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Katherine Shonfield

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The cult of personality took a new turn in the women's singles final at Wimbledon last Saturday.

Tennis constitutes one of the most orchestrated of public events. A meticulous and minute politesse governs the exclamation of the crowd, as much as the game's own infinite variations on a single formal theme.

This changed when Venus Williams leapt for joy on winning the title and had her feelings of triumph relayed by loud speaker to a spellbound crowd. In the midst of family celebrations her father made the black power salute and it is surely a mark of growing pride that such an elite bastion as Wimbledon has been so comprehensively stormed.

Williams' triumph of personal courage contrasted with the abstention of New Zealand's FIFA delegate, which resulted in South Africa losing the right to stage the 2006 football World Cup - a most tragic of cowardly acts.

Here in Johannesburg, where, hand in hand with the international conference on Aids, a massive conference on urban futures takes place this week, black empowerment is more than a lifestyle slogan.The deserted streets of the inner city remain in a state of utter desolation unimaginable to us.

The city's sole raison d'etre was the exploitative greed of the West, desperate to plunder its mineral wealth. It is not just that South Africa needs the enormous economic boost of the World Cup. It needs what it symbolises: the self-confidence of a whole nation to promote itself as a host, as giver, not an exploited victim. The churches, theatres, squares, schools, health centres and law courts of a good city carry the message to all.There is more to life than the generation of wealth for others.

Sport, despite its global commercial success, carries the same promise.

In our strange new world, it is much more than just a game. It has the power to make or break urban futures.

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