After my trip to Polokwane, I entered an Ayoba-free zone, one of the parts of South Africa that the World Cup does not reach—and believe me, those zones are out there. In this case, it was an evening with my South African relatives in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. My grandfather, of Latvian Jewish stock, was born in Stellenbosch and raised in Joburg. He left just as soon as he could and never went back. The rest of the family stayed. For the older generation, like my great aunt, the World Cup might as well as not be happening, and from her husband Frankie there was active, if unfocused, opposition. Not because of the money that could have been spent on social projects, but because he’s 80 and the last two decades of change have been simply incomprehensible to him. As he says: “…and this they want to celebrate.”
I asked my cousin Grant how much notice his circle, who are all rugby mad, take of the football. He had to think about it. Apart from the crazy Serb who manages one of his bakeries, hardly any of them is engaged at any level.