United we stand …
What a history-making month has just passed! Once again, sport has succeeded in bringing our nation together.
Everyone gave a general sigh of relief when the country’s collective attention shifted away from the confusing aftermath of the recent local government elections to our amazing athletes at the Rio Olympics.
Ever since the Boks defeated the All Blacks in 1995 we have never failed to unite behind our sports stars.
As you were driving to work the morning after Wayde van Niekerk broke the world record and secured South Africa’s first gold medal at the 2016 Olympics every newspaper that was sold next to the road carried his picture. On every radio station people phoned in to say how proud they were of our Wayde. When he draped the flag over his shoulders, I’m sure you also felt proud and excited – proud because he is a homegrown talent and excited to see how this is uniting our country once again.
The man with his toothless smile next to the road pointing excitedly at the newspaper headline – the buzz when you entered the office was the beat of unity that is created by a shared love of our people, our national heroes.
The way our country united behind Caster Semenya is such a testament to how we as a nation protect our own. Close to 20 000 tweets were made with the hashtag #HandsOffCaster and in the newspapers and international media, it was clear that we united behind our superstar. Everyone set their alarms early on that Sunday morning to experience that moment when she won the gold she so dearly deserved. And while we couldn’t control what the critics and haters were saying about her, we as South Africans let them know that their reach does not extend to our beautiful part of the world.
And as we all return to our normal day-to-day activities after the excitement of the Olympics, we do it a little bit more united. And hopefully it makes you think about a speech by Nelson Mandela in 2005 when he spoke about the power that sport has in uniting people – not only locally, but globally too:
‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.’
So when you read this, let’s celebrate who we are and where we have come from. Let’s reflect on the many wonderful reasons that we have to be proud of our country and our people.
And yes, let’s celebrate our unity …