BY BRONWEN DACHS
THE CATHOLIC bishop of Rustenberg has said he was kept awake by the sound of vuvuzelas after England’s first World Cup match against the US.
Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, who lives less than a mile from the 44,000seat Royal Bafokeng Stadium, said there was “an incredible sense of celebration” among local residents and visiting fans, who included US Vice President Joe Biden.
Rustenburg, a mining town in North West province whose name means “Town of Rest” in Afrikaans, is one of the smallest of the nine cities hosting the World Cup.
Bishop Dowling said last week: “It is amazing that sport is able to unite the nation like this, and I hope we can build on this spirit of unity when the tournament is over.” He laughed as he told of the sound of thousands of people blowing 3ftlong plastic horns and depriving him of sleep.
Vuvuzelas are said to be based on kudu horns and rooted in African history.
Mariannhill Fr Casimir Paulsen, a Detroit priest who has worked in southern Africa for more than 40 years, said he was “very happy” with the US performance against England, though he said he “did feel sorry for England’s goalie”, Robert Green, whose fumble helped the United States to a 1-1 draw.
Fr Paulsen’s pride in the US team was matched by his pride in South Africa’s team, known as Bafana Bafana (“Boys, Boys”), “who did so well against a tough team” in the tournament’s opening match in Johannesburg, drawing 1-1 against Mexico.
Fr Paulsen, who is responsible for two parishes, said that in homilies, designated World Cup Sunday by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, he drew comparisons with the Immaculate Heart of Mary beating in tune with her son’s Sacred Heart and the “hearts of all South Africans beating as one” in their support of their football team.
In a telephone interview last week, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban said the South Africans “will need to be at our best” to have a chance of beating Uruguay.
In a statement released as the World Cup opening ceremony began in Johannesburg, the cardinal assured the South African players of his prayers and said the “collective breath of a nation is held” for them.
He urged South Africans to “welcome the world, encounter the world, learn from the world so that the world will know that we remain the Rainbow Nation, diverse and united”.
Uruguay ended up beating South Africa 3-0, leaving the home nation at the bottom of Group A. Their final match against France was to be played on Tuesday, June 22. They may only progress to the second round if they win.