There was a time when I was ashamed to be a South African. When I travelled overseas, I pretended to be from another country. I was ashamed to be associated with a country that had so much to be ashamed about. I loved the land, I hated the legacy.
In 1990, I started gaining pride in this country when Nelson Mandela was freed.
In 1992, I was proud to vote YES to end apartheid in the referendum
In 1994, I stood for hours in a queue to vote in the first free and fair democratic elections in South Africa. I was finally proud to be South African
In 1995, South Africa hosted (and then won!!) the Rugby World Cup. At the time, I was on business in Botswana. I was heart broken not to be in my country to be part of the amazing vibe afterwards.
It isn't easy living in South Africa. There is poverty, there is crime. Lots of crime. And lots of poverty. And yes, there is corruption and xenophobia and AIDS and and and.... but there is also hope and joy and freedom and equal rights and beauty (lots and lots of beauty) and space and then there is the Soccer World Cup 2010.
Never before have I been prouder to be a South African. South Africa is in the most amazing place right now, I dont think ever before in our history has their been more enthusiasm and passion and unity. The vibe is AMAZING!! We did it! It is not over yet (only three more games to go *sob*) but so far we have hosted a very, VERY successful soccer world cup. I AM SO PROUD!!
There were so many who doubted us. There were so many who were too scared to come. But we did it and we did it well!
This was huge for us. I was SO nervous leading up to the first few matches. Every bit of negative press (the vuvuzelas were too loud! there were too few toilets on the fan walk! OMG, the weather! It was too cold and rainy!) was like a knife through me. I took it so personally, I so badly wanted us to do well. I wanted the world to know that although we are African (and therefore somehow not quite as civilized), although we are not rich and powerful like many other Western countries; we are capable, we are competent and we can deliver. I wanted the world to like us. However, as the World Cup draws to an end, I realize that more important than the world liking us is that through this World Cup we have realized that WE like us. We like each other and we love our country, and for most of us, we are so very, very proud to be South African.
I don't know what us South Africans are going to do when the world cup draws to an end. No more soccer??? For the last few weeks we have lived, eaten, drank, consumed soccer. It has been a magical ride. What an honour and a privilege to have experienced hosting a world cup. I am so proud of our country. Well done all!
(Oh, forgot to add: Hup Holland Hup!!)
There has been lots and lots of press about it, but the two links below caught my attention,
Boston Big Picture