South Africa’s International Girl Footballer Relies On Food At School Feeding By Cheryl Roberts

24 May

I’ve written about it and mentioned often on social media about the struggles of South Africa’s black and working class girls in sport; their battle against the odds to participate in sport, enjoy sport and achieve. In our South African society of unemployment and inequalities, their struggles are real and exist. In almost all sports in South Africa there will be black and working class girls struggling to get money for transport to training and matches, to get playing shoes and pay registration fees.

Today and for many days, weeks and months, in a working class neighbourhood in Cape Town, a teenage schoolgirl footballer walks out of her humble home, at about 7 in the morning, on her way to school knowing that she will not only learn new information but also get some food to eat. That’s because 16 year old girl footballer Mische Minnies has parents who are both unemployed, no life savings to rely on and no income to buy food and sustain the family daily. They rely on handouts and help received sometimes and randomly from friends and people aware of their family situation.

Mische is at a high school in Mitchells Plain in Cape Town. She plays for a women’s football team where the coach has helped and does sometime help with some food and groceries to ensure the unemployed family gets by. Mische is a talented girl footballer. Last year, she got selected to play for South Africa’s under 17 girls football team and helped the SA u17 team qualify for the girls football world cup. She scored goals for South Africa, with football management seemingly unaware how she struggles to get food daily when she’s not at a national football camp.

For over a year, Mische’s mother and father are just unable to clinch employment that will bring in some money and help them survive in this harsh neo liberal South African society that batters working class people much more than it supports them. The electricity at their rented family home is off because they need money to buy prepaid electricity.

I spoke to Mische’s father today, asked how it was going and he said: ‘I’m out here in the rain in Mitchells Plain, picking up plastic bottles and selling them to try get some money for food today.’ And Mische, I enquired about? He tells me: ‘Mische went to school where she will get some food today because they feed them at school’.

I ask about Mische’s football training and he says: ‘Mische goes to training but I spoke to the club to let her come to training once a week because of transports costs. The club does give Mische some transport money but on the really hard days, Mische tries to help us with some food money and gives us her transport money some days and then she misses training that day.’

Such is her football talent that Mische was selected to attend SAFA’s high performance girl football school in Gauteng where the girl’s living and educational expenses are taken care of by SAFA. ‘Mische’s mother and I were very happy when Mische got selected to go to high performance. It meant she would be looked after nicely because we been struggling for long and Mische been going without food sometimes for long now,’ said Mr Minnies, himself an avid football supporter and volunteer  grassroots coach and administrator.

Six months after being at SAFA’s high performance centre, Mr Minnies got the shock phone call from SAFA’s high performance management that Mische would not be returning to the high performance centre. ‘They told me Mische’s schoolwork wasn’t up to standard and she was coming back to Cape Town. Mische went from Afrikaans instruction at school to English learning. When I saw Mische’s June exams report I saw there was nothing wrong with her report. Then they said Mische wanted to come home. I was so disappointed because now I knew Mische was coming back to struggling for food. But I couldn’t get good enough reasons from there at high performance why they were sending Mische home. Then they selected Mische to play for SA under 17 team.’ explained Mr Minnies.

Recently Mische attended a national training camp for u17 girl footballers. She just got told to be at the airport to take the flight to Johannesburg. No shuttle service for transport to the airport was provided by SAFA to get the girl footballer to the airport. SAFA didn’t even enquire if the girls needed transport to the airport and back home from the airport. ‘Ay, that was a big problem for me. I don’t have a car, had no money and couldn’t get Mische to the airport. I had to beg someone to please take Mische to the airport and beg again to have her brought home from the airport. At least, she ate nicely at the national training camp. But then she came home to no food, again,’ said Mr Minnies.

This unemployed family plight is real, harsh and sad. They not the only unemployed family in Cape Town and South Africa struggling like this. I’ve been calling for a national fund for girls and women to be established; a fund that will help working class girls in sport. Sports federations must be sensitive, aware they are providing sport in a society of inequalities. Paid sports administrators must not assume because they sit in an office and get paid salaries that all is okay with girls playing for national teams, especially when the girls are black and working class.

16 year old Mische Minnie from Mitchells Plain in Cape Town is expected to play a pivotal role for South Africa at the under 17 girls football world cup in Uruguay, later this year. At this moment, Mische is hoping to get some food to eat to get by whist dreaming of her football games. That’s the reality of being a black and working class girl in sport in capitalist South Africa.

c.minnies

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White Supremacist Attitudes Still Very Much Alive In South African Sport By Cheryl Roberts

20 May

IMG_9682Get this! That was just the tip of the iceberg when a one time world class black South African international rugby player and now a rugby commentator, Ashwin Willemse told white rugby commentators, on a live broadcast show, in South Africa that he had enough of them and their whiteness.

This whiteness is about their white privilege, their belief that white supremacy reigns, that ‘whites are excellence’, that blacks must learn from this white excellence. As Ashwin Willemse told them about patronising him; that’s how they exist in SA sport. It’s about patronising blacks, black thinking and black performance and black achievement.

This white supremacist attitude and thinking is real in SA sport. SA sport media, has for a long time, been the chief proponent of white excellence in SA sport. It seemingly goes unchallenged because blacks in sport have not spoken out as a force against it, despite there being much unhappiness about this white supremacist control.

This is how it works: blacks are always seen as development players, especially in men’s rugby and cricket and women’s netball and hockey. Black coaches in these sports have to struggle white supremacist favouritism to get acknowledgement. It’s as if blacks just can’t be elite national and international coaches. This terrain in sport is reserved for ‘white excellence’; but through some pressure and questioning, some sports have seen they can’t be holding up white privilege and white excellence all the time, so they have ‘recognised’ blacks as coaches.

This is what we have had to deal with, throughout apartheid years and now in the democratic, unified  era of post-apartheid sport in South Africa. It’s the white supremacist gaze and lens and thinking that ‘white is merit and excellence’ and all those not white are ‘non excellent because they not white’. When I write here about white supremacist thinking, I refer to this as a group thing and do know that ‘not all whites in SA sport have this mindset’. But the most of white people in sport still have this belief about white excellence and white merit, be it on the field of play, in the media, at awards events, and especially national and international representation.

This white supremacist, white excellence thinking is deep-rooted and South African sport has not made much inroads in shutting out this attitude, inherited from decades of white supremacy rule and oppression of blacks in South Africa.

Just because a black rugby commentator has now openly surfaced this white behaviour, doesn’t mean it’s the only indication of such.  White supremacist thinking, flowing out of their white privilege, is all around in SA sport. Look at how we still have white-dominated sports teams in netball and hockey! Look at how black African players were ignored and marginalised when it came to playing for South Africa in sports such as men’s cricket and rugby And look at how black players (all those not white) are referred to negatively as ‘quota’ players, as if they don’t make the selection grade and are brought in just to add some colour.

The two apartheid era rugby players, now turned commentators, Naas Botha and Nick Mallett are not the only people of their kind. There are many more like them! Look at Pat Symcox, Darryl Cullinan, Barry Richards and Clive Rice (who went to his grave believing in white supremacy in sport). They all have this thinking about ‘excellence equals being white’. These apartheid era supporters and beneficiaries don’t want to know that blacks not only played sport with little and minimal resources during the horrendous years of oppression, but that blacks also achieved highly in sport. They just refuse to get it into their thick, thick heads of what is the reality of the South African sports paradigm.

Those leading sport in South Africa  are to blame for the existence of white supremacist thinking. Leadership, black and white officialdom, doesn’t question white privilege in sport and white dominated sports teams. They allow this to happen! That’s why whites still dominate most sports in South Africa. It’s because they have the resources, the money and they push white supremacy. Yes, white officialdom in sport will quickly disagree with me here but I will quickly hit back and say: ‘look at your sport and see who dominates’.

We can’t be silent about white supremacy, privilege, white sports teams in South African sport. It exists! We must challenge and smash white controlling attitudes and thinking that believe blacks in sport are inferior 2 their perceived ‘white excellence in sport’.

Only if @SuperSportTV management, those responsible for content and media decision-making understand the horrendous white supremacy and white privilege attitudes, will they be able to understand what black rugby commentator #AshwinWillemse is raging about and shouting down.

And Black people must stop being coconuts in South African sport! Stop accepting white privilege and white supremacy. Stop being silent when you get a position. Understand critically what transformation/de-colonisation of sport entails. Question white-dominated sport, teams, coaches.

White supremacist thinking and commentary must not allowed to thrive and exist in SA sport. It must be eliminated across the SA sport paradigm. It’s unhealthy!

Khumbulani Pride Decolonises Cape Town’s White Privilege Pride By Cheryl Roberts

18 May

Black queer people are not allowing white privilege nor white dominant queer structures the luxury of owning the pride narrative in Cape Town. Neither are conscious black queers allowing themselves to be controlled by white privilege supporting pride advocates.

The space has been created for a Khumbulani Pride, a black queer centered voice, for the people by the people, to be rooted in black communities and to speak for and behalf of black queers. And each year, Khumbulani Pride grows in strength, confidence and authenticity.

On Saturday in Cape Town, in a working class township on the Cape Flats and not in a white, rich and privileged area, the annual Khumbulani Pride will again happen. Khumbulani Pride was born out of the necessity for black queers to speak for themselves, to lead black queer activism and to shout and roar against hate crime and sexual prejudice particularly against black queer women.

Black queer people in Cape Town….make that conscious black queer people……had for long been feeling isolated, marginalisied and used by the predominantly white, gay male dominated Cape Town Pride who concentrated more on using Cape Town Pride for the interests and satisfaction of white gay men like pool and pyjama parties and club jorls with little focus on black queers whose experience of being queer in white privileged, homophobic and racist Cape Town is vastly different from the experience of white queers.

Khumbulani Pride is real and authentic; rooted in the streets where the violence and hate against black queers, mostly black queer and gender non-conforming women occurs. It’s a march through the streets, the very township streets that can be filled with happiness, laughter, people activity and at times host horrific hate against queers and gender non-conforming people. Its here on the streets in the townships where black queers reside, that much assault, rape and killings of black queer women have happened.

After a litany of assaults and horrendous murders, black queers don’t feel safe in their own communities and walking on the streets. Black queers want the streets to be safe for all people and not to be defined by toxic hetero-masculinity.

Cape Town Pride didn’t address this depth of hate and homophobia prevalent in Cape Town. After must call outs and challenges from conscious queers, down-with-white-privilege proponents and human rights activists Cape Town Pride officialdom has refused to assess its existence, preferring instead to show their DA loyalty and white gay male centeredness. Instead, by making Cape Town Pride one big festival of partying, Cape Town Pride made as if attacks on bodies of black queers wasn’t there.

Conscious and critical thinking Black queers had enough of this seemingly ‘anti-conscious, anti-political’ behaviour adopted by white, gay men dominated Cape Town Pride. They formed their own pride acknowledgment and turned it into a relevant and necessary event, to be held in the hood and for the hood people.

Khumbulani Pride will take place in Delft in Cape Town on Saturday, a working class area that has had its homophobic assaults, abuses and killings. A march through the streets with protesting people and banners, culminating in a memorandum being delivered, will call out homophobia and ask for attacks on black queers and non gender-conforming people, to be stopped and for swift police action to be done when and should such attacks occur.

Khumbulani Pride is not sponsored by the DA administered city of Cape Town that financially supports white privilege, white gay men dominated Cape Town Pride. The community pride event gets by with nominal donations here and there and people who want to be associated with an event that is black-queer led and talks in the interests of black queers, instead of marginalising black queer people.

Cape Town Pride’s got nothing on Khumbulani pride when it comes to speaking out and challenging homophobia and sexual prejudice. That Khumbulani Pride was the space and event so needed for black queers to have their own authentic Pride voice, there is no doubt. That cape Town Pride is irrelevant to black queers, there is no doubt.

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SA Billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s Money Supports Men’s Sports, Ignores Women In Sport By Cheryl Roberts

16 May

Where is the support for women’s sports from South Africa’s black male billionaire Patrice Motsepe? Why, until now, hasn’t Patrice Motsepe funded women’s sports and women’s sports events? Why is Patrice Motsepe displaying his toxic masculinity when offering to sponsor men’s sports whilst ignoring women’s sports?

That Patrice Motsepe is super rich, there’s no doubt. He’s one of South Africa’s several billionaires. After making his billions from profits extracted from his participation in the post-apartheid SA mining economy,  sport, especially men’s football has become Patrice Motsepe’s latest play toy in recent years.

With so much money at his disposal Patrice Motsepe, his family and Motsepe Foundation can choose any sport to be associated with. But until now Patrice Motsepe has chosen, through the sports he chooses to sponsor and fund to show his disregard for women’s sports. Yes, Motsepe’s men’s PSL team Sundowns does have a women’s football team playing in the provincial Sasol League but that women’s sports team is no ways given the same financial backing as the PSL Sundowns men’s team.

Motsepe has put millions into men’s sports but none of his money has gone into sponsoring women’s sports. Living in our unequal South African society, albeit up in the billionaire clouds, Motsepe must have some idea that women’s sports, especially black women in sport struggle for corporate sponsorship but he surprisingly hasn’t come up with sponsorship offers.

This shows Patrice Motsepe’s support of and allegiance to men in sport! Look at his recent ‘toy’; the men’s football match: Barcelona v Sundowns match, costing millions and being played in South Africa, tonight. Has Motsepe got any heart to know what those millions would mean to black girls in working class sport instead of them being splashed out on this end of season men’s football encounter?

Now that he has made his billionaires and exists in the world of the super rich, Motsepe is seemingly walking around with blinkers, not seeing the struggles of working class girls in sport in South Africa.

Why can’t Patrice Motsepe sponsor some sportswomen and women’s sports in SA? What does it reveal about this black male billionaire that he doesn’t support women in sport? The other day Dr Moloi Motsepe, spoke about the necessity of a national women’s football league in SA. Yes, she’s correct about this. We’ve for years been calling for a women’s football national league. But there’s always no sponsor and no money to launch this league! This always happens, despite much money and corporate sponsorship being available for men’s football.

Why doesn’t Patrice Motsepe and Dr Moloi Motsepe (wife and husband) now engineer sponsorship of this women’s football national league? What’s stopping them when it’s gonna come off their daily interest received from their money extracted in South Africa?

I’m calling out Patrice Motsepe because he’s no different from white male billionaires who ignore women’s sports and black girls in sport. I’m calling out billionaire Patrice Motsepe and showing how he maintains male dominated sports in SA with

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

his lucrative funding, business deals and sponsorship.

Billionaire Patrice Motsepe thinks only about men’s sport and funds big time, men in sport; his sponsorship relationships show this!

 

 

 

 

SA Women’s Rugby Preparing For Return To Women’s Rugby World Cup By Cheryl Roberts

15 May

South Africa’s women’s rugby 15’s are slowly being taken back to international participation with, according to budget, planning of tours in and out of South Africa to get the national women’s rugby team developed, finely tuned and ready for a return to the 2021 women’s rugby world cup. All this being done to ensure the elite women rugby players have advanced their skills to help them better perform in international competition.

According to SA Rugby’s women’s manager, Mr Mahlubi Phuzi, at least two international tours are confirmed for SA women’s rugby in 2018. ‘The national women’s rugby 15’s will tour Wales in October, playing two Tests. Then they will play a home series against Hong Kong in December. These tours will greatly benefit advancement of the national 15’s squad that we are preparing to hopefully be at the 2021 women’s rugby world cup,’ said Mr Phuzi.

Investment is also being ploughed into under 20 women’s rugby with the establishment a few years ago of provincial youth training centres for girl rugby players.

‘We assessed the state of women’s rugby in South Africa, after our participation in the 2014 women’s rugby world cup. Took a tough look at the situation we in and realised we had to go back and develop our youth girls rugby so we could be much stronger years later. That’s when SA Rugby initiated the YTC’s in all provinces and we established the u16 and u18 national Youth Week. This is a national competition held annually for girls rugby where all the provinces have girls teams, they play and enjoy rugby and we see the talent coming through,’ explains Mr Phuzi.

To improve elite women’s rugby in South Africa, SA Rugby deliberately took a decision to place a self moratorium on international play for women’s rugby 15’s to concentrate on building stronger national women’s rugby teams.

This decision was taken after the not-too-impressive Springbok women’s team’s performance in the 2014 women’s rugby world up. It was back to youth investment and consolidation of development and training structures.

Now the young and emerging players from the YTC’s are being brought into national squad structures, allowing for mergence of young players with the older, experienced senior provincial players.

‘The self-imposed international moratorium was taken so that SA women’s rugby 15’s and the Springbok women’s 15’s could get better as contenders at women’s rugby world cups. We don’t want to be there just to fill the places. That journey started in 2015 with the introduction of the YTC’s. Hopefully, SA Rugby will also be able to initiate a national under 20 women’s rugby competition so the young players can be competitive and competition ready.

‘Now we are concentrating on building a national women’s rugby squad with under 20 players coming into the set-up. At our first high performance assessment in March in Cape Town, where we gathered a national squad for assessment, several under 20 players were included. We must know what player skills we have to go forward and we cat rely on ageing, experienced players who will one day retire,’ said Mr Phuzi.

That women’s rugby in South Africa needs much funding and investment, there is no doubt. Speaking to rugby managers around South Africa, one knows the passion is there to further develop and advance women’s rugby. The players, too love women’s rugby and want to see the game being developed to higher levels. But this year, again there will only be one round of senior inter-provincial competition, before the final. ‘There’s not much we could do given our national women’s rugby budget,’ said Mr Phuzi. ‘We have to make do with the financial resources and try to hold competitions. Yes, we do need more national competitions for under 20 and senior players.’

With girls rugby growing in South Africa, much more money needs to be allocated to women’s rugby. The provincial YTC’s are positive initiatives and soon a quality national crop of senior players would have surfaced from such development efforts. But along the way, women’s rugby must not be given the crumbs of funding in SA Rugby. Much more funding commitment is needed.IMG_0580

Control Of Black Sportswomen Bodies Also Instigated By Corporate South Africa By Cheryl Roberts

7 May

A recent controversial regulation of the International Athletics Federation has alerted us to how a largely ageing, male-dominated and white sport leadership is intent on defining a black sportswoman body; that body being of South Africa’s black woman champion Caster Semenya. Get this! The IAAF regulation clearly aimed, at this juncture, of policing the body of one particular champion black woman athlete, doesn’t make global athletics the only guilty sport-connected of being intent on defining a black sportswoman body.

Here in South Africa, corporates especially also seek to define and impose corporate restrictions on a black sportswoman body. Given some opportunities, together with their talent in post-apartheid South Africa, we have seen the surfacing of several world champion and world class elite black sportswomen.

These are sportswomen like world boxing champion, Noni Tenge, world class footballer,  Portia Modise, world class netballers, Sindi Gumede, Bongi Msomi and Phumza Maweni, Olympic champion, Caster Semenya, Paralympic champion, Zanele Situ and wheelchair tennis player, Kgothatso Montjane, cricketers, Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka. How many of these world champion and world class black sportswomen have been associated with corporate sponsorship and endorsements  and funding? Does South Africa really know, through intensive media profiling and commercial publicity, the country’s world class and champion black sportswomen? Are we aware of their reality being that most achieving black sportswomen still have to struggle to work and play international sport as part-timers, earning meagre and little incomes from participation in sport?

SA’s black sportswomen, coming out of working class families and communities, their families not yet recovered from the harsh oppression of apartheid, have struggled to achieve their world class positions, world and Olympic titles. You would expect all of them to have earned millions from corporate endorsements, leaving them with adequate money for their post-international sport retirement life. The truth is that most of them have never gotten one phone call from a corporate to speak further about sponblack sportswomansorship and endorsements.

Why are South Africa’s world champion and world class black sportswomen, especially the non-feminine conforming sportswomen, ignored by corporates in SA and international corporates? My upfront question: is it because they do not fit the stereotypical white, blonde, slim/thin, feminine sportswoman classification according to corporate desire?

Some of the black sportswomen are disabled participants in sport like Zanele Situ and Kgothatso Montjane, some are non-feminine conforming like boxer Noni Tenge, footballer Portia Modise and athlete Caster Semenya and some are just not fair and blonde like netballers Phumza Maweni, Sindi Gumede and Bongi Msomi and cricketers, Shabnim Ismail.

They are sportswomen, damnit! They are not models, modelling their lives, bodies and lifestyles on demands of corporates. They are comfortable in their skin, their bodies and identify. And they are achieving sportswomen.

Yet corporates associated with sport, consistently reveal how they prefer certain people in sport, that ‘fit their gaze’, like men and sometimes fair skinned and blonde sportswomen. In South Africa, sportsmen are associated with corporate sponsorships but these highly achieving black sportswomen are not.

And what do you think is the reasoning behind these elite black sportswomen being ignored by corporates? Its because the ignorant, sexist, misogynistic, racist mindsets, coupled with ‘the gaze’ of marketing and executives of some corporates are likely to give some outdated reason like ‘we associate with the one that fits our brand’. Why can’t a world class, world champion black sportswoman ‘fit your brand’?

Are corporates not also defining and controlling black sportswomen bodies by ignoring and marginalising them? Yes, they indeed are policing the black sportswoman body by refusing them corporate association/deals.

It’s correct to note that South Africa’s sportswomen struggle for acknowledgement, publicity, sponsorship and gender equality in sport. But not all sportswomen have the same struggles because of their race, class, colour and sexuality. And it’s the black sportswoman, the sportswoman who is disabled, non-feminine conforming who ‘suffers’ the gaze of those who define how a black sportswoman should look and be presented.

Oh yes, let’s not deny this. Right here in South Africa, black sportswomen, despite their amazing international sports feats, are still ignored by corporates! Black sportswomen, despite achieving on the international sports stage still struggle to survive, live and play elite sport.

Corporates in South Africa make big profits from black women consumers, yet they ignore black sportswomen for sponsorship relationships. Why has this been for so long? Why is it still being done? We must call out corporate South Africa, ask them to explain, to give reason why they are not signing sponsorship deals with winning and achieving black sportswomen?

Is it because the black sportswoman body is not how they want to see a sportswoman?  Is it because they want to be associated with feminine conforming, cis het sportswomen? But this alludes to control and marginalisaton of the black sportswoman body! Corporates are controlling the black sportswoman body by holding back their deserving sponsorship association, arising from their world class sports achievements.

And then you get some corporates seemingly showing concern about international regulations aimed at controlling South African black woman athlete Caster Semenya. But you corporates do the same! You police, define and control women in sport by marginalising elite and achieving black sportswomen by nor signing their contracts or endorsements. We have the sponsorship facts and realities. We know what we are arguing against and whom we are calling out. By ignoring the international achievements of black sportswomen, corporate South Africa is also guilty of policing, defining and controlling black sportswomen bodies.

Woke Caster Semenya Raises Black Power Salute At Sports Event By Cheryl Roberts

16 Apr

Black woman athlete Caster Semenya has not only won it all on the international athletics track, she has also run races and lived life on her terms, kicking out and blocking any attempts to rattle and disrupt her athletics life.

Caster Semenya has done this by taking to the track and winning. And her winning has been achieved by strategic race planning and sports prowess, not having pushed a competitor on the track or relied on doping. And after a race its always Caster Semenya, despite being the champion or medallist, who approaches her competitors first with an after race hand shake, instead of waiting for those she has beaten, to come and congratulate the champion.But that’s not all what Caster Semenya is about. She is also woke and conscious about the society she lives in and the past society that gave rise to the democratic era in South Africa which allows her to represent a democratic country.

And it happened on the athletics stage; at the gathering of a sporst event called the Commonwealth Games where former coloniser England competes with the former colonised. Debutant Commonwealth Games athlete and gold medallist Caster Semenya displayed her consciousness. Caster Semenya raised the black power salute at her 800m gold medal ceremony at the Commonwealth Games; this being done by a black woman athlete 50 years after two black American male athletes, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, in defiance of racism and racial prejudice, raised the black power protest salute at the 1968 Olympic Games.

In doing this powerful salute, a symbol of resistance and power undertaken by oppressed people and those resisting injustices, Caster Semenya, who became a double gold medallist at her first Commonwealth Games in Australia, became the first South African athlete to ever raise the black power salute at an international sports event.

It was a powerful representation undertaken by a phenomenal woman athlete. Caster Semenya was to state after the medal ceremony that what she had done was in remembrance and recognition of South Africa’s black woman frontline freedom fighter Winnie Mandela.

Despite South African sports officialdom and international sports organisations wanting their players and athletes ‘to stay out of politics’ and ‘stay away from political slogans’, some athletes have never bowed to sports officialdom when it came to critical consciousness and awareness. Athletes have taken positions and called out injustices in society and in their sports.

As South Africa’s most decorated and achieving able bodied black sportswoman, Caster Semenya has delivered nothing less than pride, joy and happiness for our South Africa, since her athletics accomplishments surfaced. She was South Africa’s only black sportswoman medallist at the Commonwealth Games, delighting a sports supporting nation with her spectacular record breaking wins and feats.

 

She competes on the athletics stage under the gaze of those who insist on questioning and challenging her black woman body. Again, there are international indications that come November this year, the IAAF will have a resolution in place that will directly affect and impact on athlete Caster Semenya’s participation in races.

But through all the misogyny, the white supremacist questioning, the male gaze, sexual and racial prejudice and homophobia Caster Semenya rides wave after wave with her sole focus being her performance and achievements on the athletics track.

When Caster Semenya competes in sport, she does so as a targeted black woman in sport; targeted for sexual and racial prejudice and her black woman body. Some athletes that can’t perform with her abilities, attack Caster Semenya’s performances without applauding her achievements. Its as if Caster Semenya, the Olympic, World, Commonwealth and African champion literally runs in chains. But she competes, demonstrates her best ability and  performance and wins, most times; this despite all the negatives thrown at her black being.

Caster Semenya was persecuted as a teenage woman in international athletics. But, surrounded by love, support and admiration from South Africans especially and black woman warrior Winnie Mandela, Caster Semenya has triumphed, not against the odds, but defeating the odds with her athletics prowess. That she chose to recognise and give honour to Winnie Mandela with the black power salute, so associated with freedom and the struggle journey in South Africa, reveals the all powerful strength of one tenacious, fabulously talented black sportswoman that is Caster Semenya.

 

(photograph by: Roger Sedres)caster semenya black power salute