By Jeremy Dowson
Michael Jackson's arrival in Cape Town has unleashed a media frenzy unprecedented for a musician as scores of photographers attempt to track the elusive 38-year-old pop icon's path around the Mother City.
With public interest already aroused by the erection of a striking 30-metre statue in Green Point on Wednesday, Jackson and his entourage of about 160 people landed at Cape Town airport in a private Gulfstream jet just before midday on Thursday. The star was clad in shades, a black hat and sequin-studded military chic as he entered the airport building, where he and his party were entertained by an African choir and a minstrel troupe before a Madiba-style shirt was presented to Jackson.
Jackson and crew were then whisked off to the exclusive Table Bay Hotel at the V&A Waterfront where hordes of fans were waiting in the hope of catching a glimpse of their idol. Soon after checking in, Jackson waved briefly to fans from his balcony, later emerging from the hotel with his bodyguards to go on a walkabout through the Victoria Wharf shopping centre.
At the end of the walk Jackson's aides beckoned a paraplegic youngster, who had been waiting patiently in his wheelchair outside the hotel, to come and meet the star -- an encounter which provided local snappers with their first close-up photo opportunity. Other such opportunities will doubtless be had when Jackson visits some of his favourite haunts -- toy shops and CD stores - over the next few days.
Not everyone is overawed by the self-styled King of Pop's visit, however. In Friday's Cape Times, music journalist Karen Rutter wrote: "When Michael Jackson takes to the stage at Green Point Stadium, he is bound to announce in his strangely pre-pubescent voice that he loves Cape Town. That he loves South Africa. And that he loves YOU. The question is: do we care?"
For those who do - and there are many, despite the bad press surrounding Jackson in recent years - the dates of the HIStory Tour are:
Green Point Stadium: Saturday, October 4 and Monday, October 6;
Johannesburg Stadium: Sunday, October 12;
Kings Park Stadium, Durban: Wednesday, October 15.
Meanwhile, online booking is available through Computicket's web site.
*Check out some close-ups of Michael Jackson in Cape Town at goodhope.intekom.com