2010 World Cup and the African Image

Spain won the European soccer cup in 1988, came to South Africa in 2010 and lifted the world cup amidst the cacophony of Vuvuzela. Spain footballers emerged heroes after displaying excellent form, tactic, resilience, discipline and team work.

Spain won the European soccer cup in 1988, came to South Africa in 2010 and lifted the world cup amidst the cacophony of Vuvuzela. Spain footballers emerged heroes after displaying excellent form, tactic, resilience, discipline and team work.

The host country South Africa should join the Spaniards in celebrating victory, for they too are heroes of 2010 world cup.

For over a month up to July 11, this year, the world attention was focused on South Africa where the football world cup took place. Despite skeptics, the first world cup to be hosted on the African soil has been described as a great success. It is a success story from Africa and the world media projected it as such.

The Republic of South Africa, prominently projected as a rainbow nation throughout the world football season, has done Africa proud. From the comfort of my living room I watched most of the 62 matches, courtesy of Rwanda Television, played in some of the most magnificent stadiums in the world.

South Africa’s success in hosting such a great event has been described as an ‘African success’ and indeed as the visibly contented President Jacob Zuma  said during the final ceremony in which Spain was awarded the cup, “South Africans were the stars and champions of the tournament”.

Reporting on the success of the tournament the morning after European champions Spain snatched the world cup from Holland ( said to be the best foot balling nation that never wins the cup after reaching finals in1974, 1978, and 2010 ) through a lone goal by the Barcelona  FC striker Andres Inesta , BBC reminded us of  some misgivings by skeptics expressed through British newspapers on the eve of the tournament.

The journalist referred to a story which talked of fans buying or being advised to purchase bullet proof vests and to be mindful of roaming lions.

That is the image some fellows around the world still have of Africa. But football being what it is, tens of thousands of fans, traveled  to JOBURG, PRETORIA,CAPE TOWN, DURBAN, BLOOMFOTEIN   among other cities of the rainbow nation, watched football, had their first experience of Africa and loved it.

Reports from relevant authorities, suggest that few cases of mugging were reported during the soccer season and no serious cases of insecurity usually associated with South Africa were witnessed. Has this experienced had an impact on the century old held prejudices, misinformation expressed in diverse stereotypic expressions coined to describe Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’?

Starting from home, my answer to the question above is positive as was aptly expressed by Irene a young school leaver waiting to join Umutara Polytechnic for a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering next year. Irene currently runs a family business hair saloon In Kimironko and when I went there for a hair cut on Monday, the world cup was the most topical issues for the few clients and staff to discuss.

Irene impressed me when she said   the “South African success in hosting the games is a boost to African esteem. It has demonstrated that we Africans are capable of doing anything the so called developed societies can do if we shed the inferiority complex inscribed in us by history”.

During the exchange that ensued she illustrated her point from real experience. She told us that in high school she was taught Physics and Mathematics by an Italian nun who was a very good teacher up to fourth form or senior four.

When a Rwandan teacher replaced her during her fifth form, students doubted the‘black’ teacher’s ability, but since the white lady had to go home they had no choice. “Can you imagine all of us in the class passed our senior six exams and are going to university” she said.

She made the point: Africa has capacity to do great things. We have the people, capacity and the resources; we just need some confidence and cooperation with other stakeholders to be partners in all human endeavors.

But above all we need confidence and mutual respect with other partners. African teams may not have done well in the 2010 cup, but the Bafana Bafana boys performed well against traditional football giants and the Ghana national team demonstrated that good football administration management could produce world winners.

Wasn’t Ghana just as unlucky as any great team, robbed of victory over Uruguay by a mischievous hand of a defender?
What did the outside world learn from South Africa? The Vuvuzela culture might have offended some people like the Brazilian fans but on the whole it has proved to be the symbolic object of the 2010world cup imported by many nationals.

Here is what The East African newspaper reports about the Vuvuzela mania in Italy “ Italian fans snap up 10,000 pieces flown from South Africa, terming the noisy trumpet as cool and symbolic of the ‘ African’ world cup.

Besides, the high organizational level of the event, world class facilities and Vuvuzelas, those who traveled to South Africa will find evidence of progress. Through the South African dynamic media, a month in the Rainbow nation is enough for one to have a first hand knowledge of the openness of South Africans, economic progress, unprecedented democratic practices, and commitment to equality among the citizens. 

With the sports facilities now in place we expect more international events in South Africa. Should the Olympic Games be hosted there, as has been intimated, Africa will do what the Spaniards did on their own soil. Win, Win and win.

Africa has come a long way and as more of such events take place on the continent, the damaged image of Africa will be mended. Don’t be surprised if Morocco or Libya wins the toss to host the world cup after Brazil.


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