Should the untransformed Springboks be shunned by South Africans?


Three buses danced along the highway, bringing a contagious hum of celebration and cheers to motorists on an otherwise unspectacular Friday afternoon.

“Bok-ke. Bok-ke. Bok-ke. BOK-KE” The chant of black children, visibly excited, on their way to the airport to see off the white Springbok team.

A childâ€s delight, a sporting team poised for glory on the worldâ€s stage and a wave of patriotic euphoria sounds like a good story to tell. It would be if it was not scripted around an unbearably untransformed national rugby team and lily white symbols of achievement and excellence. This makes it a story for scorn, not celebration.

Seventy four percent of the team is white. Since 1992, only 20 black Africans have formed part of the national rugby squad, of this African country.

The Springbok is an exquisite creature, prized for its speed and dexterity, not this labouring, impotent beast, unable or unwilling to be a positive player in the crafting of a just nation. The Springbok team, in its current form, remains a symbol of racism and we should protect our children by shunning this team.

I have never supported South African rugby. To me, it has always been a terrifying carnival of white male dominance. A symbol of a highly oppressive racist yesteryear that fractured the dreams and hopes of generations of black South Africans.

I don’t get it. How are so many black South Africans supporting this team? How are so many black children being paraded, in Springbok costumes, as mascots for racism?

And in Biko’s month!

I expect it of white people. To be greens, that is. For most white people, celebratory displays of inter-racial embraces within the sporting arena signal unity and reconciliation. White people remain complacently satisfied in the afterglow of such rainbow nation exchanges.

But are black South Africans now trading in black for green, in the name of patriotism?

In a television interview this weekend, Black Consciousness activist and author, Andile Mngxitama, spoke of the absurdity of black people clapping and rooting for a Springbok team that does not represent them. His newly formed political movement, BlackFirst LandFirst, called for a boycott against the Boks. A call supported by the Soweto rugby union.

Patriotism is about putting South Africa first. Supporting a white-dominated Springbok team is unpatriotic, for it snubs out the hopes of a truly transformed country.

Steve Biko, who was brutally murdered by the butchers of apartheid, and whose legacy we recently commemorated said, “Blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that they should be playing.”

It is time to own the playing field.

Kim Heller is a political strategist and an advocate for economic liberation.


  1. What an over simplified bunch of rubbish. There is so much more than just black vs white. Come on. They are still South African, even if they are not black. I will support them.

  2. Wut? Just wut? Is there any actual substance to this argument besides thinly veiled racism? How did this pathetic excuse for an article pass any form of Editor?

    It assumes premises, draws them along illogically and then tries to incite racist fervour. This is the type of crap which makes people angry at the media.

  3. Did the writer ever think that maybe black kids are just not keen on playing rugby and would prefer another sport? Look at america – see any black players playing hockey? But they dominate in basketball and football.

  4. 20 players in 20 years is terrible, but who is to blame for this, and who should be boycotted?

    If you don’t grow up watching and playing a sport you are not going to care about it. The sports department and SABC have spent years looting public treasury and very little developing sport. If you are young black and poor you aren’t going to be watching or playing rugby, and that is largely the fault of this government and it’s departments. No one should be surprised that their is racism in rugby, but punishing the players and not the ministers over this is unfair.

  5. “I donâ€t get it. How are so many black South Africans supporting this team? …I expect it of white people. To be greens, that is.”

    Wait, why are we holding black and white South Africans to different standards again? Isn’t that the thing that got us here in the first place?

    Also, if you’re disillusioned with the boks, then find us another team/sports to support and spend and rather energy on convincing us why we should all support them. Less attention on the negative, more attention on the positive.


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