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'Mama 2010' has never been so busy

By Chris Makhaye | Nov 05, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

DURBAN'S massive and outstanding landmark, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, is starting to take shape ahead of the 2010 World Cup and making many residents and tourists stop and take notice.

This renewed interest in the stadium has elevated Florina Maphalala ito one of the busiest people in Durban these days.

As manager of the Moses Mabhida Stadium visiting centre, the 52-year-old mother of two is swamped by everyone from Fifa executives, top politicians, touring school pupils to local residents - all coming to see the progress done so far for themselves.

Dignitaries that Maphalala has taken on a tour around the building site include Fifa president Sepp Blatter and President Jacob Zuma. All of this has earned her celebrity status, especially in her home township of KwaMashu, north of Durban.

Before taking over this job Maphalala was a secretary at a construction company and nobody took notice of her. Recently she appeared in magazines and on television news and magazine shows.

"One of my neighbours said she could not believe that she was seeing me on the screen," Maphalala says.

Since then everyone in KwaMashu and in Durban refers to her simply as "Mama 2010".

"It makes me proud. When I first came here I didn't know anything about construction. But since then I have gained a lot of insight because everyone, from engineers to building executives, have to give me regular updates so that I can inform the public of how far we have gone in building this stadium," Maphalala says .

When entering the visiting centre, the area where Maphalala takes visitors through the massive construction, one is struck by a huge, black-and-white picture of Moses Mabhida, the Struggle icon who died in exile in 1986.

Mabhida's face bears a huge scar on his forehead, which one of the security guards said "perhaps it's from one of his skirmishes with the apartheid system".

Next to Mabhida's picture is a brief history of this man regarded by many as a non-compromising struggle hero.

The text details how he was born near Pietermaritzburg and later joined the labour movement, the South African Communist Party and the ANC before leaving for exile, where he died in Maputo, Mozambique.

Maphalala started her current job in December 2007. Things were not so hectic then. Apart from the construction workers and engineers, no one bothered to visit the site.

But soon after the arrival of the stainless steel arches from Germany last year, and their subsequent installation, people started flocking to the stadium.

"Many people think these arches are made of concrete but that is not the case. It is made of 56 pieces of steel, making it 350 metres long.

"The cables on the sides are 95mm in diameter and are made of stainless steel. They cover only 95 of the stadium so when it rains during a match the pitch and the players will not get wet," she says confidently.

Maphalala adds that the roof is made of fibreglass and was bought from Mexico and also houses a Swiss-made cable car that can carry up to 25 passengers on a 106 metres high ride to the top of the stadium.

She says on the other side there is a facility called the adventure walk, which is capable of taking 50 people at a time, walking the 552 steps to the highest level, where they can view anything from the city centre and beaches to the harbour.

Maphalala took us on a tour of the inside of the stadium, where workers were busy doing the final touches to the changing rooms, which will have showers, a jaccuzzi and other facilities for the comfort of the players, technical team, match officials and Fifa executives.

The stadium is scheduled to host four World Cup group matches and one semifinal. It will be ready at least three months before the start of the biggest sporting showpiece in the world.


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