Wisdom from the African Zebra


Actual-ZebraThe World for All Foundation believes that the great gathering on African soil for the 2010 Soccer world Cup by FIFA will not only showcase the beautiful game and the hospitality of Africans, but also is a unique opportunity to make available the profound wisdom that is, slowly but surely, allowing Africa to emerge from its past into its renaissance.

We believe, particularly, that we should highlight South Africa’s contribution to a world beset by challenges. South Africa stands out as an example of doing what is counter-intuitive: forging unity out of apartheid, negotiating a settlement after years of violence, and reconciling those who have been perpetrators and victims of brutality.

These lessons and wisdoms need to be conveyed in an innovative, multidimensional and light way as a complement to the soccer and tourism during the Soccer World Cup. It is not aimed at detracting from an enjoyable event, but to add meaning in ways that will make this a truly African experience.

We thought the best conveyor of such wisdom should be the African Zebra, carrying a message in both word and artistic form, and placed at key locations where tourists and locals will gather during this period. These locations will not violate any FIFA regulations and the zebras will not constitute any ambush marketing.

The zebras are meant to capture attention, arouse curiosity, stimulate discussion, and create a ‘wisdom souvenir’ that can be taken away globally. It is meant to constitute a series of photo-opportunities along a zebra trail in the greater Cape Town region. The zebras can be complemented by a souvenir book, postcards and other paraphernalia aimed only at recouping the input costs, and allowing the World for All Foundation to do its work of creating inclusive, shared societies and communities, while working actively to overcome extremisms of all kinds.

We have chosen Cape Town only by virtue of convenience. Time and resources have constrained us. However, we expect most visitors to spend some time in Cape Town, thus giving the Zebras maximum exposure.


2.1. The FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup will be a great gathering of people and media and as the tournament progresses, they will have more time to explore South Africa and take in its beauty.

2.2. The main objective of this gathering is soccer and tourism, and for many overseas guests it would probably be their first visit to Africa, South Africa and Cape Town.

2.3. We need to utilize this opportunity to show what Pliny the Elder realized long ago when he said: “Out of Africa, always something new.” One of these remarkable contributions has been “the South African miracle” and we need to distil the spirit and substance of the South African experience.

2.4. Without detracting from the precepts of the FIFA Soccer World Cup, we need to find a medium for this wisdom that is mildly intrusive, eye-catching and arouses curiosity, discussion and results in a moment of insight. We thought of a similar medium that enjoyed success: the ‘cows’ that adorned the streets of Chicago and other cities

2.5. In adapting this concept to Africa, we thought that the African Zebra allows us to warn against a tendency to view everything in terms of simple binaries, in black and white. The zebra should be one of the few beautiful things in black and white, while almost everything else, especially human perspective, should learn to find beauty in complexity, in multi-coloured dimensions.

2.6. We propose about 30 zebras, each depicting its common message that “not all is black and white” as well as its unique message drawn from the wisdom of arguably the finest product of Africa, Nelson Mandela, and complemented artistically to interrupt the beautiful black and white of the zebra. All of this illustrates South Africa’s break with its apartheid division of people into black and white.

2.7. In drawing on Madiba’s wisdom, we make available what the world admires, in the year in which we commemorate 20 years since his release from prison. We pay homage to his role in Africa and South Africa and we, on 18 July commend him as an example worthy of emulation. We also anticipate his birthday and exhort people to give 67 minutes of their time to do good in the world.

2.8. We hope that the zebras will constitute a visitors/tourism route that people could follow to capture the meaning and wisdom each one conveys, and that they will retain the wisdom through personal insight and commitment, as well as through the medium of photography.

2.9. The zebras will have a life beyond the World Cup with various possibilities available to ensure that their messages remain almost eternal.


The objectives, therefore, of the zebra campaign are simple:

3.1. To ensure that we are an excellent soccer location, but that we are also remembered as a place of wisdom, learning and innovation in the way we ensure good relations between different people;

3.2. To impinge on a global consciousness with wisdom and experience of doing the counter-intuitive and the unexpected in the face of long-standing, and seemingly intractable, challenges;

3.3. To package such lessons, experiences and wisdom in ‘take-away’ form, with a light and meaningful touch, using a unique African motif – the Zebra- filled with symbolism; and

3.4. To enhance the experience of soccer lovers and tourists during their stay, without detracting from the reason for their stay – the FIFA Soccer World Cup.


The messages will be uniquely African and South African. Rather than viewing Africa only as a place with a terrible history of slavery, colonialism, genocide, civil war and poverty, we need to send out a message that reflects a pre-existing civilization, heroism in the face of adversity, wisdom in confronting challenges, and a birthplace of great leaders, thinkers and activists.

The overarching message represented by the Zebra is that “not all is black and white.” It is an invocation to avoid simplicity and embrace complexity, to avoid binaries and to ensure respectful co-existence of difference and opposites, to shun extremes and to find the middleground, and never to repeat the apartheid experience of dividing people. Moreover, the Zebra also signifies a place in a busy road to crossover safely to the other side.

The specific and unique message conveyed by each Zebra will be a combination of a wisdom articulated and exemplified by Nelson Mandela, and an artistic interpretation thereof by an artist.

The themes will include:

Building Unity and Respecting Diversity;
Embracing Multi-culturalism, Cosmopolitanism and shared Spirituality;
Acceptance of Difference (religious, cultural, ideological…);
Living with Mutiple Identities;
Non-violence, Peace and Co-operation;
Engagement, Dialogue and Negotiation;
Compromise and Consensus;
Service, Sacrifice and Selflessness;
Anti-Discrimination: Race, Gender, Religion, Orientation, Culture;
Shunning Extremism and Seeking the Middleground; etc
The specific life lessons of Nelson Mandela include, amongst others, the following quotes taken from the Penguin Publication published in 2010 and compiled and edited by Jennifer Crwys-Williams:

“All of us, descendants of Africa, know only too well that racism demeans the victims and dehumanizes its perpetrators.”

“Anger is a temporary feeling – you soon forget it, particularly if you are involved in positive activities and attitudes.”

“I wanted South Africa to see that I loved even my enemies while I hated the system that turned us against one another.”

“There is no easy walk to freedom.”

“We do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom.”

“Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.”

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of their skin, or his background, or his religion.”

“I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who became a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”

“To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

“The key to the protection of any minority is to put core civil and political rights beyond the reach of temporary majorities by guaranteeing them as fundamental human rights….”

“None of us can be described as having virtues or qualities that raise him or her above others.”

“Deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity.”

“The time for healing wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.”

“Memory is the fabric of identity. At the heart of every oppressive tool…was a determination to control, distort, weaken, even erase people’s memories.”

“Extremists on all sides thrive, fed by the blood lust of centuries gone by.”

“When you negotiate you must be prepared to compromise”

“Negotiated solutions…emerge when those who have been divided reach out to find the common ground. “

“Only free men can negotiate.”

“…never again shall continents, countries or communities be reduced to the smoking battlefields of… nationality, religion, race or language?”

“…we live in an interdependent world which is bound together to a common destiny.”

“We operate in a world which is searching for a better life – without the imprisonment of dogma.”

“I will go down on my knees to beg those who want to drag our country into bloodshed and persuade them not to do so.”

“Language, culture and religion are important indicators of identity.”

“No one can be at peace while others wallow in poverty and insecurity.”

“Nothing is more dehumanising than isolation from human companionship.”

“I realised that they could take…all except mind and heart…and I made a decision not to give them away.”

“I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.”

“…colour, race and gender become only a God-given gift to each one of us and not an…attribute that accords a special status to any.”

“Racism must be consciously combated and not discreetly tolerated.”

“Reconstruction goes hand in hand with reconciliation.”

“The strength of inter-religious solidarity in action against apartheid, rather than mere harmony or co-existence, was critical in bringing that evil system to an end.”

“We need religious institutions…to be the conscience of society, a moral custodian and a fearless champion of the …weak and downtrodden.”

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”


Fibreglass models of the Zebras will be produced. It will be a discernable Zebra except for the torso which will be the artists’ canvas to convey the message in both word and art. Each Zebra will carry both a common as well as a unique message.

Artists have been engaged to ensure that about 33 Zebras will fulfill the objectives of the campaign, and work is being done to ensure compliance with FIFA and municipal regulations.

Each Zebra, when completed, will be placed at a specific location which will be chosen from a matrix of factors:

places where people congregate;
places with historical significance;
places where tourists visit; and
places of commercial and cultural significance.
The Zebras could be complemented by a brochure containing a map which would depict a “zebra trail” to encourage people to visit each one. A booklet detailing the messages, the artworks, the objectives, and giving information about the artists and Madiba could be on sale. We could even produce postcards of the Zebras that could be posted from South Africa. These could be used to recoup the input costs of the campaign.

Possibilities for the zebras after the World Cup include:

staying at the location where they are placed;
moving to other public places to fulfill the same objective; and
being auctioned/sold to companies which want to benefit from their messages.


The Zebras are meant to carry the core messages of Africa’s Renaissance, of South Africa’s peaceful transition from Apartheid to Democracy, and the World for All Foundation’s vision of a share society, where different people co-exist respectfully, where complexity is embraced and extremism is shunned. We think the Zebras will be a unique and meaningful addition to FIFA’s 2010 Soccer World Cup.