Transformation, A Rainbow Nation, Simunye (We are one for non-nguni language speakers), ‘New’ South Africa, inclusiveness ……the list goes on.
South Africans are amongst people in the world gifted, in fact incredibly so, at coining catchy expressions that stand for and are meant to create a sense of patriotism or positive vibes. Nonetheless, pathetically, they woefully fail at sustaining the substance of what they are intended to stand for, unlike Americans (the American Dream comes to mind).
That’s why we should not pretend to be surprised that issue of the racial profiles of the World Cup-bound Springbok team has surfaced and is threatening to disrupt any semblance of camaraderie that existed in the upper echelons of the rugby administration.
If truth be told this is ‘same old, same old’.
One skill we have developed as South Africans is to elect to have a romantic view of issues that need to be fixed, though evidence proves to the contrary. This corrupted view has made us pretend that players of colour selected to be part of the the Springbok teams since 2005 have been there on merit and not to tick boxes of the Black Quota checklist.
The reality is that the Quota players have just made the numbers warming the bench or assisting in training. Conveniently, TV cameras beam at them show them jubilating with their white counterparts in a brotherly embrace after a win, desperate to prove that “We are a Rainbow Nation Desmond Tutu talked about.”
This brings to mind the case of Odwa Ndungane. Ndungwane, a seasoned campaigner for the Sharks, has retired from the Springboks after years of being a fringe player or being fielded in inconsequential games. This, either blatantly reflected the technical team’s lack of confidence in his capabilities or the availability of players of better qualities in his position. Was he not good enough to earn only a handful caps? This is best left to one’s own judgment.
Our obsession with seeing a balanced racial mix in the Springboks, or national teams in other sporting codes, outweighs the fact that there is paucity of structures at the grassroots level (especially in townships) to produce capable black prospects who could graduate into accomplished players. We, embarrassingly fall short in this regard.
Let’s get the structures in order and put this debate to bed! Sincerety not emotions are needed.
Transform SA Online Columnist, Sanjeev ‘Mahatma’ Gupta is based in Chatsworth, KZN. Outspoken in issues he holds strong views in, he has stepped on people’s feet without remorse. He has endured libel cases and still stands strong.Share this article on Social Networks