10 June 2010
In one of the largest displays of national spirit ever seen in the country, South Africans took to the streets at midday on Wednesday in a massive display of support for the home team as a proud nation let the world know just what kind of tournament Africa’s first World Cup will be.
Around Johannesburg the crowds were there to welcome the national side, Bafana Bafana, who were travelling in an open-top bus, at every turn they made on their way from their hotel in Sandton to their training ground at Wits University.
In Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and the other host cities, the atmosphere was no less electric as World Cup fever spread quickly, signalled by the distinct drone of the vuvuzela.
Celebrating the spirit of the nation
“I’m here to support Bafana Bafana and to get behind my country,” said Johannesburg resident Zeyn Tilly. “It feels amazing to be here, it is the first time in my life I have seen this unity in South Africa. The atmosphere is just electric.”
For Tilly, this is the start of a fun-filled six weeks. “You can have no idea how incredible this is for me. I just want it to go as slow as possible so that I can enjoy every minute. This tournament is about more than just football.”
For Joseph Mabea, Wednesday’s street parade was about celebrating the spirit of the country. “I am a huge Bafana fan,” Mabea said over the din of the vuvuzelas. “I have seen the passion in them, and I want them to know I am with them all the way.”
Mabea has a ticket for the opening match, and the atmosphere of the parade is only getting him more excited. “I will be there, and I can’t wait. Seeing such a match live, no longer on the television, is amazing for me. The feeling here is amazing, I am running short of words. I wish this could happen more often, I wish this could be my life, showing how united we are as a nation.”
Support for the national side has been growing in recent weeks, both as a result of the proximity of the tournament and due to their recent performances on the pitch. “This is a great team,” said another Joburger, Muhammed Moosa. “Twelve unbeaten games – they are just great, and they will do us proud.”
Many businesses allowed their staff to come and join the party in the streets, adding a huge number of people to the midday festivities.
‘Thank you, Bafana, for making us one’
Laughing with friends as she tried to blow her vuvuzela, Leanne Toffie said she wanted to show her passion for her national side. “To be here, united with my fellow South Africans in support of Bafana Bafana – it is just an amazing feeling, seeing the country united as one.”
Nicholas Ndlovu, fully clad in a Bafana Bafana supporters’ uniform complete with makarapa, vuvuzela, overalls and glasses, said: “It feels like I am in heaven coming into a crowd of people like this, it makes me so proud. Thank you, Bafana, for making us one.”
Many tourists are in Cape Town for the World Cup, and it did not take long for them to get in on the act and also try and blow a vuvuzela.
Pablo Ezeqiel Perez Murua from Argentina and his family are staying at a guest house in Plattekloof. They came to explore Cape Town for the day, and were pleasantly surprised at the outburst of patriotism.
“Cape Town is a wonderful city, the people are friendly and very patriotic,” Murua said. “I have also bought a trumpet [vuvuzela] and will blow it at our first game against Korea.
Deon Malan, who happened upon the scenes of celebration while walking through the city on his way to meet friends at a restaurant, said: “Walking down Long Street [in Cape Town] was incredible. People were standing on balconies overlooking the street while outside people were congregating in groups blowing their vuvuzelas.
“It was the first time that I can really remember seeing all South Africans united in such a way,” said Malan. “It was so overwhelming.”