10 Memorable highlights of the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Join us as we reflect on 10 unforgettable moments from the iconic SA-hosted event in honour of 25 years of democracy. 

It’s tough to believe that nine years have already passed by since South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  

Join us as we celebrate 25 years of democracy by looking at some of the most memorable moments of the iconic event that highlighted the best of our local and lekker culture. 

1. The opening ceremony 

Bursting with vibrancy and "Saffa" pride – the opening ceremony truly set the tone for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. From the picturesque performance of the African continent and its surrounding continents compiled from pieces of cloth to local hit songs warming up the crowds to the video of Madiba – the ceremony was certainly a moment to remember.  

2. Waka Waka – an international anthem  

The event also saw the convergence of local flavour meets latin flavour as international pop star Shakira teamed up with the beloved local band Freshlyground to deliver, undoubtedly, one of the best and globally loved anthems in the World Cup’s history – Waka Waka. 

3. Vuvuzelas

Whether you loved or loathed them – vuvuzelas were the ear-piercing backtrack that played along with the chorus symphony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Whether they were bleeted in victory, in defeat or in sheer reckless abandon – everyone and their uncle is familiar or haunted by the signature sound of the vuvuzela. 

4. Zakumi – the mascot 

Who better to represent SA than a colourful leopard? Zakumi defined an era with its cheerful demeanour, memorable green and yellow kit and Bieber meets One Direction quiff. 

5. Stadium gees 

With the dawn of SA hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup came the birth of five unique and intricate new stadiums that propped up in the host cities.  And the gees came even more to life when Madiba made an appearance at the finale held in Soccer City Stadium in Jozi.

However, the gees came to life in all 10 stadiums: Jozi's Soccer City, Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium, Jozi’s Ellis Park Stadium, Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, Bloemfontein’s Free State Stadium, Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium, Pretoria’s Lotus Versfeld Stadium, Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium and Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium.  

6. Tipping your Makarapa off to the winner of the match 

It wouldn’t have been the 2010 FIFA World Cup without the iconic and artfully decorated hat designs born out of repurposed construction helmets – known as Makarapas.  

7. Paul – the psychic Octopus 

Who can forget the psychic Octopus tasked with the daunting job of predicting the winning team based on which bowl he decided to feed from? 

8. Supporter reactions  

The World Cup would be nothing without the supporters – with painted faces and draped in flags and the victory and heartache they feel as they experience the whole tumultuous rollercoaster alongside the team they’re backing.

9. The epic finale 

When the finale reared its head, after one month of blood, sweat and tears – from the supporters alone – everyone was in high spirits with their eyes glued to the screen or, for the lucky few, the field. The tense game went back and forth before ending on a victorious streak for Spain with a 1-0 final score.

10. The closing ceremony 

The ending of the World Cup was just as iconic as its opening ceremony. From the glittering lights, flashing cameras from the crowd, thrumming musical performances and dances and, of course, the iconic Shakira and Freshlyground performance of Waka Waka to ring it home – it ended the iconic event of a perfect note.

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