Neil Coppen

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The Selective Memory of National Pride

October23

No one wants to shit on the Springboks parade. Only cynical idiots might dare to do such a thing at such a time and thereby risk the wrath of a nation (or rather national minority). Yes it is a welcome victory, in my limited understanding of the Game-a well fought or mauled one. However no blood, testosterone and tears, no Boerewors bravado can conceal the discrepancies that arise when the Sunday Tribune prints the front page title ‘WE DID IT’ above picture of the glowing Bok’s and opportunistic Mbeki. A collective all inclusive pronoun, ‘OUR’ united nation, yes ‘WE’ (supposedly) collectively did it.

There is nothing in itself wrong with ‘WE’: the combined support of fans, the tenacity and skill of the Boks’ through four years of trail and tribulation, no doubt all contribute and culminate in much deserved victory. Where ‘We’ and the ultimately useless ideology of national association and pride come into play is that if ‘WE’ as a nation are accepting responsibility for a South Africa’s victories (Hence elevating its president on their shoulders) then so to must WE ‘face up’ and associate ourselves with its losses, its blunders, it multitude of cock up’s.

Boring! You yawn and turn the page. Well try turn the same page of the newspaper-see the glaring image of tragically slain reggae icon Lucky Dube. Try put the title ‘We did it’ over that. No rather ‘THEY’ did it. ‘THEY’ of course being the government, the criminals, the destitute, the down trodden- the everyone else- the others, no not ‘I’ and most certainly not “WE!’. This can be applied to just about every other article that expounds on about the deceit, corruption, avarice of our ailing nation. And yes ‘WE’ deserve the transitory escapism of the moment. Admittedly ‘glory’, ‘relief’ is hard to come by, euphoria of this nature all too fleeting and ephemeral. So yes, let’s loose our heads and enjoy it while it lasts cause come next Sunday there will be no ‘WE’s only ‘YOU’S and THEM’S.

Again I reiterate my disdain is not over the Bok’s ‘Victory’- hardly, rather in
the blaring contradiction that is Mbeki being raised on the shoulders of hulking green men, grasping the slippery gold cup in his palm for a quick photoop (Enjoy it while you can some might say). ‘Ah Solidarity’ the world coos, isn’t that nice. Solidarity, I say and so the whole world comes to a stand still.

Here is a team who nobly refuse to wear blazers in act of defiance over on of
their coaches not been granted the right to wear one too (due to his non Serf–Efricaness) but in the same panting breath bare a incompetent, dangerous, deceitful dare I say negligent ‘dictator’ high on their shoulders. A crowning glory or humiliation? You decide. Politics is not so easily washed away, rather it remains an indelible grass skid mark/shit stain on the Omo washed white pants of the players. This is after all a world wide acknowledgement, a statement, a dishonest symbol of unity. Immortalized now (At the regret and mercy of histories photo shop erasing skills) in news papers, news casts across the globe. ‘WE’ as a nation salute you Mr Mbeki, all is forgotten while we hold and carry you (messiah like) above the roaring masses. All is forgotten while we drink ourselves into oblivion and party like its 1999. As for the hoards of exiled Saffers bellowing in
London pubs do they stand as ‘We’? Perhaps ,for remember in this case all that matters (racial slurs, South Africa bashing aside) is that it is ‘OUR’ nation’s victory, ‘OUR’ nation’s pride and you Mr Mbeki (just for the moment) OUR nations ever benevolent Granddaddy. Does this mean next week we may return to reviling you, criticizing, scorning you. Writing bleeding heart (and ultimately ignored)letters’ to your office about the escalating crime/aids/corruption (you name it) rates, once again pit ‘WE’ against ‘THEM’ when we realize the futility/stupidity of our collaboration, of foolishly having let down our guard.

Must we be so fickle as too forget the accumulated insanity of his government in the name of a one night stand. No this is not Mr Mandela, nor post 1994 euphoria. As Mr Dyaln once sung - the times they have a changed.

Mbeki stood incongruous -an awkward and unwanted accessory in the good o’l name of international rep and nation building. Politics and Sports sadly inexorably wound into one. ‘Go Bokke’ I say- as a pride of devoted, skilled, world champions but lets just bare in mind that in the selective context and memory of our country ‘WE’ did and continue to do nothing except complain.

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