National Geographic : 2010 Jun
EDITOR'S NOTE PHOTO: JAMES NACHTWEY Fans of Soweto's Kaizer Chiefs soccer club cheer during the team's December 2009 match against Ajax Cape Town. We felt the celebration move like a windstorm across Johannesburg on June 24, 1995. People danced in the streets, hugging strangers. The South African Springboks had defeated the New Zealand All Blacks in overtime at Ellis Park Stadium, winning the Rugby World Cup. As I sat in a living room seven miles from the stadium with friends and watched on television, South Africa's newly elected president, Nelson Mandela, walked onto the field in a Springbok jersey to present the trophy. Rugby and the Springboks had been, in apartheid South Africa, symbols of white privilege and power. When Mandela, who'd been imprisoned for 27 years by that racist regime, presented the trophy to the white captain of the Springboks and congratulated players of the nearly all-white team, he did more than just celebrate a rugby victory. He honored a nation that was coming together and moving forward. In 2004 South Africans celebrated again when they were chosen to host soccer's 2010 World Cup games. This month the world will watch that tournament play out on the fields of their country. It too will be more than a sporting event. Apartheid is gone, but the slow process of reconciliation continues. In this issue, photographer James Nachtwey shows us contemporary South Africa, while writer Alexandra Fuller tells about a town, a victim of a hate crime, and the prisoner responsible. It's a tale of forgiveness and redemption---a story, one South African minister says, about how a nation prepares for the future.