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Nation works to sustain exuberant spirit and racial unity.
In an attempt to keep the vibe going, the successful “Football Fridays” campaign — which saw South Africans of all backgrounds wear national colors once a week in the lead-up to the World Cup tournament — has been extended indefinitely as “Fly the Flag Fridays.” The idea is for the country “to embrace the spirit created during Africa's first, full-color World Cup,” according to Brand South Africa, which promotes the country at home and abroad.
"By continuing to stand together, there is nothing we cannot do," said Brand South Africa Chief Executive Miller Matola.
Zuma said that the government is looking into ways to keep alive the World Cup feeling and sense of social cohesion created by the tournament. He suggested a country-wide party or festival and floated the idea of creating a national prayer.
“We must maintain this spirit. It's not something you can buy,” he told state broadcaster SABC.
Analysts said that the soccer championships and display of patriotism came at a crucial time for South Africa, following months of racial tensions.
Earlier this year, the country made international headlines for the murder of white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche amid fears of racial unrest. Another major national story prior to the tournament was about African National Congress youth leader Julius Malema singing a controversial anti-white song called “Shoot the Boer.”
In contrast, the tournament saw “South Africans of all hues floating on a dizzying cloud nine of racial harmony,” wrote columnist Charles Mogale in the Sowetan newspaper. “For a change, there was hardly any reference to race — it was almost irrelevant that not a single white player took the field for Bafana.”
But he cautioned that now that the World Cup is over, “the fairy tale ends and we will be left to deal with our demons.”