Will the World Cup change South Africa?
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki predicted the 2010 World Cup would be the moment when the African continent "turned the tide on centuries of poverty and conflict".
It was a grand claim from a man of poetry as well as politics.
But with one month to go to Africa's first World Cup, it is evident that such ambitions were never likely to be fulfilled by a sports event, no matter how big and how lucrative.
For this World Cup will make more money than any in the history of the event. A total of $3.3bn (£2.1bn) has been raised by Fifa from television and sponsors, dwarfing the amount made in Germany four years ago.
It has also been one of the most expensive World Cups to put on. Fifa has spent $1.1bn (£800m), while South Africa has paid out $5bn (£3.5bn) getting the Rainbow Nation ready for its biggest moment since the 1995 Rugby World Cup, building stadiums, roads and public transport links.
Having spent the last week here, travelling from Cape Town to Johannesburg and now on to England's training camp at Rustenburg, it is clear South Africa is ready.
Some cosmetic work remains to be done to roads and at airports. At Soccer City, where the World Cup will start and finish, a bit of landscaping is all that is needed to complete a magnificent setting.
The stadium is achievement enough, but the area around it has been transformed since I first visited the site three years ago. New roads and a shiny new station for theGautrain has also been built, providing firm evidence of the impact this World Cup has already had on the country.
The Gautrain, South Africa"s first high-speed train, is taken on a test run in Johannesburg. Photo: AFP
Doubts and fears persist over crime and security. About 10% of tickets remain unsold despite the over-the-counter sales of the last few weeks, while resentment persists over Fifa's heavy-handed marketing police and the bodged handling of hotels and hospitality packages that were priced too high by Fifa partners Match.
But the stadiums are magnificent, the atmosphere and anticipation is building and the people I have met during the past few days could not be more welcoming.
Even in the township of Khayelitsha, a vast sprawl of corrugated iron shacks on the Cape Flats that is home to 1.6m, the people are warm and friendly.
It was here I met Lunga, a young football coach, who works at one of the 20 Football For Hope projects being built across Africa at a cost to Fifa of $70m (£46m). The scheme's aim is to leave the continent a proper legacy from the World Cup.
He uses football skills to help teach teenagers values that will help them combat the deadly risks from HIV infection, drugs and crime. He does it because football has helped him escape the harsh realities of life in a township.
He has first-hand experience of how harsh that life can be. Earlier this year, two of his uncles were murdered, shot dead outside the tiny house he shares with his grandmother. Surely the World Cup has played a big part in helping him turn his life around?
Yet even Lunga is not convinced there will be any lasting benefit to the poorest inhabitants of this country. As with most people I spoke to in Johannesburg and Cape Town, he thinks that nothing will really change once the tournament is over and the rich will just get richer.
Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of South Africa's organising committee and, for more than a decade now, the driving force behind bringing the World Cup here, passionately defends the positive impact of the event.
He insists the World Cup will leave South Africa with more than a few new stadiums and happy memories, citing the new roads, rail and bus networks that have been built, as well as the airport terminals and hotels. Then there is the innovation and development of the nation's broadcasting and technology infrastructure.
Danny Jordaan, Nelson Mandela and Jerome Valcke with the World Cup. Photo: AP
Jordaan says history will come to view the World Cup in the same context as Nelson Mandela's release from Robben Island and the 1994 democratic elections.
Perhaps he will be right.
The danger, however, is that South Africa will have spent billions of dollars on a 30-day advert for the country that quickly fades as the sporting world moves on.