"The Cup That Grips
The World." Sports Illustrated,
1974. Image courtesy of
Don't ever imagine that I am a Soccer fan and for that matter a fan of any game. However, the soccer World Cup 2010 getting kicked off in few hours at the Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg means many things more than a Soccer meet. Ban Ki-moon, the U.N Secretary general qualified it as the 'success of humanity'. The world cup theme is One Goal, Education for all.
Soccer City Stadium at Johannesburg For more pictures
A flash back
When Nelson Mandela the iconic anti-apartheid figure of South Africa was released from his 27 years of imprisonment we (myself, my husband and our two daughters Priya and Prabha) were at Alice, an inner city in the Ciskei, a Black homeland created to restrict the Black people within a confined geography in the apartheid South Africa.
It was on the 2nd of February 1990. Not long after Mr.de Klerk, the White apartheid president had entered his office, he decided to release Mandela not without making behind the door agreement on to what course the new inclusive democratic South Africa would take.
Fire crackers, war songs, dancing and the ululation of joy of a long oppressed people burst into the otherwise peaceful air of Alice, which made us wonder what it was until our next door neighbour clarified, 'Nelson Mandela is released'. Arrived only a few weeks ago in the city our TV aerial had not been coordinated to receive the T.V signals so we had missed the news.
T.V signals were an unfamiliar thing to us then, for none of the places in Africa we stayed in, in the previous years had no such facility. We used the TV only for watching films.
Then came the T.V signals, the freedom and the democracy and the cricket. Together with the oppressed South Africans we were also celebrating.
Euphoria reached fever pitch for South Africans, when their cricket team touched the Indian soil in 1991for its first official international tour, that ended their twenty years of suspension from sports since 1970.
It was appropriate that their isolation was broken in India since India was the key influence in the 1970 sanctions against South Africa. Ironically India still keeps her apartheid as a high level secret.
Democracy in a transformed South Africa
South Africa's transformation into democracy was not a victory won by its liberation defeating the apartheid regime, instead an outcome negotiated among its political stake holders. The liberation army's war though rightly on a moral crusade failed to rip apart the warring machinery of apartheid.
Rolled out in 1994, after a mammoth multi-party negotiation at the Kempton Park, the Constitution of South Africa was a political settlement towards this transformation. To redress its atrocious past and to attain reconciliation in the present to build the future was constituted another body the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Chaired by the most revered Desmond Tutu, the then Anglican Archbishop, the TRC seemingly did everything within its capacity to attain its objectives- granting amnesty to perpetrators being the key among them. However it is criticized to have achieved less in terms of the victims's transformation. As a court-like 'restorative justice' body against a 'retributive justice' body it already had compromised on the victims' right to seek retribution and justice. The perpetrators either applied for amnesty and got it and the victims had to forgive them. There are concerns whether its was reconciliation or sacrifice that the victims really achieved in the end.
But what was unique in the South African transformation?
Anybody would agree, South Africa was unique in its transformation in the sense that its warring groups attained better reconciliation relative to other countries in similar situation.
Its uniqueness lies, seemingly not in the TRC's 'original purpose to provide amnesties – but in its by-product, the victims’ hearings'. The hearing afforded them the opportunity to come face to face with the perpetrators to find closure to their inner wounds through revealing them out. 'Revealing was healing' was the slogan. The entire nation took part in the amnesty process in one way or the other -the victims and the perpetrators through direct contact- and the rest through the wide media coverage it was afforded.
About the publics' reaction to the coverage Gillian Slovo a victim herself-her mother Ruth First was assassinated by a parcel bomb sent to her in Mozambique by the South African security- and the daughter of Joe Slovo the iconic Communist Party leader of South Africa wrote: 'There were those who told me of driving with the radio on, and of being so affected by what they heard that they had to stop their cars and vomit. But there were also those who turned off their radios, and their televisions, and spoke of other things.'
Another remarkable achievement of the TRC was saving the country's history from being negated it tomorrow.
Gullian Slovo continues:
'History was made by the TRC – not just that a nation participated in this exercise – but also literally because one of the aims of the TRC was to re-write the history of South Africa so that future generations could never say, as some have managed to do about the holocaust: oh, no – it didn’t really happen'
Nelson Mandela only completed his first term of office as president of South Africa and then came Thabo Mbeki who ruled for two terms and the current president is Jacob Zuma.
What does the world cup mean to South Africa and to the rest of the developing nations
Currently, among the previously disadvantaged, in South Africa, include the majority among the Blacks, a section of the Indians and the Colourds. Transformation did not offer them tangible developments. When coupled with it the draw back in education and skill development they are a vulnerable group. Their education, employment, and wellbeing is a national priority. Economic investments in the scale of World Cup and other projects can earn them employment and education.
On the other hand, South Africa has a unique potential in its infrastructure. Its national roads, hospitality, health, safety, security, ports, buildings, monuments, national parks, electricity generation, beaches, wine gardens and nature are of world class. Its people are warm, loving, caring, colourful and entertaining. Yet its chance to compete with the rest of the world is sometimes affected by the mythical perception that Africa cannot be trusted with certain important tasks. Seemingly other developing nations are also facing the same problem.
By granting the 19th Soccer world cup to South Africa, FIFA dispelled that myth. And now the country's readiness to take on the world proves FIFA. It is in this context that Ban Ki-moon qualified the event as the success of humanity.
Me, and my family are extremely excited to live in this country at this momentous time to witness its jubilation and joy. We feel it, it is here. We wish the South African soccer team all the best. We believe in them; they can do it.
Here is the fixture for the 2010 World cup.