By Lebogang Seale

The symbol that represents South Africa's 2010 World Cup is cute, full of vitality and adventurous, with a touch of shrewdness.

Zakumi, as the official 2010 World Cup Mascot has been named, was unveiled on Monday night in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Created in the figure of a leopard wagging its tail while holding a soccer ball to demonstrate its agility, Zakumi was created by Cape Town-based artist Andries Odendaal.

The predominantly gold colours - subtly incorporated with green and white, with the letters "South Africa 2010" across his chest - represent the country's wealth and hopes for 2010.

The prickly dreadlocks are meant to give him the edge over his fellow cats.

Zakumi's costume was produced by Cora Simpson of Cora's Costumes in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, who produced Simba the Lion and Dazzler, the official Mascot for the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 Local Organising Committee, said Zakumi generated the necessary appeal to the young and old.

"We couldn't have thought of a better ambassador than him. He is young, vibrant, energetic and confident," he said.

"He encapsulates what we want to see in 2010 - our dreams and aspirations - especially the youth of the entire continent."

Zakumi also joined the ranks of SA's born-free generation as he was accorded with the birth date of June 16 1994, meaning he will turn 16 in 2010.

His name is derived from "Za" for the old Zuid Afrikaanse Republic while "kumi" stands for the general word for 10 in most African languages. Zakumi also received the thumbs-up from Fifa's marketing director, Thierry Weil.

Fifa has used mascots since the inaugural World Cup in England in 1966.