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Zakumi the Leopard was the Official Mascot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He is a cheerful, sporty anthropomorphized leopard with green hair, presented on 22 September 2008. His name comes from "ZA", the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for South Africa, and kumi, a word that means "ten" in several African languages, referencing the year 2010.
|"He wants to create a good mood for the fans and raise the excitement for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first on African soil. He is a proud South African and wants to ensure that the world will come together in South Africa," explained Lucas Radebe, South Africa's football icon and close friend of Zakumi.|
Za is a code for South Africa and kumi means ten in many African languages so it signifies South Africa 2010. Zakumi the leopard's birth date coincides with a day known and celebrated as Youth Day in South Africa. The group A match played between South Africa and Uruguay (Match 17) also coincides with Zakumi's birthday. He turned sixteen on 16 June 2010.
The green and yellow (gold) colours of the character match the colours used in South African sport uniforms and can also be seen in the South Africa national football team's kit.
The official motto of Zakumi is "Zakumi's game is Fair Play." The motto was seen in the digital advertisement boards during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, and has also appeared in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Zakumi was intended to depict a jolly, self-confident, adventurous, spontaneous, and, contrariwise, quite a shrewd little fellow. He was shown as loving to perform and always follow his instincts and intuition. He was also shown as sometimes having the tendency to exaggerate somewhat. He is often found fooling about and teasing people but not in a mean way. He is warm-hearted and caring, and wanted to make as many friends as possible. He loves to play football as it is a great way to connect with others and break down language barriers. He always carries his football around which he will use to invite people to play with him. Zakumi loves football. At one time he decided to dye his hair green as he felt it would be the perfect camouflage against the green of the football pitch; a bit like his rosette spots are when hunting in the wilderness!
He does have one striking weakness. With all his energy, he needs frequent rests. Occasionally, between performances on stage, he may suddenly fall asleep on the spot at the most random times! But rest assured, these are only short breaks that a leopard of his calibre needs to recharge his batteries.
Over the last years he has travelled the whole of Africa where the leopard habitat is good (pretty much everywhere from open savannahs, forests, jungles to mountainous areas, even deserts). He has therefore learned to adapt to new environments; enjoying the diversity in nature and people across the African continent.
A contract for the manufacture of Zakumi figurines was awarded to a company owned by Dr. Shiaan-Bin Huang, who is an ANC representative member in the South African parliament. The manufacture of the figurines was outsourced to Shanghai Fashion Plastic Products in China. The value of the contract was in excess of USD 112 million. Due to concerns over the loss of jobs in the South African manufacturing sector, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has suggested that more 2010 merchandise be sourced locally. Allegation of sweatshop conditions at the Shanghai Fashion Plastic Products factory led to an audit by Global Brands Group (master licensee of the Fifa World Cup 2010 brand), which revealed a number of non-compliance issues with GBC policies. The manufacturer denied the allegations of sweatshop conditions and claimed that the working conditions at the Shanghai Fashion Plastic Products factory were "very good".
- "Zakumi - a Mascot with attitude". FIFA.com. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "Meet Zakumi, the face of 2010". IOL. 2008-09-22. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
- "Zakumi maker forced to stop work". Fin24.com. 2010-03-09. Retrieved 2010-04-11.
- "ANC Member in Parliament". Anc.org.za. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "SWC mascot production stops". Sport24.co.za. 2010-03-09. Retrieved 2010-04-11.
- "Zakumi maker hits out at critics". Fin24.com. 2010-03-10. Retrieved 2010-04-11.
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