Surely a good time to be alive

2010-05-08 00:00

IT is just over a month before the start of the biggest sporting spectacle in the world, which will be a historic event as the first Football World Cup held on African soil.

Do you know what this means?

It means, among other things, that the eyes of the world will be on Africa, with lots of expectations to produce the goods.

We have come a long way from the sceptics, doomsayers and fong kong sangomas who predicted that we would never pull it off.

Other nations are now looking at South Africa with envy as all the infrastructure is in place, the plans have been carried out and we are ready for action.

Being the hosts of the first African World Cup, we will be the catalyst for a major paradigm shift for Africans in general and South Africans in particular.

This is Africa’s World Cup and Africans will be shouting for African teams, regardless of whether it is their home nation playing or not. If one of the six African teams wins the World Cup, Africa would have won.

The World Cup will be the glue that sticks Africans together, when we will embrace each other as brothers and sisters. It will hopefully close the chasm that exists between Africans, which has recently been widened by the xenophobic attacks that engulfed this country.

Although South Africa is not a First World country, many sectors of this country are First World: the hospitality, aviation, banking, construction, broadcasting, telecommunications and entertainment industry, among others, and we have proved that we can handle large-scale events on a par with any country in the world.

To a large extent, we have been pacesetters for the rest of Africa, in an exemplary manner, might I add. Many South African-born companies have expanded to Africa and the rest of the world, and have been a success.

The government, through its coffers that have been filled by the taxpayers, has invested immensely in the World Cup in terms of infrastructure, and so the shareholders must therefore reap the benefits of this investment. It belongs to no one else but the people of this country.

What will be a challenge will be sustaining the momentum of 2010, making sure that the benefits of the finals do not disappear when the last tourist and Fifa official turn their backs and return to their own countries.

All good things come to an end and besides, Fifa have another World Cup to plan for in Brazil in 2014.

This is surely a good time to be alive, and certainly one of the highlights of this country since the start of the new dispensation.

We pulled off a miracle with our political solution and “nothing can stop us now” from living up to our reputation, if I can quote former president Thabo Mbeki from his “I am an African” speech.

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