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Guest blog: Miriam Mannak, South Africa

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Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 10:45 UK time, Friday, 11 June 2010

safans386.jpgOver the course of the World Cup, World Cup Have Your Say is running a series of guest blogs by bloggers from across the world. This is the first, by Miriam Mannak who blogs about South African football at 2010 South Africa World Cup.

South Africans are an interesting bunch. While the shackles of Apartheid were cast off over a decade and a half ago, making it legal to cross the bridges that lead to different colour-spheres, it seems to me that many South Africans are hesitant to do so.

This without a doubt counts for Cape Town. I yet have to experience the first braai where all shades are represented.

Johannesburg, I must admit, is much more advanced and far better integrated than my beautiful adopted home town.

In South Africa's mother city however, most black South Africans primarily hang out with black South Africans, whites seem to mainly have friends of the similar pale hue, and a similar scenario is applicable to people of mixed race or coloureds, and Indians.

However, throw sports in the equation, whether it is rugby, cricket, or in this case football, and from nowhere the situation changes drastically.

Take 1995, the magical year the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup, in their own backyard. Although black and coloured South Africans initially did not seem to care much about the event - back then rugby was seen as the former oppressor's past time - things changed with every try.

By the time of the final showdown between South Africa and New Zealand, pretty much the entire country was glued to their TV sets and radios.

When Joel Stransky scored the last drop goal in extra time, pushing South Africa over the victory line, celebration parties erupted on streets across the country.

Blacks, whites, coloureds, Christians, Indians, Jews, women, men, grandmothers, students, cleaners, businessmen, taxi drivers, street sweepers and homeless boys; on that one fine day in June, for probably the first time ever, South Africans with all their differences, prejudices and frustrations were no longer a multicoloured patched quilt held together with a few meagre threads.

They were one. Some even say the event and South Africa's triumph averted a civil war.

The World Cup Final draw in December last year had a similar effect. The streets of Cape Town were jam-packed with people of all ages, backgrounds, races, faiths, and occupations.

They were standing next to one another, talking, laughing, blowing their vuvuzelas, waving flags, singing the national anthem, dancing, clapping, cheering and being merry - without paying too much attention to what made each other so different. On that day, South Africans formed, again, one front.

Therefore if the 2010 World Cup, whether Bafana wins or not, means anything to South Africa and its people, it will be just that: a greater sense of closeness, unity, harmony, acceptance, and tolerance.

And not to forget sleeplessness - thanks to the millions of vuvuzelas that for the coming weeks will be howling all day and every day (and night).

If you would like to be a guest blogger for World Cup Have Your Say, post on our blog or email worldhaveyoursay@bbc.com.


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