World Cup blog

Multimedia man arrives in expectant South Africa


Our intrepid reporter enters the multimedia era but is outsmarted by his Smartphone. On arrival he finds African football legends happy the World Cup is in Africa and is quizzed by supermodel types while in search of ambiance.



The shopping experience at Paris's Charles De Gaulle airport disappoints me terribly. At around 9am on Monday morning I walked into the multimedia boutique which boasts a dazzling array of micro-chipped devices. But it didn’t have the cable I needed for a digital camera.

I puffed and thought back to my experience a few years ago at Stansted airport in England, where the outlets seemed to have everything. So much so that I bought a wallet  I really didn’t need. But it looked so lovely and leathery. It was (and still is) the kind of thing a grown-up man should have.

Since buying the wallet, I’ve become more sensible. Perhaps it has magical properties that have endowed me with maturity and measure.

Because of all the scare stories about South Africa and (I’m told) the high likelihood of being mugged in my sleep, I’ve left the wallet at home along with other material goodies such as my iPhone.

This cunning plan was undermined when I got an email from RFI’s multimedia section informing me that a ‘smartphone’ was available for me to take away.

This contraption will allow me to update the Facebook page RFI shares with France 24. I can (or is that will?) take pictures with it, send the data via the internet and – glory be - I can make and receive phone calls.

A part of me was happy when various MTN phone company operatives at Johannesburg airport failed to make the shiny beast perform on Tuesday morning.

As they furrowed their brows, my colleagues bought these miniscule plasticky phones and went away chirping as they tapped in their various numbers.

RFI multimedia has since emailed me outlining how to ‘unlock’ the beast.

Ooh, but perhaps this is all a metaphor.

Well it is now because a blog needs a metaphor like a fan needs a vuvuzela.

The next month is going to be about perceptions; the football is just the face paint.

We all know where South Africa has come from and have an idea of its future journey. We’re all aware there is an ominous disparity between rich and poor here, too.

Billions of rand have been spent to bring the best football show on earth to a people many of whom can barely afford the tickets.

But organisers say these kind of events are needed to build nations; to give them modern history.

I was at the pre-drinks jamboree for the African Legends Gala Dinner on Tuesday night in Johannesburg.

It was at the Vodadome at Vodaworld. Apt location given all the hassle I’d been having with telephony that day.

It probably wasn’t a brilliant idea to attend since I’d only had a few hours aircraft sleep since lifting off from Charles de Gaulle at midday on Monday.

But there I was 30 hours later hunting for interviews with African football legends. And, to a man, they are all pleased that the World Cup is at last in Africa.

After seeing the stars saunter off into the dining hall, I was chatting to some other journalists when an elegantly clad lady came up to us and flashed a PR executive smile. She told us that the media could go into the banqueting room for ambiance shots of legends and their ladies at leisure.

A little later, en route to the suite, I walked past two people. The women called me back and asked to check my accreditation.

I apologised for being so brusque, blamed the lack of sleep since Paris etc etc and finished it off with a flourish about fatigue blinding me to the charms of supermodel types on the door.

How could they not accept the apology?

After they’d finished their ushering duties, I asked if they were local and if they could suggest a place where I and my colleagues could dine.

They then quizzed me about what I thought about South Africa. And then one said, ‘I’ll be direct. You don’t usually meet many black men who speak English with your kind of accent.’

There are loads in Britain I said.

Were they ignorant or inexperienced? I’d have to meet them again to discover. I really don’t know because I don’t usually meet young South African blonde women at gala dinner parties. So I have to keep an open mind.

And that’s got to be a positive start.


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