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Rainbow Nation

Simone Scholtz/Twenty Ten

Associated features: Unis par le football (French text feature), United by Soccer (English translation), Soccer Africanised (English text)

Location: Soweto, South Africa

There has been much talk of unity as the 2010 FIFA World Cup has kicked off in South Africa. After such a long history of division, has the Rainbow Nation been truly united across colour and race boundaries during the international soccer tournament?

For fans who celebrated the kick off at the all-famous street parties in Soweto Township in Johannesburg, things really do seem to have changed. One party goer said that Nelson Mandela would be proud of, “Black and white coming together”. Another said that by gathering together to celebrate and dance, they were, “building our nation in party style”.

A white fan dressed in full Bafana Bafana regalia said how much she hoped that the sense of togetherness would extend beyond the World Cup period. “We saw a lot of white people driving here on their own, not afraid of Soweto. That is priceless,” she said.

When asked why they were dancing, many of the youths expressed their pride in the South African nation. “I believe in the Rainbow Nation,” said one. “It represents me, it represents who I am.”

So, will the World Cup bring a fleeting sense of unity to the football fans of South Africa, or will real change come from the momentous hosting of the tournament on African soil for the first time?

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