By Gael Masengi
As the Orange Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2013 draw near, yes as you all can expect, passionate African soccer fan’s adrenaline is rushing even faster every day leading to the continental soccer showcase in Africa’s economic power-house, South Africa.
Housing diverse African nationals than anywhere within the black continent, city of Johannesburg has been transformed into a circus of various African fans cheering for their respective team. Carnivals around the streets have become a common scene you will see by turning every corner of any avenue, owing that to a larger presence of African migrants in the city of gold.
As admitted Kofi Nkwameh of Ghana “I’m happy that the African Cup of Nations is being hosted here in South Africa” said the 40 years-old wrapped in a Ghanaian flag “because we, the fans are already here in large number. The government don’t really have to fly supporters from home and I’m confident the Black Stars will win their first tough game” referring to their clash against the Leopards, Democratic Republic of Congo’s comebackers. A feeling Mohamed of Algeria also shares “This Afcon will really be an African rendezvous rather than just a soccer tournament"
An Ethiopian retail shop owner I talk to recently in downtown Johannesburg told me that, sales of soccer merchandises have skyrocketed these days and he was happy.
“Unlike previous host nations where we heard reports of slow sale or nothing at all of participating nations’ soccer jerseys or flags, here things are different”, said a smiling Biruk Biniyam “In fact it is the opposite here, we have observed that other country’s soccer products are going faster than the host nation’s, specially flags are by far the most sold item, by the way your country’s [DRC] flag is the most sold around here”.
Surprisingly, while the remaining national teams’ flags are being sold at average price of R25 ($2.96), the 7 years-old reinstated Congolese flag isn’t just the most sought after. It costs R10 (at about a dollar and quarter) more than others, amazed yet curious about Biruk’s unsteady prices, I asked him to know why the tri-coloured flag was a little expensive, “eish! I guess it is due to high demand…” he said “it’s not only me, you can ask in all the shops within this mall or even outside you’ll confirm what I’m saying”. I didn’t have to go around and ask. My last night tour of Johannesburg did indeed confirm what the somehow dodgy businessman claimed; the yellow and red horizontally striped blue flag could be seen hanging in large number all over Congolese nationals’ businesses from south, central to north Johannesburg.
Asked if the merchandises sold in his shop are in compliance with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) regulations, he responded, “No comments, Mr Gael”
South Africa, which hosted the tournament once before in 1996 will kick-off their campaign in the opening match of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations against an unpredictable Cape Verde side at the majestic Soccer City Stadium in Soweto on January 19th.