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

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to the success of their movement, despite confrontations with angry residents, anti-protest groups and police More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid