Nov 29, 2012, 8:38 AM
After years and months of preparations, the world will finally converge in South Africa today for the start of the biggest event in football, as South Africa faces Mexico in the opening game of the 2010 World Cup. This is the first time the World Cup is being held in Africa, in the 80-year history of the World Cup, a tournament that captivates the globe. It is indeed a dream come true as the whole world would no doubt witness this epoch-making moment in the annals of the tournament.
For quite too long, the African continent has been seen as the most backward continent in the world, where wars, poverty, destitution and corruption was the order of the day. Many raised eyebrows when South Africa was chosen as a host of the 2010 World Cup, with skeptics saying the continent did not have the potential to bring the world under one roof. But today, the choice of South Africa as host of the World Cup has been described as a success, even though we have not yet seen the end of the tournament.
The choice of South Africa is apt, because it is the most developed country on the continent; it is in the class of Germany and Great Britain. Despite skepticism about the country's capability to host the event, we are confident that South Africa, the rainbow nation, will surpass all expectations.
The 2010 World Cup could also herald the start of social changes in South Africa, a country of astonishing natural beauty, whose past and present have been marred by the darker side of the human spirit - warped politics, heinous crimes and deep-rooted poverty and injustice.
However, the tournament should not only be a South African affair; it is a matter of continental pride. That is why, Africans, regardless of nationality, were beside themselves with excitement when the FIFA Coca-Cola World Cup made its graceful 52-nation tour around the continent with its final destination in the host country.
The tumultuous reception it has received in The Gambia and other parts of the continent was an indication of the vicarious pleasure Africans derived from seeing, with their own naked eyes, the coveted trophy they have been seeing only on television and in newspapers.
It is our expectation that an African team would lift the trophy, this time around. Without sounding overly optimistic, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and even host South Africa, look good enough to be worthy ambassadors of the continent at the World Cup tournament.
It is also our hope that the excitement that greets the start of the World Cup throughout the continent will translate into real commitment to restoring the continent's representatives to winning ways, as most of them have been on a poor run in the build-up to the tournament, losing their friendly test matches.