How sad that Siya Kolisi was SA’s Moment of the Month
Disappointing that his appointment as captain took more than 24 years into South Africa’s democracy
Siya Kolisi leading the Springboks onto the Ellis Park pitch for the first Test against England on June 9 was indeed a special moment.
It came after a racially turbulent time for rugby in South Africa. Former Bok turned analyst Ashwin Willemse had made accusations of racism, and there were reports of racist behaviour by members of a Roodepoort team directed against the black players in a Wanderers side.
The appointment of Kolisi, the first black African to skipper the Springboks, provided a tonic against such racial undertones. And it was undoubtedly enhanced by the Boks winning the three-match series against England.Kolisi running onto the field has been nominated by Laureus for its Moment of the Month.
“Uniting the Rainbow Nation” has three contenders, with the most serious competition probably coming from “The heart of Manchester”, which details how Nathan Rae ran 100km in a heart shape around Manchester as a tribute to the victims of the terror attack there a year ago. There’s also “Farewell to Iniesta” and “Shane Warne Junior”.
The “Uniting the Rainbow Nation” video clip on the voting page (https://mylaureus.com/) says at one point: “Siya’s appointment as captain was a historic moment for the unity of the once divided country.”
How true. But equally, how sad that it took more than 24 years into South Africa’s democracy.
The nation got its first black African president in 1994 and first black African chief justice in 2005.But rugby had to wait until 2018 for the first black African Springbok captain. By the way, it’s old hat for football, but cricket has yet to name a black African captain, with Ashwell Prince being the first player of colour to lead a team, in Tests, in 2006, with Hashim Amla taking over from him in that and the limited overs formats in 2011.
It’s unfortunate that Kolisi was the Springboks’ first black African captain, and not the third or fourth.
Kolisi’s appointment has been an inspiration. However, it would also be foolish to think that this signals the end of the racial polarisation in this country.The SuperSport investigation that returned a finding of no proof of racism by Willemse’s co-analysts, Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, seemed to do little by way of shifting pre-set impressions of guilt.
Those who believed Willemse was out of line feel vindicated, and those who believed there was substance to his claims insist, as Willemse does, that the probe was flawed.
And what about the white people, like some of those Roodepoort players, apparently, who still verbally abuse black people with the K-word in 2018? Was Kolisi’s appointment a Damascus moment for them? Unlikely.In fact they will probably start smirking should the Springboks underperform in the upcoming Rugby Championship or even the World Cup next year.
What Kolisi’s appointment does give us, however, is hope. Making it count at the coalface of the Rainbow Nation is up to every South African.