One nation on 15 (23) men’s shoulders

For all the disgrace of our past South Africa is also famous as a nation brought together by sport. Hollywood brought you Invictus as evidence of this. The 2010 Fifa Football World Cup proved it again. Chad Le Clos’s dad represents all of us in how sport makes us feel: excited, united, proud. Everyone who dons the green and gold belong to us. They are our champions and we support them.

I was reminded of this on Saturday 27 Sept when the Springboks took on the Wallabies at Newlands (a South African homeground). Most of us had been speaking about the clash for days. We discussed tactics and team strategy and our hearts went out the players who had been injured in the previous test. We are their supporters and they belong to us. We care deeply about them.

I wore my Springbok jersey on Friday as did thousands of my country people. Thousands more wore their jerseys on Saturday. A nation united with all our hopes and happiness pinned on a team of 15 big men and their replacements on the bench.

I’ve always been a keen rugby supporter and while I can’t pretend to know much about tactics I do know where the player’s strength and weaknesses lie. I know what makes them a strong team and a remarkable bunch of people.

There was some public scrappiness a few days before the test because Oupa Mahoje was going to be in the starting line-up. People were speculating on whether he had earned his spot or if he was just a quota player. To those people all I can say is that you clearly don’t understand team sport and team players and frankly he should have been offered a chance a while ago. He isn’t quite number one is his position but he plays with heart and we were lucky that we could call on him when we needed a replacement. Fortunately the whole things seemed to blow over by game day.

And so the crowds packed into Newlands and our boys stood alongside the Aussies to mark the start of another 80 minutes of our national pastime. And what an 80 minutes it was.

It was a tough, hard, physical and stressful game. Minor and some stupid errors, and the Aussies defending like warriors had us on the back foot almost most of the game. I watched my boys play hard and fast and still we could not move them. The stadium grew quiet as everyone started wondering if we could pull it off. My husband had predicted that we would win by 20 points. For about 60 minutes it was in doubt whether we would even win. It would have been bad. Losing to the Aussies on home soil when your team in clearly working hard would have been heart breaking. The newer and younger guns in the likes of Serffontein, Coetsee and Hendriks were playing their guts out and yet we were behind.

And then, a few things changed. Some veteran replacements came on, the ref warned the Aussies of infringements, Lambie converted a penalty to put us one point ahead and the crowd got excited again. Newlands’ atmosphere changed and the game got new gusto and suddenly we were a dominant team. Balls went to hand. Leaps were made over tacklers. Balls were legitimately stolen and the crowd kept singing and chanting.

We scored three tries in the last four minutes. A feat achieved because new and experienced worked together. Talents and enthusiasm pooled together and gave every player the burst they needed. It was rugby at its finest.

The whistle blew and we had done all we had set out to do and what the nation had hoped for. Jubilation ensues to this moment and we’ll talk about this one for years to come. No matter who you are in South Africa you will know about this because it’s important that we stood and conquered together.


And the song remains the same

We had post Heritage Day celebrations in our office today. Our HR department arranged for some traditional food for everyone to enjoy. It was a nice selection of what one could call South African food. Bobotie, Pap, Tripe and samp were some of the delights.

As an added extra we were treated to a traditional dance display by a “professional” troupe. Three young men and five even younger girls dressed in traditional wear danced and whistled to give us a taste of Venda heritage. The dances are interesting and the dancers clearly fit and coordinated. Despite seeing similar things a lot previously I enjoyed seeing these young people do their thing.

What struck me though was the entire scenario: Us, working in corporate Johannesburg, in a very affluent area, watching these performers in traditional dress dancing in the traditional way in our offices. It’s a loud and clearly visceral affair. The troupe were dressed in animal skins and accompanied by a drum and the dancing involves a lot of foot stamping and clapping of hands and ululating. It’s great but not what you would associate with the modern world. And yet, there they were. Amongst us professionals, in our expensive traditional ware (because we had to dress up for lunch) in the richest mile in Africa.

And so South Africa’s Heritage Day manifested itself and I know that my lamenting about us “only” being South African is something I will not live to see. Tradition and culture and heritage are impossibly important and what ultimately makes us a rainbow nation.

Heritage Day and where do I stand?

South Africans celebrated Heritage Day yesterday. It’s a public holiday to celebrate our differences and take credence of your heritage, your cultural origins. People enjoy celebrating the day as a lot get dressed in their traditional clothing and eat traditional food. It’s like a fancy function across the country really. People obviously feel strong about their ancestry and so they should.

I, however, have a strange problem: I don’t relate to any heritage other than South African. While other South Africans don Sotho, Zulu, Afrikaans, Pedi, Welsh or whatever gear I don’t have any defined culture to relate to. I know we’re all different but in my mind we’re all the same – South African. My parents (one Afrikaans and one English) are “just” South African and therefore so am I. Don’t get me wrong, I love being South African (in case you haven’t noticed) but that is also all I am when it comes to Heritage Day.

It feels unusual and yet in some way it makes me more proud to not have an origin to celebrate. I am truly South African – that is all. I accept that we are different but I like to think that we are the same. I wonder how long into the future my view on identity will become everyone else’s? After all, we are meant to be building an nation together.

Come celebrate spring

Spring has graced us with her presence and I’m revelling in it. It’s so wonderful to be outside and the moment and just sit. It’s great to hear the birds and to see the trees budding with new life. There is sudden hope and abundance in the air and everything seems clean and fresh. It’s time to be happy.

To celebrate this a friend and I are hosting a pop-up restaurant on 20 Sept. We are making every effort to make it a spring feast. There will be generous servings of fresh delicious food. There will be fun d├ęcor and there will be live music. It’s a party waiting to happen.

Visit for more information.

Join us, or send this on to people who would want to – do both.