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KIMBERLEY came to a standstill yesterday when the Northern Cape town hosted the 50 days countdown celebrations to the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Despite being the only province that will not host any of the 64 World Cup matches, thousands of residents came out to support the event.
As early as 6am, young and old residents of all shapes and sizes had lined up on the streets to welcome some of the VVIPs and celebrities at Galeshewe Stadium.
They waved the South African flag, with others blowing the vuvuzela, which has now become one of the most popular instruments in world football circles.
"Kimberley will never be the same again. It's such a great feeling to be on the national map," said Oupa Leeuw, who had painted his body with South African flag colours.
The day's programme started with a carnival march in the streets of Kimberley to Galeshewe Stadium, where soccer greats Jay Jay Okocha and Doctor Khumalo conducted coaching clinics for local school children.
But the biggest cheers for the day were reserved for President Jacob Zuma.
As soon as Zuma walked through the main gate, the crowd chanted "Zuma, Zuma, Zuma." Accompanied by businessman and Mamelodi Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe, Zuma waved at the crowd.
Also present were representatives of the Uruguay Football Association, whose team will be based in Kimberley for the World Cup.
Popular singer Chomee entertained the crowd.
Meanwhile, Newcastle and surrounding townships were a hive of activity yesterday as artists, celebrities and politicians joined forces to mark the 50 days countdown.
Branded trucks, buses, and cars drove through the town, and Ukhozi FM's Linda "Mr Magic" Sibiya and Dudu Khoza with artists such as Big Nuz, Msawawa, L'vovo Derango and DJs Chynaman, Bongs and Happy Girl entertained the crowd.
At Newcastle taxi rank, a large crowd braved the cold to see their favourite stars, who encouraged them to rally behind Bafana Bafana.
At Osizweni Stadium, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for arts, culture and sports Weziwe Thusi encouraged residents to either buy tickets or watch games at the fan parks.
"Fifty days means that there is nothing that will stop us from hosting the tournament, and even the prophets of doom who doubted us have now swallowed their words. South Africa and Africa will host the most successful tournament ever," she said.
Amajuba district mayor Mkhulu Mlangeni said they had worked well with the province to ensure that the people of Newcastle felt part of the football showpiece.