As intended, the Beijing Olympics have done much to help China launch itself as a new and exciting brand, overtones of the 1936 Munich games notwithstanding. South Africa hopes to get the same mileage out of the 2010 soccer world cup. We need it.
Right now, the South African brand has another famous sporting event hanging around its neck, ironically a triumph, but one that creates the temptation to conclude that our best days are past us. As Simon Kuper recently put it in the Financial Times, South Africa “has slipped from fairy tale to sad, complex country.”
The triumph in question was the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the way, as related in John Carlin’s new book (and soon to be movie), Playing the Enemy, Nelson Mandela made the most of it by donning a Springbok jersey to complete the seduction of Afrikanerdom. Continue reading “SA, not sad”