Durban - Lights at the iconic 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium, Moses Mabhida, were turned on during a grand lighting ceremony at the weekend.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele told attendees at the spectacular event that the milestone reached at the 80 000-seater stadium was more than merely a celebration of the completion of the iconic arch.
"This celebration, tonight, is more than merely a celebration of the completion of the arch for the Moses Mabhida Stadium. It is a celebration of teams working together to create, not only an architectural and engineering masterpiece, but to physically create an icon, that symbolises and spans years of history, years of hope and years of work -to let all South Africans feel the pulse of unification," he said.
Premier Ndebele said the completion of the stadium's arch symbolised more than just an architectural, engineering and construction milestone.
"This accomplishment has tremendously increased the awareness of our new landmark facility, and will start positioning the stadium as not only an icon of Durban, but will also confirm to the world that we are, indeed, Africa's sporting and events capital," he said, adding that the city was ready to host fans in 2010.
"South Africa is ready to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. KwaZulu-Natal, Durban is ready to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup."
Premier Ndebele also said South Africa remained on course to ensure an African World Cup.
"As host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa stands not as a country alone - but rather as a representative of Africa, and as part of an African family of nations. Our motto: "Africa's time has come, and South Africa is ready", still stands high on our agenda," said Premier Ndebele.
The announcement in May 2004 that the 2010 World Cup would be staged in South Africa was followed by massive celebrations throughout the continent.
"We are poised to make the 2010 FIFA World Cup an African event - one that will help spread confidence and prosperity across the entire continent. We remain committed towards ensuring that the legacy is for Africa, South Africa and the localities in which the world cup will be played," he said.
The premier said Durban would be hosting a separate celebration for the naming of the stadium, which is named after one of South Africa's most iconic struggle leaders, Moses Mabhida.
"The fact that, today, we can all stand here, truly celebrating together as a united community is consequent to the work of men and women who fought alongside Moses Mabhida for our freedom from the dark days of racial segregation towards our emancipation as one society," he said.
As the backbone for the Kings Park Sporting Precinct, the stadium is designed to be a multi-functional, hard-working and easy-to-maintain asset for Durban.
By hosting major sporting and other events, the city aims to attract investment and increase employment in terms of the "2010 and beyond" economic development strategy adopted in 2005.