Vendors make money selling flags of WCup teams

Vendors make money selling flags of WCup teams

Published Jun. 7, 2010 2:45 p.m. ET

The ``rainbow nation'' is showing its colors ahead of the World Cup, and they're coming in all sorts of tints and hues.

With the opening of the World Cup only four days away, street vendors in Johannesburg are out in force selling national flags from all 32 participating countries.

``I left my previous job because I can make more money this way,'' said Lovemore Toronga, a 30-year-old local man standing at a busy intersection in Johannesburg on Monday. ``Until the tournament finishes (on July 11), I will continue selling flags at robots (traffic lights).''

Although vendors continue to sell scarves and vuvuzelas - the plastic horns that caused a ruckus with television broadcasters at last year's Confederations Cup - it's national flags that can been seen waving in the wind all over the city.


``The World Cup is great, great, great thing for us,'' said Nathan Murindagamo, a 24-year-old unemployed South African who is now making money by selling flags on the streets. ``People are prepared to spend money. Everybody is happy.''

The fruit of their labor can be seen all over the city. Cars are speeding through the busy streets of the city with the blue and white Greek flag flying from their window, and restaurants and bars proudly display their roots with the red and green Portuguese flag, or the green, white and red Italian flag.

Of course, the multitude of colors that make up the South African flag are everywhere, even on rearview mirrors. Murindagamo said the flags of Brazil, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal are following close behind.

Large flags cost about 150 rand ($20), and Toronga said he makes about 800 rand ($100) on a good day.

Many South Africans are counting on the World Cup to create an economic boom in the country. More than 40 percent of South Africans live below the poverty line set by their government and a quarter of the work force is unemployed, but the World Cup is helping people like Toronga and Murindagamo to better care for themselves and their families.

``I am selling a lot. It is good,'' Murindagamo said. ``The World Cup is helping to unite our country.''