Media Statement: Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the eve of Bafana Bafana’s match against France – 21 June 2010
“Over the past few weeks South Africa has experienced an extraordinary revival of its national spirit. We were not only ready to host the World Cup, as far as infrastructure was concerned, but also in terms of our self-belief and self-esteem as a nation. We are hosting the greatest World Cup in history, and we are doing it in style.
“It didn’t matter that we were the lowest ranked team to ever host the tournament, or, realistically, that our beloved Bafana was unlikely to progress through a difficult group including Top 20 footballing nations, Uruguay, France and Mexico. The fact was: The world was coming and we were more than ready.
“The pulsating draw against Mexico in the opening game was the cherry on the top. We imagined the impossible. We could win the Cup. We quickly forgot that a few months back we were no-hopers.
“I have requested this meeting for three reasons:
“Firstly, as South Africans, we need to pat ourselves on the back for having achieved something very special in terms of developing fantastic infrastructure, ensuring that it works, and uniting our people.
“The pride and excitement that enveloped our country in the build-up to the tournament will be remembered as one of those moments in post-apartheid history that confirmed we are on the right track. While it is true that the gleaming stadia and transport infrastructure will provide cold comfort to the hungry and the homeless, it is also true, as Deuteronomy tells us, that, “Man doth not live by bread alone”.
“The World Cup really began in Soweto in the weeks before the actual soccer, when the Blue Bulls chose to play two big rugby matches there because their home ground had already been handed over to Fifa. The unprecedented scenes of die-hard rugby fans from Pretoria descending on Soweto was a unique starter for the Fifa main course that was to come.
“Since the football began, Soweto has been abuzz with national and international visitors. The spirit on the streets is quite unique. In Cape Town, people who attended the England-Algeria game on Friday tell me the city resembled a carnival – as tens of thousands took to the streets in perfect security and harmony. I believe that this spirit has prevailed at all venues.
“We are deserving of more than a pat on the back. We have done incredibly well. According to media reports, more than 400 000 visitors have already arrived, with a second wave to come. The international media is awash with positivism about us. They really do see us as the beautiful butterfly that we have become.
“Secondly, there is the matter of overwhelming France in Bloemfontein tomorrow.
“We did not play well against Uruguay, and as a result could exit the tournament tomorrow. Let’s place this in context: We could be joined on the sidelines by top-ranked nations, England, France, Italy and Germany. Not to mention all the other, higher-ranked, African teams in the tournament, besides Ghana.
“There is no option but for us to play the games of our lives tomorrow against France. I’m predicting a three or four-nil victory. Let’s get behind Bafana tomorrow. Win or lose, in many respects we have already won the World Cup.
“The third, and most important reason for calling you here is to stimulate a new national dialogue on how we go about capturing the extraordinary spirit and goodwill that we have generated – and sustaining it.
“International media reports about our graciousness, our hosting of the event and the natural splendour of our country have been nothing but positive. There is no doubt that the tourism and conferencing industries are going to benefit beyond the tournament.
“This is our challenge: We are without doubt the flavour of the month. How do we build on what we have created now for generations to come? For how long will we keep those flags flying on our cars and in our hearts? How do we make the World Cup not an end, but a new beginning?
“I have had the good fortune of meeting some of our political leaders on the sidelines of the World Cup over the past 10 days, and I know they are seized with the question of not only sustaining the goodwill and patriotism, but also creating a meaningful World Cup legacy.
“This is not just a government matter. It is a matter for all South Africans, including the private and civil society sectors. And it is also a matter that should interest and include Fifa.
“Imagine if we could build 50 000 World Cup legacy homes across our country, or 5 000 new sports fields, or 500 schools or 50 clinics…
“This goes beyond the physical to the spiritual realm. How do we harness the outpouring of national unity, and build a society based on long-term love and mutual respect? What programmes or projects can we develop, at our schools, our clubs and places of worship to extend the life of the butterfly so that it may live forever?”