This paper addresses issues of nation-building and Africanism as seen through the lens of South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It discusses the challenges posed to social cohesion and critically examines the shift in South Africa’s national identity toward Africanism through the World Cup. The paper draws upon some findings from the Gauteng City-Region Observatory’s (GCRO) 2010 FIFA World Cup longitudinal study as reference points for the paper. The research was conducted amongst a sample of small and micro-entrepreneurs in Gauteng in order to gauge the expectations and impact of the FIFA World Cup on small business in the province. Such key findings from the research include the contention amongst 92 per cent of respondents that Ghana’s performance in the World Cup ‘brought (us) together as Africans’, while 62 per cent of respondents responded positively to the statement that ‘foreigners are taking our benefits’. This data is indicative of South Africa’s ambivalent relationship with the African continent and allows a critical perspective on the prospects for social cohesion in a post-apartheid society. The paper concludes by reflecting on the impact and meaning of the World Cup for South Africa and its ambitions to unite South Africans behind both a nation-building project and an Africanist agenda which looks to mobilise the African continent.


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pp. 21-42
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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