World Cup chill was a moneymaker for poor grannies

Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:07am EDT
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By Zaheer Cassim

SOWETO (Reuters Life!) - Hundreds of poor South African grandmothers made more money than they'd seen in their lives selling homemade scarves and hats to soccer fans who came unprepared for freezing conditions during the World Cup.

Project Gogo (meaning grandmother in Zulu), which teaches knitting to elderly unemployed women in impoverished neighborhoods of Johannesburg, sold more than 20,000 scarves and hats in the month of the tournament that ended on Sunday.

Despite advance warnings, many fans arrived without proper clothing for the first winter World Cup since 1978, where temperatures dropped sharply at night especially in high altitude venues like Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.

"I've never earned a thousand rand ($132) since I was born, and I worked 30 years for the whites," said 87 year-old Victoria Maseko, who was a housemaid during apartheid.

The grannies sold scarves in the colors of the competing teams, which took two days to knit, for 170 rand each.

FIFA banned informal traders at stadiums during the tournament, but the gogos sold their warm clothing outside unofficial fan parks and shopping malls.

Gladis Zangili was one the first to join Project Gogo and is now leader of a working group of 60 women.

Every second day, a group of 15 grandmothers meet outside her home in the township of Soweto, where they work together.   Continued...

<p>Street vendors sells flags and scarves ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, in Cape Town June 8, 2010. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>