News / Africa

    South African Comedian Satirizes Obsession with Football Team

    Darren Taylor
    This is Part Two of a five-part series on 
    South African comedians
    Continue to Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 


    A thin man wearing stubble, skintight white shorts, a bright red football shirt, black socks and dirty white running shoes saunters onto the stage on spindly legs. His eyes flash manically as he hammers with a fist on his team’s gold badge that hangs over his heart, to the exuberant, uplifting strains of the theme from the hit 1970s Hollywood boxing movie, Rocky.
     
    He does stretch exercises, collapses into a ragged armchair in what appears to be a shabby sitting room, and gazes intently at a television while gulping deeply from a can of beer and puffing a cigarette.
     
    “Glory, Glory, Man United! Come on you Red Devils!” he screams, as the commentator on the TV begins to describe a match involving the famous British soccer club, Manchester United.
     
    “I’m telling you, George, it’s going to be three-nil to United today!” the man shouts at a tattered teddy bear – also wearing a Manchester United football jersey –seated next to him.

    • Dhaveshan Govender, a master at satirizing Indian South Africans’ obsession with Manchester United (Courtesy D. Govender)
    • Govender says many South Africans of Indian ethnicity are ‘infatuated’ with the famous British team that plays football 6,000 miles away from them (Courtesy D. Govender)
    • Govender is also a big Man United fan … But not as big as the fictional ‘Ricky’ character that he’s created. (Courtesy D. Govender)
    • Govender, far right, as he appears on a poster advertising a recent comedy show in South Africa (Courtesy D. Govender)

     
    As the imaginary game continues – amid sporadic outbursts of support for United and the noise of the crowd from the TV – the character the audience comes to know as “Ricky” reflects on his career as “Durban’s biggest charro United fan.”
     
    Charro is a slang term used to describe South Africans of Indian ethnicity in Durban, South Africa’s third largest city, on the country’s east coast.
     
    “Ricky is a hard-drinking, 100 percent pure United [fan] through and through. He will die with this team. He’s not like me; I’m not as fanatical. If United loses I’m like upset for a few hours and I get over it. But Ricky would be close to suicide sometimes,” said Ricky’s creator, Durban-based comedian Dhaveshan Govender, who is himself a “die-hard” Manchester United supporter.
     
    “My love for United started when I was a youngster and I used to visit a family of cousins in Durban. In that house you either support United or you keep your mouth shut. When the game was on I’d walk in and there’s my uncle and my cousins and all, drinking the beers and the brandy and watching the game and shouting at these guys [Manchester United players on TV].”
     
    The fictional Ricky and a few other characters interact in a Durban pub named after Manchester United’s stadium, Old Trafford, in Manchester, England. With these imaginary fans, Govender satirizes many South African-Indian’s “Man United mania” in a hilarious skit called The King of Old Trafford.
     
    “I know some guys who are so dedicated to watching a game of football that their eyes never leave the TV screen. They’ve perfected the art of keeping their eyes on the screen while still being able to spot the barman! Ricky is like this, as are many South African Indians,” the comic explained.
     
    “If the end of the world happens and United happen to be playing, they won’t notice it. It’s that extreme fanaticism that I was trying to encapsulate with Ricky.”
     
    Human story
     
    Govender’s show is filled with various personalities, each acted out by him … Like the “rogue” car guard Rajan, who’s always in Old Trafford drinking beer by begging money from patrons.
     
    All the personalities use colloquialisms commonly used by South African Indians.
     
    “A lot of the words I use are actually vulgar…. A word like ‘Potter’ is a derogatory term for a gay person and it’s used by many Indian people in the Durban area. Like it or not, some of us are homophobic and my comedies reflect home truths,” Govender maintained.
     
    “There are always going to be colloquialisms in my work that non-Indians aren’t going to understand. But at the end of the day, the stories in my comedies are pretty universal. I have had foreign people come and watch my shows, and people who aren’t familiar with South African-Indian culture, and they obviously miss the colloquialisms. But they get the idea; they know the intention and the context of it – because at the end of the day it’s all a human story.”
     
    The King of Old Trafford is also a show that descends into farce as Govender attempts to capture certain South African Indians’ extreme feelings for a football club based 6,000 miles away from them.
     
    Robbers enter Old Trafford
     
    In arguably the funniest part of the comedy, a gang of armed robbers enters the Old Trafford bar while Ricky and a mob of his fellow Indian Man United fanatics are watching their team play on TV.
     
    The scene is described by the car guard, Rajan, in language that’s rich with South African-Indian slang and in an exaggerated Indian accent.
     
    “It was a typical Saturday afternoon,” announced Govender, acting as Rajan, to a sniggering audience at a recent performance. “The game was on, all the bras [friends] were there; Old Trafford was choked! Five ous [men] pull in. Four have got bush knives but this one bra – he got a machine gun!
     
    “This machine gun ou he pull the trigger, he shoot a hole in the ceiling…. Next thing all the bras are on the ground, face down! And then these robbers were there, moving through. And they’re gripping everything they can find, man – wallets, watches, [jewelry] chains. And all the bras now, we’re scared. So all the bras now, we’re just donating our wallets and watches and cell phones and chains – all the bras…. Except, Ricky.…”
     
    Ricky continues watching the game, seemingly oblivious to the robbers. “Rajan” explains how one of the criminals then stands in front of Ricky – blocking his view of the TV.
     
    “Ricky goes red; he so angry; he don’t even notice this guy’s balaclava and machine gun, Ricky just kicks him as hard as he can! This ou flies across the room onto the pool table – eight ball, corner pocket! Ricky sit down; he shout at Siva [the barman] to bring him another beer. Meanwhile Siva’s crawling in the corner praying that these ous don’t kill everyone!”
     
    “Rajan” tells how another robber then switches the television off, depriving Ricky of his beloved Manchester United.
     
    “Ricky gets super-red, he gets up, he takes the ou one time with a Kung Fu kick. This ou flies straight out of Old Trafford into the car park. Ricky puts the TV back on and parks back on his seat. That’s when all the rest of the bras got brave. We grabbed the rest of the robbers and we tied them up and we called the cops. From then on, all the guys decided that because Ricky saved us all, he would be the king of our Old Trafford!”
     
    Why Indians love Man United
     
    Govender said he’s not sure exactly why South Africans of Indian heritage love Manchester United so much, but he has a theory.
     
    “It may not be true but I think Indians like to back winners and United is quite a successful club. Since I can remember, there’s been this thing in the Indian community in Durban – you are either a Liverpool supporter or a Manchester United supporter, and those are the two most successful clubs in British football.”
     
    The comedian laughed that his fellow South African Indians enjoy backing winners at all costs – even if it means sometimes being “unprincipled” and “two-faced.”
     
    “That’s the thing about Indians, they want to be winners. So one year when Newcastle did well, suddenly you had Indians running around with Newcastle shirts on. But when Newcastle started losing, all those shirts disappeared!”
     
    Govender’s comic attempts to reflect the “eccentricities” of South African Indians have not always been appreciated by his community, but he’s not fazed.
     
    “Listen,” he said emphatically, “what kind of human beings are we if we can’t laugh at ourselves?”

    LIsten to profile of South African playwright and comedian Dhaveshan Govender
    LIsten to profile of Ugandan playwright and comedian Dhaveshan Govenderi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.