Radio Reporting

  1. Pope John Paul II visits Berlin

  2. Sean Dundee granted German Citizenship


Pope Visit to Berlin 1996

AM Live SABC 24 June 1996

Pope John Paul the Second has been visiting a united Germany for the first time this weekend. Twice before during his reign the Pope visited West-Germany. The Pope’s visit to Paderborn and Berlin was not without controversy. His last appearance in Berlin yesterday evening was met by counter demonstrators…….From Germany Anli Serfontein reports………

            More than his previous two visits, this short visit to Germany by John Paul the Second was a political exercise. It took place against the background of increasing criticism of his conservative policies.

            More and more German Catholics are leaving the Church, there is a shortage of priests, finances are tight and the Pope’s conservative theology is coming under scrutiny.

            Yesterday evening as the Pope strolled with Chancellor Helmut Kohl through the Brandenburger Gate in Berlin, the gate that once divided not only a city in East and West, but also a whole continent. It was a symbolic moment for the Polish Pope in a unified Germany. Communism and the atheist ideology of Eastern Europe that he fought against so vehemently have been conquered.

            But after eighteen years as Pope, John Paul seemed old and tired and the joy from his earlier travels seems to have gone.

            Speaking under the gate, the new symbol of a unified Europe today, he called for freedom for all oppressed communities. His address was marred by whistles and boo-calls. But of the planned mass demonstrations against the Pope and his policies little came. Only two thousand demonstrators turned up in Berlin and there were a few tussles with the police and a few arrests.

            If the demonstrations did not amount to much, the faithful did not flock to see him either. At the open air masses in Paderborn and Berlin there were many empty seats, in contrast to his first visit in 1980, when a million and a half people attended his masses.

            On Sunday, under rainy skies in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, only 90,000 Christians attended his mass, many of them bussed in from nearby Poland.

            In a country often called the land of the reformation, the Evangelical Church here was hoping for a sign of reconciliation from the Pope, on this visit that coincides with the 450th anniversary of the death of the Church Reformer Martin Luther. Luther, a former Catholic priest,  was excommunicated by the Catholic Church before founding the EvangelicalChurch.

            At an ecumenical service in the Cathedral of Paderborn on Saturday afternoon, attended by Lutheran leaders the Pope addressed the issue.

            SOT & Voice over

            “Luther’s call for reforms in the Catholic Church was in its original intention a call for repentance (penitence) and renewal. That this beginning became a separation has many reasons. To that also belongs the failure of the Catholic Church.”

            More than four centuries later, the statement was meant as an admission of the guilt of the Catholic Church.

            This is Anli Serfontein in Germany for AM Live.

© Anli Serfontein 1996

Sean Dundee granted German citizenship

AM Live SABC 18 December 1996

Sean Dundee, the South African soccer star who is a big name in the German Bundesliga, was this week granted German citizenship. It was granted in record time, as an “exceptional sporting star” case. From Germany, Anli Serfontein reports.

South Africa’s loss is Germany’s gain. The new star on the German soccer horizon is called Sean Dundee. The lad from Durban is the top goal scorer in the German professional soccer league, the Bundesliga.

In a statement Home Affairs Minister Manfred  Kanther stressed that it should remain an exception to the rule, and should not set a precedent. Dundee is only the fourth foreign soccer player in post war Germany, to be granted citizenship in this manner.

German citizenship is normally only granted on the principle of blood line, i.e. being of German descent. Foreigners can mostly only apply after residing in the country for ten years. Dual nationality is not allowed.

Dundee has been in Germany for only four years, playing for the Karlsruhe SC Club. In that short time the 24-year old has become a popular, household name here and was voted Player of the Year, by fellow players.

Whenever I am introduced as a South African here, I am asked whether I know Crocodile Dundee – not the one from film fame, but a certain goal-scoring Bundesliga player. Crocodile is his nickname here.

Kanther himself was apparently reluctant to make an exception in Dundee’s case, but great pressure was brought to bear on him by no less the president of the German Soccer League, Egidius Braun and the national trainer Berti Vogts. Dundee seems to fit into their future plans.

In June this year, a crippled German soccer team became European Champions with a golden goal in the last minute of the game.

Original Sound From German Radio

“Goal and Germany is European Champions.”

But that is not enough. In 1998 their dream is to again become World Champions in France and for that they need the goal instinct of Dundee.

It was not only Braun and Vogt who are said to have brought to bear pressure on Kanther. Dundee was lucky that Foreign Affairs Minister Klaus Kinkel is a member of his Karlsruhe Club, and a self-confessed Dundee fan. He is said to have had a friendly word with his colleague Minister Kanther.

And that is the sore point. In the press here on Wednesday the naturalisation was covered widely. “Passport for Berti’s boy”, “Dundee, a man for Vogts”, the headlines shouted.

In a country that thrived on proper and time-consuming red-tape, the Dundee file was handled extremely fast. He only applied in September for citizenship, fulfilling only the minimum requirements and barely two months later in a fast-track he has become German.

The left-wing Frankfurter Rundschau in an editorial headed “By the grace of Kanther”, said it did not grudge Dundee that he got, what other foreigners can only apply for after a decade here, but lamented the archaic citizenship criteria, which prevented many residents from becoming citizens.

But they felt that completely archaic citizenship norms, ridiculous administrative structures and uncooperative civil servants prevented people who have lived here for many years to become German nationals

Even the conservative Trierischer Volksfreund questioned the process and pressure that granted Dundee his passport, while others who don’t have a Foreign Minister to put pressure on the authorities wait much longer. But then the newspaper concluded Dundee means goals and Berti Vogts need them.

Speaking to the man in the street on Wednesday afternoon, goals and becoming world champions was all that counted. Good luck to Dundee and even better if he helps us to the World Cup was the tenor of a quick poll.

Vogts has already said that Dundee is part of his future plans for the German national team. It is expected that he will be called into the national squad for its game against Israel on the twentieth of February next year.

His German passport is waiting for him in Karlsruhe to be fetched when he returns from his Christmas holidays with his parents in Durban. Germany’s new World Cup hope is called Krokodil Dundee.

© Serfontein 1996

Update 2006

Sean Dundee never played for any German national team. Soon he was plagued by injury and performance problems and never ever became the star on which all hopes were pinned in 1996. It was reported that he also struggled with German and was calling everyone the familiar “Du”, a serious offence in this country.

In 1998 he switched for a reported two million pound transfer fee to Liverpool F.C. where he only stayed a disappointing one season, playing only three games before returning to Germany and the VfB Stuttgart. After later moving to Vienna and its team Austria Wien, he returned to the Karslruhe SC in 2004, where nearly a decade before he had overnight become a hero and  played such superb football, prompting all red-tape to be passed to give him a German passport.

In the meantime, the Karlsruher SC had dropped out of the Bundesliga, into the Second League and it seems as if Dundee’s career is coming to as sad an end, as his Club’s misfortune. But of course he could retain his German citizenship.

(c) Anli Serfontein from  "From Rock to Kraut"