For those of us who came of age in the 1990s, the liberation of South Africa from apartheid was probably the most inspiring event of that decade. Reading Nelson Mandela moving biography – ‘The Long Walk to Freedom’ – and then visiting the Robben Island prison where the great man was incarcerated for over three decades gave us an enhanced perspective into how racism can disfigure societies. Through all of this, most of us learnt to understand – and live with – the fact that racism, casteism and myriad forms of discrimination – based on religion, language, gender and sexuality – are par for the course in corporate life. Now, as Black Lives Matter (BLM) brings the issue of discrimination to the fore, we are seeing old divisions and long held grievances come to the fore. This BBC article on how South African cricket has been split down the middle – more or less along racial lines – 29 years after apartheid ended is a reminder to us in India of the long journey that lies ahead of us as we fight divisions in our own society.
“The latest flashpoint surrounds current international Lungi Ngidi, who was criticised on social media by white former players for supporting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Many black former South Africa internationals have come out publicly in support of Ngidi, who was named the country’s men’s one-day international and T20 cricketer of the year last weekend.
On Thursday, Ngidi’s team-mate Rassie van der Dussen posted his support in Afrikaans on social media…On Wednesday, Hashim Amla, one of South Africa’s greatest batsmen, joined many of his fellow black cricketers in their backing of Ngidi.
“Many of us, including myself, have borne the brunt of these delusions and have crazy stories to tell which is why it makes it even more admirable to see exceptional youngsters like Lungi Ngidi doing his bit to represent us all,” Amla posted on Instagram.
“Thank you brother and all those who stand up for just causes in their own way – publicly and privately.
“There are oppressed people here in this country and the world over, of all colours and walks of life, cricket included.
“However the darker skinned people have had the worst of it. Some may convince themselves otherwise but you have to ask yourself – are those who know the same as those who don’t know?””
So why did contemporary giants like Hashim Amla feel the need to step in to defend rising fast bowler, Lungi Ngidi? Because of this remarkable piece of tone deaf public commentary by some other South African cricketers: “Ngidi, 24, was criticized by former Proteas players Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar and Brian McMillan after he called on his international team-mates to support the Black Lives Matter movement…Former international Symcox responded to Ngidi’s comments on social media.
“What nonsense is this? He must take his own stand if he wishes,” Symcox wrote.
“Stop trying to get the Proteas involved in his belief.
“Now when Ngidi has his next meal, perhaps he should rather consider supporting the farmers of South Africa who are under pressure right now. A cause worth supporting.”
Dippenaar, another ex-international, described the Black Lives Matter movement “as nothing more than a leftist political movement”.”
The swiftness with which Boeta Dippenaar associated Black Lives Matter to a Left Wing movement is familiar to many of us in India. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta wrote recently in the Indian Express: “Anand Teltumbde, one of India’s important and courageous thinkers, just turned 70 in prison. He, along with Sudha Bharadwaj and others, is being held in the Bhima Koregaon case. They are being repeatedly denied bail….Teltumbde was also prescient about the way the term “Left” is used in India. Teltumbde himself is closer to the Left in his economic imagination. But the rhetorical function of the “Left” in India is not to describe the contest over the free market versus the state. The rhetorical function of the “Left” is to describe any ideological or political current that, while recognising the importance of identity, wants to escape its compulsory or simplistic character; so any broadly liberal position or a position that distances itself from “my community right or wrong” also becomes Left.” (Source: https://indianexpress.com/
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