I was going to write about the latest offering from national government, the Integrated Resource Plan. This is the document that sets the way forward for the energy generation policy for South Africa until 2050. However, the document is complete rubbish. Moonshine. Hopelessly unrealistic. About as sound as the Tacoma Narrows bridge before it collapsed. It does not have all the dogs on one leash. So I will leave that for a later date.
But I am going to write about the World Cup. Not the Rugby World Cup, but the Cricket World Cup – specifically, the Cricket World Cup where the opening ceremony was held at the Newlands cricket ground, in Cape Town, in 2003. Really back in the day.
It happened that, before the opening ceremony at Newlands, it was deemed necessary to have the public address system replaced and upgraded. The design project was given to my friend, Goesain Johardien, who then contracted me for assistance. It turned out that a contractor/sound equipment supplier had got in on the act early and had given a design to Goesain, who passed it to me for review.
I went to see the contractor. His design consisted of a whole lot of loudspeakers arranged around the perimeter of the grounds, resting at ground level on a sort of mat and aimed towards the spectator stands. The loudspeakers were connected together with loose cables resting on the ground. The contractor was from the UK, recently arrived. I told him his design was no good, since it would not be audible at the top of the stand and, since it had to be set up and taken down, the loudspeakers and cable would be stolen. He seemed surprised. He said, surely not, this was an event which has security. So did the £26-million Brink’s Mat robbery, I told him.
A better design was conceived with fixed loudspeakers. In due time, the equipment (amplifiers, loud speakers, and so on) arrived. The construction team installed the stuff and then came the problem of installing all the cables. This was a big difficulty and I thought of many schemes. Finally, the head of the labourers, Philadie Kennedy, placed himself next to me and asked if “meneer could use a few unused ducts for cables”. Naturally, we could. He showed me all the empty ducts and manholes we could use. I rewarded him generously. So we pulled all the cables into the ducts and fired up the system and all was good.
Since I had designed delays into the system, there was none of the normal stadium “hell, hello, looo . . . we we we” echo. It was very fine (still is). The day of the opening ceremony rehearsal raced towards us.
Off site, the week before, I had met a guy in the pub. It turned out he worked for SABC TV outside broadcast and was covering the World Cup at Newlands. He was annoyed. Somebody, he said, was without ethics. Somebody was lower than a lizard’s stomach. Somebody had the moral fibre of a child-eating crocodile. Somebody, he said, had run their cables in all the ducts and manholes reserved for SABC TV to run their cables. He wished he knew who. I did not tell him.
The rehearsal day arrived. Our system was up and running. The rehearsal started. A powerful tenor began singing: “Nkosi sikelel iAfrika . . .” He reached a crescendo at “. . . Let us live and strive for freedom !!!” and the public address system, designed by me, tripped into silence. Disaster! I soon found the fault – an incorrect circuit breaker. I told the organisers, we must run that again. Nope they said, no time.
So I told the electrician to hard-wire the public address power supply direct to the busbars. If the amplifiers melted, then so be it.
The opening day arrived. The powerful tenor sang: “Let us live and strive for freedom . . .” and mercifully continued, “in South Africa, our land . . .”
Philadie Kennedy and I shook hands. A job well done.