In scenes never before seen in South Africa, vuvuzelas across the country blew in unison as the clock struck 12 in mass display of support for the home team – Bafana Bafana.
With what will prove to be one the largest national displays of World Cup spirit since the bid announcement in 2004, a proud nation let the world know just what kind of tournament Africa’s first World Cup will be.
Around Johannesburg the crowds were there to welcome the national side, who drove through the city in a an open top bus, at every turn as they made their way from their hotel in Sandton to their training ground at Wits University. While in Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and the other Host Cities, the atmosphere was no less electric as World Cup fever spread as quickly as the distinct drone of the vuvuzela.
“I'm here to support Bafana Bafana and to get behind my country,” said Zeyn Tilly. “It feels amazing to be here, it is the first time in my life I have seen this unity in South Africa. The atmosphere is just electric.”
For Tilly this is the start of a fun-filled six weeks. “You can have no idea how incredible this is for me, I just want it to go as slow as possible so that I can enjoy every minute. This tournament is about more than just football.”
It seems Tilly is right, all around the country music blared from speakers, while revellers blew on their vuvuzelas and danced in the streets.
Joseph Mabea came to celebrate the spirit of the country. “I am a huge Bafana fan, I have seen the passion in them and I want them to know I am with them all the way.”
Mabea has a ticket for the opening match and the atmosphere of the parade is only getting him more excited. “I will be there and I can't wait. Seeing such a match live, no longer on the television, is amazing for me. The feeling here is amazing, I am running short of words. I wish this could happen more often, I wish this could be my life, showing how united we are as a nation.”
Support for the national side has been growing in recent weeks, both as a result of the proximity of the tournament and due to their performances on the pitch. “This is a great team,” said Muhammed Moosa. “12 unbeaten games, they are just great and they will do us proud.”
Many businesses allowed their staff to come and join the party in the streets adding a huge number of people to the festivities.
Laughing with friends as she tried to blow her vuvuzela, Leanne Toffie wanted to show her passion for her national side.
“To be here, united with my fellow South Africans in support of Bafana Bafana - it is just an amazing feeling, seeing the country united as one, it is here. I am very proud of my country and proud to be here,” she exclaimed.
Across the country South Africa demonstrated their support for their team, their country and the World Cup.
Many tourists are in Cape Town for the World Cup and it did not take long for them to get in on the act and also try and blow a vuvuzela.
Pablo Ezeqiel Perez Murua from Argentina and his family are staying at a gust house in Plattekloof. They came to explore Cape Town for the day and were pleasantly surprised at our patriotism. “Cape Town is a wonderful city, the people are friendly and very patriotic. I have also bought a trumpet (vuvuzela) and will blow it at our first game against Korea.”
“Walking down Long Street (in Cape Town) was incredible. People were standing on balconies overlooking the street while outside people were congregating in groups blowing their vuvuzelas. It was the first time that I can really remember seeing all South Africans united in such a way. It was so overwhelming,” said Deon Malan who happened upon the scenes of celebration while walking through the city on his way to meet friends at a nearby restaurant.
Nicholas Ndlovu is a fully clad in his supporters uniform, with makarapa, vuvuzela, overalls and glasses. “It feels like I am in heaven, coming into a crowd of people like this, it makes me so proud. Thank you Bafana for making us one”