Archive | September, 2015

The Pain Of Apartheid Sport Is Never Erased, Never Forgotten   By Cheryl Roberts

22 Sep

reject-apartheid-sport (1)

There is no one narrative of sport in South Africa.  All South Africa’s sport stories are not the same. South Africa’s sport narratives represent a privileged era where white people got the best and most of a country, although white people were the minority grouping. And then there exists the anti-apartheid, non-racial sports narrative which is about an oppressed people’s unselfish, tireless, principled struggle to attain a just and ‘equal opportunity’ sports network within a non-apartheid society.

The injustices of South Africa’s horrendous past, still impact with pain and disappointment, in the democratic era of South Africa’s life. I write this because the pain is deep seated, not easily overcome or eliminated in this time of seemingly ‘opportunity South Africa’.

It’s over twenty years since South African sport’s antagonists were called in around the unity table to initiate unity talks; this initiative spearheaded by the exiled African National Congress (ANC). It’s also over 20 years that our country battles with the challenges of a still exiting unequal society, one which benefits people on their class position of whatever colour.

Post- apartheid sport has been manipulated and used to galvanise a society emerging from strife, struggle, protests, privilege and elitism, oppression and oppressor into believing nationhood as one country, one people can and does exist.

However, the more elite and corporate control of sport tries to cover up the cracks existing in our unequal and unbalanced country controlled by capitalist and elite geed and power, the more the conscious minds and thought of people break through to challenge, contest and demonstrate that the sport’s paradigm is being maintained for elite control and for those whose class status allows them to participate in the system.

Today, the pain of oppression, the hurt of apartheid’s injustices, the commemoration of the anti-apartheid sports struggle is not forgotten. Not by the people who fought the injustices and challenged the oppressive regime. So today, when we see those players, athletes, and people who are not white and who are working class being delivered the worst blows and injustices in this democratic, one nation South Africa, we rally our strength and voices and call out the wrongs.

We recall the talented sports people (women and men, girls and boys) born into an unjust country, forced to accept apartheid. We remember with clarity how we participated in sport through community and grassroots structures with minimal resources in under-resourced, marginalised and severely neglected schools and residential spaces. We didn’t have much money and facilities and equipment but we had community support and the tireless commitment of sports leaders and officials who sacrificed their personal lives and families so the oppressed people could enjoy sport with dignity and respect.

Today, democratic South Africa has opened opportunities for more South Africans, the formerly disadvantaged and oppressed; there’s no denying or doubting that. But democratic South Africa is all about class. If you’re middle class or elite, then you are going to survive. If you’re working class, especially if your gender is girl or woman, then you’re going to get a bad deal in your democratic country.

We recall so clearly the injustices of the oppressive apartheid era that we don’t want democratic South Africa to look after only the advantaged. This is clearly seen in sport where learners at working class and township schools struggle for facilities and the chance to participate in sport. Sport organization in working class hoods outside of school are kept alive by committed community officials who use their own money and resources and time to keep a sport alive and keep working class youth, children, girls and women in sport.

We detest this elite control of sport. We ask why must sport be owned and controlled by the moneyed and powerful? Why must money and funds be given to a few men’s sports like rugby, football and cricket? Why must girls and women be given crumbs here and there in allocation?

I started writing this opinion by saying that the injustices of the past still hurt us, the formerly oppressed. We challenge and speak out because we don’t want injustices and inequalities about skin colour, gender and class membership to disqualify the disadvantaged from being given the deserving and just deal in sport.

We get angry when we see sport in the power of an elite grouping who think they personally own sport. We call out sports leaders and officials and employees who don’t speak out against society’s inequalities which impact on the social positioning of sport.

You see, the injustices of our unjust and oppressive past can’t be erased or taken out of our existence and memory. They are still too raw and painful. We don’t want disadvantaged people to be victims of an unequal South Africa. We demand much, much more from the sports network, for it to be revolutionized and the sports apparatus to exist not only for the elite and middle class and men.

Pumla Gqola’s Book Says ‘Rape Is Violence That Must Be Dismantled’ By Cheryl Roberts

12 Sep
Pumla Dineo Gqola

Pumla Dineo Gqola

When you feel that something must be written about, despite its inflicting pain to the writer herself, then you begin the narrative that must be contested, challenged and engaged.

Writing about the horrendous violence that is rape is not easy, but black woman feminist and scholar, Pumla Dineo Gqola just knew and felt that it was something that just had to be written, especially within South African society where rape statistics reveal the brutal truth about gender violence.

‘I can’t say that it’s happy reading but I hope we continue to talk because ending rape is going to require that we interrupt al the narratives of rape culture’, explains Pumla.

As the scholar and writer that she is, Pumla didn’t set out to prove if rape exists or not in our South African society; from society’s recorded information she tells you that rape exists in massive form and that rape is rape with no rape behaviour being different or wrong or small in brutality from other rapes. ‘It’s a problem when we show that some rapes are more gruesome than others. What I want to show is that it’s the same thing. I want to show that all rapes are gruesome.’

Although she embarked on the writing of the book about a year ago, Pumla’s personal account of and association with rape, starts years before.  The subsequent impact of rape after the brutal violence has taken place goes back to when the young woman academic lived in Cape Town and worked closely with the NGO that is Rape Crisis where she offered counseling to the many who had been victims of this brutal violence.

‘It’s by no ways an easy or trendy narrative to write about especially if you the writer is pained and hurt by all what you know about rape in your country,’ explains Pumla, over lunch at the District Six Museum precinct in Cape Town, just before she’s due to have a public conversation and launch of her book .

‘But the determination to write about rape, to open it up to further conversation and to hopefully charter meaningful and forthright impact by exploding the discussion into the public arena so that rape survivors feel they are not neglected or forgotten about and remain the most important as survivors in this horrific narrative,’ is what helped Pumla on the journey of writing the book.

Pivotal to the exploration of all that constitutes the rape narrative, Pumla is searching through the rape debris demanding to know ‘how do we stop talking about rape as the passive and how do we respond differently to rape’.

The writer says that in South African society the rape landscape is ‘ambigious visibility because it is known, witnessed and denied’.

She also knows that rape is part of every woman’s life. ‘I could narrate many more stories. But we all know stories of rape and fear. Many of us live them directly and indirectly. Rape is the threat that the manufacture of female fear promises if we do not keep each other, and ourselves in check. At the same time, the enactment of rape reinforces this fear. When we see other women experience it, and when they are further victimized for having survived it, fear is reinforced’, writes Pumla.

No one association with rape is spared in the book ‘Rape: A South African Nightmare’; not even Jacob Zuma’s trial (President of the Republic of South Africa) or Bob Hewitt as a one time global tennis doubles champion or the shocking rape of working class teenage girl from Bredasdorp, Anene Booysen or South African woman footballer, Eudy Simelane.

Pumla admits that it was the Jacob Zuma rape trial which triggered her intention to put the rape narrative out there, in a book. Not as an academic publication. It was to be written for the non-academic, for rape survivors to claim it as their power of their stories of lives brutalised by violent behaviour patterns.

The book doesn’t have anything to do with celebrating South Africa pride; if anything, the fact that the rape narrative is being exploded into the public spotlight in this book is what is being celebrated. Here the words of acclaimed writer James Baldwin that ‘not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced’ resonates with the imperative for Pumla to undaintily open the ‘rape nightmare’ not only within South African society, but to society.

‘Rape engulfs our society. Rape must be spoken about if we are to create the tools to begin to eliminate this horrific brutality,’ stresses Pumla.

In presenting herself as a writer about rape in our country, Pumla is no ordinary academic giving the low down via statistics and empirical research. This black woman feminist scholar and academic has been much too linked to the conversation about rape in South Africa society to just present another academic book for academic purposes.

As we talk and listen to each other, I hear Pumla saying ‘black woman identified’ is the ‘center of my universe’. This identification shows up authentically as she probes why working class, disadvantaged, rural and lowly educated black women seemingly always never get the justice they deserve.

‘Why are rich and powerful men protected when they commit rape? Why are national treasures like sportsmen, always assured they won’t get the years they deserve when they are guilty of rape’.

These are hard questions; they are questions asked over and over by anti-abuse proponents, activists and advocates of no gender violence in society.

‘Some don’t go for crisis counselling. We don’t trust the criminal justice system enough to report rape. Its disturbing that only 1 in 9 rapes are reported,’ writes Pumla.

As the femnist, activist, writer, Pumla does have an idea of the road ahead; its a demand for action aaginst the nightmare that is rape. ‘In the meantime, I think we need to rebuild a mass-based feminist movement, a clearer sense of who our allies really are, to return to women’s spaces as we develop new strategies and ways to speak again in our own name, to push back against the backlash that threatens to swallow us all whole. I also think we need to defend the terrain we are losing, because it seems to me that the backlash is working to keep more and more of us if not complaint, then afraid. Yet, a future free of rape and violence is one we desrve, and one we must create’, are the book’s last words.

After having spoken to Pumla about the book, listened to her in conversation with Zethu Matebeni at the Open book Festival, browsed through the book, I know that rape is not just a South African nightmare but every South African woman’s nightmare.

(this is not a review of ‘Rape: A South African Nightmare’. At the time of writing this blog, I have puchased the book(it retails at R220) and have browsed some pages but not read the book.

Women Must Not Be Marginalised And Invisible In Commonwealth Games Organising  By Cheryl Roberts

3 Sep

durban 2022

Amidst varying and different opinions about whether South Africa should host another expensive major sports event, given the country’s challenges of unemployment and accommodation, under-resourced working class communities and rural areas, the 2022 hosting of the  Commonwealth Games has been awarded to the only surviving candidate city at the final announcement, that being Durban.

After South Africa’s hosting of several global sports events such as the men’s cricket, football and rugby world cups, by this time we must be on guard and not allow this to be another male-dominated and controlled event; this event being staged in Durban and hosted by the city on behalf of South Africa.

The Commonwealth Games doesn’t belong to male officialdom, employees and business associates; it belongs to South Africa’s humans of whatever gender and sexuality.

South Africa’s hosting of world cup events in golf, rugby, football rugby and cricket and several continental events, all demonstrated how men have benefitted from their involvement in organisational aspects of these games. Very few women have been allowed entrance into what is almost exclusively male terrain and domain, in these sports events.

Women’s involvement in sport in South Africa dates back to over a century where women supported men in sport and assisted them to play the game as vital and pivotal sports partners. Over the years, women participated in sports programmes and events as athletes, from club level to international level.

The city of Durban and the Games’ Organising Committee must be monitored and scrutinised to ensure that women are not kept out, left behind or given entrance here and there.

Durban has a horrendous record of leaving black women traders on the streets to trade while assisting foreigners (of all nationalities) to occupy trading sports in shops. I’m mentioning this as an example to show that women can’t be left on the streets to make daily living amounts and not be included in the city’s hosting of a mega sports event which is being staged to generate much business and revenue for the city.

KZN women in sport are more than strong and powerful; they contributed significantly to their husband’s and father’s involvement in the anti-apartheid sports struggle and in their own right to community, school, club and provincial sport, in the democratic South Africa. Much more women would be officials in sport at provincial and national level had they been given the same opportunities as men in sport.

You can already see the male domination of South Africa’s Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, when it was initiated. The men got the positions; the women were just about overlooked and shut out. Now the organising committee and various positions will be detailed and put in place. Already there are many men waiting and wanting to fill these positions. But what about the women?

Women have been left behind and left out of world cup and continental events held before in South Africa. Now comes the Commonwealth Games, seven years away. We already know that if given their chances men will nor remember or advance women and gender equality in all decisions taken but the men as a group will make sure they are looked after first.

We must not allow the event to be organised and staged then years later, allow researchers to come up with research and opinions telling us the Games was a male-dominated affair. Our account of previous mega sports events held in SA show us what a good deal men received and what a marginalised deal women were handed.

At all times anyone involved in organization of the Games or watching developments, especially the sport councils and sports federations and women interest groups and representatives must be on guard and question when they see male-control being looked after and consolidated.

And when it comes to representation of Team South Africa, the planning and development of the team that will represent host country South Africa at the 2022 Commonwealth Games starts now. No more must black girl athletes be left behind and not given the support and guidance they need to develop into adult athletes.

South Africa’s junior and youth teams already show much talent amongst our black sports girls. We are questioning why we see them disappearing and not appearing in national teams as seniors. And the black women coaches must not be invisible and non-existent at the Games or in Team SA.

No international or continental sports event hosted in South Africa must ever again be used to consolidate male control and hegemony in sport. Women and girls participate in sport and consume in sport. They are very much the foundation of a successful sports event being staged.


Unhealthy State Of Women’s Football In South Africa  By Cheryl Roberts

1 Sep


Women’s football is growing immensely at grassroots level in South Africa and on our continent, Africa. Administration ad co-ordination of the women’s game is under the national football structures of every football federation.

Majority opinion is that women’s football is not being given the attention and support the women’s game should be receiving. Arguments suggest, and this in all honesty, that football is so male-dominated and controlled that it’s very hard for women’s football to be ‘taken seriously’ and given the support and financial resources which is allocated to growth and development of girls and men in football.

SAFA will tell you they are ‘supporting women’s football, that they are ‘prioritising women playing football’ and ‘growing the women’s game’.

About two years ago SAFA President, Danny Jordaan insisted that women’s football must be administered by women and women coaches must oversee Banyana Banyana.

I do understand the workings of sports federations cannot satisfy every member, that what is ‘considered in the best interests’ of the federation’s organisation is what dictates policy and its subsequent implementation.

When we talk about women’s football in SA, we talk about all aspects of the game’s organization, from grassroots to international participation.

Appointment Of Coaches

. At national level who decides how the women coaches are appointed? Surely, long serving employee, Fran Hilton-Smith can’t make these decisions on her own?

. SAFA has been producing several women coaches who are gaining various coaching certificates. Do these women coaches have a future as coaches within the SAFA teams?

. I was told by Fran Hilton Smith that SAFA is sending out four women coaches to Germany. I thought SA’s coach of the tournament for the u19 event, Marion February is one of them. When I checked with Marion February, she didn’t know anything about the trip to Germany. Who are the four women coaches selected? What coaching results on the field have they attained? I mention the example of Marion February because emerging coaches are beginning to get worried, wondering if they will ever be given opportunities or are provincial and national coaching positions reserved for a few selected women.

. Selection of various age group teams. Why is a coach like Sheryl Botes a selector for the girls u15, girls u19 and women’s u20 team? Botes has been given many opportunities in SAFA. Has she also been given a coaches lifetime appointment? Does she own this position within SAFA?

. I use the example of coach Marion February, from Cape Town. Marion used her personal money to gain coaching certification. A few years ago, before Banyana’s assistant coach, Desiree Ellis, coach Marion February was SA’s next highest qualified women’s football coach, after Sheryl Botes. Why is Desiree Ellis appointed ahead of another woman coach who is SA’s  successful u19 team coach? Whys hasn’t Sheryl Botes been appointed to Banyana Banyana, ahead of the foreign coach brought in by head coach, Vera Pauuw.

Why are the same coaches and selectors being appointed? Whys are we appointing so much older women, over 40 and 50 yeas of age when there are young women keen to get involved in the throes of coaching.

I ask these questions from the outside of SAFA because they must be asked. Seemingly one or two people within SAFA are controlling appointments and these are based n personal preferences and likes.

 Selection For Banyana Banyana

How does this selection when SAFA has a national women’s coach who hasn’t seen the talent available in SA’s women’s football team? By the make-up of Banyana Banyana teams and squads it’s clear that players playing in the Gauteng region are noticed quickly and called up to Banyana Banyana.

I have asked this before and will ask it again: How does the national coach not see any potential in SA’s champion team, Cape Town Roses, yet she sees players from teams who haven’t proven themselves as CT Roses? If Banyana Banyana was Africa’s champion team and was winning matches with big goals we would say the coach is a winning coach. But this Banyana Banyana teams elected by the coach is struggling to win 1-0 against African teams who have played fewer international matches. I also understand that people have their independent preferences and selection biases. So selection and performance delivery is left in the control of the coach.

 National Competitions

. SAFA says it can’t get a sponsor to fund a women’s professional league. With millions in corporate sponsorship and the world cup legacy fund, you say ‘you can’t’? What do you mean? You are not trying other avenues, not trying hard enough for women’s football!

. What about a national Top Eight for women’s football teams and a national knockout competition. Why must women’s football have just a provincial league and then the national play offs with a measly prize fund of R50 000 for the winning team? The players play this format season after season with no added competitions. They need more motivation and inspirations with more competitions

Women Officials In Football

. Women officials like Natasha Tshiclas, Nomsa Mahlangu and Fran Hilton-Smith may have women’s football as their interest. They are also paid by SAFA, travel the world because of SAFA and we cannot expect them to call out all the wrongs within SAFA’s administration of women’s football. The women officials might not like me to ask these questions. My answer to them and anyone else is that no woman owns her position within women’s football in SA. In fact, I’m of the opinion, that’s some women officials within SAFA have reached their sell by date and must move out of those positions which they’ve occupied for so long.

Seemingly, Fran Hilton-Smith has most of the power and control within SAFA when it comes to women’s football because she is asked to ‘recommend’. SAFA exist for the whole of SA, not only for Gauteng women’s football teams and a team in KZN another here and there. Fran Hilton-Smith tells the women coaches she has plans for them but doesn’t ask them how they see their contribution or how they would like to be placed. Everyone has to wait on Fran Hilton-Smith to notice them and get a phone call.

Involve more women coaches from around the country, not only a select few. And its one coach for one position; not one coach for several coaching positions. All youth age group girl’s teams must be coached and managed by women.

I write this opinion about the state of women’s football in South Africa because there are concern and much dissatisfaction amongst women footballers. I speak to many involved in women’s football. Most importantly, I can work out how wrong selections and appointments are being done. I speak out because women’s football in SA doesn’t belong to an elite club of women football officials who get to travel to the women’s world cup, African football matches and elite football events in SA. I can’t sit back and see just a few women thinking they have the right to organize women’s football as if the game belongs to them.

I state again that the women’s cabal controlling SA women’s football must be broken!