Defend Truth


Hope is a dangerous, but necessary drug

Lance Claasen works in reputation management. He has over 20 years experience in media. He has worked for Kaya FM, 702 and Cape Talk. He is not to be confused with his twin brother Larry Claasen who is Deputy Editor of at Moneyweb.

It is easy to castigate and criticise Ntsiki Mazwai and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi for their contrarian views around the Rugby World Cup win, especially when there are clear flaws in fact and tone. They do, however, have a role to play in bringing us down from that happy, but necessary drug called hope.

Just when we thought the concept of the rainbow nation was dead and buried, Siya Kolisi and his band of green and gold warriors revived its corpse back to magnificent life. But unlike the earlier Mandela version that glossed over history and divisions, where black people did the reconciling and white people did the celebrating, things have changed.

This time round, Kolisi and Coach Rassie Erasmus drew attention to SA’s many challenges.

When asked if the team felt under pressure Erasmus responded:

In South Africa, pressure is not having a job. Pressure is one of your close relatives being murdered… There are a lot of problems in South Africa – which are real pressure. Rugby shouldn’t be something that creates pressure, rugby should be something that creates hope… Hope is when you play well and people watch on Saturday at a nice barbeque and feel good after, no matter your political differences, or your religious differences.”

And when asked if winning the World Cup was his childhood dream, Kolisi answered:

When I was a kid, all I was thinking about was getting my next meal.”

The win does not solve SA’s problems, but it does generate the hope that things can change – the sort of hope that can lead to all sorts of audacious things. The hope that banned organisations with jailed leaders could lead a country. The hope that young people who were made the promise of free education can see their needs addressed and taken seriously.

But hope unrewarded is a bitter pill to swallow. Thus, the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and poet Ntsiki Mazwai’s comments disparaging the World Cup victory are born of treading down the road of false hope too many times. Though terrible in their timing, misguided in content and completely misreading the country’s mood, their comments should not be discounted out of hand. Instead, they offer a much-needed alternative reflection on the national pulse post the win.

Things are not right. Most South Africans know this and are happy to have this epic moment offer respite from the daily grind of their increasingly harder lives. While anger might be righteous and blind hope dangerous, Mazwai and Ndlozi offer no alternate vision of what SA can and should be. Mired in their righteousness, they reflect the realities of where we are as a nation, but offer no alternative future for South Africans.

Perhaps the competing views of SA’s reality and future can find common ground in Makazole Mapimpi, the first player to score a try for SA in a World Cup final. Of the entire squad, he is the only player who spent his school career exclusively in the poor black rural school system. He attended Jim Mvabaza school in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape. While his road into the history books is exceptional, it is unacceptable that the young people whom he inspires will have to be just as exceptional as him in attaining their own ambitions. His success should be celebrated.

It is a clear indictment that for black people to succeed in sport and beyond they have to use the infrastructure built by apartheid for the most part. The graveyard of SA’s potential lies in the fact we have not created new systems, processes and infrastructure to unleash SA’s latent talent, whether it be in Soweto or Mitchells Plain.

Maybe it is here where Ndlozi can give us hope, by holding those in power to account and putting forward legislation that can make this happen. He is an intelligent, insightful MP and has the agency to do so.

Mazwai in her video talks passionately of black rugby players who have been maligned and persecuted. She is right to do so. But maybe she should speak to the 14 black Boks who lifted the cup, not only the seven she acknowledged in the video. She is a storyteller and they all need their stories told.

It is easy to castigate and criticise Mazwai and Ndlozi for their contrarian views, especially when there are flaws in fact and tone. They do, however, have a clear role to play in bringing us down from that happy, but necessary drug called hope. We need voices like theirs to provide more than a critique of our society; however, they should also offer us an alternative vision for it.

SA has reached a stage where going forth blindly in hope is of no help to anyone. While brooding on reality can be paralysing, we need a new vision and a hope that is based in reality and not on that colourful meteorological phenomenon in the sky. DM


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