afrol News, 8 June - President Jacob Zuma says after many years of planning and hard work, South Africa should now celebrate the long journey it had travelled in preparation for the first football World Cup on African soil.
This comes as soccer fever grips the country with only three days left before the historic opening match between the national team "Bafana Bafana" and Mexico at Johannesburg's Soccer City Stadium on Friday.
Speaking on the occasion to welcome members of the FIFA executive committee in the country on Monday night, President Zuma said the hosting of the World Cup had helped South Africa consolidate the gains it has achieved since attaining democracy in 1994.
"The journey that we travelled to achieve our freedom and democracy is marked by the struggles and sacrifices of many South Africans...after many years of hard work we can tonight celebrate," Mr Zuma told the more than 200 guests who gathered for the occasion.
President Zuma further said the World Cup had helped "entrench" the belief that South Africa was a proud nation united in its diversity. The infrastructure developed ahead of the world cup would help position South Africa as "a country of choice for investment and business interests."
The South African leader added that the country could not have reached all the accomplishments without the "dedication" of thousands of South Africans who toiled to ensure a world class event.
"There were many times during these six years when we were told the challenge for our country was far too great," Mr Zuma said.
He concluded that South Africa would never be the same after the World Cup and whilst onlookers may reflect on South Africa as a "miracle", it was one that was fought for through many years of struggle and negotiation.
"It is the sacrifice and suffering of many South Africans that brought us to the point where the international community could entrust us with such a responsibility. It is the sacrifice of our African brothers and sisters on the continent, the Diaspora and indeed many in the world over," President Zuma said.
SAFA President Kirsten Nemathandani, who referred to FIFA president Sepp Blatter as a "friend of the African people", said the excitement that had invaded South Africa since 2004 was difficult to describe. He expressed gratitude to Mr Blatter for standing "firm in his belief that Africa can do it".
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.