News / Africa

    Artists in Final Rehearsals for World Cup Opening Ceremony

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    Scott Bobb

    The city of Johannesburg is a-buzz with celebrating football fans as South Africa prepares to kick off the 2010 World Cup.

    Hundreds of dancers and singers, many of them dressed in traditional costumes, strutted behind a marching band to Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium for the dress rehearsal of Friday's World Cup opening ceremony.

    South Africans mark final countdown to World Cup, 9 June 2010
    South Africans mark final countdown to World Cup, 9 June 2010

    Motorists along the route, their cars decked with flags, honked their horns in support as the band went by.

    Organizers are promising a distinctly African musical show, with a cast of more than 1500 people featuring international music artists as well as local favorites.

    The minister of arts and culture, Lulu Xingwana, noted the opening is to be preceded by a music concert Thursday of international and African stars.

    "We believe this is going to be an African celebration of our culture and heritage," says Xingwana. "We are ready for the party, starting with the kick-off concert at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto, and the big party during the opening ceremony."

    Organizers say musicians such as Hugh Masakela, Femi Kuti, Khaled, Osibisa, R-Kelly and the Soweto Spiritual Singers, will perform Friday afternoon before the Cup's opening match between South Africa and Mexico. France and Uruguay face off later that evening.

    Johannesburg's financial district, Sandton, Wednesday was paralyzed by a massive parade to show support for the South African team called the Bafana-Bafana.

    Members of the national team, accompanied by local dignitaries, blew kisses to the fans from the top of a double-decker bus as motorists honked their horns for the celebrating crowds.

    Fan parks have been erected in the nine cities hosting World Cup matches. Private groups and businesses are sponsoring their own football parties. And fans from around the world are in the streets, impatient for the big event to begin.

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