As a kid growing up, I had one or two questions that couldn't be answered. Number one on my list was apartheid in South Africa. It was the only thing that really angered me. I was about 14…Well, everyone’s a starry-eyed idealist at 14, but most of us grow out of it.
My MTV shows were broadcast in South Africa for 10 years. I was often invited to gig there, but always found a way out despite 15 years of emancipation in the country. I didn't want to witness the inhumane townships so often seen on TV.So, no problem getting paid for it, just a problem with actually visiting the place?
My parents are St Lucian, but we have no idea of our African heritage.And why should you?
So during my descent into Jo'burg I felt quite emotional, tweeting that I had just landed in the motherland, to the derision of my African friends who said that all black westerners say that, and it's corny…I think self-awareness isn’t Trevor’s strongest talent…
The airport terminal was new, with more staff than seemed necessary, ready to greet the invasion of fans. The roads into town were newly surfaced and it felt as though I was in a European city, and then I saw the townships – a constant reminder of this country's past. I had a sense of shame watching people shuffling around with no work or prospects while I had a driver to take me to my lodge.That driver was just doing it out of the good of his heart, then? It wasn’t a job, I suppose?
My mission was twofold: to find out how the people really felt about hosting a World Cup that will cost their country close to £5bn; and whether it will leave a lasting legacy that really trickles down to the people who actually love and support football: the black population.There are no white people in South Africa who love and support football? Really?
I had lots of memorable encounters, mainly positive. But I kept being reminded of that feeling I had as a child just before Christmas, only for January to arrive with my parents moaning about having no money for my birthday. Is that how it will be for these guys? They don't have a great team and are only at the World Cup because, as hosts, they didn't need to qualify.So all the advantages that will bring them are worth nothing? Those roads would have been newly surfaced without it?
With huge levels of unemployment, people take to unlicensed street selling of just about anything you might need, from food to football flags – something that Fifa doesn't want anywhere near the stadiums. The organisation has a vice-like grip on the merchandising and is set to enjoy its most lucrative tournament.I gather Trevor’s not a believer in the ‘trickle down’ theory…
I was even a guest on a local radio breakfast show, declaring my new-found love for South Africa. Yes, I could live there because I am a black professional with a career and would no doubt have a decent lifestyle. But if I were an uneducated person with only manual skills, it just wouldn't be the place for me.So having wallowed in the misery, you promptly flew home to do, what? Endeavour to help make changes to the country? Campaign for better opportunities for the people?
Ah. No. Sit back and watch TV:
As far as football goes: well, it is the biggest religion in the world. I will forgive politicians, Fifa and a racist past just for those 90 minutes of joy.Well, this misery tourism is all very well, isn’t it, Trevor, but god forbid it means you should make any changes to your lifestyle….