African rhythm, harmony for 2010

15 August 2008

Back in 2000, when everybody started taking South Africa’s World Cup bidding process seriously, a high-level delegation of Fifa officials toured the country on a fact-finding mission.

They left with images of thousands of wide-eyed children calling in unison for the right to host the showpiece of the beautiful game, and Vicky Sampson’s “My African Dream” ringing in their ears.

The Project 2010 column: Craig Urquhart South Africa lost its bid to host the 2006 edition of the world’s most popular sporting event (by the narrowest margin in Fifa’s history), but the seed had been planted and the country had emerged as a heavyweight on the international stage.

The 2010 Fifa World Cup will give South Africa a global platform to showcase everything that is unique about the country. Expect South African music to be up near the top of the list.

Love them or hate them, vuvezalas will play an integral part in this country’s 2010 celebrations. Fifa has acknowleged this and granted permission for them to be used at next year’s Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup “under certain conditions”.

Cape Town-based music educator Pedro Espi-Sanchis is running vuvuzela workshops at football clubs around the country, and hopes to perform at the opening ceremony as well as the final of the 2010 World Cup.

A nationwide hunt is also under way for operatic “mega-voices” to give birth to the country’s very own 20 Tenors. South Africa’s answer to The Three Tenors are expected to perform concerts in all nine host cities prior to kick-off. There are plans to produce a CD, and choreographer Ian von Memerty is working on a repertoire which includes an “iconic anthem”.

In addition, hundreds of choirs, groups, bands and singers (including Le Zulu Blanc Johnny Clegg) are likely to create a chorus that will resonate around the world long after the world’s biggest party has left these shores.

Urquhart is a former Fifa World Cup media officer and the current editor of Project 2010