World Cup: Sounds of joy – and mourning – as South Africa kicks off tournament
The first vuvuzela of the day sounded at 6am, blown by a young man in a stained anorak walking to his job through the early morning mist along Rivonia Road. On the other side of Johannesburg, meanwhile, a 91-year-old world hero was mourning the death of his 13-year-old great-granddaughter.
On Wednesday Zenani had celebrated the birthday that made her a teenager. The following day, with tens of thousands of others, she attended a concert in Soweto's Orlando stadium, organised to celebrate the start of the tournament. Having watched a bill including Shakira, the Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Hugh Masekela and Angelique Kidjo, she died on her way home when the car in which she was travelling left the road. Police said that the driver had lost control and hit a barrier, adding that he would be charged with drunk-driving and possibly culpable homicide.
And so the frail and grieving Madiba, as Nelson Mandela is affectionately known to most of South Africa's 49 million citizens, was unable to make his promised appearance at Soccer City today. In the stadium built on the foundations of the one in which he had made his first speech after his release from prison in 1990, he had planned to give his benediction to Bafana Bafana, the national team. "It would be inappropriate for him to attend the celebrations," a spokesman for his foundation said.
"Africa is the cradle of humanity," the Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner – like Mandela – and the former chairman of South Africa's truth and reconciliation committee, had told the crowd at the concert the previous night, "so we welcome you home. Every single one of you. We are all Africans." Those non-Africans in the stadium watching today's pageant could only feel happy to be so adopted.
"The spirit of Madiba is in Soccer City," Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, told the crowd, before introducing Jacob Zuma, the current president of South Africa, who read out a message from Mandela: "The game must start and we must enjoy the game."