Big names come out in support of cricketer after opposition to his views leads to racially charged debate
FORMER black Proteas stars including Makhaya Ntini, Hashim Amla, Paul Adams, Vernon Philander, JP Duminy and Herschelle Gibbs have come out in strong support of Lungi Ngidi and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
They have also called on Cricket SA (CSA) to urgently address the racial division within the sport.
Ngidi, 24, has been the centre of a storm since last week when he stated: “As a nation… we have a past that is also difficult in terms of racial discrimination. So, definitely, we will be addressing it as a team. It’s something we have to take seriously and like the rest of the world is doing, take a stand.”
This prompted a confrontational response from white former Proteas Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar, Rudi Steyn and Brian McMillan, claiming “All Lives Matter”, leading to a racially charged debate on social media.
Although CSA and the SA Cricketers Association (Saca) have since issued statements pledging their support for the Black Lives Movement, there remains a great sense of injustice brewing within the black cricket community.
Saca president and former Cape Cobras captain Omphile Ramela has also written a letter to Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa, stating that CSA “must face the consequences” with regards to non-compliance in transformation.
“We commend Lungi Ngidi for supporting #BlackLivesMatter – and we’d like to add our support for it too,” the letter from the 31 players stated.
“We note the criticism aimed at Lungi for expressing his views – and we hope that Cricket South Africa, together with fellow cricketers – both present and past – will come out strongly in support of #BLM,” the players and coaches’ statement said.
“We note too that the most outspoken criticism directed at Ngidi has come via former players such as Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar, Rudi Steyn, Brian McMillan and others, and we urge that their views be challenged.
“We are not surprised at their comments. Given South Africa’s well-known past, black cricketers have borne the brunt of subtle and overt racist behaviour for many years, including from some colleagues. Consequently, there is a need to understand how white privilege feeds into the perpetuation of these old attitudes and assumptions.”
The statement did not include any white players, past or present, or white coaches due to the fact that black ex-players and coaches wanted to take a unified stand in expressing their voice.
“All the signatories to the release stated that they have stories to tell about the racism they have had to endure as they strove to get to the top of their sporting careers. It is important to bring these into the open, and for CSA to support black cricketers who come forward to air their stories,” the statement read.
The full list of players and coaches who signed: Makhaya Ntini, Vernon Philander, Ashwell Prince, Paul Adams, JP Duminy, Charl Langeveldt, Mfuneko Ngam, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Justin Ontong, Herschelle Gibbs, Roger Telemachus, Wayne Parnell, Monde Zondeki, Omar Henry, Alfonso Thomas, Victor Mpitsang, Henry Davids, Loots Bosman, Henry Williams, Alviro Petersen, Thandi Tshabalala, Rory Kleinveldt, Thami Tsolekile, Dane Piedt, Garnett Kruger, Shafiek Abrahams, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Eddie Leie, Imraan Khan, Hashim Amla, Ethy Mbhalati, Geoffrey Toyana, Wandile Gwavu, Rivash Gobind, Mandla Mashimbyi and Faiek Davids.
Support for Ngidi has also come from the Saru Sacos Legends, a non-racial governing body during apartheid. “We are constantly on the outside looking in and have come to believe it to be deliberate marginalisation, aided and abetted by some of our own. The responses to our requests is to ‘move on’, ‘the past is the past’, ‘playing the race card’, and all the while the exclusive Springbok history of yesteryear’s apartheid past is continually rammed down our throats,” the organisation said in a statement.
“We stand firmly and squarely behind Lungi Ngidi’s call, as we believe ‘All Lives Matter’ only until such time as ‘Black Lives Matter’.”