Madiba magic was broadcast around the world as over half a billion people watched South Africa’s first democratic president, Nelson Mandela, make his way onto the pitch of Soccer City moments after the closing ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
From all nations and walks of life there were tears and praises as the reality of seeing the man, affectionately known as Madiba, whose vision and determination brought South Africa to where it is today, rippled through the stadium.
For many the appearance of the iconic figure could not have been more perfect as South Africa bids farewell to the world after 30 days of reveling in the beautiful game that has not only united one nation, but made friends with many.
As the stadium was immersed in darkness, Gripen Fighter Jets reminded fans of 11 June when the Opening Ceremony welcomed the world. Using dramatic lighting displays nine ‘digital comets’, representing the other World Cup stadiums in South Africa, emanated from the Calabash, bringing the focus back to where it all began – Soccer City.
It was a brief walk through time as the anticipation felt in the Opening Ceremony was replaced with a jubilant reflection over the last month, recollecting the fans, on-pitch victories and disappointments and South Africa’s successful hosting of Africa’s first World Cup.
A contemporary display of song, dance and futuristic technology enthralled onlookers as artists including Stoan, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Africa United (featuring Jozi, Zulu boy, Silkour, 2 Face, Kwesta, Chameleone, Awadi, Krotai and Samini), Abigail Kubeka and South Africa’s Mafikizolo took onlookers on a journey that rejoiced in the African spirit of the World Cup.
Even the call of the vuvuzela was celebrated, as dancers performed to the World Cup anthem Waka Waka sung by Colombian artist Shakira and local band Freshly Ground, which all but got the stadium on its feet.
The final curtain to an event that took the world by surprise left mixed emotions. While it’s the end of the World Cup in South Africa, it is the beginning of a new chapter for the people and continent of Africa, as relationships that were formed here are nourished into friendships that will last a lifetime.
As the stadium lights came back on and the wait for the game that will crown the new world champions drew to a close, the hopes and dreams of a nation begins to shift to a new dawn, knowing that everyone who chose to join in South Africa’s celebration leaves with a little more “African-ess” in them.