Sports Skinning Left, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Sportshub ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Celebrations start on eve of World Cup

JOHANNESBURG – The world came to Soweto on Thursday for a celebration of football, music and unity on the eve of Africa’s first World Cup, with a concert featuring international headliners Shakira, the Black Eyed Peas and Alicia Keys.

Warm-up acts played for hours before the internationally televised portion of the concert began at 8 p.m. with a frenzy of flag-waving, drumming and African-inspired dancing.

Veteran South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela took the stage with “Grazin’ in the Grass” a No. 1 international hit in 1968. He was quickly joined by a new South African star, Lira, who covered the late Miriam Makeba’s “Pata Pata”, another worldwide hit that originated in South Africa.

The Black Eyed Peas were next with a slick medley of their hits, then it was back to Africa, with the blind duo Amadou & Mariam of Mali and their sinuous, driving sound.

Shakira, wearing an animal print, waka waka-ed – the anthem and dance of the World Cup. The turbaned Tinariwen brought the sounds of Mali’s desert nomads to the mix. The crowd swayed to Keys, and did the toyi-toyi – the protest dance of the apartheid era – to hometown favorites BLK JKS. Colombian rocker Juanes, in a multicolored warm-up jacket, debuted his newest single, “Yerbatero” to cheers from the crowd.

No multi-starred stadium show would be complete without everyone on stage for a rousing, closing anthem. Thursday, it was Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” punctuated by fireworks.

Sportshub ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

An exuberant Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in full South African green-and-yellow fan regalia, was treated like a rock star as he led the crowd in cheers for Nelson Mandela. Mandela is credited with sealing South Africa’s bid to host the World Cup.

Tutu also acknowledged the fans from around the world who have come to South Africa for football’s premier event.

“We welcome you all. For Africa is the cradle of humanity, so we welcome you home,” he said.

About a third of the seats at Soweto’s 40,000-seat Orlando stadium were blocked off for the stage and backstage. Most of what was left were filled, as was a dance floor on the pitch.                                 

Sportshub ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us:
Sports Skinning Right, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1