Tutu says Africa is 'the cradle of humanity' at huge World Cup gig

By staff writers
11 Jun 2010

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wowed the 50,000 crowd at an extraordinary musical celebration in Soweto ahead of the kick-off in the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa.

Bouncing around the brightly lit stage in the green and yellow colours of the nation, and clutching his 'Bafana Bafana' South African team scarf, Tutu, the globally popular former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, gave a bravura performance to an ecstatic audience.

His main task was to introduce a short film about the life of 'father of the new nation' Nelson Mandela, who is now 92-years-old.

"Friends, before I tell you who will be in the final,” Tutu declared with his signature giggle, to gales of laughter, “I think we have to pay a wonderful tribute to the man we all owe this to, if we make enough noise he will hear us.”

But Dr Tutu also used the occasion to speak of Africa as "the cradle of humanity."

"Every single one of you... from South Africa, or from Germany, or from France, or anywhere... you are African now!" he declared, to whoops and cheers from the large multicultural audience.

"We want to say to the world — Thank you for helping this worm to become a beautiful butterfly,” Archbishop Tutu concluded.

The concert was a triumph for the organisers, and a symbolic foretaste of the way people hope that a global soccer tournament, which will be watched by some 2.4 billion people across the planet, can emphasise the unity in friendly competition of ordinary people, rather than the divisive forces of violence and greed.

African artists set the pace for the musical magic of the occasion. First on, after an introduction by South African president Jacob Zuma, standing next to FIFA world football chief Sepp Blatter, was the legendary trumpeter and African jazz band-leader, Hugh Masekela.

Masekela was a key figure of resistance during the apartheid era, travelling the world and playing concerts to encourage opposition to the racist system.

He first learned his instrument under the tutelage of another courageous and acclaimed churchman, the late Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, Anglican priest and anti-apartheid activist, who died in 1998.

Masekela and Lira sang 'Grazing in the grass' and then segued into 'Pata, Pata'.

Angelique Kidjo from Mali led the Soweto Gospel Choir and the crowd in a rousing rendition of 'Afrika', while the Black Eyed Peas with 'Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night' and Alicia Keys were among the international performers from Europe, the USA and Colombia.

[Ekk/3]

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