I am smiling, yes I have a ‘stupid grin’ in my face. A day after the closing ceremony of the biggest and probably the best sporting spectacle in the world hosted in my country, I cannot help it by smile with a sense of pride. I look at all South Africans today and say to myself “you beauty!”
I do not care that television scheduling at the national broadcaster will be back to showing reruns of everything under the sun, including the world cup. I do not care that our news will be hogged by one imbecile, turned hero for the poor, who is called Julius Malema. Hey I do not care that the police will no longer be visible and the opposition party in parliament will be shouting crime, crime and selling the story to British and Australian media. I do not care that the public transport system is now back to normal and a 15 minute trip will take you one and a half hour. In fact today and going forward it will take more than Malema fuming at a British reporter to wipe off the smiley stupid grin of my face.
As we bid our visitors goodbye, as images of my beautiful country are beamed across the world, as the unofficial national football symbol-the vuvuzela-is making a stride in international markets I feel like borrowing some lines from former President Thabo Mbeki’s poetic speech. “Today it feels good to be an African. It feels good that I can stand here as a South African….to say….to the millions who made an input into the processes we are concluding…..to the unseen stars who shone unseen as the management and administration…….the advisers, experts and publicists, to the mass communication media, to our friends across the globe - congratulations and well done!”
Take a bow fellow South Africans. Take a bow Africa for you were once this dark sheep and skunk of the world and today you stand in the brink of being the greatest host. Today Africa you are well on your way back to your former glory, that of being the cradle of humankind and humanity – ubuntu.
Nay-sayers will be back to their old self and telling us of how much has been wasted in hosting the tournament but as Africans we need to remind all and sundry that when you host a visitor you do not tally the costs but instead you look at how will this in a long run benefit your children and their children and even your clan, your tribe and your nation. So I am not looking at the fact that neither I nor my neighbours are instant millionaires since the start of the world cup but I am thinking of my nephew who is doing his first year at varsity and my neighbours’ kids who are still in the schooling system. I am thinking that all the good stories and footage that was streamed from South Africa, and most importantly Africa, will encourage foreign investment that will enable my nephew and other African children the opportunity to be employed or to engage with foreign investors to be their business partners.
So in a spirit penned out by Alfred Lord Tennyson; “Cannon to right of them; Cannon to left of them; Cannon in front of the; Volley’d and thunder’d; Storm’d at with shot and shell; boldly they rode….”, let us charge forth and boldly declared to the world that we cannot accept being labeled the dark continent. Let us stand in world circles and demand the right to host international events be it in sporting codes, in government spheres and the business sector.
As I write this piece I am filled with motions and proud of what Africa has done for the past month. No machetes, no AK-47s; no coup de tats and none of the ills that have come to be associated with Africa during this period where we hosted the world.
I end this note with a note from that great African son, Thabo Mbeki: “This thing that we have done today, in this small corner of a great continent that has contributed so decisively to the evolution of humanity says that Africa reaffirms that she is continuing her rise from the ashes. Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace!
However improbable it may sound to the skeptics, Africa will prosper! Whoever we may be, whatever our immediate interest, however much we carry baggage from our past, however much we have been caught by the fashion of cynicism and loss of faith in the capacity of the people, let us err today and say - nothing can stop us now!”.
Thank you, thank you and thank you my people.