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Nuwe skryfwerk | New writing > Fiksie | Fiction > English > Published authors

Orlando falls today

Lucas Ledwaba - 2009-04-23

Soweto is intoxicated today. Orlando is buzzing. It's the day of the gospel. The disciples, the masters, are coming out to preach this very day. The masters of the craft, the gods of the game, are coming to the theatre of dreams. Orlando falls today, people say. Why would it fall today? It could have fallen that day back then, remember? No, Orlando can't fall today, they argue. Orlando falls today, everyone is headed there, e'sgodini they call it ...

Orlando Stadium is buzzing.

A man, yes, a lone figure atop the main grandstand on the western side, waves a flag up there near the clouds. It looks like the wind will soon blow him away. He doesn't care, it seems. The flag carries the maroon and white badge of his masters, the men with the magic feet. He's a disciple. A devout follower of the flock.

There are thousands on the grandstand he is standing on.

Down underneath the roof of the grandstand they wave their flags, a sign of their unwavering support for the maroon and white. They can't see him up there on top of the grandstand. But something says they know he's somewhere up there. And he, for some reason, seems to know that they also know that he's up there waving his flag, running this way and that. He's drunk, intoxicated by the big show that's coming up at 3 pm. The others are drunk too, mad with anticipation, the maroon and white.

Orlando Stadium will fall soon, the people watching the swelling crowd from nearby Mzimhlophe say as they watch the crowds swarm into the stadium like bees, yes, maroon and white bees. One more soul carrying a flag on to that grandstand and it's disaster. One more addition to the roaring voices and the grandstand will give way. But the disciples don't have a care in the world, it seems.

Even more disciples walk through the turnstiles. They too are drunk, intoxicated, singing, waving, laughing, anything, anything to release the joy, the hunger for the gospel.

Orlando resembles a massive beehive now. The buzz is deafening, even.

But it's not three o'clock yet? My word, it's not even two, not even one o'clock, yet the disciples can't wait. Orlando will fall soon; the buzz, the singing, the roar, will soon send the grandstand tumbling down below. The disciples think nothing of falling grandstands and blood and tears, they think only of the gods of the game, The Great! Aaaaace! Whoooo!

The singing is deafening now. The man waving a flag on top of the main grandstand on the western side, yes the one on the side of the white, red-roofed houses of Mzimhlophe. Jendis, yes, that's what they call him. My word, what a voice he's got. All of Orlando vibrates when he sings. The flock can't take it anymore. If they had wings they would fly out of their skins like The Birds they route for.

There's not even enough room for a man to throw his leg up in the air in excitement now.

There are even more coming in through the turnstiles now. Yes, it's after two o'clock now. Even as far away as Naledi, Booysens, Chiawelo, New Canada, yes, the buzz from Orlando can be heard that far. Men are forced to make last-minute arrangements to travel to Orlando to obey this very important day, to watch the gods of the game weave their spell on the field. Hahaha, Orlandoooo here come!

But please, these people must not sing any more loudly now, for even those who lie in the beds of the biggest of all hospitals, Baragwanath, can't take this anymore now. The singing permeates through the walls and bars of the great prison in Diepkloof as well. Now what if the men and women in the prison, intoxicated by the singing and the buzzing, attempt to break free just so they can be there, at Orlando? What if the sick rip off the drips and head for Orlando? No, these people must not sing any more loudly than this now ...

Jendis, ah, he's mad now. The way he's going on, jumping about atop that grandstand – no, it looks like he wants to fly like a bird now. There way he is going on running and waving his flag on top of that grandstand, ah, he might as well fly like his beloved swallows, yes, Moroka Swallows Ltd. The ones underneath the grandstand can't see him, yet his powerful voice tells them he's up there among the birds, and they sing along to The Birds' anthem:

Ndawo yam yo ku Swallows
Yiii yooo leeeee!
Yiii yooo leeeee!
Yiii yooo leee!
Yo ku Swaaalloooooows ...

Young and old, old and young, indeed like swallows they point to the skies, to the rain clouds gathering above. They chant their war cry in unison: "Up the Birds! Hola maswaiswai!"

The disciples on the eastern grandstand side are a bit subdued. They are singing too, but their songs are muffled by the thousands in maroon and white. Outnumbered, they are. But soon they too erupt in a wild frenzy when a short white man wearing shorts runs out of the tunnel towards where they are seated, the green and white of Amazulu, the disciples of the men from the coast, from the land of the great king. He runs towards where the green and white are seated, stops, waves his hands, this way, that way, and the disciples in white and green rumble like the thunder ... Usuuthu! Usuuthu! The little white man waves his hands this way and that again. Usuuuthu! Usuuuthu! Usuuuthu! Even in Krugersdorp they can hear all this, the people in Mzimhlophe say among themselves, worried that Orlando will fall today ...

The maroon and white scream even more loudly. The masters are running on to the field now, the arena, the stage, the sacred playground of the gods of the game. Whooooo's Fooling Whooooo! Congo! Ace! The Great! Roadblock! The Swallows' disciples are in tears now, crying, shouting, screaming, yelling, anything, anything to release the excitement, the passion. Jendis almost plunges into the mass of humanity down in the grandstand. Orlando will fall now ...

"Whoooooo! Whoooo! Whoooo! Aaaaaaace! Aaaaaaace!"

But the Amazulu are not to be outdone, they roar like the thunder yet again. Usuuuthu! Usuuuthu! Usuuthu! Their masters too are running on to the field, the theatre of dreams.

Faya! Cutter! Deeees! Usuuuthu! Usuuthu! If Orlando doesn't crumble today ...