Africa, Sport

The ceremony over, let the soccer games begin

By Andy Rice 11 June 2010

The 2010 Fifa World Cup opening ceremony started on time, more or less, which is about the best thing we can say about it.  Not many people had that privilege of seeing it live though – thousands of ticket-holders didn’t make it in time, owing to traffic gridlock around Soccer City and greater Johannesburg beyond.

We’d kind of thought the opening ceremony would last a couple of hours or so, but it was all over in 45 minutes. Actually, it is probably a good thing it didn’t go on longer.

There were more than a few cool moments: the praise singer; the jet flyover in the beginning; the dung beetle rolling the soccer ball; the singing of the song Hope in tribute to tenor Siphiwo Ntshebe, who died just days before the opening ceremony; and performances by Femi Kuti and Hugh Masekela. It didn’t quite hang together though. Also, we’re not quite sure why Fifa thought it was a good idea for alleged paedophile R Kelly to sing as well, but hey, who are we to question Master Sepp?

Sapa had a few ideas of its own regarding the line-up of the concert, reporting that Miriam Makeba had performed. Um, not quite, but we trust you were watching fondly from heaven, Mama Afrika.

The Madiba magic was sorely missed, although Nelson Mandela’s absence was completely understandable, given the death of his great-granddaughter in a car accident in the early hours of Friday morning. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu provided a burst of his inimitable spirit though when the camera caught him bopping along in the stands – fully kitted out in Bafana gear (we think the hat really suits him).

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the afternoon was the inexplicable omission of the Waka Waka. Granted, South Africans may not be the biggest fans of the official World Cup song, but surely the point of having an official World Cup song is to have it officially sung at the official opening ceremony? We’re confused too.

Time to play now: The Daily Maverick can’t wait to see Bafana Bafana beat Mexico 6-0 by the end of the afternoon. We’re glad that South Africans are able to generate gees on their own (aided by some fervent vuvuzela blowing), without having to rely on the opening ceremony to fire us up.

By Theresa Mallinson

Photos by Reuters.


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