Our nation now redefines the art of the possible

2010-07-10 11:15

As wonderful as it has been to play host to the globe, the World

Cup has taught us more about how we see ourselves than about how the rest of the

world sees us.

In time, we must answer why so many South Africans joined the

naysayers brigade, insisting that we were going to botch things up.

Why did we

believe we would fail despite the fact that the Local Organising Committee

pointed out, repeatedly, that the country had security under control, that

public transport would work and that the stadiums would be completed on time?

Now we know that we can do it. We should all draw hard on this massive shot of

self-esteem and never again doubt what’s possible.

This, of course, raises the

bar for the future and throws up new challenges.

The image of a working, relaxed, organised South Africa with

designer stadiums is what we now see in the mirror.

More than nine in 10 tourists polled in Cape Town said they would

be back, and it’s clear from City Press’s own reporting that this is true for

all of South Africa, not only for the Mother City.

Tourists have taken a sho’t left, and have fallen in love with the

country and its people.

We have moved beyond the nation famous for overcoming

apartheid, and we did it without our founding father, Nelson Mandela, who

­unfortunately could not attend the opening ceremony.

He is our icon, but no longer the only ­exclusive embodiment of the

nation we must become.

Our national DNA now contains new genetic information: we can excel

(by all accounts, this was a record-breaking World Cup); we can be hospitable

(asked what they liked best, many visitors replied “the people”); we can do

things on time (we kept to all key deadlines and there were thousands of them);

we can think on our feet (when stadium guards went on strike, the cops replaced

them with ­minimal drama); we can effect justice swiftly and fairly (the World

Cup courts were a whirlwind of arrests, convictions and ­sentencing).

The list

goes on.

This shot in the arm, this redefining of how we see ourselves, must

surely mean that it cannot possibly be back to business as usual?

The bar has

been lifted and by becoming craftspeople of the art of the possible, there are

no insurmountable problems.

No longer will leaders have ready excuses to explain

why violent crime does not abate in any real measure for year after painful


Or why education still resembles apartheid’s shameful outcomes.

No longer

will we have to look at our cruel levels of unemployment and shrug our shoulders


It’s the end, but also the beginning in so many ways.

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