- Siya Kolisi rolled the red carpet for his Zwide community, to whom he gave an exclusive global screening of his new life film, Rise: The Siya Kolisi Story.
- The Springbok World Cup-winning captain was enraptured in rip-roaring amaGwijo renditions throughout his Gqeberha homecoming.
- The story airs on DStv channels on 26 February, and shows Kolisi's journey in incredible detail and cutting candour.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi treated his Zwide community, his birthplace in Gqeberha, to the most heart-warming global exclusive screening of his soon-to-be-released documentary film on his life, Rise: The Siya Kolisi Story.
Schoolchildren from Loyiso High School and Isaac Booi Senior Primary School, Gogos and Zwide commonfolk gathered for free under one stretch tent at Isaac Booi on Saturday to experience what can only be described as a moving celebration of Kolisi's life.
At Kolisi's insistence, no one was a VIP and everybody was a VVIP.
Umkhokheli @SiyaKolisi x iGwijo, a marriage made in Zwide. ??????????#RISESiyaKolisi pic.twitter.com/qUAkcSU5u5— Sibusiso Mjikeliso (@Sbu_Mjikeliso) January 28, 2023
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There was no separation between the classes; everyone sat with everyone and had access to the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning captain in the flesh.
It didn't matter if you were Roc Nation president Michael Yormark, SuperSport CEO Marc Jury, a MultiChoice executive, a street vendor, Kolisi's kinfolk, Kolisi Foundation entourage, a fabulous influencer, media, hobo or pauper, you drank the same drinks and ate the same delicious traditional food.
It was typical Kolisi - wanting people from all walks of life to come together under one South African umbrella.
Although dressed in a standout MaXhosa by Laduma cardigan, it didn't stop the Sharks' European captain from mixing it in with his people.
He sang amaGwijo (isiXhosa traditional songs) at the frequent behest of children and he admitted to the writer during the entire sweaty but fun-filled "ordeal" that "they always get me with amaGwijo".
Kolisi loved every second of it.
View picture gallery below:
Before heading to Zwide and the crescendo of noise and singing that greeted him there, Kolisi took media guests, film producers, friends and executives from MultiChoice and Roc Nation through some important landmarks that illuminated his path to success along the journey.
The first stop was Grey High School, which features the Siya Kolisi Field, the school's main rugby and cricket field that was named in his honour.
He greeted the teachers who shaped his pliant young mind.
A small group of junior students stopped what they were doing and tailed the entourage. One boy screamed: "Siya, bru!"
To which Kolisi replied: "It's Sir, bru!" A chorus of laughter rang out. The innocuous moment showed how relatable he was that a boy, likely no older than 13, would abandon his school manners at seeing him - like he was seeing an older brother he's known his whole life.
From Grey, the group took a turn to an informal settlement called Rolihlahla, named after the late great statesman Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Here, Kolisi spoke about his mother's house, where she lived, gave birth to his two half-siblings, Liyema and Liphelo, and where she died in 2009.
People there, living in squalor, were so happy to see someone of Kolisi's stature that they cried out to him that they were hungry and had nothing to eat, as if he was a politician campaigning for votes.
Except he is nothing like a politician (far from it) and their cries, valid as they were, showed how desperate they were to be heard that they'd even plead with a rugby player.
Kolisi arrived in Zwide and a crowd immediately gathered around his childhood home, which was purposefully not refurbished because Kolisi wanted to retain the aesthetic (if you can even call the two-room adjoining house that) of where he grew up, so people could see it and draw inspiration.
He got a Gwijo send-off at his home and welcome at Isaac Booi SP School, where the main event was.
Before the screening, Kolisi took Q&A questions from the community, who weren't asking more than they were congratulating, as if it was a graduation ceremony or a wedding.
One elderly woman who knew Kolisi from childhood spoke of how proud his mother, Phakama, would have been to see how far he'd gone. It was a moving moment that cast respectful silence over the more than a thousand people under the tent.
The film itself was a joy to watch and, at its conclusion, cries of "Siya! Siya! Siya!" rang out and the obligatory Gwijo soon after. The school kids draped in their uniform (on a Saturday) stormed the main stage to engulf him in song once again.
Kolisi gave the last word before himself going on a solo Gwijo signing salvo, almost as if he didn't want the celebration to end.
Rise: The Siya Kolisi Story airs on 26 February at 17:00 on M-Net and Mzansi Magic and at 20:00 on SuperSport.