Fair. Balanced. American.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"We invite you with open arms to our wonderful country"

A FIFA promo for the 2010 World Cup.

From the Guardian:
And so the circle was complete. Nelson Mandela, who presided over the birth of a democratic South Africa, took centre stage again last night at the country's coming of age.

Wrapped against the winter cold, Mandela beamed and waved to nearly 85,000 spectators before they together witnessed Spain claim its first World Cup with victory over the Netherlands.

The fans at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg rose to their feet to give a thunderous welcome to their living legend, with roars, applause and blasts on their vuvuzelas. It was the dream symbolic finale for the biggest sporting event Africa has ever seen, a momentous chapter in the history of both country and continent. It was also a memorable prelude to a somewhat forgettable final.

Mandela, who turns 92 next Sunday, had pulled out of the opening ceremony after the death of his great-granddaughter in a car accident hours before. There had been uncertainty about his appearance last night, with his grandson accusing Fifa of putting "extreme pressure" on the anti-apartheid hero.

But the backstage row melted away with the first glimpse of the man who has become something of a secular saint to millions. Mandela in black coat and generous fur hat made stately progress in a golf cart across a white carpet laid on the pitch for the tournament's closing ceremony.

South Africa's first black president grinned from ear to ear and waved his gloved hands, though his arms needed support from his wife, Gra├ža Machel, who also smiled enthusiastically.[...]

The Sunday Independent declared it was Africa's greatest moment, adding: "Cost of tournament: R40bn. Hosting the best one: Priceless." An advert for bank FNB said simply: "Today this is the greatest country in the world." [...]

But there is a legacy. "Just 20 years ago we were a society entrenched on a racial basis by law," said Jordaan. "Black and white could never sit together in stadiums, go to the same school, or play in the same football team. Within 20 years, we saw white supporters having their faces painted in the Ghana colours, supporting young Africans.

"That's something this World Cup has brought: nation building and social cohesion. People walked tall. They were very proud of this country. They were told over many years, you are inferior, you cannot do these things because of our history. So that was a psychological barrier the nation crossed: the world is saying this may be the best ever World Cup and this was an African World Cup."


omen said...

i didn't realize till recently that mandela had instituted neoliberal policies while in office and failed to put in place land reforms. no wonder the country is still mired in poverty.

Sini said...

I don't know enough about the country's history, but I do believe when he first took over that the possibility of heavily funded, armed white uprising was a possibility. I also wouldn't be surprised if future foreign investment might have been threatened without toeing the line on economic policy. There's a lot of things you can blame Mandela for (his shitty AIDS policy is legendary, one that he has tried to atone for after losing any power to implement change), but I'm not sure it's fair to *start* with his economic policy.