November 27, 2007

Celebrating Africa's Humanity

MENLYN PARK MALL - If the folks in South Africa can build a mall like this, they shouldn’t have any problems with the stadiums for the 2010 World Cup.

Five tiers of gleaming steel and glass. Shops ranging from the Apple Store to Aldo. McDonald’s. Sushi. Real espresso. A black and white Santa Claus.

This level of sophistication and inclusiveness must have impressed the FIFA selection committee, who have shown some serious gravitas in choosing and sticking with South Africa to host. It's not an easy job to bring the world's biggest sports tournament to a nation struggling to deal with racial reconciliation, a violent crime epidemic and the weight of an entire continent on its shoulders.

"This is Africa's World Cup - not ours" the taxi driver told me as we drove past the newly renovated Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria. "We're going to do this right." Outside an enormous billboard is emblazoned with the tournament's tagline: 'Celebrate Africa's Humanity.'

As presumptuous as it is to make 2010 a referendum on Africa's future, that's what inevitably will happen to a continent that many see as having no internal distinctions. Even though Africans enjoy a strong sense of solidarity and brothahood, it's bizarre to think that its 800 million people - many of whom have never stepped foot in a mall, been to a professional soccer game or sipped a double espresso - will somehow be judged by what happens thousands of kilometres away in places like Menlyn Park.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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