BY BRONWEN DACHS
CARDINAL WILFRID Napier of Durban has said the football World Cup created solidarity among Africans.
He told the Southern Cross newspaper that it was a “blessing in disguise” that South Africa’s national team did not make it past the first round.
“I believe it has made South Africans move away from a kind of national chauvinism, to seeing the tournament as African and not just South African,” he said.
He was speaking as a delegation of religious leaders, led by Johannesburg Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, met South African President Jacob Zuma to raise concerns about possible xenophobic violence once the World Cup had finished.
Fr Chris Townsend, conference communications officer, said: “We are confident that the security services will act very swiftly if there are outbreaks of violence. These are rumours and we hope that they prove to be false.” More than 60 people were killed and more than 30,000 people were displaced in attacks on foreigners around South Africa in May 2008.
The delegation included Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Ba’hai leaders as well as officials of Christian churches.