Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The "Madiba Magic" myth

South Africa is making a final push for the right to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup, with a high powered delegation. I hope we get to host the tournament, and I'm certain that we'd do a fine job (although allegations of back-room deals are already being made, reminding me of the 2006 bid debacle).

But what I find annoying is that a few media hacks are claiming that "Madiba magic" will help bring the tournament to South Africa. Just last week, someone absurdly claimed that Madiba magic could bring Brenda Fassie, a South African music star out of her coma, when he visited her in hospital. Instead she died a few days later. "Madiba magic" failed to get South Africa the 2004 Olympics, and the 2006 Soccer World Cup, and despite being cited countless times over the last few years, we have not done particularly well in sporting events where "Madiba magic" was cited as a factor, after Mandela phoned a team to wish them luck.

What started out as a way of describing Nelson Mandela's seemingly amazing ability to keep South Africa from tearing itself apart, has mutated into a journalistic cliche that demeans Mandela, and transforms him from a heroic statesman into little more than a living voodoo rattle.