Clem Sunter

A glimpse of what can be

2010-05-26 12:28

Two cutaway shots of crowd scenes during the game said it all. I am talking about the rugby match between the Bulls and the Crusaders at Orlando Stadium last Saturday.

One showed a white Bulls supporter built like a Mack Truck blowing his blue vuvuzela for all he was worth. The other zoned in on some black supporters likewise blowing vuvuzelas in very colourful African dress. The scenes cut straight across the conventional paradigm that South Africa is still a racially divided society and there is no hope for it.

I know that the response from some quarters will be that these shots were entirely symbolic; the fans could hardly get there in time because of traffic jams in Soweto; and life returned to dead-end normality on Monday dodging the criminals. Yet, it’s a start and indicates what a powerful motivator of change success can be.

For it wasn’t just victory in Soweto. It was victory at Newlands where the highlight of the Stormers-Waratahs game was Juan de Jongh jinking past three of the opposition players to score a try close to the posts. It was victory at the one day international cricket game against the West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium as a result of Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers both scoring centuries.

In 1967, a book was published on South Africa called A Very Strange Society by Allen Drury. We are indeed strange, but that makes us an interesting laboratory where experiments can herald exciting advances in interracial behaviour or reveal the flaws that we still have to overcome. Indeed, in South Africa we break religious barriers as well, as is exemplified by the harmonious relationship between Jews and Muslims in many a business venture.

Towards the end of The World and South Africa in the 1990s, a book I wrote in 1987, I said the following: “The most critical part of the vision is to put all South Africans first, plain and simple. ‘Being South African’ entails looking beyond the categories of colour and groups and realising that individuals are far more complex phenomena with a myriad of associations other than those two. The individual is the basic building-block of mankind; each of us would not possess free will if it were otherwise. The best analogy as to why South Africans should put each other first is that of a sinking ship with the officers arguing on the bridge. If they go on arguing till the salt water covers their mouths, they all drown. It is in everyone’s interest to man the pumps and stop the ship sinking.”

Sport has provided a glimpse of what can be in this beautiful country. I would hate to give a prediction on the outcome of the Super14 final next weekend, except to say that rugby has already scored a magnificent victory. As one Bulls fan, Corrie Moolman, said about the atmosphere in the Orlando Stadium: “It’s just electrifying. It’s like a disease. It will infect you.” Even Julius Malema seems to be caught up in the new mood. He is reported to have sung “Kiss the Boer” at a recent ANCYL conference!

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