I can’t hear the vuvuzela’s yet…

If there was a week when I have been sorrier than ever to be out of Africa, then this is it. To watch the continent erupt with such colour and sound to the starting of the World Cup has reminded me of what makes the place and its people so special and I am glad that the rest of world is getting just a little taste.

It is also nice to note that so far atleast, the many doom sayers have been proved wrong. I will admit to having been amongst those who feared for what might happen when this huge influx of visitors wandered unassumingly into one of the  crime centres of the world might, but so far, touch wood, things seem to be under control and save for a few reminders of how dangerous the roads can be, the whole event looks safe and happy and full of the colour and energy that you can only find in Africa.

Perhaps more surprising to me is how little the build up to the event seems to have captured the Danish imagination. From what I can deduce, despite qualifying in some style in a sport that after the European Championships of 1992 is definitely a national treasure (if not quite to the sacred level that is reserved for handball), the streets seem eerily quiet. The Irish pubs may be packed, but they are full of English and Americans, French and Mexicans cheering on their homelands, not Danes.

Of course, the boys in red are yet to play and maybe come Monday the whole of the city will be bedecked in red and festooned with drunken faces of an equal hue. Being of the Jack Charlton generation and having lived in England through the last two world cups, I was expecting to be engulfed in a three month long nationalistic marketing orgy where ever brand under the sun attempts to wrap itself in the green white and orange or red and white of St George to boost the summer sales. Not so here, where save for one or two Carlsberg posters, the team and the national flag seem to have barely penetrated the commercial psyche, but perhaps this is just a sign of greater nationalistic maturity rather than for a lack of interest or passion.

Denmark it must be said, is a country ridiculously in love with its own flag to begin with, so perhaps it is just difficult for the untrained eye to spot the last few remaining spots on public buildings and private homes where they might be able to stick up a few extras to make a special point for the World Cup. This is also the country that invented the painting of flags on faces (or so I am told) so fingers crossed I am in for a massive surprise next week as the country erupts with passion and the party makes its way from Cape Town to Copenhagen.


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