Dashiki Dialogues – Running with the Bulls

2011-09-30 08:47

Honestly, I wish I could join in on the rugby revelry without reservation. Yes, I’m talking about the frenzy around the Springboks and their Rugby World Cup campaign that has the nation energised ... apparently.

Oh, but I’m from Pretoria. That’s why I remember drinking some sundowners with friends in Hatfield when that whole Bees Roux story broke.

Believe it or not, most of us weren’t that surprised that a gruesome story about a rugby player who allegedly beat a metro cop to death came out of Pretoria.

Anyway, this is about the Rugby World Cup’s call to patriotism.

My problem is that I’ve never felt welcome as a supporter, and perhaps I’m not the only one.

Every darkie in Blue Bulls City knows one thing for sure – if you ever find yourself at Loftus for a match and “die Bulle” happen to be losing, you’d be smart to leave the stands at least 10 minutes before the final whistle is blown, otherwise you might be blamed for the team’s loss.

And I know I sound like a party pooper, but I’ve really tried to embrace this game. But rugby is resistant to my type, at least in the administrative capital.

I know in the Eastern Cape, for instance, rugby is as huge as soccer is in Gauteng.

I remember back in college, I won a Blue Bulls poster-designing contest. The prize was a limousine ride to the match for myself and nine friends.

The ten of us were whisked off to Loftus, clad in “our” team jerseys and armed with flags ... the whole shebang!

As we drove into the stadium strip, teeming with jubilant fans, the affair was comical.

Pale-faced fans in blue cheered us on with smiles and laughter as we stuck our flags out the limo’s windows. Then they’d recoil on noticing our rather dark arms.

However, the eerie part of that encounter was the walk from the parking lot to the stands.

Our conspicuousness made us vulnerable, so we had large would-be “beasts” stalking us and hoping we would give them a reason to jump.

But we had read about the Waterkloof Four, where four teenagers from well-off families beat a homeless man to death, so we kept cool and ignored the provocation.

This feeling of being unwelcome in rugby is not helped by the apparent slowness of transformation in the sport.

On the flip side, though, it’s true that Waterkloof is also part of Azania and there’s nothing absurd about decorating our dashikis with springboks, no matter the dialogue.

I’m on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu

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