World Cup calls on us to give our country a human face

BY COUNT of all those who cannot wait to hear the first whistle blow at Soccer City Stadium to mark the beginning of the World Cup it is 16 days to go before the national anthems of Mexico and South Africa - which someday will be called Azania - are sung for the games to begin.

BY COUNT of all those who cannot wait to hear the first whistle blow at Soccer City Stadium to mark the beginning of the World Cup it is 16 days to go before the national anthems of Mexico and South Africa - which someday will be called Azania - are sung for the games to begin.

For the geopolitically correct, whose demeanor might find mention of Azania odd in the incantation of this great countdown, should not forget that Namibia was South West Africa before. It is now history that Zimbabwe was Rhodesia.

The fact that South Africa still goes by its geographic position on the continent is a lead indicator of unfinished business. It is not impossible for South Africa to find its rebirth into Azania. It should be remembered that even former president Nelson Mandela's jailors had once thought it impossible that they would one day call him Mr President. Some had even accepted the absurdity of linking their freedom to his continued incarceration.

Today Mandela is the world's most revered son of whom none on either side of the liberation and oppressor camp can get enough. Such celebrated reality would not have been possible had it not been for the unquenchable thirst of ordinary people to be free.

The essence of that freedom, though, was not limited to Mandela walking out of prison to become president. Nor was its mission ended with Mandela's successor Thabo Mbeki.

That essence is also far from finding a terminal point in the presidency of Jacob Zuma or his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe.

The essence of that freedom can only find ultimate victory in the material deliverance of the vast majority, for most of whom democracy still appears to be nothing more than a textbook and five-year ritual of going to the polls to elect presidents. Real democracy needs to be seen, felt, touched and lived by those in whose name it was brought into being.

History teaches us that when former revolutionaries selfishly ride the crest of the people's victory for their own comfort to become top dogs that suddenly care less about the plight of the downtrodden, the possibility always exists for the underdogs to make history to turn another page and record another episode of the unending struggle to give society a humane face. Ours is still far from being near true humanity.

The World Cup comes amid 16 years of mammoth attempts to build a new nation in the direction of giving our country a human face.

That human face calls on the world's football-loving community to enjoy the game and cheer that it generates, by extending friendship to those around them.

To be good hosts should not be a chore but a joy for citizens. Anyone believing that the World Cup is an occasion to explode animosity would be a case for the South African Police Services' General Bheki Cele to book for correctional purpose and to consequently watch the games behind bars.

That fate equally awaits those preparing to unleash their energies of hate through terror. As for child-renting syndicates, muggers, bag snatchers, car hijackers, fraudsters, extortionists, drug pushers, child and human traffickers hoping to cash in on the innocent, do not expect Cele and his officers to look the other way.

The final moment for this nation to demonstrate that it not only can play, sing, dance and blow tuneless vuvuzelas into rhythmic sounds, but also prove that the lessons of history to turn the impossible to become possible, is truly here and now.

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