Can you hear the echo of vuvuzelas?

2011-06-11 10:06

One year! That’s right, it’s almost ­unbelievable that a year has passed since the whistle blew on our month-long joy ride: the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Close your eyes and take a moment to think back. Feel the gees, the spirit that engulfed us. Swim in that sea of yellow jerseys and scarves wrapped tight against the winter cold.

Listen to the squawking ­vuvuzelas that became the soundtrack to our month of joy.

Take us back.

Take us back to that time when we approximated a nation; when we were not a caterwauling bunch at odds over just about everything from economic policy to jobs, Walmart and the true outcome of the local government elections.

Take us back to a time when you-know-who’s rants were drowned out by the call of a million vuvuzelas.

Or don’t take us back and let us instead count the ways in which we are a changed nation.

By ­finishing all the preparations on time, by running Fifa’s most profitable World Cup ever, by ensuring the safety of all the tourists who thronged here, we South Africans learnt to look at ourselves through a different prism.

What one Cabinet minister has called a narrative of dysfunction that characterises the coverage of South Africa is gone.

 We are a ­can-do nation and the World Cup enabled us to shape a futurescape of ability, not disability.

It’s in our DNA to be an argumentative bunch, so our debates are always loud and passionate.

This is a good thing.

We delivered despite a cynical world convinced that Africa did not have the ability to host a World Cup. Until a few months beforehand, New Zealand and Australia were still loudly touted as the Plan B.

It is a delicious irony that South Africa is now the Plan B country for our organisational abilities.

Granted, South Africa is not blessed with a top-drawer political leadership. President Jacob Zuma is friendly and upholds the spirit of democracy, but he lacks decisiveness and clarity.

Two examples show how this leadership deficit on his part has led to a sense of drift.

Firstly, it has been more than 100 days since Public Protector Thuli Madonsela issued her report and declared illegal the leases concluded by the Public Works Ministry for a police headquarters building. Secondly, while the president was warmly applauded for supporting policy changes that

would outlaw senior politicians from holding ­municipal management jobs, the draft law to make this policy has been put on ice. This does not ­encourage confidence.

On the other hand, in the year after the World Cup, we have been invited to join the bloc of emerging world giants that includes Brazil, Russia, India and China.

This is clear recognition that South Africa is a global power broker.

We are a nation advanced by the experience of hosting the World Cup, but our challenges suggest that we are not yet all we can be.

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