For many years (while playing, and even until recently) I have struggled with the tension of being proud of that achievement and reaching what others around me only dreamt of, and the incessant feeling that I never belonged. I struggled with associating myself with the red daisy. I rejected being bundled together with the images of the supporters.
That week stretched and grew me as a player and a person. All of us face trials and pressures in life. We sometimes encounter them and define them as problems and not regard them as opportunities to grow. I never understood at the time what the necessity and real value of academic tests and examinations (in school) were for, and why or how they were actually for my benefit.
One of the first games in that 1999 season was a fixture against Michaelhouse. It was in the early years of televised schools games of Maritzburg College . This was in the early days of televised school rugby games. At that time I was not selected for the 1st XV team, but for the 2nd XV. Playing for the second side was still a worthy achievement, but not the chief prize.
One morning, at my new school of probably 3 months, we were required to select a sport for that new term. I had desperately hoped that soccer was one of the options, but alas…rugby and hockey (I think) were the choices. Wesley, a friend and class-mate suggested that I try rugby. “What’s that” I said. “Come to practice tomorrow and I’ll show you”. My response…“okay!”.
This is why the saying “opposites attract” is so true, and why we often tend to be attracted to and marry those who differ vastly from us. This difference is what we also often site as the reason for conflict and breakups, and do not recognise the purpose and opportunity of that very difference.
At least they have hand- made cards and presents. I hear stories of my son and I flying on rocket ships around the galaxy, why the sun is wearing sunglasses and earrings, and of bunnies eating carrots under the sun. My daughter crowns me with a paper crown with “King Daddy” written on it. “It might be a little too small or a little too big” she says, “I had to guess how big your head is”.
Your American story is rare, yet enriches the collective black narrative of never feeling fully free. Never feeling like you belong—always having to prove yourself and play catch-up— striving for goals that put you at a different starting point than your white counterpart.
When the flames no longer heat the streets,
And the masses no longer cheer.
When the batons are stowed away again,
and the barrels are lowered from the crowds,
Will anything have changed?
For about 5 years I drove between Johannesburg (the economic hub of South Africa) and Pretoria (the Capital city) where I live. This was the daily community to get to my workplace. A distance of some 50km, which at peak traffic, took anywhere between 45 minutes on a good day, to 2.5 hours on a …
I can’t breathe, he said.
We can’t breathe either.