Unite Mzansi, this is our time to shine

Lukhona Mnguni June 3, 2010

“Ke nako” for us as a country to open up our arms and welcome the world to our shores. The time has come for us to let our homes be  homes to strangers if need be, but we need to open our hearts to generate warmth for our visitors through our undying smiles.

Photo credit: JoshuaDavisPhotography

The prophets of doom have been doomed and rendered themselves phoney prophets, because the prophecy that South Africa would never be ready to host the World Cup didn’t see the light of day.  Many people misdiagnosed South Africa, because they saw what was happening in countries like Sudan and thought that they could paint all African countries with the same brush.

Today the people of the world are certain about descending on South Africa, so as to experience the FIFA World Cup 2010 spectacle for the first time on African soil. Africa is rich, Africa is filled with ubuntu and humanity, that is why we are certain that “ke yona” World Cup will never be comparable to any other.

The people of the South never fail to rise to the occasion; many in South Africa doubted how well the white community would support the soccer World Cup – soccer is viewed as a black people’s sport and there are not many white people who support local teams, just like there are not as many black people who support rugby as compared to their white counterparts. However, driven by the spirit of the World Cup I have heard all people, irrespective of race and ethnic group saying “Fevah. Sinayo” to support South Africa and display a united front for our country and be patriotic enough so that our players in Bafana Bafana can believe in themselves even more.

Contrary to popular belief, our white citizens have bought the Bafana Bafana jersey in droves; Indian citizens have equally joined the party and gone out to showcase our national colours. The “football Fridays” have been such a success that not even the initiator of the programme could foresee. I have admired many cars and houses decorated and dressed with our national colours, the mirror fittings on cars, the flags sticking up on car windows and the many homes that have been made colourful by our beautiful South African flag.

Everyday we see South Africans experiencing the spirit of being equal citizens committed to one cause – that being to protect the image of South Africa and to provide the most hospitable reception to the people of the global community as they touch down on African soil. As a nation we have put aside our differences; as a nation we have allowed ourselves to integrate with one another so that the spirit of the World Cup is remembered by all those who will be part of this great show. The national unity displayed by the citizenry shows that we are grateful and pleased by the work done by our Local Organising Committee, under the leadership of Danny Jordan and Irvin Khoza. Sport is once again proving to be a great catalyst in the drive towards nation building and ensuring that though our races may be plural, the fact that we are all human beings unites us to a single race, known as the Human Race.

When the Blue Bulls played their super 14 semi-final and final matches in Orlando East, Soweto, some people in the township had never experienced such a celebratory mood dominated by white people. There were many white people who had never thought of going to Soweto up until the soccer World Cup required that the Loftus Versfeld Stadium be shut down for final preparations for the World Cup. This was seen as an inconvenience by many fans of “die Blou Bulle”, but many of us rejoiced as it offered yet another opportunity for reconciliation to move a step further in our country. One cannot deny the reality that some people’s lives were changed as they experienced Soweto – the hospitality that they received from the residents there was immeasurable. For the residents, many of them had their views dispelled about believing that white people are not interested in learning about Africans. The integration witnessed in Soweto was thanks to the soccer World Cup, without it the Blue Bulls would have never gone to play in Orlando Stadium – again sport being at the heart of nation building. I put emphasis on the race matter because for as long as we see race in each other before we realise the fact that we are all human beings, nation building will remain a far fetched subject. As a nation we need to be comfortable in each other’s presence and never allow anyone to break our ties of connectedness as citizens.

I am proudly South African and that is the message we should all send to the people of the world –  nothing can bring us down. After the World Cup, the Bafana Bafana jerseys may disappear, the flags will be dismounted, the cars will look ordinary again, the smiles amongst strangers will disappear and many of us will retract back to our normality, but one thing that is guaranteed is that as a nation we will never view each other the same as we did before 2010. As a nation we will remain knowing what we are capable of when we are put to task to defend and showcase our nation. Deep down within ourselves we will know that South Africans want the best for this nation and are willing to work towards this objective. The reality is that “ixesha loku bambisana singu Mzansi Afrika sele lifikile” and this we must do beyond the soccer World Cup if we want to build a better nation for all.

The time to say “Feel it. It is here” is disappearing: what we need to stand up and shout out loud while blowing those vuvuzelas is to say, “See it. It is here”. All the critics that thought there was a plan B, C and D in some cases need to come and witness the marvellous work that has been delivered by South Africans. Ordinary men and women who built the infrastructure  – they deserve a standing ovation. When the football crazy community leaves our shores they must be able to say “Siyabonga, nisi phathe kahle”, so that they may surely want to return to our country. The time has come for us to unite Mzansi beyond our differences and our diversity is what makes us a beautiful country. Our plural cultures are what will make the global community experience 11 countries in one. That is why we remain the best option to host this historic African Soccer World Cup.

2010 is indeed a year of realisation of dreams and plans that have taken hard work, planning and commitment. Please join me in throwing my weight behind Bafana Bafana and wishing the boys well in their duty to represent the country. As we are all Africans let us support; Algeria, Nigeria, Ghana and the people of Ivory Coast. To the world we say, “Dumelang, Molweli, Sanibonani, Abusheni, Ndaa, Hello, and Welkom.”

About Lukhona Mnguni, the author

Lukhona Mnguni is a young man in his early 20s. He was born and brought up in a small town called Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape. He was fortunate to attend high school in a privileged area - Port Shepstone. He has held various positions in student leadership and continues to lead in the arena of youth related matters. Not so long ago he left mining engineering to go and pursue his lifetime passion and commitment to the development of poor communities and under privileged people. He is now currently studying a Bachelor of Community and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Lukhona commentates mostly on the political landscape, education and community development; however anything that he finds to be of interest will not go unchallenged.

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  • http://twitter.com/emerigent/lists/memberships Emeri Gent [Em]

    I see the 2010 World Cup to be more than nation building but continent building because this World Cup is about Africa and not just South Africa. There is violence in South Africa but if this World Cup is violence free it proves that when South Africa has a will to deal with it, it can. The reason I think this will be a World Cup of joy rather than violence is because soccer provides the one thing all of humanity needs – meaning.

    It is the mothers of South Africa that must come together to do the nation building that South Africa requires. The Rugby World Cup was the start of reconciliation in South Africa but the Soccer World Cup of 2010 is a time for Africa itself to export its identity.

    The cultural heritage of Africa is not known by most of the world. The worlds media choose selected frames which they think will keep people will consume (because we live in a world which is consumption driven rather than nutrition striven). Even when I read what Lukhona has written here I am learning new things about Africa.

    The problem with Africa is that it is rich in things we can learn from but in the West learning is done in slivers, in tiny little strands of stereotypes or archetypes. It is a result of the industrial age thinking that both “dumbed down” a consumption based market and exploited Africa in the process.

    We are all emerging from this mechanical way of looking at the world, this colonial mindset fueled by a minority group of European-centric elites. Soccer was originally the game of the people invented by the elites to give the working class a distraction. It is ironic that the game of the elites is Rugby and that South Africa is associated with it.

    South Africa's soccer heritage is no more different than the working class heritage of soccer in England. It is only that the world has not seen this, that South African's are as every much crazy about soccer as a Brazilian and given this view, has the potential to be a part of the next generation of soccer, which is the rise of Africa itself.

    They say that Africa is the birthplace of human civilization and renaissance of Africa itself is important to our globe, that Africa does not become a resource pit for other continents to call themselves “developed”. South Africa is one of those countries which are the literal foundation stone for this new Africa, but it is a foundation stone which includes the Arab African nations, the west coast African nations, the center and the eastern coast.

    That there are African teams such as Ivory Coast who possess a potent strike force and midfield, has to be coupled with how Africa has developed in soccer terms in its defense and therefore the total game that is the breakthrough to join one of the seven nations that have won the World Cup before.

    That Nelson Mandela will be at the opening game and the finals, even in his elderly and fragile condition is probably the most significant part of this World Cup. In Mandela, South Africa have an immortal soul who is one of the few things that surpass even the wining of a World Cup.

    His common sense and sacrifice is well known to the World, and this World Cup is as much a part of his legacy as it is the rebirth of the African continent. Africa does not need to build expectations but simply capture the joy that soccer will inevitably pour forth.

    This is already for me the best World Cup I have seen at least in comparison to the excitement and hope that exists even before a single ball has been kicked. There will probably be more violence in the G20 Summit held in Toronto at the end of June, than there will be in the entire 2010 World Cup.

    I think that all South Africans recognize what this World Cup means to them, they no longer need Nelson Mandela to spell it out for them. This World Cup was historic the moment Africa was chosen as the venue – what the future holds know one knows but we do know this, this represents a new a future for Africa.

    [Em]

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  • http://twitter.com/emerigent/lists/memberships Emeri Gent [Em]

    And Mzansi sure shined probably in even more ways than Lukhona Mnguni could even envision it could. It captured our hearts and put the words Ubuntu, Bafana Bafana and Vuvuzela into the global consciousness.

    It is the first time I can recall that the joy of a nation and the collective success was more important than the game itself and that is no better echoed than in Mark Gevisser's comments on TodayOnline:

    The World Cup Winners . . . South Africa
    http://bit.ly/brViTo

    For me even the teams playing in the Final spoke to the connection with Africa. In another time and place this final would be the Moors vs the Boers, for what I find ironic is that the role North Africa played in the shaping of Spain is equal to the role Holland played in shaping South Africa. In either cases these changes may not have been pleasant but what matters is what this particular World Cup represented, hope over adversity, a nation coming together rather than the divisions marked by our world.

    The clans and tribes of South Africa also echo the distinctions that exist within Spain. It is quite ironic that Spain should then beat Holland in today's final. It was the Johann Cruyff and Dutch soccer way that is connected to Spanish soccer and the very said Cruyff completes the ironic twist of this final because of what he did in 2009

    2009: Johann Cruyff becomes manager of Catalonia
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/europe

    Catalonia, Basques and Galacian, these can be international football teams in their own right and this is what speaks to the complexity that also exists in South Africa as a rainbow nation. Much of what South Africa has succeeded to do in reconciliation and what it still has to do in forging its identity beyond Africa as a major player in the Southern Hemiphere, can be translated to the great issues of global identity that are always in play. One cannot hide from that identity in Africa but this World Cup wasn't about anything hidden but much that was revealed.

    It was good see Nelson Mandela make his appearance, though one cannot measure his heartbreak at the loss of Zenani Mandela. I am currently reading Mandela's book “Long Walk to Freedom”, I had hoped to finish it within the space of this World Cup, but it is worth savouring and reading over a longer period. I purchased this book at Oliver Tambo Airport last year on my first ever visit to South Africa, and it represents those warm memories as much as it does this shining World Cup.

    This was a World Cup worth its weight in gold in a nation that knows most about gold. In over 20 years this nation may look forward to hosting the first ever Olympics on African soil. What the Olympic Committee have discovered is that it is ready, but let us savour what this World Cup has meant to this continent and then let the future unfold slowly.

    Instead of looking at South Africa 2028 or South Africa 2032, we still have today and we are all winners today as global citizens. Congratulations to South Africa and of course Spain and the global rainbow that became 2010 South Africa.

    [Em]

  • Lee

    2 years later.. Taxi drivers are back to pre 2010.. lol