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Africans Celebrate Start of Continent's First World Cup


Millions of people across Africa gathered Friday to watch the start of the continent's first World Cup tournament, hosted by South Africa.

From the east to west coast, parks and football (soccer) stadiums were converted into viewing sites for fans to watch the action on large screens. Still others streamed into sports bars and homes to watch the opening game.

In declaring the start of the tournament open, South Africa President Jacob Zuma spoke to the pride the games had brought the continent, calling it the "African World Cup."

Only in Somalia was the jubilance subdued as Islamic militants who control large parts of the country forbade locals from watching the game. Some Somalis said they would still try to tune in using satellite dishes despite the risk.

Many Africans hope that the World Cup, the world's most watched sporting event, will help transform the continent's image and lessen the emphasis on problems typically associated with Africa such as AIDS, famine, and political instability.

Besides South Africa, five other African nations are participating in the tournament, including Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Algeria.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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