Khune, why say sorry?

2014-02-02 10:00

Itumeleng Khune was arrested for speeding and gave all South Africans something he should not have: an apology.

He did not owe us an apology, but he felt he needed to give us one. He is already in prison. The prison of fame.

The limelight is both a magical and cruel thing. It transforms ordinary citizens to extraordinary idols and pressures flawed human beings to be saint-like in their conduct and “deeply remorseful” when they miss God-like perfection. This was the case when it came to Khune.

He apologised to us, not because he was speeding, but because he is famous.

When last did you apologise to anyone for driving faster than you should have on the road? Did you quote Nelson Mandela and endeavour to be a “better person” because of your indiscretion on the highway? Khune did. Some may say he was being overdramatic and by some, I do mean, me. But I understand.

“Be perfect and don’t let us down.” That’s the unspoken agreement between celebrities and society. That is the pressure that the public puts on the gifted. That is the price of attention.

Khune is not a special man. He’s a goalkeeper by profession. We have made him special simply because he is good at what he does. Think about what we have done to him, as a nation.

We have elevated a 26-year-old guy who stops balls from entering soccer nets and made him the picture of exemplary behaviour, or a role model for the country. It’s an unfair burden to carry for simply being good at what you do. Khune says he was deeply remorseful for speeding.

Be perfect or else … South Africans love heroes. We find superstars and without knowing anything about them, outside of how good they are at what they do, we promote and parade them as role models. We did it to Jub Jub, Hansie Cronje and Oscar Pistorious (the list is endless), and we knew nothing about these men except what they do in their careers.

Khune did not owe anybody an apology, but he apologised because he feels the pressure of the spotlight. He is already in the prison of fame.

Every South African has junk in their lives. That is the only difference between Khune and you.

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