Sweat the small stuff, Bafana
SHEESH! Just when South Africa had started to recover from the trauma of seeing one picture of a johnson, another one looms into view. Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa has unveiled an artist's impression of his dream: the tallest building in Africa. The planned 447m skyscraper in Centurion would rise higher than the Empire State Building if it were built.
It's pretty irksome that our leaders are indulging in such grandiose vanity projects while failing to provide enough classrooms, textbooks and medicines for the poor. Ramokgopa's vision is unlikely to materialise, but merely commissioning the picture was a waste of money.
Surely the 2010 World Cup provided enough national self-gratification to last us a century? The last thing we need right now is a symbol of prowess aimed at winning an expensive pissing contest. Give us actual prowess in solving actual problems.
It's not surprising that the tallest building in Norway, the richest and most equitable country in the world, is just 117m high, half the height of the Carlton Centre.
Thankfully, South African football has shed much of the jingoistic arrogance that used to define its relationship with Africa. Bafana Bafana's victory in the 1996 Africa Nations Cup at the first attempt was a precious, nation-building moment, but that unexpected glory had a psychological price - for a decade afterwards we considered dominance in Africa to be the default condition, something to be expected.
Now we know better. Bafana's mortifying shrinkage on the African stage has brought some humility - and their risible failure to qualify for the last Nations Cup was the final humiliation. It will take some time to fix the national team's mojo.
That repair job must begin this weekend, with the start of the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign. A little more than 6000km of ocean separates Cape Town from Rio de Janeiro. But for Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane, Brazil must feel as distant as Pluto.
His first assignment on Sunday is a tricky clash with Ethiopia, a dangerous bunch who held Nigeria to a 2-2 draw in the Nations Cup qualification race last year.
The Black Lions are almost entirely based in Ethiopia; the only foreign-based players are forwards Saladin Said of Egyptian side Wadi Degla and Fikru-Teferra Lemessa, once of Orlando Pirates and Supersport United, who now campaigns for Vietnamese club Thanh Hoa.
Like Sudan and Egypt, the Ethiopians have made a strength of the abundance of home-based players - most of the squad earn their keep for just three clubs, Dedebit, St George's and Defence. Hence they will be organised and fluent, if short of top-class individual talent.
Mosimane's last qualification campaign was undone in the first outing against Niger, a game in which Bafana utterly dominated the proceedings but could manage only a 2-0 victory. When goal difference was tallied up, that profligate night in Nelspruit came back to haunt Bafana in the final reckoning.
Steven Pienaar and his troops must take on Ethiopia with the attention to detail that is the foundation of anything worth celebrating.