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May 25, 2010

Today is Africa Day

Cape Town Stadium vuvuzela orchestra

Photo courtesy Bronwen d’Oliveira

It’s Africa Day today. Yes, Africa is here every day and I, for one, live in it, but for many, this is a good excuse to turn their eyes to our fascinating continent. Officially, Africa Day marks the formation of the African Union, but that founding raison d’être has been somewhat overshadowed by the need to notice Africa as it grows, changes, evolves and reminds us about where we perhaps came from in the first place.

We are not a continent of starving orphans, poverty-stricken farmers and war-mongering child soldiers. Yes, these are elements of Africa and it is distressing that they exist, but more often Africa is the place of ripe fruit, generous, gentle people, endless savannah, jungle roads and tame-fish lakes. Africa is also a place that is mad about mobile phones, Coca-Cola and soccer. Africa is a place of poets and writers. It’s a place where many could come to learn the ancient lesson of just being.

My Africa is a place of contradiction, possibility, humour, wonderful weather and delicious food. It is a place where there is so much talent and such goodwill and an enduring need for those who lead their families and communities.

As I watched the Bafana Bafana vs Bulgaria game last night, I heard the buzzing of a giant African bee in thousands of vuvuzelas; I saw sunshine, happiness and pride in the faces of African spectators. I looked at all this and thought: “Hmm … an African World Cup! This is going to be a very fine place to be indeed.”

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