World Cup musician welcomes humankind back to Africa

Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:32am EDT
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By Jason Rhodes

ZURICH (Reuters Life!) - The soccer World Cup in South Africa will break down barriers between races and bring humankind back home to its African roots, musician Vusi Mahlasela said ahead of the kickoff concert on Thursday.

Mahlasela and other African artists like Angelique Kidjo, Hugh Masekela and Tinariwen will join forces with international stars Shakira, Black Eyed Peas and Alicia Keys to play to 30,000 concert-goers packed into Soweto's Orlando stadium and millions of television viewers around the globe.

"Everybody who is coming here for the World Cup should just feel that they are back home and be on the same level with everybody else," South African folk star Mahlasela told Reuters by phone. "Here we are the same, we are family, we are one, we are home."

Mahlasela is confident Africa's first ever World Cup finals will surpass the success of the 1995 rugby tournament.

That event united South Africa's "Rainbow Nation" of peoples behind the victory of the country's erstwhile white-supported Springbok team shortly after the country's first racially democratic elections handed power to a black president, Nelson Mandela.

"I think the same sort of magic is going to come back with much more blessings," said Mahlasela.

Mandela, who proudly wore the Springbok shirt at the rugby tournament, will now be able to support South Africa's soccer team, known as "Bafana Bafana," meaning "The Boys," against Mexico in Johannesburg on Friday.

"The main player, our main man, our leader, Nelson Mandela has just confirmed that he is going to be there at the opening kickoff match and that should spark some really positive feelings for Bafana Bafana and everybody," Mahlasela said of the former president, now in his nineties.   Continued...