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Showing posts from 2010

Coming Home

Back in Sweden, back to the green, the warm, the lush, the peaceful, the music. Usually those epithets (maybe with the exception of peaceful) is used going in the other direction but this time it is very true for Sweden. It would take a football World Cup for me to miss out on another summer in Klockargården. How incredible peaceful and beautiful it is... My excitement of landing in SA got the blog going and I hope the joy of coming home will keep the blogposts flowing even if I have allowed myself a little summer break. On the topic of homecoming, the first task that awaited me was working with "Stämbandet", a choir from Boston who specializes in Scandinavian music. What a joy to find fellow lovers of our tradition and treasure who travelled far to re-fill their souls with music they love. I told them that the reason why Dalarna had preserved so much of their cultural heritage was not because it was isolated - rather the opposite. The people of Dalarna had always

Bread and circuses

I first met Evans in Dar es Salaam. I was adjudicating at the finals of the “Musical Crossroads”, a competition bringing together the best young musical talent from all over southern and eastern Africa. Evans played the bass and sang in the winning group from Malawi. They won the first prize, a tour to Sweden, in competition with the best groups from all over Africa. Later I had the joy of hosting him and the group in Rättvik as they performed around the country to full and enthusiastic crowds. Now I meet him in Johannesburg more than ten years later. He is still the kind and intelligent man he was, but the story of his life has caught up with him; he is not a celebrated international artist any longer. After the return to Malawi the group encountered various problems and had to fold. Evans worked as a business consultant, but times were bad with global recession and he was forced to, as so many before him, try his luck in eGoli. From being a celebrated international musician whe

Everone Won

The Beautiful Game. I have just watched my most beautiful World Cup Game. I have not been too prone on giving match commentaries, as they feel too ephemeral even for a blog, but this one I have to make an exception for. After too much time in front of FIFA playstation I jammed Gabriel and the boys into the Volvo, 9 of us in all, and drove out to Rhodes Park, one of these old central Johannesburg parks that still have not gotten a new name. It needs a facelift as well, the dry winterfields left pretty much deserted apart from a flock o doves trying to scrape out a seed or two. After a while another expectant team showed up and we managed to get two eleven's. But first we had to share the shoes. Most in the other team had no shoes at all so they played bare-foot. But some of them had, and in order to get the team ready and equipped they all shared shoes. Those with two gave one to the one's who had none, so when the team lined up most had at least one shoe on one of

The fall of Infallibility.

What a day it was. A day I’ve longed for and anticipated. Maybe not the day Infallibility fell altogether, but it got some lethal blows I doubt it will fully recover from. The unlucky Irish got robbed of a place in the World Cup through a goal preceded by Henry of France handling the ball three times. It was watched by millions of viewers all over the world in slow motion. But not seen by the Swedish referee Hansson who is only allowed his limited perspective, not the view everyone else benefits from. Yet he is supposed to be the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-objective. Poor Hansson. Poor, poor Irishmen. And actually poor Frenchmen as well. I was quite convinced that the French would not be able to enjoy a tournament that everyone knew they had cheated to qualify for. I did not know how right I would be though. But credit to Henry who actually wanted the Irish game to be replayed. No one benefits from this order. FIFA? Hardly, they had to do a lot of damage repair, holdi

Listening to the soft voice

As the vuvuzelas now are being exported around the world their sound seem to abate a little here in SA – or is it just our ears that are getting numb? And as the blasting sounds have entered into virtually every home in the world through the TV-screens the discussion is now reverberating around the world. In one of the games in Bloemfontein an elderly white South African and a young black South African had seats next to each other behind me in the stadium. The black guy tooted his horn. The white man asked him for mercy. The black man replied with total certainty: “I can blow as much as I want” and carried on mooing. I couldn’t help but smile; somehow being able to understand both views. This little dialogue could so easily be placed in a racial context in this country, but it is more than that; it is about cultural diversity and our need to embrace and celebrate it! I wrote a little in my first blog on the subject why I so easily can understand and enjoy the black man’s res

The black shooting stars

I am enjoying a peaceful morning in the Troyeville flat overlooking Ellis Park. But peace is, as always in Johannesburg, a bit elusive. Underneath a winter-pale highveld a mountain of gold is stashed, giving this place its constant nervous vibe. Underneath my calm exterior quivers the excitement of all the action, all the people, all the energy I have encountered the last weeks. I have been to eight games so far and I am enjoying every minute of it. I am taking my sons to the games as much as their school allows and it is optimal boys quality time. (All the schools of South Africa are out for the whole World Cup but the school in Swaziland where my boys go are only out one week.) And it is with gratitude I acknowledge that I am rich when it comes to sons - in a true African fashion. During our time in the Peace of Music Centre here in Troyeville, (called the Biiig House by the children), I was known as “Paps” to all the children. And to my delight I notice now a few years late

June 16

Johannesburg is slowly waking up. A suggestion of frost is being wiped off from the rooftops in front of me as the sun starts its day’s work. But the streets are still unusually quiet. It is June 16, a holyday and a holy day in the South African calender. The day of the youth; the day of the bafana and the banyana. Johannesburg itself is an incredibly young city. The world’s biggest gold deposit was found here in 1886 and rapidly changed the course of history. Fortune-seekers from all over the world moved in and 10 years later Johannesburg had outgrown Cape Town as the biggest city in the country. But everyone did not come voluntarily. In order to satisfy the great need for labour a “hut tax” of 14 shillings a hut was imposed on the natives by the British colonists, forcing the African population into the monetary economy. The pattern was not new and Darfur is a sorry reminder for the world community that it is still continuing: whenever and wherever riches are found on the cont

Welcome home, world!

The day had come, and it started in a typical dramatic South African fashion. I was woken up with the news of the death of Zenani Mandela. It proved to be, not Madibas daughter Zenani, but his great grandchild. The whole world wanted to see the grand old man at the opening of the World Cup, and he finally agreed, despite the cautions from his family due to his frail health. The morning of the opening the news arrived of the death of little Zenani in a car accident with the driver being arrested for drunk driving. Again Mandela was faced with the hard choices between his official duties and his private sphere, a theme that has run through his life. But this choice was probably not so difficult. Zenani was a favorite grandchild (see picture). A great sadness in his life has also always been the death of his son in a car-accident while he was imprisoned on Robben Island. So he stayed at home but, as FIFA president Blatter said in his opening address, “The spirit of Mandela is in Soc

The inevitable topic: The Vuvuzela

“Africa is loud”, claims FIFA-president Blatter. “Let it be loud, let it be Africa”. And he’s right. But South-Africa, in a soccer context, is a lot louder than the rest of Africa. The vuvuzela has banged through all previous decibel-records. Why is that? A complex question indeed, but I think one of the reasons can be found in the examples from the history included in the first blog . The silenced people that have regained their voice. South Africa’s 16-year-old democracy goes through its most raucous puberty. An expressively gifted people who has been denied its vote, its voice for such a long time is now making a natural and totally appropriate rebellion against its “overprotective parents” – to use a kind euphemism for the old South Africa that the new has grown out of. The vuvu is like a boys’ choir where all the voices are breaking. Those are the choirs that aren’t really so useful for concerts, it’s a transformation time from the angelic innocence of the children’s

A blog!

A blog! That’s what I need now… I have just arrived in South-Africa for the Soccer World Cup and I tumble over my doorstep in Troyeville totally overwhelmed. Arriving at the Joburg airport was a kind of a cultural shock in itself; SO many feelings, such joy, so many tears (of happiness…), such a feeling of almost disbelief at the fact that it is actually happening. I need a blog, I need a blog quickly! The feeling that this was a very different trip started already at the check-in gate in London. I laughed when I saw the queue. Almost exclusively men, but boyish and up-beat unlike many other airport queues of burdened bureaucrats. I came to sit next to one of the few ladies. At first it seemed that we didn’t have any language in common and after spending the whole long night silently stuffed side by side in the aircraft I noticed in the dawning light a white and lightblue striped shirt and I asked: “Argentina?” “Si, si!” Having thus found our common language we spoke foo