No turning back as Africa’s hour arrives

July 12, 2010

A local child carries a ball while playing soccer at a dirt field in Soweto, Johannesburg June 7, 2010. The 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup kicks off on June 11.          REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The 2010 World Cup has been a memorable and momentous occasion not only for me, but for South Africa, the African continent and the rest of the world.

It has indeed been incredible. It has been a unifying factor, with people beginning to appreciate the importance of their national symbols such as flags.

Ghana's Samuel Inkoom runs with the South African flag after the team's victory over the United States in a 2010 World Cup second round match at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg June 26, 2010.        REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

As a photographer for an institution such as Reuters, one can say that I have been privileged to be a part of this historic occasion. It was indeed a privilege to be among hordes of international media covering the event. I was here during the Confederations Cup, but the feeling of covering the World Cup is enormous – it is part of history.

Brazil's Michel Bastos fights for the ball with North Korea's Mun In-guk (11) during a 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, June 15, 2010. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

This has changed the perception of those who doubted that South Africa, or Africa as a whole, could stage such a magnificent tournament. Everywhere, people have been consumed by the World Cup. Cars have been decorated with flags, houses and shops – many with the South African flag.

Performers dance near a replica of the Soccer City stadium during the opening ceremony before the 2010 World Cup opening match at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June 11, 2010.          REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

For me, the opening ceremony will forever be etched in my mind and engraved in my heart. The feeling inside the full-packed Soccer City Stadium was awesome. It was incredible seeing people shedding a tear during the national anthem. They were moved and all I could think of was the sacrifices made by the Class of ’76, those who sacrificed their lives so that we have a united, non-racial, non-sexist South Africa. As the ceremony unfolded, I said to myself: “We are reaping the fruits of June 16, 1976.”

Soccer fans cheer while awaiting the start of the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June 11, 2010.                REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

It was indeed a moving ceremony. It was amazing to see all South Africans and those from the African diaspora united in their diversity. I realized that the hour had arrived, there was no turning back. Africa’s time had arrived and South Africa was ready.

Being among the masses of photographers, mainly sports photographers, who came for the tournament has been a great learning curve as most of them are specialists in their field. Some had a different perception of South Africa and we had a lot to prove and we proved them wrong.

Police officers form a barricade as soccer fans wait for the arrival of the Ghanaian team during their visit to Soweto July 4, 2010.  REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Despite being branded a noise maker, which it most certainly is, the vuvuzela added some spice to the World Cup. Despite calls for it to be banned, I bet that this gadget will characterize soccer throughout the world. This piece of plastic has been exported from South Africa to the world.

We could not be more proud to host this fantastic tournament, meeting people from different cultures and background from us.

Spain's Andres Iniesta lifts the World Cup trophy after their final match victory over Netherlands at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg July 11, 2010.       REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Borrowing from FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s words:

“It was Nelson “Madiba” Mandela’s dream to see the World Cup final in South Africa. That dream has now come true. It was done in honor of this great man who has done so much for his country since he was released from jail in 1992. It was Madiba who brought the World Cup to Africa and South Africa and I was delighted when he was able to attend the final. It was a fitting climax to the World Cup.”


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Now it time for South Africa to get ready to bid for 2020 Olympic Games taking credits from this World Cup accomplishment.

I would love to see Caster Semenya running all she could as nature blessed her with something else that makes her more special than other girls around.

We are born man and woman and questioning any departure is not that fair letting nature absorb its own mistakes and us believe that the perfection in nature has plenty of room for many imperfections and our assurance to assume that nature is in charge guiding our survival and makeup. What nature gives should be granted because it can be more muscles, thinner bones, or even a better hormone biochemistry to let an improved performance benefit few gifted ones.

Posted by Tubarc | Report as abusive

2022 in North Africa PLEASE!
Morocco <3 Algeria

Posted by Lawliyya | Report as abusive

I really enjoyed it as well, it was an amazing experience. Memories of my first world cup date back to world cup USA in 1994. I might have seen world cups before television as a kid but USA was the first one I understood. Especially Roberto Baggio’s pony tail. I had never thought I would experience in South Africa, it was always a far fetched dream. Then SA got to host it this year(unbelievable story). The pitches were as green as the ones you see on crisp champions league night at Santiago Bernabéu, Camp Nou and the Emirates staduim(dream pitches). But it all happened in Africa, same players that grace dream pitches graced SA pitches, and the stadiums were unbelievable. I am glad we did not try and build stadiums similar Germany stadims, we forged our own path.

Posted by Vido | Report as abusive

All I can say is I was so excited for world cup to be played in Africa soil, but mostly I big up the Ghana’s for showing off what Africa are made of. I had faith in them and they did made us proud and hope on next world cup, the trophy will be coming to Africa.

Posted by lizleppy | Report as abusive