Unified under the colours of the flag and a stirring national anthem, we came together to organise what many international observers acclaimed as one of the best World Cups ever. File picture: Luigi Bennett/Backapagepix
Remember the two milestones which unified us as a nation in recent years?

The first, of course, was in 1994 when we joined long, winding queues to vote for the first time as a new democracy. The emotions were raw and palpable, with tears of joy and relief flowing down black, white and brown faces as we began to take our first tentative steps towards a new, life-changing dispensation. Kumbaya, my Lord! We had overcome.

The second milestone came when we were chosen to host the Soccer World Cup in 2010, a challenge many people doubted we, as a small emerging nation, could pull off. But we proved them wrong.

Unified under the colours of the South African flag and a stirring national anthem, we came together to organise what many international observers acclaimed as one of the best ever. We had overcome once again.

How I wish I could have captured those precious moments and preserved them for perpetuity.

But, alas, they seem to have disappeared into the ether. Only a few years ago, we were a country of great promise. The world looked up to us. But we lost our way.

Today we are fast descending into the same abyss we thought we had escaped only a couple of decades ago. With each passing year since 2010, we have become more distant and polarised.

We don’t talk to each other any more; we talk past each other. The whole tone of the national debate has become shrill, confrontational and often unashamedly racist. If we go on like this, the demagogues will soon outnumber the democrats.

In what can only be described as a tyranny of the loudest and most crude, populist windbags have taken centre stage, spewing out their vile and divisive rhetoric that takes us back to where it all started in the bad old days of apartheid.

Not wanting to fall into despair, I couldn’t help thinking that what South Africa needs right now is a strong tonic to revive the patriotism that washed over us in 2010. What about another chance to host an international event?

With Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup now in jeopardy - after claims that the oil-rich nation had broken Fifa rules in their bid - surely it’s our opportunity to slip in a quick bid to take over as hosts.

After all, we’re got the infrastructure; we have ready-made stadiums; the vuvuzela manufacturers need the business; employing extra people will help our unemployment problems; and we could certainly do with the inflow of foreign capital.

If I were president, I would send an urgent application to Fifa to tell them we are ready, willing and able.

It might sound like a desperate plan, but then we do live in desperate times, don’t we?

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