Home Opinion and Features If ‘we’ have won, where’s the victory?

If ‘we’ have won, where’s the victory?


GREY MUTTER: How can South Africans hope to be united in a fight against an unknown enemy when we are fighting amongst ourselves? asks Lance Fredericks.

OR Tambo International in Johannesburg was festive on Tuesday as thousands of excited fans pitched up to welcome home our Rugby World Cup champions, the Springboks. Pictures. Itumeleng English, Independent Newspapers.

RIGHT, so now what? After a harrowing and heroic campaign “we” have won the Rugby World Cup, so now where to from here?

In his post-match interview, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi spoke about inspiring hope through what was achieved in Paris in that thrilling game on Saturday night.

Kolisi spoke about how much the team appreciated the support of the Springbok fans. “The way that they have been behind us from the beginning,” he said, “There’s so much that’s going wrong with our country, we are basically the last line of defence …”

I must admit that I don’t fully understand what the skipper means by a rugby team being a “last line of defence” for a country, but I am sure he spoke from the heart.

He continued, “There are so many people who come from where I come from who are in hopeless (situations). There’s so much division in the country, but we (the Bok team) show, as people with different backgrounds, that it is possible to work together in South Africa, not just on the rugby field but in life in general.”

Well said! Methinks he hit the nail on the head.

Even SA President Cyril Ramaphosa made special mention of Kolisi’s post-match interview, writing in a heartfelt letter of praise: “The interview that Siya Kolisi gave shortly after the team’s win on Saturday will be remembered as one of the most poignant and meaningful from a sports person in our country.”

“Poignant and meaningful” … to me that says that our country’s leader believes that our rugby team’s leader has said something that can make a difference to struggling people in our struggling country.

But what did Kolisi say? Has anyone wondered how having a team being Rugby World Champions is going to benefit Mzansi?

Recently, it was revealed that Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber had been planning for France 2023 since as far back as early 2018. They took over a struggling team and began plotting a five-year plan to build a squad.

This means that the Boks had an actual plan. They had to look at themselves first; toughen up, get fit and refine their skills through hours and hours of dedicated, disciplined and rigorous training.

They then had to plan strategies and analyse opponents; preparing for different altitudes, weather conditions and even make contingencies for unforeseen curveballs. Ultimately, as a team, the Springboks had to gel as a unit and learn to trust each other, and even love each other as brothers.

Then, with them conditioned, prepared and united, they could go forward and take on the world’s best, which they did successfully.

But how can South Africans plan for anything if we don’t have a goal? How can we prepare for an enemy when we cannot even identify our foe? And then how can we hope to be united in a fight against an unknown enemy when we are fighting amongst ourselves?

So what are the problems we need to overcome as a nation? Could it be what a friend and I discussed this past weekend? Our phone conversation went like this:

Me: “Hey there bud, tell me, do you guys have water at your place?”

Friend: “Yes, we have water, but our power is off!”

Me: “Eish! We have power over here, but no water!”

Then on Monday, believing the predictions of heavy rain, I decided to drive our gardener home, rather than having him get soaked and sick. On the way to his place, we negotiated the series of speed humps that have been built all along Hercules Street and at regular intervals down the entire Fabricia Road.

As we bobbed over our sixth speed hump, he said out loud, speaking to himself: “Die ‘minspalteit’ maak hompe met die teer, plaas van die gate toe stop!” (The municipality is building speed humps with the tar, instead of filling the potholes).

So are potholes, water shutdowns and blackouts our enemies? I ask because identifying the wrong enemy could mean that you will be ill-prepared for the battle.

What I found interesting about the Springboks’ success story is how the director of rugby and the coach came alongside the team, forged relationships and became part of their players’ families.

Whether you love the Boks or loathe them, you may have to admit … that was the key ingredient in the successful recipe – leaders in the trenches with their team.

I compare the attitude of the rugby team’s leaders with the country’s leaders – seeing as our president drew the comparison.

This week social media was abuzz with pictures of ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula dressed in what can only be described as “the wrong” yellow tracksuit. Mbalula’s jaundiced jumpsuit caught the attention of the nation for all the wrong reasons.

I couldn’t imagine why anyone would wear something like that and I was interested in what a woolly, yellow, baggy Dolce and Gabbana tracksuit would set one back. My research pointed to a price tag in excess of R40,000; however, someone else pointed out that it was closer to R29,000 – which is still a hefty chunk of change.

It’s not my intention to troll someone else for how they choose to live their life, what they choose to wear and on what they spend their salary. But on the streets of our Rugby World Cup winning country people are increasingly speaking about how our leadership has lost sight of the daily struggles South Africans are facing – from the inconvenience of potholes and water cuts to hijackings, home invasions and spiralling substance abuse, not to mention rampant unemployment and poverty.

In the knockout phase of the competition, the Springboks had enemies that they could identify – France, England and the mighty All Blacks. At one time South Africans also had a common foe – apartheid – and everyone got together to fight and apparently defeated that enemy. But these days, now that apartheid has been vanquished, what enemy should we turn against?

How do you fight apathy, greed, negligence in others and despondency in oneself? How can South Africans steel themselves for battle if they don’t know who the enemy is, or its strength?

The Bok captain said “it is possible to work together in South Africa, not just on the rugby field but in life in general”, but with South Africa being buffeted and blasted by so many unforeseen storms I find what Robert K Greenleaf said pretty interesting: “The most serious failure of leadership is the failure to foresee.”

Oh, and one final thought, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric is credited with saying something that SA’s leaders could maybe consider: “When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.”

The Bok coaches have succeeded in their leadership roles, so now the ball is in the country’s leaders’ court.

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