Where were you a year ago today? If you’re proudly South African, you would have been waving your flag in support of SA vs Mexico in the opening game of the Fifa World Cup 2010 football tournament.
Even though your mirror-socks have faded, your vuvuzelas relegated to the party box in the garage and your calorie-shrunken football jerseys are lying third under their Springbok and Proteas counterparts, I hope your flag is still flying high.
When writing about the band Taxi Violence yesterday I was saddened by photographer Debbie Rossouw’s truth about South African musicians success abroad but not at home. We support the Stormers at Newlands, consume Mrs Balls chutney and Karoo lamb. I have heard talk of Walmart buying into the country but quality stores like Pick ‘n Pay ensure that USA giant Tesco haven’t laid foundations on SA soil. So why can’t we apply the same principle to art, fashion or music?
I agree that the quality of a percentage of South African goods and services leave much to be desired. Take the Olympic Games for example. In 2012, British athletes will appear in Adidas by Stella McCartney, daughter of The Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney. High-tech kit designed in collaboration with football legend and my hero, David Beckham has breathing holes and sweat holes and most certainly armholes. A progressive initiative will see staff and volunteers in gear made from recycled material.
So who’s doing it for South Africa? I don’t know? There’s nothing to be found on the great world wide interweb. What I have found though is the disaster which was Beijing 2008. Jonathan Dugas, the original guitarist for SA rock band MacStanley, whom I first met years ago when they were still playing in friends’ front gardens, knows a thing or two about sport. He and Ross Tucker had this to say about the SA kit for the Beijing Olympics on their blog The Science of Sport.
“The news emerging from the SA Olympic training camp is that the kit and clothing that has been supplied to the athletes is way sub-standard. So sub-standard, in fact, that the labels and embroidery on the athletes vests says ‘Beljing instead of Beijing. It also turns out that the vests are unravelling after only a few days, that very few athletes have kit that is the correct size (a seamstress has reportedly been hired to make adjustments), and the clothing has been made of the same material that is reportedly used to make tracksuits.”
I hope they at least have armholes. This is embarrassing. We could argue that a declining economic market encourages cheap mass production. With decent education reserved for the wealthier, employment and subsequent consumerism is suffering. On the flip side, travel online shopping have made international well-made products more attainable.
We have become more discerning about how we spend our money. I fail to see the logic in purchasing a pair of Re_jeans from WW for R450 when Diesel on sale from Meltz costs R220. I’m not comparing labels to discredit. I’m talking about a polished final product; design, cut, fabric and ultimate look and feel. I’m a savvy shopper. I earn my money. I want bang for my buck. And I’m sure you do too.
I’m not asking you to surrender a well-made international brand in favor of an inferior local product – I couldn’t – I do believe we can support South Africa without being ripped off. Make a start. Buy South African music as opposed to supporting piracy. If your pocket doesn’t allow the actual players’ shirt from Mikes Sports, buy a supporters t-shirt from an official supplier like Pick ‘n Pay not the rip-off from your brother’s friend’s uncle.
I’m can’t dictate how you spend your money but do I recommend you start with something. Buy South African.
Keep waving your flag like you did a year ago.
Love & light