Football fans around the world are glued to their televisions tonight as Spain and the Netherlands do battle in Johannesburg for a first-ever world title.
However, while the FIFA World Cup Final is unquestionably the main course on South Africa's menu this evening, supporters have also been treated to a spectacular starter. Less than two hours before the grand finale, a sell-out crowd inside Soccer City Stadium as well as an audience of hundreds of million across the globe were wowed by a colourful ceremony to celebrate the successful conclusion of a memorable first FIFA World Cup on African soil.
As darkness descended on Johannesburg, the floodlights in the iconic arena were all dimmed before a squadron of Gripens from the South African Airforce flew over the Calabash. And with the giant screens at both ends of the stands running videos of comets and fireworks, South African musician Stoan Seate got the show started with a performance of ‘Sizodalala-la’ while performers took to the centre of the field, dancing and forming the shape of a vuvuzela.
Having performed at the Closing Ceremony of Germany 2006 at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, Colombian pop star Shakira once again took centre stage along with local fusion band Freshlyground with the worldwide hit ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’. It was the second time that the tournament's Official Song has been performed by these artists, who had got the South Africa 2010 party under way with a memorable gig at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on the eve of the Opening Match a month ago.
Highlights of the group stage matches followed, before Seate returned to the stage with ‘Everywhere You Go’ joined by Africa United - six other musicians from across the continent. And with some key moments from the quarter-finals on display, the three-time Grammy Award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo made sure the crowd remained on their feet as the ‘Weather Song’ filled the stadium, as a safari scene was created.
By the time Abigail Kubeka and Mafikzolo finished their performance, Soccer City's celebrations were already well underway, as the countdown continued to Africa's first-ever FIFA World Cup Final.