This is a guest post by: Rich Laburn
I have been guiding a film crew from Britain around Johannesburg for the last two weeks. As you may expect, they are here to cover the tournament as well as the many soccer orientated stories surrounding the event. Over the last fortnight we have travelled to some of the most affluent areas in South Africa as well as some of the poorest. We have talked with businessmen, eaten with beggars and celebrated the opening event in a Sowetan shebeen…So what do stories do I have to tell?
My experiences are mostly positive, optimistic and patriotic. I feel hugely proud to be a South African citizen hosting international visitors to our beautiful country. I feel proud to look around at the beautiful, completed stadiums, the smooth newly tarred roads and the hardworking vibrant citizens who are pulling together to make this event work. I have seen a very present police force, a first world infrastructure and, most notably, good press from the same establishments who were slating the country in the months prior to the event. I think that it is fair to say that if the only thing the press are moaning about is the Vuvuzela, then South Africa is most certainly on the right track.
As you may well imagine, not everything is perfect and not everyone is playing their part in the altruistic ideal that we would like to believe is occurring amongst our fellow countrymen. Amidst the positives exeriences lies a few negatives…The occasional heavily inflated prices, the opportunistic individuals who pull the wool over many unsuspecting (and overly generous) tourists’ eyes as well as the crime targeted specifically at visitors to the country.
The hotel I am staying in tried to bump up its meal prices to double the normal rate, charge for just about everything and are generally trying to make a quick buck despite their shoddy service and poor communication skills. Local guides that have shown us around the less established parts of Soweto feel entitled to fleece the crew for everything from drinks to meals to free soccer balls despite charging a large daily rate for services rendered. Forget customer loyalty, relationships and negotiation – these guys know a good thing when they see it and are fully prepared to squeeze every little bit of advantage and personal gain out of it. If money wasn’t the primary driver of certain people’s motive, we would be winning far more hearts and minds of visitors to our country.
As the next fortnight begins so too will the new experiences, the maturation of this particular event and the South African perspectives. If we continue to keep our heads level; our police force present and make an example of those who step out of line, I believe this event will only continue to grow in magnitude, integrity and legacy for the rest of the world to get to know us by.