2010 World Cup leopard mascot unveiled
The South Africa official 2010 mascot, a leopard known as Zakumi, is seen during a launch in Auckland Park, Johannesburg September 22, 2008. The mascot for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was unveiled in Johannesburg on Monday, with Fifa opting for a leopard for the showpiece football tournament's first visit to Africa. "Zakumi is young, vibrant, energetic, smart, self-confident, sociable and ambitious, but also warm-hearted," Local Organising Commitee CEO Danny Jordaan said at the televised launch. [Agencies]
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - A cuddly leopard with a green afro leaped through a beaded curtain Monday and into World Cup history. The leopard, named Zakumi, was unveiled as the mascot of the 2010 World Cup, which will take place in South Africa. At Zakumi's introduction at a state TV studio, a performer in a Zakumi costume kicked around a football with Mark Fish, who helped lead South Africa to the African Cup of Nations title in 1996.
Zakumi was given a biography and name evoking South Africa's history and hopes. The character was "born" June 16, 1994, tournament organizers said. The year is when apartheid ended and the date is celebrated as Youth Day to mark the Soweto uprising of 1976, remembered as the day when young South Africans struck a blow against white rule.
The first two letters of Zakumi are the country's initials in Afrikaans, one of South Africa's 11 official languages. "Kumi" means 10 for the year of the tournament in many African languages, World Cup organizers said.
Tim Modise, spokesman for the South African organizing committee, said "zakumi" also can be understood as "come here" in southern African languages.
The idea, design and realization of the mascot all came from South Africa, including Cora Simpson, whose company just east of Johannesburg built the costume for Monday's launch.
The World Cup "brings business to my company," Simpson said.
Her initial contract with the organizing committee was worth less than 250,000 rand (about US$31,000), but Simpson said it would open other opportunities and had spread optimism among her staff of about 30.