Thursday, July 15, 2010

Danny Jordaan, the humble champion of the world.

Danny Jordaan, must perhaps be the most unasuming champion of the Fifa Soccer World Cup 2010. He's been the one person that galvanised an organisation, no, a movement to make it all happen. Yet, listening to an interview with him on Talkradio 702, I was again struck by the matter-of-factness of his attitude in pulling off this soccer spectacle. Whilst the world is ecstatic, for him it was almost just another day in the office.What have I learnt from the interview with this worldleader?

Of course, I am simply responding to what I've heard in the interview, today and have not done a deeper look into his life and context. On my drives in our taxi back from Pretoria, in the afternoons, I had some fascinating conversations with a friend of his from the Eastern Cape, who was also deeply involved in sport, back in the days. From these conversations it was evident that Jordaan was a keen and brilliant soccer player, who were of course never afforded the opportunity to play for the national team. What a loss. From the interview, however one would not find one instance, where Jordaan presents himself as bitter or resentful. He is active in the present, have learnt the lessons well and he remains commited to affirm the dignity and value of human beings irrespective of the colour of their skin. These comments are simply presented as a background for my observations and it remains my thoughts, as I listen to these various voices.

Now for my reflections on the interview with the Talkradio 702
1) I was struck by the sense that Jordaan remained humble, aware of the challenges the still lies ahead.Its tempting to lash out at your foes and enemies, the naysayers and the prophets of doom, like some have done. In this interview there was reference to the Afrophobia and the pessimists, yet it was never in a gloating manner. There was a simple affirmation of the achievement, a sincere 'thank you' to all who have been part of the team, but them also a humble acceptance of the fact that he is human, tired and also overwhelmed by the support.
2) It seems to me that this moment was just another step in Jordaan's bigger vision. His journey came a long way, with many disappointments, many losses, many times where he had to start again, yet he maintained his overall vision of bringing all South Africans together and affirming the value of all human beings, in particular the people of the continent of Africa.
3)Whilst Jordaan felt the raw impact of Apartheid, he said at some point, we still carry the pain of it, he was able to be aware and transcend his own weaknesses, yet never succumb to a victim mentality. He was speaking of his own story, Group Areas Act, Bush colleges, Churches, schools, homes being demolished, with all the memories and social capital that went along with these buildings. He experienced the depth of depravity that human beings, blinded by ideology are capable of. Yet. he is also aware of the capabilities and potential within people-people can change and also make the world a better place.

These little glimpses of his story, in my view, gives hope. Its not only about the big lights and the rands and cents, its also about the human spirit, which can overcome the odds.
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