MUNICH – I found my people in Germany, and in less than a day in this city, I went from a Borussia Dortmund sympathiser to a Bayern Munich supporter.
I don’t use the word supporter lightly, because I don’t “support” teams based on something as fickle as my heart. I use my head.
I am a sucker for a good story, so my heart is easily persuaded. I trust my head in such serious issues because it’s the most sensible organ I have.
I chose the team that I grew up supporting in South Africa, the rivals of my father’s team, purely based on my head, while my heart was won over by the football their opponents displayed that day – winning 4-1.
My head said I should go against my father’s team because on that day, he had beaten the living crap out of me for something as insignificant as feeding our dog chillies.
For crying out loud we were in Durban, chillies are a staple food in that part of the world, so I couldn’t easily forgive someone who wasn’t a true Durbanite at heart, and supporting their rivals was a good way to stick it to my late father.
It’s a huge shift to go from Dortmund to Bayern, because I used to think that Bayern fans outside Germany are just glory hunters.
It’s easy to support them. They are the most powerful, most recognisable brand, most financially strong and the most successful team in Germany.
I chose Dortmund because they are a romantic story, they were almost liquidated, and they bounced back to stick it to the man, and in this instance, the man is Bayern.
Ironically, Bayern helped Dortmund avoid bankruptcy in 2004 with a €2 million loan.
As I went deeper into German culture on Friday, I found out that Bayern is actually blood. Bavarians are the Zulus of Germany. The culture is a lot similar.
They are carnivorous people who drink beer by the gallons, and they are shaped by traditional values.
Their traditional attire, music and food are a lot like ours. Ngizwile inkostina nesthwebu in their traditional music.
I ordered Schweinshaxe at Hofbräuhaus in Munich.
What I got was idombolo, isobho nenqina lengulube. For those who don’t know what that means, isiZulu asitolikwa.
But since I am in a good mood, I will translate it – it was dumplings, gravy and a roasted pig’s leg.
I found out that Bavarians actually believe that they should be an independent state from Germany.
Doesn’t that sound a lot like the Zulu empire?
The Bundesliga International Project Manager of Audiovisual Rights, Marco Beck, told me that Bayern is the German name for Bavaria, and Munich is the capital city of Bavaria.
That makes Bayern Munich the AmaZulu of the Bundesliga – just with much, much more success.
The litres of German beer that I drank that night were in jugs that look a lot like iskali that we use for our sorghum beer should we run out of ukhamba.
I thought that I would leave Germany with a shirt of a team that I can’t find in South Africa, perhaps Mainz, RB Leipzig, this season’s Bundesliga surprise package Eintracht Frankfurt or 1860 Munich, who shared the Allianz Arena with Bayern.
But that would be ignoring my “people”. I’ll leave Germany with a Fußball-Club Bayern München e.V. T-shirt.
You see how I wrote it the proper German way?
I did so because these are my people, my brothers from another mother, with the same Zulu father.
* Njabulo Ngidi is in Germany courtesy of StarSat.