Jean-Jacques Cornish

Bafana Bafana is beaten by a sense of entitlement

So Bafana Bafana are out of the Afcon Cup to be played in Cameroon next January and February.

Losing 2-0 to Sudan in last week’s qualifier was the final nail in the coffin.

The team slunk home and very little has been heard from them.

I will spare their blushes an omit listing the minnows that will will be in Cameroon next year.

The football aficionados are wondering how this happened.

How does a country that should be a power in the continent’s most popular game fail consistently to even make the finals of its premier competition?

I gleaned an answer from a military attache sent to South Africa years ago.

He told me that when he was promoted to Brigadier General, he called his wife to convey the good news, 

adding the warning that she would be seeing less of  him. Making field rank meant a great deal more work.

He noted that in contrast on becoming Brigadiers his South African counterparts felt it was time to sit back and put their feet on their desks.

They’d arrived.

I get a depressingly similar sense from our star footballers.

They are required to play their guts out every week in the most competitive league on the continent.

When they reach their goal of being selected to play for the nation, they regard it as a reward rather than a call to arms.

This evidenced by the not infrequent disputes over pay.

National selection should mean one is ready, if need be, to die for the country on the field of battle.

Instead of trumpets, I hear the ka-ching of cash registers.

I don’t have an answer for how to get rid of this destructive sense of entitlement, because it has permeated throughout our society.

Our elected representatives say without shame that they did not join the struggle to stay poor. Service be damned.

Unless and until this sense of entitlement can be eradicated we should continue to expect as little from our national football team as we do from our politicians.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.