Zakumi represents the people, land and spirit of South Africa and Africa. As a mascot, Zakumi will be an ambassador for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
A mascot is a person, animal, or object believed to bring good luck. It is like a representative for an organisation or a sports team. The first mascot used for a FIFA World Cup, was a lion called World Cup Willie. It was introduced in 1966 when England hosted the World Cup. Since then every World Cup has had its own special mascot.
Warmth of Africa
The name 'Zakumi' is a combination of 'ZA' standing for South Africa and 'kumi', which means '10' in different languages across Africa.
Zakumi is said to be a partyloving animal. One of his jobs will be to turn the 2010 FIFA World Cup into a joyful and unforgettable event.
With his big smile and warm heart, he will also show the thousands of international guests and soccer fans the warmth and spirit of the African continent.
But Zakumi will not only represent South Africa and Africa, he will also be a representative of the FIFA World Cup in general. He is said to be young, energetic, smart and ambitious. He will bring some fun and add to the atmosphere of the tournament.
He will become a symbol that people around the world will easily recognize as the friendly face of the 2010 World Cup - an inspiration for young and old.
Made in South Africa
Zakumi was designed and made in South Africa. The leopard was chosen as a symbol, because the lion and the elephant and most of the other animals that are part of the "Big Five" have often been used as symbols.
FIFA decided to give Zakumi a specific personality and personal history. He was born on 16 June 1994. This is of great importance in South Africa. 16 June saw the beginning of the Soweto youth uprising, while 1994 was the year that South Africa had its first democratic elections.
Zakumi will not only be the face of world cup soccer. He will also play a role in the build-up to the Confederations Cup, which will take place in South Africa next year.
- Mbulelo Baloyi