June 15, 2010

The 2010 FIFA World Cup: Will South Africa “Score”?

Posted in South Africa tagged , , , , , at 6:17 pm by randallbutisingh

The 2010 FIFA World Cup: Will South Africa “Score”?

by (Brian E. Konkol)

On May 15th 2004, South Africa was named as hosts for the 2010 FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup, which is widely regarded as the greatest sports competition in the world. The opportunity to welcome thirty-two of the world’s greatest soccer teams (and their numerous adoring fans) was celebrated as proof that the African continent was making significant progress in its bid to contribute on the global economic stage.
The initial announcement brought incredible excitement for South African citizens, as the 2010 FIFA World Cup was considered a fantastic breakthrough in the ongoing developmental efforts of the nation, for it was widely communicated that “every South African” would benefit as a result of the month-long tournament.

In the past weeks, FIFA announced a $196 million surplus for 2009, as overall revenues soared over one billion dollars. “The market trusts South Africa”, said FIFA President Sepp Blatter, making reference to lucrative television and marketing deals, such as Coca-Cola, Emirates Airline, Hyundai, Sony, Adidas and Visa. In addition, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is projected to earn FIFA its largest revenues in history, with $3.1 billion in corporate sponsorship and broadcasting rights already secured for the next four years, and more generous funding likely to follow. In terms of FIFA revenues, South Africa is set to become the most “successful” World Cup host of all time.

With ongoing news of massive FIFA profits, the question lingers: What about South Africans?

As the June 11th opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup draws closer, South Africans have increasingly expressed their discontent at the massive disparity of benefits. For example, in July of 2009, South African trade unions led a nation-wide strike after learning that some of the 70,000 labourers assigned to building and renovating World Cup stadiums were earning about $1.50 an hour and others $5 a week (minimum wage in South Africa is supposed to be $200 a month). In addition, the United Kingdom newspaper News of the World reported how young Chinese workers in Shanghai earned 2.30 rand (approximately $0.30) a day to manufacture models of “Zakumi” – the official mascot of the 2010 World Cup (the product typically sells for $48). Also, reports surfaced that Adidas was manufacturing its “Jabulani” soccer balls (the official ball of the 2010 World Cup) in Asia as well, paying workers marginal wages, and leaving South African workers and industrial leaders completely out of the picture and unable to enjoy financial profit.

As multi-national airline industries increased flight costs to and from South Africa in the early months of 2010, and with expendable income of potential tourists reduced because of the global economic crisis, the amount of visitors expected in South Africa has declined steadily from 450,000 to 250,000. In addition, South African government projects on mass transportation have been met with heavy resistance, and port workers have also participated in various strikes across the country. All in all, hosting the FIFA World Cup is projected to cost South Africa far more than initially estimated, with stadium construction well over the 9.8 billion rand ($1.28 billion) budgeted, $1.5 billion spent on Johannesburg’s Gautrain light rail transport system, and $90 million for security, including new helicopters and body armour for police. The country has also upgraded seven of its airports, and built an eighth, the King Shaka International Airport in Durban, completely from scratch. These various developments have added significantly to South Africa’s public debt, in the hope that the long-term investment will eventually pay off.

The cheapest ticket for a 2010 FIFA World Cup match is 140 Rand ($19), whereas most will cost well over $100. While FIFA has offered free entry to a small percentage of construction workers and various local contest winners and schoolchildren, the fact remains that most South African citizens will be left outside the stadiums built by their own hands, while foreign tourists will have the best views of the greatest soccer players on the planet. The country has an unemployment rate of nearly 30% and the average monthly income is widely estimated at R2700 ($360). The country’s most loyal soccer supporters are among the poor, and as they rarely pay more than R15 ($2) to attend a local professional match, their attendance at 2010 FIFA World Cup venues is highly doubtful.

As a fan of international soccer, I am excited for some of the best athletes in the world to arrive on African soil, and I am indeed planning to take advantage of the opportunity and attend a few matches. Nevertheless, while I am eager for the competition and ready to support the South African and USA teams, my conscious is troubled, for the question remains: What benefit will the 2010 FIFA World Cup have for South African citizens? Yes, one can find examples of a few development projects surrounding the tournament, but what about the “big picture”? What about the long-term? Will the quality of education in South Africa increase, or will less funding be allocated as South Africa pays off its bloated stadium construction debt? What will happen to the 70,000 workers who no longer have stadiums to build? Will South Africa see the boost in tourism that it seeks (and so desperately needs to pay off its debts)? What happens if it does not? What about the ongoing spread of HIV/AIDS? What about public health? What about land-distribution?

FIFA is expected to earn billions, yet South Africa is expecting to owe billions for years to come. Whereas foreign business leaders and a small number of well-connected South Africans will reap incredible rewards long after the closing ceremony in July, the debt repayment process will most certainly leave its most negative impact upon the poor and marginalized throughout the nation. And so, the most important questions leading up to the grand tournament is not who may win the golden trophy. But rather, I hope the millions of soccer fans around the world who will be following each match are led to consider the facts surrounding the event and boldly decide not to ignore such blatant exploitation. More specifically, my hope is that fans will consider not only what is taking place within World Cup stadiums, but also what is taking place around them.

Posted by ELCA – MUD

Source: http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com/

Comment by Randall Butisingh:

Hello readers:

This is an article from my friend Brian Konkol, who now lives in South Africa,  which I would like to share with you.  This Blog has many articles by Brian and his wife Kristen, which you could access using the search button.

Football is the most popular sport in the world as it is inexpensive to play … all you need is a football.  As a child we played a lot of cricket, but there was always football as an alternative, easy to set up and play, and requiring little space to play – the field and goalposts being whatever we decided was right for the space that was available.

Today, football has grown into a worldwide game played between nations, all aiming for bragging rights as the best football nation, or at least the chance of creeping up in the world standings.  Like any competition, football can be divisive as it pits one nation against the other.  However, it can also serve as a cohesive force of bringing nations together as building blocks for harmony and common purpose.  Let us hope that this World Cup in South Africa, helps in the positive process of awakening all mankind that we are all one with common destinies, so we must all work together, even though we compete, for the good of all mankind.

Randall Butisingh

October 12, 2008

DISCUSSIONS WITH BRIAN KONKOL- 6

Posted in Environment, Philosophy, Religion, South Africa tagged , , , , , , , at 12:26 am by randallbutisingh

DISCUSSIONS WITH BRIAN KONKOL -6

South Africa – October 2008
Transitions: Inside and Out (Written by: Kristen F. Konkol)
To read online (with pictures) click here: http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com

This is a time of transition in many parts of South Africa. We are slowly moving from our “winter” to a time of renewal, blossom, and growth. The spring season is upon us after months of dry and dusty earth. Winter months commonly bring about the burning of fields and grasslands, leaving them blackened and charred.

The end of a dry winter is also a time bringing about windy and blustery conditions.. With spring, the rains have begun falling over the past couple weeks and the lush green landscape is beginning to envelope the scenery. Green shoots of grass poke up through the blackened earth alongside small, colorful flowers while the budding trees are exploding with fragrant blossoms in purple, yellow, pink and white. Even as some of the weather patterns are predictable, others leave you shaking your head.

A couple weeks ago, Brian and I were driving the 5 ½ hour trip back to Pietermaritzburg from Johannesburg. As we drove over the winding Van Reenen Pass (interesting fact: the village boasts the smallest church in the world capable of a full house of 8 people) outside of Harrismith, we glimpsed the Drakensburg Mountains. A smile came over our faces as they were top to bottom blanketed white with snow. We had seen snow on the mountain tops previously during this winter season, but never their entirety. We continued traveling and as we came to an area near Mooi River, about 45 minutes from our home, our smiles got broader and our heads shook with disbelief. The sides and middle of the road were covered with a fresh layer of snow. Fifty or more cars were stopped taking pictures of the isolated scene with some bundling up snowballs with ear to ear smiles stretched across their faces. As we peered to the left we saw an entire, open field layered with a couple inches of snow. The field was filled with hundreds of people running, playing, and enjoying what they knew would be a short-lived cover of snow. Some were making snowmen, but my favorite scene of all was seeing three or more games of soccer being played by the children in the snow, slipping and sliding as they went. A few kilometers later, there was no more snow to be found, but as we drove the rest of the way home we could not stop thinking about what we had witnessed. Where did this fit into our “preconceived notions” about South Africa? This just simply did not fit.

As foreigners, I wonder how many times we have images or depictions about what Africa, specifically South Africa is all about. Is it simply a place dominated by HIV/AIDS, poverty and reconciliation from apartheid; or a rural place filled with the Big 5 safari animals? Are our notions based on the media, books or stories we may have encountered growing up? And what do we do when we are faced with our mental picture not fitting into the reality? I am not suggesting that I have enough experience to dispel or correct all of these beliefs, but I do find myself experiencing so many different perspectives and ways of doing things that I couldn’t have imagined. A small example…as I went up to a counter recently to pay for an item (in a rural area) I was confused as to what was going on. People were not lining up “properly”, but rather fanned out approaching the cashiers in a big group all at once. Where’s the order, I thought, but somehow everyone else seemed just fine and had the system all figured out. Eventually I paid and moved on, but then remembered what a gentleman named Pastor Jabu told me a month before. He mentioned the idea of community and how being in straight lines or front to back just didn’t fit into this circular, inclusive way of living together. The traditional homestead is another example of community. The Zulu term for the traditional homestead layout is umuzi which consisted of two concentric fences of thorn trunks. The huts would be located inside the outer fence (according to family position/status) and the cattle in the inner circle with a smaller enclosure there for the calves.  Hmm, I thought…makes perfect sense now why paying at the register in my preconceived notion of “order” didn’t fit from a historical and cultural perspective.

There are so many times I could reflect on where these predetermined ideas about my surroundings and my observations have been challenged. Just as with every culture one may live in or visit, the important element is to spend a vast amount of time listening, learning, observing and asking questions. The premise of the volunteer program we are coordinating has this similar belief as we walk alongside and accompany our companions here in South Africa . There are so many new ideas, ways of doing things and perspectives to be gained from our friends and companions. All of us here serving with ELCA Global Mission are challenged each day to see, to experience and to learn about the culture of our South African companions so we can truly accompany, mutually exchanging with one another in the journey.

Just like a new season, we and the volunteers continue to transition as we blossom, grow and are transformed by our service in South Africa. Our images, ideas and notions are in turn expanded, enriched and clarified. I have no doubt there will be more “snow day”-type experiences we will encounter to make us smile and say…I never could have envisioned or imagined this! But what a gift.

———————————————————-
Rev. Brian & Kristen Konkol
Project Coordinators, South Africa
Young Adults in Global Mission – E.L.C.A
Address: P.O. Box 28694
Haymarket.3200. South Africa.
Phone: (Country Code 027) 033-396-5494
Cell: (Country Code 027) 071-121-9692

===============================================================

COMMENT:

From: randallbutisingh@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: South Africa – October 2008
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2008 13:37:54 -0400
Brian,

It is always a joy to hear from you.  It gives my spirit a lift, my young friend; and also to read the writings of Kristen which are par excellent in content and good journalism.  The first paragraph of “Transitions Inside and Out” is sheer poetry in the beauty of its expression and its appeal to the emotion.

Yes, South Africa is a beautiful country and Capetown one of the most beautiful cities in the world, as far as my  knowledge of Geography goes, and the report I get from family and friends who live there or visit there.  I am glad that you two are enjoying the beautiful landscape and the coolness and salubrity of Spring after a harsh Winter. This ia  great compensation for the onerous duty you are performing and which no transitory material reward can give.

That you have to view portions of the landscape which have been scarred by the vicious system of Apartheid, and the proliferation of the HIV virus and Xenophobia, make it all the more reason why you are there for greater Service and a greater Reward.  Reward , not in the sense that you will be made rich with material goods, but that you will enjoy that which no money can buy, and which is everlasting, but only He can give – Happiness and Peace of mind.
Love and Peace,

Randall
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August 9, 2008

DISCUSSIONS WITH BRIAN KONKOL -1

Posted in Guyana, Philosophy, Religion, Thoughts tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:55 am by randallbutisingh

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:

DISCUSSIONS WITH BRIAN KONKOL -1

Brian and Kristen Konkol, a young couple, are missionaries who recently began working in South Africa. I have known Brian for a number of years and Kirsten, whom he married for over a year. I am proud of the work they did in Guyana before moving to South Africa in November 2007. They truly lived the gospel and are good writers. We have had several discussions on spiritual matters and I have been reading his regular newsletters which I found informative and inspirational. Here are two pieces from our discussions that I would like to share with you: I trust Brian will approve of them.

Randall Butisingh

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

From: Randall Butisingh:

To: Brian Konkol

Brian:

There’s no doubt that the task you and Kristen have assumed is an onerous one.  It has to be so, as it is “the Greatest Task you have been assigned to” and it will need only people like you, dedicated and committed, to make it succeed.  … People who are willing to sacrifice their lives to build, as you said, “a better society,”… which will bring the Kingdom of God on earth. You may, at times, be tempted to think: “Why did I have to give up the ease and comfort I could have had, and endure all this? That is natural.  Our Lord had His temptations.  But what are the material things and pleasures of the flesh?  They are transient and cannot satisfy. But what you will acquire in your desire to serve cannot be taken from you. I mean the virtues like love and compassion, faith and hope, patience and endurance.  These virtues will sustain you.  The fruit of your efforts will not be the perishable things of the flesh, but the everlasting gifts of the Spirit. You will not need a comfortable living, as you will experience the Joy and Peace of a Life worth living and which is all that matters.

Kindest regards,

Randall

……………………………………………………………………………………

From: Brian Konkol

To: Randall Butisingh

Randall:

Your supportive words always mean a great deal.  Thank you.

When it comes to the “material” side of life, I’ve been hearing a great deal as of late from friends and family about the current economic conditions across the United States.  With rising gas prices, rising food costs, the dipping housing market, and other contributing factors, people who were quite “comfortable” just a few years ago are now feeling the “financial crunch” that was once reserved only for the lower class.  Working middle-class people now have to cut expenses and start choosing between needs and wants.

When I hear of the struggles people in the United States are now enduring, I usually have two main thoughts.  First, I feel compassion for them, for I know that it is indeed a struggle, but secondly, I think about all the people around the world who have it much worse, and I feel as if people in the US aren’t as thankful as they should be.  It is certainly a mixture of emotions, and I often do not know how to handle it.  I do not wish to minimize people’s struggles here in the US, because they are difficult struggles indeed.  Yet, when you compare them to the struggles of those in Africa and other corners of the world, it is difficult to match them up.  There are many different kinds of struggles in our world, and I find it difficult to “compare” them when the contexts are so different.

Thankfully, the God of the middle class American is also the God of the struggling African.  And through the Spirit, God is able to walk alongside us all, and in the midst of our diversity, encouraging us to walk alongside each other.

Again, it’s good to hear from you.  I look forward to hearing more soon!

With peace,

Brian

________________________________________________________________________

May 1, 2008

REDUCING POVERTY IN AFRICA

Posted in Economics, Education, Environment, Poetry, Religion, Thoughts tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:32 am by randallbutisingh

Thought for today:

REDUCING POVERTY IN AFRICA

This is my letter to Brian and Kristen Konkol, recently appointed as missionaries in South Africa. They are dedicated and committed individuals, who were missionaries in Guyana before moving to South Africa a few months ago. They are now settling in and have asked my advice on: “How to reduce Poverty in Africa”. Here is my reply dated April 21, 2008. Your comments and advice on this most important subject are welcome. Feel free to contact Brian and Kristen Konkol with your help and ideas at:

(bekonkol@yahoo.com

………………………………………………………………………………..

To: Brian and Kristen Konkol:

Before I attempt to give my opinion on “how to reduce Poverty in Africa”, I will attempt to define Poverty. In my opinion Poverty is a relative term. How? An individual may have very little, and it takes very little to sustain life. He may live in a one room shack with one or no shirt on his back, but he works honestly for the little that he has; he is always cheerful and will gladly share the little he has and his shack with a needy stranger. He is the personification of contentment; his conscience is clear, his sleep at night is sound and unbroken and he lives without fear. Would you call such an individual poor?

On the other hand a person may be laden with this world’s goods, like an overburdened camel, much more above his needs; But he is the personification of greed; he cannot have enough; he is discontented; always wants more and more, never shares what he has with the needy for concern that it will diminish him. This makes him grouchy, irritable, and cheerless. His sleep at nights is unsound and broken because of fear that someone may come and rob him of what he has. Would you call such an individual rich?

Now, how about reducing Poverty in Africa! Africa is a continent, beautiful and potentially rich, but it has been exploited by foreigners and recently, after independence by its own leaders. There were very few leaders, among them being Nelson Mandela, who did not succumb to the plague of corruption. Billions of the country’s wealth and foreign aid have been stashed away in foreign banks by corrupt politicians while those whom they have been supposed to serve go hungry.

This brings us to the question of education. If the populace is not adequately educated in order to understand the issues and the ability to confront injustice wherever it rears its ugly head, exploitation and corruption will continue to have a field day. Recently two benevolent Americans have been working in this field. They are Oprah Winfrey who is spending millions to educate over a hundred girls in South Africa to become leaders in the future and Bill Clinton who is spending millions to improve Agriculture in one of the countries in Africa.

It should also be noted that Poverty is an attitude in some of the countries. The men leave all the hard work to the women. When they do not hunt or fish, they gather in groups and idle away their time while the women work in the fields. Recently a group of women banded together in a community, and refused to slave for their idle husbands.

We need people who can educate, motivate and inspire these people, raising them from their present level, especially the women to one of respectability. Here is where you and Kirsten can fit in and I know that with the meager physical resources you have but the abundance of will, dedication and commitment, you will make things happen.

Africa does not need to be spoon fed. But while they are given the tools to progress, effort should be made meanwhile to eliminate hunger and disease. You cannot preach to a hungry man about God; you have to fill his belly first.

Remitting of debts will be of little help if attitudes do not change.

Love, joy and peace,

Randall

randallbutisingh@hotmail.com