for We Blog the World Tour
December 06, 2008
iPod South Africa Style
iPod South African Style. This guy passed me in the Soweto Mall yesterday. How could I pass this up?
December 05, 2008
Change in South African Housing
Here is a choppy and quick video that compares the current state of "shantytown" housing in Soweto with the homes that are being built to replace them. Eric, a local, narrates.
The shantytown section is particularly short, so go through the video a couple of times to see the difference. Also keep in mind that this settlement looked much better than most of the others that we've seen. Shacks are spaced farther apart and seem to be in better condition than the norm.
The improvements in infrastructure - water, sewage, electricity - will be even more important than what is considered the increase in dignity in moving out of the shacks. The government can't build them fast enough, however, and there have been reports that many if not most of the new homes are sub-standard.
South African Sounds by Day and Night
Soothing sounds of nature from the Plumari Lodge, only an hour from the metro area of Johannesburg which houses over eight million people.
Children Dance in the Richtersveld
Take a look at South Africa's Richtersveld as seen through the eyes of Nama children, who danced for us on the banks of the Orange River, along the Namibian border.
It was followed by a picnic lunch consisting of grilled fish, game stew, salads and cheese......and of course, a taste of the local beer. You'll be incredibly moved and if the dancing alone doesn't bring on a smile, the face below most certainly will. See if you can find her in the videos.
Videos of their performance below:
December 04, 2008
America Gives South Africa Tourism Love
The United States has overtaken Germany as the second-biggest market for South African tourism, according to Wendy Tiou, Global Manager of Communications for South Africa Tourism. (The U.K. is number one, of course).
We spoke over lunch at Moyo, an open-air Johannesburg restaurant set in a park near the zoo. Moyo serves dishes from all parts of the country, including delicious curries, wild game and desserts that I'd never seen before and wish to meet again.
Even more interesting than the food is the setting, with singers and dancers and drummers, and lamps that look like happy white jellyfish. During the middle of the interview I had my face painted in a kind of sunshine warrior design. How often does that happen to you during lunch?
South Africa is hosting the next World Cup, in 2010. The World Cup, as most Americans don't know, is the world's biggest sporting event. We hosted in 1994. Brazil won, remember? Perhaps we can build on Obama's victory and cement our improved relations with the rest of the world by finally appreciating "soccer."
There are already signs counting down the days, even the seconds, until the first match. As every host country has learned, preparations are overwhelming, but Ms. Tiou sounded confident that stadiums will be ready and there will be plenty of beds for the 450,000 visitors that are expected. The country is eager to play host.
Tourism has grown substantially overall, not just from America. And why not? It's a gorgeous country, the weather is great, the people are interesting, it has a fascinating human narrative, dynamic, cross-cultural, full of challenges and opportunities, and is defining itself anew.
If you want adventure travel, vineyard outings, ancient human history, city culture - it's all here, and with the infrastructure, exchange rate and English language to make the journey an easy one for Americans and other first-world dwellers. It's a long haul, but if you have a couple of weeks it's well worth the jet lag.
December 03, 2008
Meet the San People of Southern Africa
The center, otherwise known as !Khwa ttu is designed to be a living celebration of past and present San culture.
Their 850ha nature reserve is surrounded by rolling bushlands, birdlife, game, West Coast farm buildings and fynbos. Formed as an NGO, the center is a joint venture by the San people and a Swiss philanthropic foundation (UBUNTU). !Khwa ttu’s CEO is sexy Michael Daiber, a blonde South African crocodile Dundee with perfectly weathered skin and khaki cotton clothing head to toe.
For the first time in 10,000 years, there’s a central place for all the San people wherever they may be living in southern Africa to go for education, inspiration and growth. When they first thought about where to hold the center, Botswana and Namibia were considered but ultimately southern South Africa was chosen despite the fact that it houses fewer San people than the three considered.
This is their ancestral land so it is here they should be able to speak in their original language and learn how to pass it on to the next generation. The San language has numerous dialects (!Khwa ttu employees Andre Vaalbooi and Kerson Jackson – both of them San people, go into detail about the language, giving examples of various dialects in a movie we shot below).
Only four elderly San still speak older generation dialects because it simply wasn’t passed on to the next generation over the years. Why? Apartheid had a lot to do with it. Afrikaans farmers wouldn’t allow their San workers to speak their own language.
Knowing that their children might be punished by their Afrikaans boss (baas-man they would have called them), it was safer not to teach their children their native tongue. The result is near distinction of certain dialects as the last few generations learned Afrikaans instead and passed on “it” as the mother tongue.
How unnatural Afrikaans must have felt to a people whose language sang rather than spoke. As I listened to them speak one dialect after another, the sounds came out as clicks, clacks, oings and mooias with lingering aaang delays that were hypnotic at times.
Frustrated by the inaccurate image people had of Bushmen around the world, one goal of the Center is to educate others about who the modern Bushmen (the San) are today. They also wanted to reintroduce certain vegetation and restore the land.
Says a very passionate Daiber, “A lot of the San people who work here have developed a sense of ownership. They hold workshops that range from arts & crafts to zoology. People come together to learn about their own identity and heritage as well as develop skills they can use elsewhere, such as the tourism industry or in a game reserve. We create an environment where they can learn and interact while maintaining self respect and dignity.”
The big challenge, Daiber maintains, is to find a foothold in the tourism industry. “We have to sell the place in a unique way so the rest of the world can see that the San people are so much more than a visual they might have in their minds of loin clothes and bows & arrows from centuries ago.”
The center appears to be succeeding from what I could tell by talking to Andre, oddly an Afrikaans name. Andre’s facial features as you can see below couldn’t be more different from an Afrikaaner, yet the strong verbal and cultural connection to their world doesn’t seem to bother him.
When asked how they felt about losing their language over the years because of an Apartheid way of life, he merely said “what has passed has passed.” In other words, what can we do by spending time in the past? Here, they are focused on the now and the future, which is maintaining their language and the numerous dialects as well as educating others about their culture and history.
The pictoral museum itself also shed history of the Bushmen from the beginning of time.
The below map shows the regions where they spread.
Below is footage we shot of Andre and Kerson giving us lessons on the why, how and pronunciation of the various dialects of the San language. It’s a fascinating watch whether or not you have some familiarity with their culture and history.
Before we explored what was past and what is now, we were served Springbok tartare with melon. It was prepared and presented in a way that might lead you to think you were in a top-end Parisian restaurant rather than a rural center in the middle of the South African bush with nothing on either side but rolling bushland, hay, trees and four lonely wind mills less than 60 kilometers away.
The main course was equally exciting and tasty as hell. Springbok curry served with rice, chutney and egg brought out some of the best flavors I’ve tasted in awhile. Southern African curry is unlike the curries from northern India and the states and share more in common with the Indian curries you can find today in the southwest of India, some of which made its way to England and Scotland.
As it was time to leave, a playful Daiber followed us to the dusty parking lot outside of their locked gate that was opened today just for our visit since they’re normally closed on Mondays……an amazing treat since it meant that we had the place to ourselves.
Here, natural beauty is in raw form. You can actually hear the silence in a way I’ve only found possible on the African continent. I had forgotten how different the air is in southern Africa and how the place gives a new meaning and definition to the “sounds of silence.”
These sounds of silence weave its way into your memory accompanied by a late afternoon sky – diffused oranges and yellows, more yellow today, yes, more yellow.
The day after a windstorm and the afternoon after a helicopter ride around Table Mountain, the sky was calm with blue sky, a smattering of white clouds that had managed to form an impressionist-like mass by 5:30 in the afternoon as we made our way out of the dusty road and onto Stellenbosch. As I looked out the window to our rear, I could see Daiber’s Jack Russell terrior Bullet wagging his tail and watching us drive out of sight.
December 02, 2008
A Call From the Distant Past
Sometimes when I go to the ocean and stand at the edge of the water for awhile I can fell the pull of time. It's not like that eerie feeling on the northwest edge of Goat Island at Niagara Falls, the sense that there's a slight hand at your back suggesting....
The feeling at the ocean is a reminder that we came from there. Some serial entrepreneur fish decided one millennium to expand his target market by crawling onshore and here we are. So you look out at the eternal sea, the waves that keep landing whether or not we're there to see them, and the sense that we came from there just fits.
Wake up 30 minutes before first light and wait for sunrise in a South African field and it's the same. There is something about the air, the light and the stillness that is different from, say, the Rocky Mountains or Death Valley. It reminds me of those long scenes in the first part of Kubrick's 2001, scenes in which the camera lingered much longer than we are used to in film, hinting at the passage of eons.
This sense of beginning has some basis. The San, or Bushmen, are by most accounts the oldest common ancestor of humans, and the tribes originated in what is now called Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Our group visited a San/Bushman cultural center and have a trip scheduled later for what is considered the cradle of humankind, so more on them later.
For now, it's worth noting that an early morning in a South African landscape has some of the same effect as the ocean, an unconscious postcard ("Wish You Were Still Here"?) from a place all of us once called home.