I recently got in touch with Andrew Bonfiglio whom I put in touch with my friend Adam Boros, who has provided some guest posts from South Africa. Andrew has recently moved to South Africa and started a leadership and development firm. Below is a guest post he provided on his thoughts on the post World Cup impact on the country and region.
And then there was 1: Post-World Cup South Africa
Each of us has seen both sides of South Africa in the news over the past few weeks and months. There are pictures of the most destitute areas of the outer rims of Johannesburg in one article followed by the beauty of Table Mountain in scenic Cape Town in the next. You’ve heard tales of angry street vendors who believe the World Cup will have a negative impact on business countered with positive remarks from excited shop owners who are already starting to see the influx of tourists boost business. I have come across stories of people who are too poor to attend the games even though they live, literally, within walking distance from Soccer City only to hear other stories from the same township of how bringing the World Cup to Africa is inspiring and encouraging whether they can attend the games or not.
My question for you; what happens after the thousands of tourists leave? There are no more stadiums to construct, foreigners to fill the guest houses, nor resources to keep security personnel employed in the long run. Poverty and incredible income disparity will persist, at least in the immediate future. However, I think these are more of logistical items.
When I ask, “So what’s next?”, I think more about the impact on the people and spirit of SA.
Well, I can’t say for sure what will be happen, but I have seen a few shining starts that give me hope that the World Cup is just the beginning of a better and brighter South Africa. Here’s one great example. Two friends of mine are working on a Voluntourism company that will use empty schools house hostels, guest houses and home additions that people built leading up to the World Cup – all in Soweto – as housing for foreign visitors wanting to experience South Africa – real SA, not tourist SA – in a different and meaningful way by volunteering for a local social impact organization as part of their vacation. The concept is not new, but the application is definitely unique. This is the type of ingenuity and inspired thinking that I hope permeates the rest of the struggling areas in and around Johannesburg and other South African cities.
The World Cup is a chance for the people of the country to change their mentality a bit. A shift to a “Yes, we can” (that was not an intentional Obama-ism) attitude after South Africa shows the world that it was wrong to doubt whether an African country could handle the biggest sporting event in the world.
And on the other side, I hope that more than just a few of the world travelers that pass through these great cities get a chance to see all that SA has to offer; the good, the bad, the ugly. When the world really understands the truly amazing and inspiring nature of the human element here, sees the economic possibilities that lie ahead, and at the same time witnesses the incredible amount of need here, I can only hope that more attention will be drawn – and thus more solutions provided (notice I said solutions, not aid) – to the social and economic issues in South Africa. The World Cup is more than a soccer tournament; it is a chance for the people here to use the momentum as a tool to create positive change within their communities and an opportunity for South Africa to improve the worldwide reputation of this incredible country so that it can reach the potential Tutu and Mandela saw when coining it the rainbow nation.
About the author: After recently completing his MBA at IE Business School in Madrid, Andrew Bonfiglio co-founded a Leadership and International Development firm and moved to South Africa to set up operations (www.emzingo.com). Andrew acts as Director of Operations, developing social impact projects with local organizations in Johannesburg and co-designing Emzingo’s leadership curriculum.