Africa Kicks!

Soccer City, SA 2010

I have to admit that I am not and never have been into sport, any sport! Believe me, I don’t have an ounce of guilt about it either, and why would I? And no, I don’t feel as if I’m missing out on a thing.

So what I wanted to share with you this time, is how moved I was by the vibrant energy and creativity created by this years World Cup football held earlier in South Africa,
yes indeed a visual delight and truly spectacular!

A few weeks back I attended the launch of the ‘Africa Kicks’ project’s exhibition by the BBC in London and was impressed by the energy documented by the images taken at the time just before and during the games. The images for the exhibition were selected by Ivory Coast and Chelsea footballers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou for this BBC exhibition celebrating a great year of African football. And although I hadn’t even been aware of who they were before, my ignorance aside, I was  surprised that this collection of exhibition images really does convey a sense of collective imagination and an apparent coming together of a nation and continent. Not just a game it seems, but also a vehicle for trade, cultural expression and hopes for the future.

With its talented collection of international players, Africa’s footballers like freedom fighters, offer infectious inspiration to young men across the continent and bring great prestige to their families, villages, regions and countries.

Despite the racial legacies still being negotiated in South Africa, I noticed how a national pride appeared to engulf most sections of the population, perhaps temporarily suspending the usual divide, we’ll have to wait and see…

My own South African granddaughter at age two attended the opening ceremony with her parents and she wore her SA ‘strip’ to nursery every Friday in the weeks leading up to the games. It is she who taught her grandma how to get the sound out of a vuvuzela!

Many of the images in the exhibition demonstrate beautiful visual vibrancy in the way that people have used their national colours for artistic body painting, appearing like mobile art installations. This alongside images of horn blowing children on the vuvuzela, impress upon the viewer a powerful ‘must be seen and heard’ quality.

The photographs for the project were taken as the BBC’s multilingual team of journalists toured five West African countries and the collection also features photography contributed by BBC listeners across Africa. The exhibition is due to tour in Africa from January 2011 and will return to the UK later in the year.

See a selection from the exhibition at


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