Boets, the larst thing we need is a naartjie in our sosatie


Boets, the larst thing we need is a naartjie in our sosatie

So lay off your rubbish opinions on the Willemse saga


Dear chaps,
Thank you for getting in touch with me on Facebook this week about Ashwin Willemse and how it’s getting increasingly difficult to be male and white. I can’t imagine how you cope with the strain of living simultaneously in 1904 and 2018, but I thought I’d offer a few minor observations.

If you were one of the ones who denounced political correctness and hypocrisy by pointing out that Bafana Bafana doesn’t field enough white people, you are quite right. White people comprise 8% of the population, which means any Bafana team that doesn’t field 0.88% of a white person is in breach. By the same token, however, please note that, using the 8% rule, no rugby team in this country should ever field more than 1.2% white people.
“Politics should be kept out of sport” does not mean what you think it means. I know you think it means the politics should be kept out of sport, but when you say it, what people hear is: “Hello, I subscribe to a childlike view of the world in which things happen for no reason, as if by magic. In this confusing free-for-all, sport provides me with a sacred space in which I can safeguard my most treasured hopes, dreams, frustrations and prejudices. For you to insert any kind of reality into that fantasy world is upsetting to me, and I will probably react by shouting at you.”
You are welcome to believe that Willemse is “oversensitive” and “emotional”. Just understand that this is pretty quaint coming from someone who flies into a rage and sulks for the rest of the day when one group of men fails to push a ball over a painted line more often than another group of men.
Finally, if you are amused or bitterly stimulated by how Willemse pronounces certain words, I get it. I can play that game too, because I’ve ingested the same Victorian class poison as you. But maybe it’s not a game you and I should play, because then I’ll have to point out to you that it’s “Sharks” and not “Shorks”, “other” not “udder”, that “smile” and “braai” are diphthongs – no, I don’t want to “smaal” at your “bra” and talk about “President Rammer-fozer” and “Julius Mileemer.” Petty, hey? So how about we put accent-shaming back in its nasty little box next to casual racism, and try to remember that we live in a country of 11 languages, hundreds of accents and dialects, and 50 million people who have experienced a lifetime of niggle, condescension, mockery and open hostility that you and I can’t begin to imagine?

Yours etcetera,

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email or call 0860 52 52 00.