Rhythm & creativity kick off World Cup in Africa

Zeenews Bureau

Johannesburg: Africa`s long wait finally ended as the first FIFA World Cup on the continent, kicked off with a bang in traditional African style. The power packed and adrenaline pumping performance in vibrantly coloured attire began with the call- ‘This is Africa’.

`Africa Lives In All Of Us` - the second stage of the ceremony started with a song of unity and was followed by a peppy number to set the tempo for the evening. One of the most intriguing parts of the performance was when all the participants made a patchwork of Africa on the ground with steps all over symbolising total harmony of movement within the continent.

The stadium, the largest in Africa, buzzed with the sound of thousands of vuvuzela trumpets as five jets flew overhead, but the stands were only partially full as many fans battled gridlock traffic to reach the venue.

Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu danced in the stands, wrapped in a yellow and green scarf and beanie hat to support the Bafana Bafana national side in their later match
against Mexico.

South Africa`s first black president Nelson Mandela had been expected to attend, but he cancelled at the last minute following the tragic death of his 13-year-old great granddaughter in a car accident during the night.

But he delivered a videotape message spliced into one of the songs, welcoming the World Cup to South Africa and imploring fans "to overcome all adversaries".

A traditional African praise singer in animal skins opened the 40-minute show, as dancers lined up along the compass points indicating the eight other host cities around
South Africa.

A giant dung beetle puppet pushed across the pitch an oversize version of the official World Cup football, as dancers then unfurled stretches of cloth to make a map of
Africa, with footprints showing the migration of humankind across the continent.

South Africa`s legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela and American R-and-B star R Kelly headlined the event that included 1,500 performers showcasing music and dance from the
six African countries participating in the tournament.

A baobab tree sculpted out of flags from the six nations sprouted out of centre field, giving a stage to Algerian pop star Khaled and Nigeria star Femi Kuti. The Cameroon national ballet performed as did Ghanaian band Osibisa.

R Kelly was joined by the Soweto Spiritual Singers to perform his hit "Sign of Victory", before the 32 competing teams were announced with cut-outs of their flags spinning on
the field.

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