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Friday, December 06, 2013

The Springboks and Nelson Mandela - RIP Madiba

Rugby leaders from around the world have paid tribute to former President Nelson Mandela, who passed away in Johannesburg aged 95. It was in 1995 that he played a large role in uniting a divided South Africa around the Rugby World Cup.

In 1990 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was released from prison after having spent 27 years in captivity for his efforts in changing the way that the white ruled country was run. Just four years later, aged 75, he was elected President following a democratic election in a rapidly changing country.

A year later, with South Africa having been awarded the rights to host the first ever Rugby World Cup that the Springboks would compete in, Mandela played his part in uniting the new Rainbow Nation behind a sports team that traditionally favoured only white players. One Team, One Country.

His role, from before the tournament to the victorious final against the All Blacks, has become a thing of legend, and his relationship with then captain Francois Pienaar something quite unique.

"Francois, thank you very much for what you have done for our country," Mandela said to victorious Pienaar as he stood holding the Webb Ellis trophy at a packed Ellis Park.

"No, Mr. President. Thank you for what you have done for our country," Pienaar replied.

Current Springbok captain Jean De Villiers spoke of the impact he has had on the country.

"My lasting memory of Madiba is that of a person who had enormous ability to bring people together. His presence at a Test Match just lifted the crowd and energised the team - it is actually hard to describe.

"Of course, as a sportsman I am so grateful for him for what he did for our country. He inspired South Africans, who for so long were very divided, to peacefully build a united Rainbow Nation."

South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins echoed the thoughts of all South Africans.

"His name will rank among that of the greatest liberators and humanitarians for as long as mankind walks the earth. It was our privilege to have lived in this country during his lifetime."

NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew said the sport had lost 'a champion of our game'. "New Zealand Rugby has enormous respect for Mr Mandela and his incredible contribution to his country and people.

"We have lost a champion for our game, a leader whose inspiration ensured Rugby World Cup in 1995 was a remarkable time for our sport and whose influence on sport has been far-reaching.

"His presentation of the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar after South Africa overcame the All Blacks in the Final is a moment that few New Zealanders will ever forget," he said.

Mandela was a boxer, but his belief in the power of sport led to him becoming somewhat of a mascot for both the South African rugby and cricket teams. Below is a short tribute, with words from the great man himself. Rest in Peace, Tata Madiba.

Posted at 10:00 am | 15 comments

Viewing 15 comments

bish December 06, 2013 11:58 am

"Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."

What a truly great man he was and always will be.

Rest in peace Madiba. Your legacy lives on!

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UpTheLowEnd December 06, 2013 1:08 pm

Wow... That hit me much harder than I thought it would. What a truly amazing man.

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45678 December 06, 2013 5:08 pm

NM was an inspirational leader and demonstrated the power of forgiveness and humility to all, but I think you are glossing over fact when you say "27 years in captivity for his efforts in changing the way that the white ruled country was run" he was imprisoned because he set off bombs and killed people. He says as much in his autobiography. It may now be for legitimate reasons with the benefit if 50 years hindsight, but it's a bit crass to wash over killing people as "his efforts"
He is a hugely important figure of 20th century history, an inspiration in the face if adversary, and a figure head in the fight against racism on both sides, but it's easy to forget and rewrite history to suit out modern liberal values, whether for good or bad

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Jeri December 06, 2013 10:19 pm

We, and generations after will continue to read about him, what he has done and judge him accordingly. But now I hope you'll forgive most of us when we express sadness on the death of a bloke whom, frankly, we do like quite a bit.

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45678 December 07, 2013 2:06 pm

Nothing to forgive, but that's kind of the point! NM did some bad stuff in his younger years, but it's the ability to move on not seek revenge, compassion etc that defined him. I think it is important to highlight the negative, because this process of reconciliation made him who he was

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DanKnapp December 07, 2013 9:55 pm

Great point, well made 45678. Every great person has their flaws. It's the flaws which make them human and give the rest of us hope.

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GOLDORATE December 06, 2013 5:26 pm

RIP MADIBA

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Schultz December 06, 2013 5:38 pm

I've been struggling to not think about anything else today, we all are truly worse off now that he is gone, but we have gained so much from his presence.
Its hard to beleive that a single game can have such a lasting memory or effect the way something is perceived so much.
Being born in 1989 it is the first World Cup I watched, I can clearly remember him passing the trophy to Pienaar and thinking that that must be something very special despite having no idea what it actually meant.

Thankyou Nelson, for everything that you have done, for having the courage to do what you had to do to force the changes that have benefited so many people.

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elcardana December 07, 2013 2:54 am

An inspiration of all the men in the world

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ditosila December 07, 2013 9:33 am

One of the Greitest person in the history

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highwaychile December 09, 2013 3:12 am

I think the legacy of Mandela, amid all of the great things he accomplished, should be the incredible power of forgiveness. I find it utterly amazing. As an American I cannot recall a leader here who brought such opposing sides together. And still, I find some of my South African friends complaining about Mandela. I just shake my head.

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4LC4TR4Z December 09, 2013 9:29 am

"... Aaahhh Jonah ! What about that bad diarrhea ?"

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BawsbYVCUAAHlMS.jpg:large

:-)

God bless Madiba.

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Eddie-g December 09, 2013 3:00 pm

Thank you, RD, for posting this. It's hard to find words, but the relationship of Madiba with the Springboks was a defining image of the man and what he did for our country.

@45678 - I would recommend The State v Nelson Mandela by Joel Joffe to update your knowledge. At the point Mandela was convicted, the ANC had neither targeted nor killed a single civilian. Not one. They had perpetrated acts of sabotage (minor bombings of power stations, deliberately designed to avoid civilian casualties), and Mandela was convicted for that as well as on three other charges connected to belonging to banned organisations. That was the sum total of the State's evidence, it was embarrassingly thin, but it was all that was needed under the laws at the time.

You also say Mandela did some "bad stuff" - let's be clear what bad stuff he did was utterly venial to the system he was fighting against, and the tactics his adversaries used. It's true Mandela denied he should be regarded as saintly, but I say that the term "saint" has little meaning if it can't be applied to him.

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katman December 09, 2013 7:37 pm

Thank you, Eddie. Well said.

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4LC4TR4Z December 10, 2013 7:41 am

Well, you know, there are a lot of "saint" in the calendar that burned or killed people, some others "liked" very young kids, others were lords as kind as Joffrey Baratheon...

So, I'm pretty sure Nelson Mandela would be a better saint than most of them.

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