Maverick Citizen

Maverick Citizen: #RWC2019

Aweh Ma-se-Bokke!

South African rugby captain Siya Kolisi, centre, holds up the Webb Ellis Cup with his team in front of a bust of former president Nelson Mandela at the Cape Town City Hall during their trophy tour in Cape Town on 11 November 2019. Kolisi is flanked by teammates Malcom Marx, far left, Faf de Klerk, Herschel Jantjies and Cheslin Kolbe. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)
By Anso Thom
12 Nov 2019 0

To the cynics, the naysayers, the realists, the non-dreamers, this is the time to stop reading. For the dreamers, the optimists, the believers, the sports nuts, keep reading. November 11, 2019 will go down in history as the day the Cape Town wave replaced the Mexican wave.

A Springbok rugby team brought the Mother City to a standstill on Monday as wave after wave of people – in their hundreds of thousands – lined the highways and byways of the route taken by the Springbok Trophy Tour bus. The throngs of well-wishers blocked intersections and ran alongside the bus as the never-ending crowds cheered their heroes, many weeping as the parade passed.

Springbok supporters cheer the team during the trophy tour in Cape Town. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)

Toddlers hardly able to stand on their own two feet, gogos leaning on crutches, people in wheelchairs, people on rooftops, shacktops, office balconies, in trees, up poles, on top of signage boards, on car rooftops turned out in their glory. They chanted “Siya”, they chanted “Cheslin”, they chanted “Mapimpi”, they chanted “Eben”… they begged Faf to marry them, they blew kisses at Damian, they sang, they danced, they waved their flags and made a noise.

Captain Siya Kolisi set the tone for the day when he greeted the crowd with “Aweh Ma-se-kind”. (A uniquely Cape Town greeting.)

Flyhalf Handre Pollard, left, scored six penalties in the World Cup final match against England. Damien de Allende, right, played an integral part in the team’s midfield. (Photo: Noah Tobias)

Setting off in the shadows of Madiba’s statue on the City Hall balcony with an energised Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a Springbok jersey and a beaming Leah Tutu sending them off, Kolisi and his men (and wives and partners and children) took a “Kaapse Draai” from a heaving Cape Town city centre to Langa, Elsies River, Delft, Uitsig, Belville, Mitchells Plain, Ravensmead, Epping, Athlone, Bonteheuwel and beyond. Kolisi never seemed to tire, lifting the Webb Ellis trophy over and over again during the hours they were on the road. Not even the one bus breaking down on the N2, carrying mostly support stuff, could dampen spirits.

Fans walk alongside the buses in Cape Town during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Champions Tour. (Photo: Tevya Shapiro)

The thousands who turned out literally lined the N2 highway, stopping next to the road as the bus passed. In other parts, drivers simply abandoned their vehicles in the gridlock. Tsunamis of people thronged the streets. It was a sight that will no doubt stay with the team forever.

In Langa, schoolchildren ran for kilometres next to the Bok bus, waiting for it to stop before removing their school shirts and throwing them up to the players to sign.

Siya Kolisi and Francois Louw with the trophy. (Photo: Grant Pitcher / Gallo Images)

Twenty weeks after gathering for what many believed was an impossible mission of winning Rugby World Cup 2019, the team did the final mile of the trophy tour after starting in Johannesburg and going via Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth.

Kolisi roars at the crowd in Long Street. (Photo: Tevya Shapiro)

Coach Rassie Erasmus was missing in action, but many, many fans were seen holding posters simply saying: “Thank you Coach Rassie”.

As the team turned into their city centre hotel, with dusk starting to settle, the cheers of “Siya, Siya, Siya!” were still echoing in the streets. Siyabonga Bokke, Siyabonga South Africa (Thank you Bokke, thank you South Africa). Siyamthanda Bokke (We love you Bokke). MC

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, centre, holds the Webb Ellis Cup as supporters cheer the team. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)
Fans clambered into trees, on to rooftops, vehicle rooftops, anything to get the best vantage point of their heroes. Signposts were a popular choice along the route. (Photo: Anso Thom)
Many supporters who gathered in Langa said the Springboks would help bring the country together. Dozens of flags waved while the crowd sang. (Photo: Noah Tobias)
Siya Kolisi shows the Web Ellis Cup to fans in central Cape Town. (Photo: Tevya Shapiro)
Springbok supporters gather on a rooftop to cheer their heroes. (Photo: Noah Tobias)
A view of the balconies on Long Street in central Cape Town during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Champions Tour. (Photo: Tevya Shapiro)
Fans clapped and danced, their enthusiasm buoyed by the energy of the 2019 Rugby World Cup champions. (Photo: Noah Tobias)