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Alumni View on the Fifa World Cup 2010 in South Africa (1)

Living in South Africa during the World Cup / by Carolin Gomulia

2010-06 WC1

It is difficult to describe life in South Africa during the World Cup. The official slogan 'feel it, it is here' captures it all. You can feel it everywhere. The newspapers are full of World Cup articles and opadds. There is no shop, restaurant and street without World Cup branding. I had a good laugh when I read Peter Davis' "Open letter to our foreign media friends". It is hilarious how he addressed journalists who before the World Cup saw a civil war coming upon South Africa and painting a picture of tourists being robbed and mugged at every corner. Reconciling he states at the end to just get out there and experience what is happening.

Walking around in Cape Town CBD I am just impressed. For tourists visiting the city for the first time it might look nice, neat, relatively clean, still some spots under construction; but for us, living in this town for a couple of years, it is amazing what South Africa has achieved. I think most visitors are not aware that what they see today meant for this country more than double the sweat than most of the developed countries have to put up with when hosting an event of this kind. The, up till now, successful implementation of the World Cup has surprised many foreigners and South Africans.

2010-06 WC2It is not perfect. The World Cup does not hide away from the fact that there are still many challenges ahead. South Africa as one of the countries with the highest Gini Coefficient in the World will not overcome its problems by this World Cup event and more then 500 000 tourists visiting this country.

In my opinion, the World Cup is a self confidence boost for South Africa. It creates a joy and happiness that goes beyond class, gender, race and age. The World Cup seems to be able to go beyond these 'boxes' which determine most of the daily lives of South Africans. Even when Bafana Bafana did not make it to the next round, emails were flying around the next morning to motivate South Africans telling them to continue to celebrate.

Key moments for me were those, when the so called 'loosers of the World Cup' and the 'poor' express that THEY can 'feel it'; if my cleaning assistance, who lives in a shack close to the N2 leaves little notes in my house 'ayoba, feel it, it is here' or the homeless guy on the street 'why can't we always have this World Cup, why can't it stay forever, it is the best thing ever'. These humbling moments remind me to really just enjoy it and stop trying to use the analytical European lens on everything but just be in the moment. Shari Cohen closes her article 'South Africa rolls out Ubuntu in abundance' with the sentences: "As the 2010 Cup slogan goes, "Feel it. It is here." Well, I have felt it, because I am here. Thank you South Africa, for giving me this unexpected gift. I am humbled."

By Carolin Gomulia (Communication Coordinator and Strategic support Institute for Justice and Reconciliation); Alumni Master of Arts in Development Management