I met Tapuwa Moore in Jun 09 when she coached Chosen Few Lesbian Soccer Club, the team affiliated with the Forum for the Empowerment of Women in Johannesburg. As she prowled a Rustenburg touchline in jean jacket, instantly I recognized a managerial presence far transcending Fabio Capello. She spoke, words of honey flowed. She diagrammed a soccer-based theory of communication on the back of her clipboard; footballers, she theorizes, are part of a communications network, the perfect analogy for a side of gay women learning to trust each other and to share past trauma. She is brilliant, I think. I look at my small video camera. Like the crestfallen BBC World Service reporter I met at the 2003 Women’s World Cup who had conducted postgame interviews with the microphone plugged into the “Line In” jack, I had forgotten to press the record button. This has happened to me many times. The most brilliant incantations about soccer defy a digital age.
Moore told me about her performance poetry, about her improvisations relating football to gay sex. In another monologue that begins “I will not drag anger along in this journey of my life,” she narrates her experience of multiple sexual assaults, of “having lost myself because of a penis-bodied person.” Football and basketball—Moore plays both—are not trivial in rebuilding the self within a homophobic society. Partly due to the releases of sport and creation, she no longer replays how the first rapist “removed by navy blue Barcelona shorts. … I made a decision not to look for myself outside of me. … I stopped remembering, I see it as a disruptive unnecessary need.”
She is an actress, comic, gender activist and poet who raps in South Africa’s indigenous languages as well as Afrikaans and English. She is teaching herself Spanish. In May 2010 she appeared in a South African production of The Vagina Monologues, performing “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy.”
She is emblematic of the paradox in FIFA’s stewardship of the World Cup that in claiming to show us the world’s best, we sometimes miss the world’s good. Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org) seeks sponsorship in order to stage this monologue both in and outside South Africa. She reminds readers that the text is not meant to be read, but said aloud.
by Tapuwa Moore | Soweto, South Africa
Before funny things started I was not embroiled in World Cup fever. I was yet to own a yellow Bafana Bafana shirt. In my possession I only had a “Les Bleus” shirt, a gift from a French professor, Rémy Bazenguissa, University of Lille. Actually I thought even if “that thing” (the South Africa shirt) was on sale or free I did not have any aspirations to own it. Why should I? I was convinced the national team would choke at crunch time. And to many of my friends I don’t need to say I told you so. But I’m saying it anyway, “I told you so.” I guess I must have been the only pessimist non-patriotic female in South Africa. The Mbombela speed train, Gautrain, had yet to move. But the marketing train was moving.
Then I got swept off my feet when someone spilled the beans and leaked the story. The president’s youngest wife had an affair with her bodyguard. Hail MaNtuli! I exclaimed. This revelation made headlines. The topic was hot on my favourite talk-radio station. I kept on saying Hail MaNtuli! As a freelance activist and a feminist when I get to it I had to be in solidarity with the mother of the nation. The woman had to “get some” just like her partner, who engages in multiple sexual relations. Hail First Lady No. 2! The sad thing about the story was that the co-affair man committed suicide! Irrespective of all that was said and done, What was the man doing fucking the president’s wife? It must have been a matter of national security or a way to mess with the patriarchal moralists, tradition and culture. That is why the poor brother shot his brains out.
Before funny things started
I was self-involved,
Doing life decisions, philosophical introspections about my multiple faceted self
Being a woman, a mother, a soccer coach, a homosexual sexual being, an artist, and a black human in this old country.
I was simply preoccupied with personal and non-personal philosophical existential issues.
At thirty-four I was still trying to figure out the difference between love and infatuation.
I was fresh from my stellar performance of Vagina Monologues.
In deep worship of vaginas and in love with the hot, hot cast I was performing with, including the drag-queen gentleman.
I was totally in love with all vagina-bodied people, except the woman who rode horses, an exceptional black woman.
She was an outstanding performer. I’m not sure if I had trouble with her riding horses, but she rode horses. She talked too much, like she was running her own personal green room. The woman had all the money in the world. In addition to that she was beautiful and black. She is a serious globetrotter. The lady has it all, she reads all the books from Oprah. She is the only one I never had sexual fantasies off. I wonder why and I don’t care why. A friend wanted to explore further my dislike of the horse rider. I told her I hate the pungent smell of horses and horse shit. I’m still adamant about not wanting to know why I don’t like her. I guess it is not important unless I was planning to bed her. Which is a no!
Then funny things started happening, the Football Fridays mania, resulting in most South Africans believing the euphoric, nostalgic idea that South Africa would go all the way to win the World Cup. To my surprise the president made a speech alluding to that fact.
I was in awe—wow, I must have been a lousy soccer player and coach, a lousy basketball player, a lesbian-breasted player not to foresee such predictions!
More strange things were being uttered: “Phillipe is here.’’ Goodness, I thought, Phillipe Troussier, the former national team coach who dismally failed us, is here, back again for his second coaching stint. “No,” my sister said. “It is feel it, it is here!” “Oh” was my response.
Things started looking weirder when I walked in the streets of Johannesburg and realized I am the only woman without a national team shirt on or a vuvuzela in hand. My friends have, school kids have, nursery children have. Even the woman who is clueless about soccer—and it happens to be my younger sister—has one. The only encounter she had with soccer was during the opening game of the World Cup. She had her back to the screen and was trying to coerce me to pray or sing the national anthem. I’ll give her leeway. She must have been caught up in her own passive aggressive soccer fever.
To make matters worse old women own national-team regalia, from blankets to hats. I must be the only crazy person or the only sane person left.
The days before the World Cup drove me up the wall. At 6:30 a.m. a vuvuzela’s blowing, buzzing me out of my morning peace. I quietly mutter curses under my breath, some aloud. While in the mist of the vuvuzela-alcohol frenzy somehow I got hold of the yellow adidas shirt from a professor at Wits University. To tell you the truth I wore the shirt once in my inebriated state. NB: Both shirts in my closet were of first-round losers. Both gifts were from university gurus. My take on this is the shirts had an “academia curse.”
The sound of the vuvuzela never went away, the buzz reached the church premises. I heard church hymns blowing out of a vuvuzela.
The latest house music had vuvuzelas. I tell you even the iPod had them. Social networks like Twitter had “vuvuzela” as one of the highest tweets. Goodness, my world became vuvuzela-infested when I saw Caucasians blowing that horn.
The World Cup started. The French blamed the horn for their poor performance. It dawned on me that I got World Cup fever without realizing it. This fever made me forget a particular woman. It coerced me to stop loving her. And I wrote poetically the following: I walked out on you when I realized and exclaimed curses, “Shit! I’m on my periods again” . . . The Jacobs Kronung coffee advert on TV reminded me that I bought the coffee two or three months ago and still had not finished it. I went on and finished it. When the World Cup is on, no woman matters. I made a decision to stop loving you and to go watch soccer with clarity. That woman was just an infatuation. I listened to Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised with a smirk on my face, and my heart’s conviction was that my heart will never televise you. I watched on as you faded into thin air. The revolution is live in Jozi when you see a Caucasian, Indian, Asians, Japanese and all the colours of the world blowing this South African horn.
And this revolution did other funny things.
Magoshas (prostitutes) went out of business.
Therefore sex was for free, alcohol was free, and people were free to be happy.
The Brazilians were ousted. Kaká left without a single goal. Argentineans and the English were annihilated by the Germans. With so much revolutionary drama live on television, in my country, I didn’t have to worry about a certain woman.
Damn, if I were religious I would have prayed for my fellow people to engage in responsible sexual behaviour.
Thus preventing more HIV infections. Prayed for the man on the street to get a job, to be employed. Prayed for the girl next door to get an education and stop being a baby factory.
To stop rape and murder of lesbians. To stop talk of xenophobic violence. I have so much on my plate to worry about, more than a woman who was not infatuated with me.
Then more drama unfolded when the Spanish whipped the Portuguese and women all over cried foul ’cause their eye candy Cristiano Ronaldo, the skipper, sank with the ship. No more ogling! Soccer prevails!
I don’t want to speak about the World Cup holders. The Italians were torpedoed. I saw on Facebook some women weeping that the hottest men are “out of touch for them!”
This revolution brought on Paul the Octopus who predicted that Spain would win. I forgot about the World Cup host and their shirt, my shirt, that serves as part of my pyjamas. I forgot about that woman, my infatuation factor.
I had soccer exhaustion by the time it got to the semifinals.
I refused to watch the semifinals. I sat in my kitchen tweeting. And listened to my sister drooling over Paul Ince the former England captain. Then I attended a conference discussing the legacy of apartheid, soccer, FIFA, and its cronies. Speak Smiley Moosa, speak. Speak Nkosi Molala, speak.
I listened, I vividly saw what Smiley described, about his magic left foot, equivalent to Lionel Messi, who failed to score a goal, too, at the World Cup. About Nkosi’s nickname “Let Them Dance.” The forgotten Jesuses of soccer telling about their evolution.
I decided to post my Facebook status in Spanish if La Furia Roja won the World Cup. My funny revolution and evolution was alive! My sister was startled by my Facebook status. La Furia Roja españa ganara!!! Pulpo Paul lo prejido y Mick Jagger no lleva a España así estamos bien! WC para ESP!” … si tengo, que escoger, voy encontrar de las predicciones del Pulpo Paul … To be honest with you my friend I didn’t watch the final except the last three minutes of extra time. Lucky enough I saw the magic goal by Andrés Iniesta, then I posted more Spanish … el pulpo “adivino” sello supremo con titulo de España … arrestan al Pulpo Paul por homicidio “pulposo” … los animales que quieren desplazar Pulpo Paul … Polvo Profeta Pulpo Paul!
Then a friend responded in Spanish. I didn’t have a clue what the hell she was saying.
Then two days after the World Cup I saw a taxi covered with Wayne Rooney’s Nike ad saying “Sir Wayne.” Why, why did you knight that man before the World Cup, or was it after the World Cup? Haikhona the British are good at shooting themselves in the feet. And at 23:50 the same night I had a momentary World Cup soccer blues relapse. My heart got the infatuation bug again. No, it’s not the same woman, it’s another one. It must have been alcohol speaking … I know it wasn’t me.
Three days after Spain won I received another yellow counterfeit adidas sweater from Wits University writing centre director Pam Nichols. Pulpo Profeta Paul did not know about my academia curse. I know my shrink will be sceptical of my sanity if she hears me talk about academia-curse issues.
And about my Spanish madness … adoro la naturaleza! por eso tengo al Pulpo Paul en mi avatar! … chicos acabo de descubrir que el Pulpo Paul actuó an Toy Story 3 esto ya es demasiado? … Pulpo Paul predice que Colombia calsificara y ganara el Mundial de 2014. Titulo de la pelicula: Paul fiestón … me han dicho que el Pulpo Paul es gay!
Do not be alarmed by my bad Spanish. I’m still rusty. I learn Spanish by DIY.
© 2010 Tapuwa Moore. All rights reserved. Used by permission.