Johannesburg's economic hub was drenched in the sound of vuvuzelas today, as hundreds of the city's residents took to the streets of Sandton to celebrate 100 days until the kick off of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
Masses of people congregated in the heart of Maude street, opposite the Sandton Convention Centre, where a stage holding drummers and dancers drew the crowd to the party. The street was a sea of national football colours, waving SA flags and skyward pointing vuvuzelas. Many revellers were wearing custom t-shirts with “You make Joburg Great!” and “Opening Team 2010” emblazoned on the front.
Lupi Ngcayisa, a popular DJ with a local radio station, kicked off the event, welcoming the crowd and asking if the City was ready to welcome the world, to which a loud and resounding “yes” was the response.
As the celebrations began in earnest, the special guests of the day - 200 school children from the Joburg Home for Vulnerable Children and Sizwile School for the Deaf - made space for themselves right at the front of the stage. Awaiting the celebrity line-up of South African musicians, politicians and entertainers set for the street party.
The occasion was a showcase of South Africa's World Cup spirit, and so would not be complete without the Diski Dance, a promotional dance routine created to demonstrate the country's football fever. To lead the audience in the dance, South African musician Steve Hofmeyr took to the stage with the words, “We are one nation that dances to every occasion. Whether it is a celebration of a wedding or a funeral. So we have a dance for the World Cup too.” As Hofmeyr worked his way through the moves, supported by dancers, so the crowd followed suite and soon the street was moving en masse to the Diski.
“It's fun, I didn't expect it to be this vibey,” said Thabang Sefanyetso as he watched the dancers move on stage.
Sefanyetso is both excited and humbled by the 100 days landmark, not believing the tournament is so close. “I can't believe it is only a hundred days away, we are to going to host the best World Cup, the moment when we show the world what Africa and South Africa are made of.”
After an aerial show from the South African Defence Force and a speech from the Gauteng Government, the crowd were offered a powerful rendition of the national anthem.
“I have really enjoyed myself,” says Judy Goddard, a freelance photographer living in Johannesburg. “It's the spirit of South Africans that makes these occasions so unique.”
Goddard is anxious for the tournament to begin. “We will do ourselves proud, we have been talking about this for so long, and now it is finally here. We will have an impact and people around the world will be talking about this World Cup for a long time.”
In the nearby Host City of Rustenburg, learners from the Moruleng area celebrated the 100 days by taking part in a mass Diski Dance. Dressed in their colourful t-shirts printed “Hoza 2010”, the children learnt the dance that will be showcased to thousands of visitors coming to the country during the World Cup.
Chief of Bakgatla Ba Kgafela, Kgosi Nyalala Pilane was overwhelmed by the celebration. “This is something that is historical, we must take pride in such events,” he said.
Angelina Malwetsi, 13, was very happy to celebrate the day by learning South Africa’s new favourite dance. “Its so lively and so easy to learn, I love it.”