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South Africa: Place Of The Year 2009

Michelle Rafferty, Publicity Assistant

I dare you to watch the trailer for this December’s Invictus—the story of how a newly elected Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup to bring his people together—without feeling slight heart palpitation. Particularly in a scene where we see Mandela speaking with a political confidante:

“This rugby, it’s a political calculation,” she says.

“It is a human calculation,” responds Mandela.

Sounds like one awfully loaded conversation about rugby, but if there’s anything history, cinema, and Nike commercials have taught us, it’s that the game ultimately represents something much bigger than itself. From taking a stand (1980 Moscow Games boycott) and breaking social barriers (Jackie Robinson, Dara Torres) to beating odds (Nancy Kerrigan, Lance Armstrong) and growing up (Mighty Ducks 1, 2, and 3), sports are often the metaphors and inspiration of our lives. Which leads us to our big announcement… as it moves to the forefront of the global sports arena once more, we are excited to announce South Africa as Oxford’s “Place of the Year.” The 2010 World Cup—arguably the most important international event the country will host since officially becoming a post-apartheid, democratic nation only 15 years ago—signifies further transformation, quantifiable in millions of dollars worth of new infrastructure.

How much new infrastructure?

According to FIFA, contributions from the South African government total (in rands “R”):

Stadium and precinct development: R9.8 billion
Transport: R13.6 billion
Broadcast and telecommunications: R300 million
Event operations: R684 million
Safety and security: R1.3 billion
Event volunteer training: R25 million
Ports of entry infrastructure: R3. 5 billion
Immigration support: R630 million
Communications, hosting, legacy and culture: R504 million

Which translates to…

According to consulting firm Grant Thornton, which drew up the financial impact report for South Africa’s World Cup bid committee:

R55.7 billion to the South African economy
415,400 jobs
R19.3 billion in tax income to the government

The World Cup has received mixed reviews however: Economy boost or money suck? Increase in jobs or class divider? International prestige or embarrassment? Whatever pole you stand on, the fact is that South Africa has the world’s attention, making it a worthy 2009 “Place of the Year.”

Coming Up…

This week we are both excited and proud to share a range of perspectives in celebration of “Place of the Year.” The stories told will express a dichotomy of beauty and tragedy, and we hope give you a better, if not more personal, idea of a country that has largely influenced the world’s headlines, history class lessons, books, and films. To get things started I leave you with some handy facts straight from our Atlas of the World gazetteer:

Population: 48,783,000Atlas 16 cover image
Capital(s): Cape Town (Legislative); Pretoria/Tshwane (Administrative), Bloemfontein (Judiciary)
Government: Multiparty Republic
Ethnic Groups: Black 76%, White 13%, Colored 9%, Asian 2%
Languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu (all official)
Religions: Christianity 68%, Islam 2%, Hinduism 1%
Currency: Rand=100 cents
Most valuable activities: mining and manufacturing
President: Jacob Zuma (elected in 2009)

*As the week proceeds you will be able to check out more “Place of the Year” contributions here.

Recent Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rebecca, Rebecca, iupress, Cassie, meganbe and others. meganbe said: You know you're dying to know! RT @oupblog: FINALLY our big news. The Oxford Place of the Year for 2009 is: http://bit.ly/3KCTLH (@leanoir) […]

  2. Benjamin Keene

    Consider me one reader who’s glad to see the return of the Place of the Year!

  3. […] Publishing Editor, Higher Education, recently went on a trip to South Africa.  In honor of our 2009 Place of the Year selection they have shared their experience with us and some stunning photos.  Be sure to check […]

  4. […] Rafferty, Publicity Assistant During our “Place of the Year” celebration we challenged all former Carmen Sandiego gumshoes to a South African geography […]

  5. […] Rafferty, Publicity Assistant During our “Place of the Year” celebration we challenged all former Carmen Sandiego gumshoes to a South African […]

  6. […] coup for the country … South Africa was recently named “Place of the Year 2009” by Oxford University Press. They have a series of interesting posts on the country, […]

  7. Chris Warren

    I can’t think of a more wonderful place to be nominated Place of The Year. It is is wonderful country that perfectly embodies the beauty and challenges of life and the world.

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