In early June, when college exams had just ended, students had gone home to become procrastinating sloths with no exams or study to worry about (until results were out that is!), the weather without fail was relatively crap and the question of what to do for the summer loomed achingly on everyone’s mind. But amongst all this dullness and monotony lay something beautiful; the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was the answer to many people’s prayers, providing day-time entertainment with matches and night-time celebrations for when France were (inevitably) knocked out. 31 days of soccer bliss, 6,000 minutes of magic and 3 million tickets… legendary!
This year, the World Cup was particularly special. Being in Africa, this meant more than just an economy and tourism boost: it meant proving to the World that the nation was capable of holding one of the its biggest events. It certainly did that; we got sensational soccer, booming vuvuzelas, a Waka Waka hip-dislocating Shakira anthem and more. But the question ought to be asked; did we see the other side of South Africa during the World Cup? The country with townships, poverty, crime and HIV? It is estimated that during the period of the World Cup alone, 4,500 babies would have been born HIV-positive, 30,000 adults infected and over the space of those 31 days, and 22,500 people dead from AIDS-related illnesses.
The figures are deplorable, but this isn’t a guilt trip. Although we can’t save those who are already gone, we can open our eyes and try prevent it happening to others. We can spread awareness and learn the true facts about HIV. World AIDS Day takes place this month, and there are a variety of events both on campus and in Cork and Ireland generally to mark the occassion. Africa’s hosting of the World Cup was a triumph. They gave us a spectacle to remember and now it’s our duty to give back and say thank you. It’s time to get wise, get aware and get talking about the truth behind HIV/AIDS. This one’s for Africa.