Reaction to Takuma the Hippo, the official mascot of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations football tournament in South Africa, has been generally favorable, judging by my mailbag.
Dominic Esifa, writing from Katsina, Nigeria, describes Takuma as “very South African in nature.” The huge hippopotamus is found in South Africa and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. And while Takuma looks friendly, the hippo is regarded as one of the most aggressive and dangerous animals in Africa.
Kephers Gichana, writing from Kisii, Kenya, says Takuma is “a fine mascot,” while Terry Okomor in Benin City, Nigeria, says Takuma is “kind of cool.” Charles Jacob Kuria, writing from Nakuru, Kenya, says Takuma might even be responsible for the “lack of goals” in the tournament. Through the first eight matches, a total of 13 goals have been scored, an average of 1.6 per match.
Takuma was designed by Tumelo Nkoana, an elementary school student in Hammanskraal, a small town in South Africa’s northern province of Gauteng. Officials like Tumelo’s design so much they say after the Nations Cup, Takuma will become the mascot for all South African sports.