Editorial: Let’s inspire the world … again

This week, we began a series interrogating the legacy of the 2010 World Cup a decade on from the event. This tugging of nostalgia is an easy trick for media outlets to use to fill news pages and chase clicks. Yet, after staring back at that period, we can see this is not a frivolous exercise.

The World Cup was an unequivocal success. It is indelibly inked in the history books as a marker of South African excellence. It should serve as a reminder that we can achieve anything given the appropriate dedication and co-operation.

Few believed it was possible in the build-up to that first kick-off. Local naysayers pointed to our ongoing energy crisis and deficient transport system as insurmountable hurdles to hosting a global showpiece. Internationally, our flaws were blown up in the most insulting and hyperbolic ways imaginable: some governments blatantly attempted to frighten its citizens out of travelling to South Africa while others thought it was okay to advise that people pack their own condoms when visiting our country. Fifa was repeatedly encouraged to give up this African idea and fall back to the safety net of Europe’s polished stadiums.

But we did it. And did it damn well. South Africa was the first to welcome the World Cup to our beautiful continent — that is something no one can take away from us.

In these troubled Covid-19 times it’s worth reminding ourselves of that achievement.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation once more this week and said that most of the country will transition to lockdown level three at the end of month. It’s an announcement that has done little to ease the criticism of the government’s position on measures to contain the spread, and deadly effect, of the virus.

It’s natural to feel frustrated that life as we know it has been taken from us, but we must clearly visualise the goal we’re fighting for.

Ramaphosa’s preamble should give us the motivation we need to keep up the battle. Without the lockdown, he said, at least 80000 of us would have been infected by now and thousands would probably have died. If international precedents are anything to go by, this is no exaggeration.

Our government’s response has not been perfect. Aside from the worrying abuses of power by the police and army, some argue that some of the restrictions are draconian and perhaps even nonsensical. But there’s no escaping that we’ve saved lives — far more than the callous approaches in parts of the developed world.

If we want this country to emerge stronger from this experience, we won’t achieve it by disregarding anyone that calls it home.

It may seem difficult right now, but it won’t be the first time we’ve beaten the odds. We’ve amazed the world before. Let’s do it again.

Keep the powerful accountable

Subscribe for R30/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Zondo dismisses Fraser’s application to cross-examine witnesses

The former head of the State Security Agency and Zuma ally did not come close to complying with the state capture inquiry’s rules for cross-examination, Zondo said

Hawks head testifies before SAHRC: Intelligence would have been ‘ideal’

No members of the police, defence force or state security have been implicated ‘at this stage’ in ongoing investigations into the July unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng

A to Z guide on HIV: The top 10 things...

The HIV pandemic isn’t going anywhere until a cure is found. In the meantime, HIV clinicians say South Africa should protect its victories

PODCAST: How South Africa fits into the global economy, pt...

Michael Power chats to the M&G editor-in-chief and business journalists about South Africa and its place in the global economy

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…