Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Luke Watson, standing for the truth

After reading the full transcript of Luke Watson's speech at a private function (courtesy of Die Burger!), I can only have admiration for this young leader and his father. Being myself a ardent supporter of non-racial sport in the 80s and having participated in SACOS sport, I again have to agree and lament the death of the legacy of those who fought and died for non-racial sport. Today most of these voices are silent and silenced in mainstream media, where transformation in sport and sport administration remains to be under suspicion and are ridiculed. Even today, Watson might be lynched for who he is and might be vilified and quoted out of context, yet he remains a beacon of hope that people, irrespective of their racial heritage can share the same aspirations and hopes for excellence and success in this country.

I am not convinced that Luke Watson are against the presence and role of white Afrikaanses in rugby. Jake White, former Bok coach, who led the campaign against his exclusion and who orchestrated his isolation last year, celebrated it with his 'all revealing' biography and he is of English heritage. As I read the transcript, Luke's remarks on his painful experience last year in the Bokcamp, where he should have celebrated his inclusion, makes sense, given the context as corroborated by the biography of White. Where I stand, and what maybe Watson should have said, is that indeed, there is a racist clique within SARU, that still want to keep rugby in the control of whites. They have been there before 1994 and it is unthinkable that they simply left for Australia ever since. They are still fighting their battles inside SARU and they will continue to fight all that speaks of transformation and redress of the past. Luke Watson, has the guts to stand up and speak-out the truth on this sordid state of affairs. It would fascinating to read the tell-all biographies of Brian van Rooyen or of Mike Stofile or maybe even Origen Hoskins (Am I holding my breath ?).

Does this mean that all whites are again in the dock for racism ? Does it mean that Afrikaansspeaking whites are again to be singled out for special castigation ? No, of course not. I cannot read it from the speech of Luke. He did not even addressed transformation in rugby specifically. His speech speaks more of a personal - almost a spiritual/religious transformation. What I read is a motivational talk, where he argues that transformation starts from within ourselves- by self-critique and overcoming the odds stacked against you and then he recounts his own journey, as a rugby player and as the son of another rugbyplayer, who made certain important, but also costly spiritual and political choices. One line from his speech sums it up for me, he says,
I’m not throwing some political twist to this transformation, I’m not saying transformation of South African rugby, I’m not saying transformation of the man next to me, on my left or on my right, I’m saying transformation of Luke Watson, because when I’ve transformed, when I’ve pushed on

At another section he recalls,
“I’m sitting in Wellington last year, Super 14, a reporter comes up to me, he says: ‘Luke I interview your father Cheeky Watson about 20 years ago and I asked him: ‘Cheeky, why are you doing this? And Cheeky looked at me, and this is the defining moment in my life, when I got respect for him. he said: ‘Luke you father looked at me and said: ‘the reason I am doing this, is so I can look my son in he eye one day and say I made a difference, I stood up when others ran away, I faced the enemy when cowards fled, so I can look in the eye of my son one day and say: ‘I’ve made a difference.’

“Destiny is on your doorstep, I don’t care who you are or where you come from, tonight is an opportunity to grab hold of this message of transformation, to go forward - because we are so quick and easy to point at others and say why are you not transforming, have you transformed within yourself, are you creating hope, are you creating opportunities, are you creating a world for others that they can live, that they can be great in their own names and their own sake ... are you creating that world and opportunities...

Of course, we might decide to believe what mainstream media and the mob is selling us about these wretched Watsons. That is the everyone's choice, but theres another truth. After speaking to so many, who come from the dirt rugbyfields of the townships and 'lokasies', coming from SARU and KWARU, who had no hope of national and international participation because of racism, because of apartheid. Their talents were shunned and memories written out of the chronicles of South African rugby, they only shine on the photos in the barbershop, and the trophies in the sideboard. Amongst those, invisible heroes, who might not even read this post, but know the real Watsons, there is a sense of hope again; in the midst of all the spin and lies, finally, there are still people holding on to the truth- no, people standing for the truth.
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