To err is human

What that means is that if you do anything, you are exposing yourself to the possibility of making a mistake ‘ to the possibility of erring. So go on, sit back, relax and do nothing and, sure as we grew up being told that hell is for sinners, you are not going to make a mistake.

But then what life would that be? Yes, a car in a garage cannot have an accident. Too true. But then cars were not made to be in garages! So we take out the car from where it is safe and take it out onto where we expose it to the possibility of having an accident and there we keep it for most of the time. Where there is danger, not where it is safe.

Mr Banda, please, come home! Just get to the point and for once let us have more Sunday Sport with Banda than Sunday Sport with Wander.

My friends, we grew up ‘ today I am doing the memory lane thing-alright, we grew up being told that there is no hurry in Africa. The saying went something like: “There is no hurry in Africa, after all we are two hours ahead of London time.” We kept to the saying throughout the year but my understanding in later years was that we were not always two hours ahead of London time. There are times during the year when we are just an hour ahead of the Londoners . . . many of whom now comprise our brothers and sisters in the so-called diaspora. But then that is another story for another day.

Right, you were saying? OK, I remember ‘ you wanted me to zero in on the sport of the matter.

Rewind to the final of the Olympiastadion in the German capital Berlin and the 18th edition of the Fifa World Cup soccer tournament. You may have been one of the hundreds of thousands in attendance, or one of the many millions watching worldwide. France versus Italy. Not the pub talk of Brazil versus who or Germany against so-and-so or Argentina and what’s-their-name, but good old-fashioned Italy and France.

Then the head-butt.

I heard on the radio during the course of the week that the world soccer-governing body, Fifa, is planning to bring together Zinedine Zidane of France and Marco Materazzi of Italy . . . the header and the headed. I did not get the details, you know one of those times when you are doing something and listening to the radio as habit? But then that is another story for another time.

Zidane and Materazzi. It has been suggested that Robben Island in South Africa, that place of infamy and injustice where South African legend Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, could be the ideal location for this reunion. Almost three decades in confinement, the bird in the cage, the spirit restrained, the lack of freedoms the body takes for granted, the denial of natural functions, needs and wants, the labour on the asbestos quarries, the exposure to all manner of infection-lung and otherwise, the abuse, the inhumanity of it all. And yet Mandela walked out of there and echoed Jesus who, after it all, asked his Father to forgive them, saying they knew not what they were doing.

But I beg to differ. These knew what they were doing. They had a purpose. It was malice planned, designed, crafted. But then that is another story, which I hope I do not have to tell another day.

I agree. Robben Island would be appropriate as the place for reconciliation. I was touched to read later that Mr Tokyo Sexwale, a former Robben Island inmate and now a member of the organising committee for the Fifa World Cup soccer tournament to be held in South Africa in 2010, is finalising a plan with Fifa boss Sepp Blatter for the reunion of Messrs Materazzi and Zidane to be on the prison site.

You may remember that after listening to both men, Fifa fined Zidane 7 500 Swiss francs and Materazzi 5 000. Further, the former France captain was slapped with an additional match ban which, because he could not observe as he had resigned from the international game, was converted to community service.

I understand that, under the plan, Zizou would also do his community service on the island.

I know many will dismiss the plan as just hype, as so much photo opportunity. In that, there is some truth. But the issue is much more than just that. There are many subtexts to the plot involving Zidane and Materazzi.

Up to now I actually do not know what Materazzi said that provoked Zizou. Maybe you do? The Italian was reported to have broken his silence and said when he grabbed the Frenchman’s shirt in a tussle for possession, Zizou told him he could have it after the match and that angered him and, provoked, he provoked too by telling Zizou that he wanted the Frenchman’s sister instead. Look, I do not know.

Why did Materazzi not say this on the 9th of July, after the match? Or on, or before, Friday the 14th of July when he appeared before the Fifa inestigating panel? Or on, or before, the 20th of that month ‘ when Zidane appeared before the same panel? Why wait until just recently?

And why has Zizou himself not told us verbatim what he was told? He has borne the brunt of much criticism that his behaviour was unbecoming. He has himself publicly apologised for letting down many who saw him as a role model. Many still see him as a role model. How easy it would have been for us to understand what you our hero did, dear Zizou, if you just so much as told us what Materazzi said to you? We could then put the whole incident into perspective.

That has not happened. Unless there is to be a best-seller some other day. And then it will all come out in a whole chapter. But it would not be like Zidane. It is not likely that the man would want the money. But then that may be another story for another day.

Suffice it to say here and now that whenever we go out to do anything we expose ourselves to be the possibility of erring, and that to err is human. Life demands that there be closure after that so that we move on.

Zidane and Materazzi reconciling on Robben Island would be a beautiful picture for the beautiful game.

September 2006
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