The extracts below are part of an article by Dr. Martyn Davies published as a guest post in the Financial Times' blog on the first day of the just ended Football World Cup in South Africa:
The World Cup is a chance to unite a divided country with big ambitions
The FIFA World Cup being held in South Africa that begins today evokes the international honeymoon that our country enjoyed after the first racially inclusive democratic elections that were held in April 1994.
Could we have leveraged the “honeymoon” better? Perhaps. Whilst South Africa has re-integrated into the global community of nations, it has not integrated domestically. Economic divisions between South Africans have never been starker. Our country grapples with providing opportunity for the majority of its citizens. The term developmental state - so often bandied about in government circles - has yet to become a reality providing for its needy and impatient citizens. But nevertheless, we are a leading emerging market economy.
Being the powerhouse economy of the region, we project ourselves as the springboard for investors into Africa. The World Cup is not only ours but the region’s. The Southern African Development Community - a grouping of 15 states - has a population of over 250 million people. We are bigger than Brazil, bigger than Indonesia. Some of our neighboring countries probably do not deserve the “FIFA dividend” but regardless, we feel we deserve greater global attention, and the World Cup, at least for a month, is giving it to us.
The only disappointment will be Nelson Mandela’s absence from the World Cup’s opening ceremony due a family bereavement. But at least the memory of Mandela’s leadership takes us back to a time when we believed in the rainbow nation before successive and divisive politicians destroyed that dream for us South Africans. South Africa will never realize its full potential on the global stage if it remains so internally divided. A plea from a patriotic South African to our politicians - please do not undermine the national and racial cohesion that is being brought about by the World Cup to South Africa. Rather, give us an inclusive vision for the country way beyond 2010. The FIFA World Cup has the potential to serve as the catalyst for the revival of our once hoped-for rainbow nation.
[Full article here]
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