The aftermath of hosting what has been dubbed by one and all as a successful 2010 FIFA World Cup™ will certainly bring a massive hangover for South Africans in the next few days. However, the tournament has given them a new sense of pride, confidence and optimism, and opened a new chapter not only for hosts but for the African continent.
Spain might have emerged as the winners on the pitch of the prestigious event, but South Africa won hearts in the global arena, and the hosting of the FIFA World Cup has brought with it renewed hope for the continent and belief for a country whose ability to host the finals was perennially under scrutiny. And so, today, South Africans are rightfully basking in the afterglow of the event. This is, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, yet another "miracle for the Rainbow Nation" – a country that emerged from a painful past only 16 years ago to claim its rightful place in the brotherhood of nations.
"We have witnessed the explosion of national pride across all races and cultures," South Africa head of state, President Jacob Zuma said. "One thing is certain, Africa will never be the same again. The world's view of this continent has been changed. When they think about Africans, they now see competent people capable of getting things done by themselves."
The euphoria brought by the tournament has inspired the continent to look beyond these finals, and it is no surprise that belief in South Africa's capability to host other major events has since soared. It was a long road travelled since the 2010 FIFA World Cup was awarded, and one that was marked by "trust and confidence" in FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter's words – both of which seem to have been rewarded mightily.
For ordinary South Africans, it has been an opportunity to pen a new script for their country and continent at large. "We are proud to be Africans. Throughout this tournament we have seen people from all races, tribes, creeds mingling together nicely," said Aaron Chinhara. "This is a step ahead. We are no longer the continent of disease and poverty, but the continent of joy, happiness and good." Another South African, Mark Smith, added: "We are proud of this moment, this has been a remarkable World Cup. This has been an incredible period for our country."
Inside the host nation, the local media has hailed the success of this tournament. Under the headline "SA Silences Pessimists" the Independent Online wrote: "The sceptics are now finally having to eat their words. It is no surprise that South Africa is now basking in a glow of satisfaction and unprecedented self-confidence."
Pretoria News wrote: "Well done South Africa. We can now hold our heads high after a fantastic World Cup." In its editorial, The Times of South Africa said: "World Cup success shows that South Africa can tackle its challenges. With the World Cup came the outpouring of South African patriotism in ways we have never seen before. The national flag was everywhere, and the national soccer team enjoyed support from South Africans across past racial lines."
The Daily Dispatch wrote: "We have done it." Meanwhile, England’s Guardian praised South Africa in its article titled, "Sceptics drowned out by another rainbow nation miracle" by saying: "History will show that South Africa defied fears of violent chaos to host one of the best-attended World Cups ever. It has put Africa on the global sporting map in a way which seemed unthinkable only six months ago."
Probably, the most famous discovery of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was the vuvuzela – an instrument that became a sensation and obsession for visiting fans who were introduced to it on their arrival here. South Africans have since declared that they are now primed for more international events, having succesfully passed their biggest test on the world stage.