I love cricket and my love for this sport was born out of taking pleasure from seeing South Africa getting thrashed by the West Indies in the early 1990s during my student days. Then it was mandatory for a Black person to support whatever team was playing against South Africa. Seating next to white students and cheering at the top of your voice and knowing that for once a white person will not call you Kaffir to your face and looking at them seething with anger was just priceless (and it was pretty empowering too).
This trip down memory lane is brought about by the happenings down under where SA is taking on Australia. It looks like once again Australia is going to spank our little behind for thinking we can beat them. It looks like we are going to get a hiding down under by a team that was recently comprehensively thrashed by India. It started pretty well as always but once a few wickets were lost panic set in and the rest if familiar history. I call it feeble South African mentality.
You see it everywhere, in soccer, in rugby and life in general.Our soccer has not progressed since 1996 because when the tough times came we have always folded like a deck of cards. We are easily excitable and we easily give in. When times are tough we normally do not want to associate with the loser, we would rather call for him to be fired. Coaches in our domestic and national soccer get changed every year because "they cannot deliver". Nobody thinks about the need for continuity. And oh! we also celebrate mediocrity....remember when we went to the soccer world cup in 2002 and came back after the first round with one win...our boys were celebrated as heroes. Or remember how we celebrated recently after beating Australia in the tri-nations when that did not mean a thing.
As a nation we are good at winning meaningless contests but when it comes to the real tests we fail dismally. We can beat Nigeria during friendly games but when it comes to official competitions we fail dismally. We cannot say much about Athletics and swimming in this country. It is true that government is just paying lip service to sports development in this country, but then aren't all African governments. Most of the athletes in the African continent make it out of sheer will without any resources to talk of. In South Africa unfortunately that will has been lost and cannot be rediscovered.
Pirates, Chiefs, Moroka Swallows and all the other teams used to be good because they were playing with a passion. A passion to show the apartheid masters that as a Black people they will never be crushed. The passion of players in those days was informed by their pride, their suffering and a need to express themselves in only a way they can. With the dawn of the rainbow nation all that passion and pride has dissipated. I am inclined to think that it has a lot to do with a lot of selling our souls that happened with the sunset clauses and the TRC's.
I believe the mentality that is driving our sports men in the majority is limited to being as good as white South Africans. Remember during the apartheid days blacks could beat them at their games with no resources to speak off. I am not for nationalism but I believe we lack a spirit of nationalism. We do not have a common identity that will make us swell with pride and want to excel in whatever we do.
Part two coming soon.