South Africa Looks To World Cup To Heal Racial Divide

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From the AFP:

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa is riding a wave of patriotism ahead of the World Cup, which national leaders hope will heal the still-sharp racial divide 16 years after the end of white-minority rule.

For weeks the Rainbow Nation’s flag has fluttered over black and white neighbourhoods. South Africans are learning the verses of their multi-lingual national anthem sung in languages other than their own. And lines to buy World Cup tickets are many hued.

“It is heartening to see how the entire nation is united in support,” said President Jacob Zuma, who every Friday wears the national side’s jersey.

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“This harmony should define us and resonate in a wide range of spheres even outside sports,” he added.

South Africa has a history of using sport to promote democracy.

During the apartheid era it was the opponents of racial segregation who taught them that lesson, pressuring international sports bodies to boycott South Africa’s whites-only teams.

Their campaign succeeded in seeing South Africa excluded from cricket competitions in 1968, from the Olympics in 1970, and from football’s governing body FIFA in 1976.

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