Let the Games begin!

We watched the opening ceremony for the soccer world cup in South Africa this evening. The plan was: friend comes over, beer gets opened, we enjoy the ceremony on TV.

Turned out that ZDF, who had the rights to this, was not broadcasting it on TV. Seems the general German public was assumed to be more interested in some drippy, Rosamunde-Pilcher-like story.

Luckily we had already tried out the PC-to-flat screen connection previously. The cables were still around, so we hooked up the PC to the flat screen, and projected the Internet stream. The audio quality was okay, but the pictures kind of sucked. And apparently, many others had the same idea, there was a lot of jerkiness in the picture.

There were some really great artists I had never heard before, and some famous ones like Black-Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys or Shakira (who as the final number was spectacular). I am completely enamored of the Canadian-Somalian K'naan and his "Waving Flag" number that they have been playing on the radio on account of it being the song of the official sponsor. Lucikly the sponsor keeps themselves in the background during the video, which focuses on the pure joy of the games and the coming together of so many nations to celebrate soccer.

I even considered purchasing it from iTunes for my iPod. Except iTunes can't find it. After some serious googling to find out what the CD from K'naan is called I did find it, but I decided not to purchase from iTunes. I'll have Amazon drop the entire CD in my box and rip it myself. I mean, hello iTunes, if songs are being played on some sort of international stage you need to be able to find the songs, pronto. Oh, right. It wasn't in the US. Well....

The speech of Desmond Tutu was just fantastic. He came on stage, smiling over his entire body. He lifted his hands in a blessing and said: I am going to give you some time to rest. And he did. For some minutes he just stood there, smiling. Then he welcomed the guests home to Africa, the cradle of civilization, and had the crowd send a tribute to the man responsible for bringing the games to South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela, who is 92, has been out of prison for 20 years. I remember boycotting South African wines over apartheid. I remember a "Free Nelson Mandela" concert I attended in Iceland. Letters written for Amnesty. All of these political acts that didn't ever seem to really do anything, and then suddenly, they did work, and he was free. Free to become president, free to try and move the country forward.

The crowd cheered and cheered - I'm sure Madiba, as he is called, heard them!

ZDF, of course, translated over the English speech into German in a, shall we say, liberal translation? But the bits he said in Xhosa were not translated at all. Dudes, English we understand, Xhosa we don't.

Ah well, it was a really grand ceremony, I'm so happy for South Africa, actually pulling this off. We look forward to the games!

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