Johannesburg is the economic hub of the African continent. Its skyrises, major airport and sheer size stand testament to the city’s importance. As a result of this Joburg is home to many people from across the continent and with the first FIFA World Cup on local soil, all African sides will find a large home base in the city.
The area west of the Johannesburg CBD, stretching from Hillbrow to Yeoville, is often referred to as 'Little Lagos' due to its large Nigerian community. Many of these Nigerian people have been residing in South Africa for years, and form part of the city’s economic and social back-bone.
Jeck Obinna has lived in Johannesburg for four years and calls this home. “I came to South Africa from Eastern Nigeria, I had friends here and decided to come and live in Joburg.”
It feels like an African World Cup, we have neighbours from Ghana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, we support their sides and they support us, it is very nice like that
Obinna is one of about fifty Eagles fans who have come to Mayobis, a small pub in Rocky Street, Yeoville.
“There are lots of us in Johannesburg, I cannot count us all,” laughs Obinna. “Many of my brothers are at the game, but still here we are, lots of us to show our support."
Due to the variety of African nationalities residing in the city, places like Mayobis are packed for all the games in which African teams are playing. “It feels like an African World Cup, we have neighbours from Ghana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, we support their sides and they support us, it is very nice like that.”
“Johannesburg is an African city, you come here you can eat Nigerian food, hear Nigerian music and watch the Eagles play. It is a little piece of home.”
As the Eagles stood in the tunnel, ready to run onto the pitch of Ellis Park, 10 kilometres from Myobis, the fans in the pub got to their feet and clapped. “I am very happy to have them here in South Africa,” said Obinna. “I care about these things, this World Cup it unites us. I believe it will change things, we now see we are all African.”
Iyke Kalu has been residing in Johannesburg for eleven years and has been waiting for this day, the day Nigeria play a World Cup on 'home soil'. “There are so many of us here, we use football as an opportunity to get together, to see each other and remember where we come from.”
For both Obinna and Kalu there is a sense of pride in being African citizens and seeing their team perform in South Africa's FIFA World Cup. “With the support of the whole of Africa, nothing will stop us, an African side will emerge victorious,” said Obinna. “We have won a victory anyway, we brought the World Cup home to Africa.”