This piece was posted by Communications Intern Hilde Faugli.
The first World Cup to be hosted on the African continent ended with no African teams reaching the final stages. But does that leave Africa with nothing? Former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s aspirations for the event were by no means small. In a letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, released in 2003, Mbeki said South Africa wanted to stage an event that will send ripples of confidence from the Cape to Cairo, an event that will create social and economic opportunities throughout Africa.
Whether the World Cup will leave a lasting, and positive legacy for Africa is a question not easily answered, and may be one more for the future to respond to rather than the present. South Africa has proved that it certainly has the infrastructure to host such a huge tournament. However, for development to take place, most African countries are in need of investment in many areas; education, health, infrastructure, agriculture to mention a few. Sports cannot go it all alone. Maybe the momentum that the world cup has brought with it will encourage governments, private actors and organizations to foster development in the continent.
Nevertheless, what I think might be the biggest benefit of the World Cup is the chance to see a bit of a different image of Africa than the one we are usually presented with. It has shown that South Africa, and Africa in general much more than just violence, instability, famine and safaris – although that rarely comes across in day-to-day media coverage of the region.
The World Cup has highlighted the fact that Africa is full of talented, creative and truly capable people. Over the past 50 years Find Your Feet’s experience in Southern Africa has proved this only too clearly. Indeed Find Your Feet’s approach to agriculture is based on the understanding that small holder farmers themselves have all the knowledge and the creativity necessary to farm successfully, as demonstrated by our successful lead farmer programme in Malawi. We are soon going to return to Zimbabwe, a country in dire need of reconstruction. We’ll be replicating our lead farmer approach here because we believe that Zimbabwe’s reconstruction can be best achieved through an agriculture that is underpinned by the experience of Zimbabwe’s farmers themselves. We are certain that more co-operation with people and organizations on the ground in Africa can lead to important changes for individuals and communities.