Yesterday I was listening to John Maytham on 567 while driving back from rehearsals and he was fielding calls from listeners who were hysterical about the keeping or chucking of the Springbok as SA rugby’s emblem.
Now I must say at the outset that rugby is not my game; I am a cricket somebody, much to Big Friendly’s continued amusement. (And I still manage to support a team whose name and emblem allows me to nickname them The Poepteas!) Nonetheless, Big Friendly has influenced me and I occasionally watch a rugby test match when SA is involved. (I love Naas and his pre, half-time and post show analysis.)
This name changing debacle is a fascinating one for me, not because of the name itself, but more, because of how it has been handled. More and more we see how a big stick approach just doesn’t work, on both sides. First of all, to demand that the name be changed is a leetle heavy handed, and certainly provocative. It doesn’t open a debate, it just raises hackles, voices and occasionally fists. Then the vicious "f you" argument for keeping the name becomes tainted with racial overtones and a throwback to a hideous, divided past.
I just don’t get it. The solution is so simple. Why can’t everyone just ask nicely? This is the conversation I would have liked to have happen.
Against Bok: We would like to change the hurtful name and emblem of the Springbok.
Pro Bok: We are so sorry that the name and emblem caused anyone any pain, and we understand how this is possible. We are working so hard to change the negative connotation of the Bok. We would like to ask you nicely if we can keep the emblem.
Against Bok: Ok
One caller on John’s show tried to say this yesterday but he got completely mangled. Dan was hurt by the arrogance of the Pro Bok team, who miss the point that the name can be hurtful, but he ended up calling them Afrikaners. Next thing he was being branded a racist. Hau Dan, I know what you were trying to say.
It’s all about being kind, showing respect and having a conversation. All the threats are just so dangerous, disgusting and useless.