News / Africa

Mandela’s Sporting Vision United South Africa

Mandela's Sporting Vision United South Africai
X
December 13, 2013 4:28 PM
The sporting world has been paying tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela, who died last week. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from Johannesburg, sports played a key unifying role in the years following the end of white minority rule in South Africa.
Henry Ridgwell
The sporting world has been paying tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela since his death last week. 

Sports played a key role in the fight against apartheid and, in the years that followed, the end of white minority rule.

In the black township of Sharpeville in 1960, South African security forces shot dead 67 people who were protesting new apartheid laws. In response, the International Olympic Committee banned South Africa from the Games. It was the start of a long battle between apartheid and sports.

Another flashpoint came four years later, when Basil d'Oliveira, a mixed-race South African cricketer, was selected by English club team the MCC to tour his homeland. Mixed-race teams were banned in South Africa.

Then South African Prime Minister John Vorster strongly defended segregation and the tour was abandoned.

"The team as constituted now is not the team of the MCC. It is the team of the anti-apartheid movement," Vorster said.

Anti-apartheid protestors targeted South African teams. Several major sports federations boycotted South Africa.

Speaking in 1995, Mandela described the power of the boycotts.

"Against sports they were really paralyzed," explained Mandela. "There was nothing that they could do. For them to be regarded as the polecat of the world and to be isolated from sports completely was one of the biggest blows against South Africa."

The end of apartheid prompted a rapid return to the international fold.

Dr. Ali Bacher, captain of the South African cricket team in 1969, says Mandela was visionary.

“He knew how important sport was to the people of this country. And ultimately when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, it was unbelievable what happened in this country," said Bacher.  "The doors started to open.”

He added rugby and cricket, played mostly by white South Africans, were still seen as symbolic of apartheid. Then on home turf in 1995, South Africa beat the favored New Zealand All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final.

Mandela, by then president, presented the trophy wearing the Springbok jersey. Bacher was there.

“The whole crowd were chanting ‘Nelson! Nelson! Nelson!’ They loved him.”

On the streets of townships like Soweto, black South Africans joined the celebrations. Rugby - once divisive - united the country.

Mandela helped South Africa win the right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup and made his last public appearance at the final. And it was in the same Johannesburg stadium where, fittingly, South Africans bid their final farewell to the anti-apartheid hero in this week’s memorial.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More