JOHANNESBURG (AP) — An alliance of South African newspapers and broadcasters has praised Nelson Mandela for his role in the success of the first World Cup held in Africa.
“South Africa changed last month,” they said in a statement Wednesday. “It was a different place … a better place, and you didn’t have to be soccer-crazy to sense it.”
The media organizations said the World Cup unified South Africans in a way that few other events have, bridging differences in the once-divided country. That pride was evident in recent months, as both poor black townships and wealthy, mostly white areas blanketed themselves in South African flags and soccer paraphernalia.
In the aftermath of the tournament that ended July 11, worries emerged over the costs of stadiums and other facilities when poor communities still lacked basic public services in health, education and clean water.
The campaigners implored South Africans to continue Mandela’s fight for equality, democracy and justice, to help others and to “keep before us the idea of succeeding,” the statement said.
“As Nelson Mandela once famously put it: It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it.”
The campaign was launched as Mandela’s charitable foundation prepared to mark the 48th anniversary of his arrest for his anti-apartheid activism. Mandela served 27 years in prison before he was elected South Africa’s first black president.
Mandela has been credited with several sporting since his release, including South Africa’s victory at the 1995 Rugby World Cup and this year’s World Cup.
Mandela turned 92 on July 18, and his birthday has been declared an annual international celebration by the United Nations.
“Let’s make every day a Mandela day,” Mandela’s foundation said in a statement Wednesday that exhorted everyone “to do good every day.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.