The Reaction to Kolisi’s Statements: An Insult to Black Consciousness

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Siya Kolisi, the national rugby team captain, has made the obvious point that the best way to get more black players in the team is by developing those players from a young age. This ensures that you get a bigger pool of these players available for selection and that when they do get selected, they are able to add value to the team. This last point is important for the sake of these individuals: They play rugby because they want to win by contributing significantly to the team’s victory.

The men who don the green and gold are exceptional athletes. They push themselves to the limit and amaze us with their exploits on the field as a result. They are motivated to do this because all of them are winners by nature. They cannot bear to be second or third; they want to be first.

Imagine how these individuals feel when they know that they are their coaches’ second or third choice? It kills their spirit, lowers their morale — and that of the entire team as a result — and turns fans off, thereby killing the commercial appeal of the sport. I assume everyone reading this doesn’t simply go to work or run a business only for the money. You want the recognition of being good at what you do, and the same goes for black Boks — they are just as driven as their white counterparts.

Black people in this country have the highest incidence of poverty and yet someone like Siya could get to the pinnacle of SA rugby. Some of his black colleagues have undoubtedly overcome overwhelming odds to get to where they are and all because they were driven to win. They do not give their heart and soul on the field because it’s “just a job” — these people are more fanatical about that weirdly-shaped thing they call a ball than their most ardent fans. As a soccer fan I think it’s all crazy, but when there’s a World Cup on I want to support the winning team, as I did in 2007.

Social media reacted to Kolisi’s comments with a shameful level of vitriol. It was made quite clear that, as a black person, you are not allowed to think against the herd, especially if you happen to have a white spouse. Only white people have the mental fortitude to remain an individual with their own agency within marriage, whereas us poor blacks are subsumed by the superior brains of our white spouses. These people call themselves adherents to Black Consciousness. That would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic.

The reaction to Kolisi reminded me of the insults thrown at black liberals, libertarians and conservatives. We are subjected to racist insults for advocating for the only institutions in human history that have ever created safe, peaceful and prosperous societies, namely: individual property rights, the rule of law and a free market. We are vilified for believing our continent can and should be the greatest on Earth by doing the same things that have made everyone else successful. In short, we are rejected because we are winners.

I have come to realise that some people look down on themselves. They do not believe they can be great, and so they fill the hole in their being by lying to themselves that they already are great just because ancestors who shared the same skin colour did great things. It reminds me of Steve Hofmeyr trying to steal the glory of all past white people who did great things. It is a sad way to live.

I suppose it makes sense at some level. Nothing comes easy in this world, and so if you are not willing to endure the sacrifices inherent in pushing yourself to the limit, why not snuggle in the warmth of the glories of ancestors past? Personally, I find it all to be rather pitiful. I would rather build on the past to create something of my own. I see no value in making the world into worthless me — I want to be considered as one of the champions of progress, no matter how small my contribution.

I don’t see the point of living a life feeling sorry for myself and repeating the mistakes of the past. I am an individual first. As a free individual, I chose to be black not just because my skin has a greater concentration of melanin, but because I love the culture that defines my blackness; a union of countless cultures passed on by great civilisations like the Zulu, the Basotho, the Xhosa, etc.

The likes of Inkosi u Bhambatha Ka Mancinza who fought against a tax because his sense of justice could not tolerate theft inspire me. Today, we have people calling themselves conscious Africans, claiming to be inspired by him as well, while lobbying for more taxes at the same time.

Afrikaner nationalism failed, white supremacy failed, and African nationalism is failing. Why don’t we try liberty for once?

Let individual Africans pursue their own happiness instead of trying to create an oppressive group identity that only serves the destructive ends of the majority’s views. If we are to cooperate as black people in uplifting our communities, it should be as free individuals and not as slaves to a failed ideology.

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