South African President Jacob Zuma officially opened the 29th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) soccer tournament at the National Stadium in Soweto, south of Johannesburg, on Saturday.

Zuma lifted a flame after the opening ceremony, which had started on schedule at 16:00, with a distinctly African theme, as a heavy downpour subsided.

Structures resembling brick walls were assembled on the pitch with the words “poverty” painted in black and “HIV/Aids” painted in red.

The entire soccer field was covered in rainbow-coloured material. Masses of children danced on the material, and after joining in the centre of the field, the children took apart the structures piece by piece.

The rain began two hours before the ceremony was due to start, but lightened about an hour before the start.

Most of the crowd took shelter behind the stands during the ceremony. The seats were left almost completely empty as supporters waited for the rain to stop.

The majority of fans were dressed in yellow in support of Bafana Bafana, who were set to face Cape Verde Islands in the opening match at 18:00.

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