The festivities have begun in South Africa as the 2010 World Cup kicks off with a celebration concert full of award-winning musicians from around the world and a fusion of western and african rhythm that had the crowd dancing from start to finish. Here is the artist lineup from FIFA’s website. Stars well-known to US audiences including the Black-Eyed Peas and Shakira performed alongside Angelique Kidjo, the world-famous singer from Benin, international jazz legend and South African native Hugh Masekela, and the Soweto Gospel Choir among many others. Those who know their contemporary history with recognize the significance of both locating the start of the World Cup in Soweto and having their Gospel Choir perform at the opening ceremonies. I’ve attached a link anyway. Music plays such a large role in South African culture and has for so long that, as I continue to follow the coverage, my musician’s heart is thrilled with the near omnipresence of fabulous music. Germany didn’t rock like this!
Here are some pictures from the concert and this is a link to where you can watch it. Just a note, all pictures were taken from daylife.com, thank you, DayLife!
Former South African president Nelson Mandela has not yet made an appearance, but his image is everywhere. Now 91-years-old, he has cut back his public appearances greatly and essentially retired to private life, but people in South Africa and the world over see this event – the first ever event like this in Africa – as a testament to his lifetime of achievements. It is expected that he will attend tomorrow’s pre-game events, though the word has gone out that it will only be a brief visit.
****UPDATE*** Nelson Mandela has announced he will not be attending today’s game. His great-granddaughter Zenani, just thirteen-years-old, was killed in a car accident leaving the concert last night. This is the New York Times article. I’ve also heard it verified on BBC and read it on ESPN.com. I sincerely hope Bafana Bafana, the South African team, win today’s match in her memory. Former president Mandela’s presence was expected to be one of the World Cup’s more emotional high points.
Tomorrow’s game at 9:25 am pits Mexico against the home team, South Africa’s beloved Bafana Bafana. Match 2, Uruguay vs. France is at 2:30 pm. Saturday sees Greece up against South Korea at 7:30 am, at 10:00 am Argentina faces Nigeria, and the USA plays their first match against England at 2:30 pm.
* EDIT* All times are EST because I’m from the east coast and occasionally forget that some people aren’t so lucky.
If you feel like dancing around the room while getting into the soccer spirit, here’s the video of the Official Song for the 2010 World Cup, Shakira’s Waka Waka (Time for Africa).
I’m linking back to my post about the US seeking to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022. If you haven’t signed the petition, please think about it. And, because you know I have to…