The FIFA World Cup™ Kick-off Celebration Concert begins at 8pm local time (GMT+2) tonight in the Orlando Stadium in Soweto and will be broadcast worldwide. It will reflect the spirit of the tournament as all colours and creeds share the same stage with the aim of conveying a message of unity and hope.
Africa calling the world
The three-hour gala will be attended by 30,000 revellers, with the proceeds going to '20 Centres for 2010', the Official Campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, which aims to benefit underprivileged communities across Africa.
In an exclusive interview, one of this evening’s performers, Mpumi Mcata, the lead guitarist with Johannesburg rock outfit BLK JKS, told FIFA.com: “Given the history of this country, and over and above our own performance or the importance of the event itself, there’s a wider and even more significant agenda which involves the whole of Africa.”
Freshlyground, another South African band, will join the Colombian pop sensation Shakira on stage for a rendition of Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), the Official FIFA World Cup theme. “This concert will be special, not only for us, but for our country and for all Africans,” said lead vocalist Zolani Mahola of the Afro-Fusion band from Cape Town. "Six years ago it would have been difficult to imagine an event of this magnitude taking place here, so it’s a great honour for us to be part of it."
Acts from other African countries will also appear, such as Amadou & Mariam, a blind duo from Mali. This is not their first taste of this type of event, as they performed at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. “It’s just another day for us,” joked Amadou Bagayoko. “It will be a great tournament and the eyes of the world will be on the African people. It’s a fantastic chance to show what this continent can offer the world.”
Benin singer Angelique Kidjo believes the concert provides the perfect opportunity for Africa to open its doors: “I want to express a very warm welcome to everybody. I’ve always been proud of my continent but it doesn’t matter what language we speak or where we come from, we are all one.”
Two Universal Languages
Juanes is another star with previous experience of FIFA events. The Colombian performed at the draw for the 2006 FIFA World Cup that took place the previous December in Leipzig. “It’s wonderful to be here and to be part of such an important concert in a nation so rich in history, and to be sharing the stage with musicians from all over Africa. The rhythm of the musicians and energy of the people is something else. I’m delighted and it’s a real honour,” the singer told FIFA.com.
The American R&B pianist and singer-songwriter John Legend said: “Football and music are universal languages that bring diverse people and culures together. That’s why I’m so excited about being part of a global event like this, one that transcends nationality or race and brings us all together”.
Will. I. Am from the internationally renowned Black Eyed Peas was equally enthusiastic: “We are all big football followers who love playing music so being here in South Africa is important to us and our fans.”
Also taking part in the event will be Mzanzi Youth Choir from Soweto and the Soweto Gospel Choir, African hip-hop artist K’Naan, Grammy award-winner Alicia Keys, The Parlotones, Tinariwen, Vieux Farka Toure, Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela.