No turning back as Africa’s hour arrives
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”