Shareef Blankenberg
Shareef Blankenberg

Our heritage is no joke

It’s been dubbed “anthemgate”. November 13 2009 the South African rugby team, affectionately known as the Springboks, is playing France at the Municipal Stadium in Toulouse and the stadium is packed. Both teams are lining up for the national anthems and I thought the French were quite the sportsmen as they were absolutely on attention for South Africa’s national anthem.

Enters Dumisani Ras, a South African with dual citizenship living in France. According to the Cape Times this morning he was hired by the South African foreign mission in France, while News24.com states that the Saru president sent a letter of complaint to the French Rugby Union claiming that they had hired Ras.

Anyway, that’s the point where things started to go sour for our Boks. And I think, as a nation, we feel extremely outraged. I mean, this is our national anthem, and normally people join in when it is played at sports gatherings. But this time I saw a lot of heads being bowed in shame and even the players were red in the face — I’m sure it was not due to the cold.

Our national symbols are supposed to be our pride but this blatant show of disregard is just too much for me. And seeing that the anthem is protected in the Constitution, this should constitute a crime.

Even though Oregon Hoskins complained to the Frenchies, I also blame Saru. Did they ensure the person who’s supposed to inspire our boys is really going to instil pride in them?

A couple of years ago all the national sports federations hired speech therapists to ensure the players were ready to go out there and heartily sing the national anthem. At one stage I remember Sarfu contemplating fining players who did not sing the anthem.

Our sports federations must employ someone to travel with our national teams to sing the anthem. They should ensure that such a person proves him/herself to be able to sing the anthem the way it is supposed to. That way we would have no Ras-surprise.

Once again, we should have pride in our national symbols and ensure they are protected, promoted and defended. For those who do not know our national symbols please check out http://www.southafrica.info/about/history/national-symbols.htm