Archive | March, 2016

Children Of Anti-Apartheid Sport Triumph Internationally By Cheryl Roberts

14 Mar

The phenomenal talents of South Africa’s male sprint athlete, Wayde van Niekerk are being applauded throughout the international athletics family and especially in the athlete’s home country.
The significance of these feats achieved by the young world champion is that is apartheid had gone on for more years and decades and SA remained an international pariah country, ostracised and isolated from world sport the young athletes like Wayde van Niekerk, Caster Semenya and Akani Simbine would still not have international participation to demonstrate their world class athletics prowess.
Reflecting on and admiring the record breaking feats achieved by young Wayde van Niekerk, one is reminded over and over again about the tireless work undertaken by anti-apartheid sport activists.
Today, young South African athletes in several sports, who are the children of the generations that were forced to challenge apartheid sport, benefit from the willingness and desire to fight for freedom and to sacrifice their personal sports ambitions.
The children have grown up, seizing the opportunities created for them by the advent of a democratic era in SA, and displaying their sports talent on the continental and world sports stages. Wayde van Niekerk’s mother, Odessa Krause was a champion anti-apartheid athletes, international cricketer Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s father played provincial rugby and got his non-racial sport colours, Marion Marescia was one of SA’s finest women hockey players and her recently retired daughter, Marsha went on to captain the SA women’s hockey team and to represent SA internationally. There’s also world top twenty tennis doubles player, Raven Klaasen who has played at Wimbledon and several grand slam tennis tournaments, an opportunity denied to his champion anti-apartheid tennis playing father, Jappie Klaasen. There are many examples of people who have the talent and potential to represent SA internationally but were denied this right because apartheid restricted people according to their skin colour.
It was 60 years ago, in 1956, that the Nationalist regime announced the introduction of apartheid legislation in sport. Several laws were passed which impacted on and affected participation in sport. What apartheid legislation in sport meant is that the white minority population would represent apartheid South Africa internationally and the white minority would receive government funding for sport while the oppressed majority would be excluded from government funding and would not be allowed to represent the country they were born in and lived in.
The anti-apartheid sports leaders and officials through their vibrant, sincere and fierce organisations such as the South African Soccer Federation (SASF), South African Sports Association (SASA), South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC) and South African Council On Sport (SACOS) fought a tireless and principled fight against apartheid in sport and society.
From the 1950’s to 1990’s, oppressed South African people played sport in their communities which boasted minimal resources and inadequate sports facilities and equipment; they loved and enjoyed participation in sport. They also yearned to represent their country internationally.
There was significant talent amongst the oppressed people during the horrendous apartheid era. But this talent could never represent its country and compete internationally.
People who played anti-apartheid, non-racial sport knew they were playing sport for freedom; that only when the oppressed were liberated from apartheid and freedom was achieved would South Africa be able to participate in world sport as a democratic country.
The children’s triumphs on the international sports terrain present parents with much pride and happiness and also our country, South Africa. And whenever international feats and achievements are recorded, we are reminded about the sacrifices of the anti-apartheid sports generation; the officials and leaders who personally committed their lives to freedom from apartheid.
Had the elimination of apartheid and the ushering in of a democratic government in SA been further delayed, this generation of international athletes might have missed international participation and the achievement of their outstanding results such as Wayde van Niekerk, the world 400m champion.
None of the children of anti-apartheid sport parents and families were born into wealth and, just as their parents struggled to participate in and stay in sport, so too did they, in their formative years in community and school sport. But as their teenage years approached, their sports talent got noticed and couldn’t be ignored. Soon the youngsters were representing SA internationally at youth level sports events. Today, they have developed into world class sports talents.
While we revel in their sports achievements and celebrate their successes and achievements and feel for them through their disappointing times, whenever ever forget the anti-apartheid sports struggle for freedom which ensured that future generations of black people, like the present generation, would never be denied the opportunities denied to their parents and grandparents.IMG_3267

Women Must Never Stop Demanding The Society They Want By Cheryl Roberts0

7 Mar

Calling out men and privileged women who strangle women’s advancement and don’t support women’s struggles is an act of resistance, by women of critical consciousness, to being controlled and dominated by patriarchy, male hegemony and race and gender privilege. Women have to constantly be on guard to protect their beings from those in society who are determined to work against and keep women down.
In our South African society, demanding a revolutionary move out of a patriarchal and privileged society, is resilience that every woman must demonstrate. However, privileged and elite women have shown their selfishness and individual styles in protecting their personal interests first and always, without giving much vocal support to women’s battles, especially, black and working class women.
Just because you are a woman means that existing and surviving, on your woman’s terms and for your woman’s being, in a male-dominated, patriarchal society, you must be consistently fierce, strong and battle conscious. At no time can we take our eye off the ball; to do this allows our women’s beings to be controlled and dominated by all the vicious mechanisms which prop up and maintain patriarchy and male hegemony.
Women’s struggles the world over inspire and motivate women’s struggles in all countries battling and contesting patriarchy, male hegemony and masculinity as a society’s supremacy. This International Women’s Day, women will again support and ‘be there for each other and for sisterhood’, some conscious and feminist men will also be in the women’s struggle.
In South Africa, women’s voices are out there, not only contesting and challenging but also demanding the society we want to create and live in. Of particular significance, is the powerful momentum of young women’s voices and activism on the front line, especially those of student struggles.
It’s not only a phenomenal battle, but a daily struggle, contesting and challenging patriarchy and male domination of society and women’s lives. Some support here and there, together with national policies which prohibit domination of women, is not enough.
Besides being aware of men’s control of our lives we also have to be on guard and call out those women, especially elite, middle class and professional women of all colours, who suffocate and strangle women when they have attained positions of power.
We must not be afraid to acknowledge that women with power are not necessarily supporters of ‘the sisterhood and women’s struggles’. In South Africa, we see when women attain power, they waste no time in embracing dominant male behavior and control and work relentlessly at keeping ‘women down’ instead of supporting women.
Class, race and colour must never be dismissed in women’s struggles and activism. We also can’t rely on the privileged women in society to lead struggles, especially battles those of working class women. In times of contestation and challenge, when warriors must battle patriarchy and male hegemony, those women with some power and middle class and elite status, will stay in the background; their voices will be silent and won’t be out there chorusing with struggling women. But when the battles emerge as victories for women, it’s the elite, professional and middle class that will mostly benefit from the gains.

No more must we support men who don’t support women’s struggles and that also goes for men in the anti-apartheid struggle. Women have sacrificed too much and given their lives for freedom in their lifetime only to see and know, that when freedom is supposedly won, it’s the men (of all colours), who get to dominate and control.
In our activism we must fiercely guard our women’s voice! This means not entertaining and supporting male domination of committees, of talking panels at conferences, events, community meetings and national and international representation. A gender perspective must lead our vision and at all times and we must never apologise for asking, ’where are the women?’ Should we fail to do this, we will be giving men free reign to control the discourse and discussion with women left out.
And when we never forget to mention the women, it must not be seen that we are men-haters. What we hate is how women’s lives and bodies are controlled by a male-dominated society!
When we aim to disrupt all that engineers suffocation and breaking down of women, we must activate struggles on a terrain of intersectionality; this because all women’s struggles in society are linked, whether its class, colour, gender, sexuality, race.
Women’s struggles can never wait for men to speak out for women and neither can the struggles of black and working class women be reliant of the voices of privileged women. It really is about women’s struggles being authentically and organically located in the trenches led by women with a critical consciousness, by women not afraid of contesting and losing their privilege and by women who would never allow power to rule their beings. It really is about black and working class being on their own, fiercely contesting and challenging for the society they demand to live in.IMG_2581