On 19 July, Siya Kolisi made a speech about the BlackLivesMatter (BLM) Movement that became a topic of national conversation. Nearly a month later, it has still not been given serious analytical attention. Sadly, the speech demonstrates how racialism ruins all that is good.

To understand the tragedy of Kolisi’s BLM speech one has to understand the greatness that preceded it. How well do you really know Kolisi’s life story?

BLM Ruins the Work Ethic

Kolisi was an extraordinarily hard-working child. He hawked veggies, made bricks, and worked as a barman at 16. He is a perfect example of what Scots call ‘the work ethic’ and South Koreans call Seamaul Undong – the three-step formula to go from rags to riches:  work, work, work.

It works. When most of South Korea was significantly worse-off than Zwide township, whence Kolisi hails, the Seamaul Undong slogan was:  ‘Do not eat to eat, but eat to work. If you don’t like to work, do not eat. Work at least four hours for each meal’. South Korea is now one of the richest countries in the world and no one goes hungry.

Kolisi could have used his national platform to tell all South African youth, but especially poor youth, that discipline was the key to his success and that if poor youngsters want to make it, they should work like he did.

Instead, Kolisi says the fact that he worked as a child is a crying shame. Looking back, he says, it makes him feel that ‘my life didn’t matter since I was a little kid’.

Kolisi undermines the harshly disciplined aspect of his life, but that is not where it ends.

BLM Ruins Family

According to Jeremy Daniel’s biography, Siya Kolisi: Against All Odds, Kolisi’s mother was 16 when he was born, so he went to live with his grandmother, Nolulamile Kolisi. ‘Money was desperately tight’.

Kolisi’s grandmother would sometimes go hungry, saving the food for him, and she worked hard as a domestic to make ends meet.

But it wasn’t all gloom. At four, Kolisi learned the haka from TV and he would organize a group of friends to perform it for his father occasionally. His father taught him to love rugby.

Kolisi’s grandmother is described as a laughing, loving woman and his father as distant but key to Kolisi’s rugby life. ‘The big games at Dan Qeqe Stadium were occasions when Siya might see his father’, when ‘they would sit together and comment on the [rugby] action, and these were rare and precious times when Siya could really bond with his father’.

Now Kolisi sees things differently. ‘I felt my life didn’t matter since I was a little kid, growing up in the townships. My mentality was all about surviving from the moment I was born.’ He blames his grandmother for merely keeping him ‘motivated’ and ‘not to encourage me to strive and be the best in what I want to do and be the best and follow my dreams’.

As bizarrely cold as he now is to his grandmother for failing to inspire him sufficiently ‘to strive and be the best’ he is even colder to his father, who gets no mention in a speech in which he insists ‘I felt my life didn’t matter’ since birth. What about bonding over rugby games with dad, Siya, didn’t that make you feel special?

BLM Ruins Friendship

Lulama Magxaki, one of Kolisi’s primary school teachers in Zwide township, said ‘he loved to laugh’ and ‘made those around him laugh’. Kolisi is described as having ‘a special bond’ with his half-brother, Liyema.

Kolisi joined the ‘African Bombers’ in Zwide at the Dan Qeqe Stadium, a club that had been around since 1954 and became ‘the first to arrive and the last to leave’. Zolani Faku was his team hero. Eric Songwiqi, ‘a father-figure’ who coached the African Bombers, gave Kolisi his first rugby boots and his big break into Eastern Province junior rugby circa grade 6.

The special ‘eye’ Eric kept over Kolisi, the admiration of his friends who haka-ed with him on the streets or laughed with him at Emsengeni primary school, his fellow ‘Bombers’ and even the love of his little half-brother, Liyema, are all absent from his BLM speech.

Now Kolisi pretends all he thought about was ‘survival’ with not a moment’s joy or distraction or attention from others. ‘I felt I didn’t matter’, he says, from birth to the moment he got a scholarship to a majority white school.

BLM Ruins Respect

As Daniels tells it, Kolisi’s big break was at a junior inter-provincial competition where Kolisi’s team went down 30-0 in the first half. Kolisi, far from ‘not mattering’ to anyone, as he now portrays it, made the passionate half-time speech that ‘fired up’ the boys, including his white friend Nick Holton, who attended Grey Junior. Right after the speech, they scored a try, with Kolisi and Nick leading the move.

Coach Eric, that watchful father-figure, noted with relief that the Grey school staff were ‘taking notes’ after the try.

As a result of his efforts that day, Kolisi won the first Vincent Mai bursary to Grey Junior. But getting a full ride to Grey High would depend on his all-round performance, on being the kind of person who mattered and was accepted by the community.

Writes Daniels: ‘His easy-going nature and infectious laugh made him popular with peers and teachers’. So he got a full ride to Grey High.

But, now, in his BLM speech, Kolisi not only disrespects his friends and family by pretending no one ever made him feel like he ‘mattered’ before Grey, he also ridicules those who gave him great educational opportunities at Grey.

Kolisi says his friend Nick ‘had to teach me English each and every single day’, implying the school’s failure to help left him feeling ‘stupid’.

In fact, teacher Adie Mukheibir was assigned to help with remedial English lessons for Kolisi. Nor was he alone. Two other African Bombers from Zwide township were at Grey with Kolisi in remedial English, fellows Kolisi neglects to mention while describing a ‘bubble’ within which only whiteness was accepted at Grey.

BLM Ruins Introspection

In his BLM speech, Kolisi says ‘I had to conform to the culture to feel accepted at Grey’. This may be true, it may even be a good thing to conform to a good culture of excellence at boarding school. But Kolisi not only renders this shameful in retrospect, he fails to mention a telling detail about his own role.

The other Zwide boys did not like to wear their Grey uniforms in the township on weekends ‘because it was perceived as [implying] “you are too good for us’’’. But Kolisi did not mind seeming ‘too good’.

‘When Siya went back home on weekends, he liked to be dropped off wearing his Grey Junior uniform’. According to high school coach Dean Carelse, who personally drove the boys home to Zwide township, that habit persisted through Grey High.

Kolisi surely cannot pretend that the school’s ‘culture’ was forcing him to show off his uniform in the township on weekends too?

Yes, he can. When making a BLM speech, nothing is impossible, because facts don’t matter as long as you render a narrative of victimisation.

Never forget that Kolisi was Great

Ever since 2002, when then-president Thabo Mbeki said it would be better for the Springboks to lose for several years than select too many white players, the game has been under attack.

In 2007, Jake White was fired for winning the World Cup with insufficient melanin (or for not choosing Luke Watson, of the Bosasa Watsons), a blow whose shock was felt in rugby for years to come.

In 2015, a court bid emerged to try and stop the Springboks from travelling to the World Cup because the team was ‘too white’ and had lost to Japan. The next year, then sports minister Fikile Mbalula banned South Africa from hosting international tournaments to punish ‘whiteness’ and the loss to Italy. The next year, Ashwin Willemse falsely accused co-hosts Naas Botha and Nick Mallett of racism before storming off set on live television, and the Boks slipped to the worst ranking ever.

In the meantime, administrators repeatedly issued race quotas at national level. When Rassie Erasmus was appointed head Springbok coach in 2018, he said race quotas were a ‘key performance indicator’. But then something strange happened.

Former captains Eben Etzebeth and Warren Whitely got injured, so Kolisi was made national backup captain on the back of his captaincy at the Stormers franchise. There were many question marks, but one settled them all.

Kolisi was asked for his view on race quotas for national sport, and he shocked the chattering classes by coming out strongly against them. He insisted that if he underperformed, he himself should be dropped from the team.

Personally, I ululated. This was welcomed by most South Africans too. IRR surveys showed at the time that 80% of black South Africans opposed race quotas for national sport. Finally, a Springbok captain just said what we all thought – only choose the best.

This unnerved the race merchants in politics and professional media who make their money and derive their power from dividing South Africans against one another by race. In the meanwhile, Kolisi played excellent rugby, mostly as a workhorse.

Throughout 2019, further attempts to discredit and distract the team were made by race merchants, but Kolisi’s defensive wall held as strong as our line against England in the second-half of the World Cup Final.

In my view, Kolisi’s opposition to national sports quotas was a major part of the psychological background that explains the confidence that carried the team to World Cup victory for a third time.

BLM Ruins Victory

But in his BLM moment, Kolisi undoes the good work. He says that it was only after his own and Erasmus’s appointment that all Springboks ‘felt valued’. According to the logic of Kolisi’s BLM speech, Bryan Habana was not ‘valued’, nor was Ricky Januarie, nor the Ndungane brothers, nor Guthro Steenkamp, nor Breyton Paulse, to name a few of the heroes I grew up celebrating.

It was only after his own appointment that ‘we felt valued, we could sing’, but not before.

And now, rather than representing all South Africans who love the ‘green and gold’, Kolisi talks as if he only represents black ‘township boys’, while white players only inspire other whites.

This is how you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. This is what BLM does. It breaks people’s minds, it makes the victim narrative so seductive that a grown man will renounce his own work ethic, slur his own grandmother, ignore his own father, forget about his first coach, disregard his friends, deride his school, disrespect his patrons and spurn the love that shaped him ‘since birth’.

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34 COMMENTS

  1. Shelby Steele on Psychological Manipulation – BlackLivesMatter; ” We are a people traumatised, not by oppression, but by freedom.”

  2. Victimology is the new “science” for those who need to claim their currency on the backs of the hard work of others.

  3. Kolisi is a sportsman who gets paid to put his head between the legs of grown men and chase an oval ball around a field. He is not an advocate, brain surgeon, engineer or even priest. Let’s just say I don’t have high expectations that his intellectual ability is matched by his physical prowess…

    • Definitely, not to mention make amends with his granny for raising him and basically making him. She did not ‘merely motivate’ him, she picked up the runt of the litter and turned it into a worthwhile prospect. Pity he doesn’t see it that way, he castigates her for not handing success to him on a silver platter and patronising his feels. He’s a prick.

  4. I let out a good ole Hugh Bladen ‘Unbelieveable!’ at the end of this.
    Outstanding piece, Mr Crouse. Possibly the best analysis Ive read on athletes’ relationship with BLM.

  5. Well said Gabriel. Thank you for a thoughtful and highly appropriate piece.
    The BLM movement has no place here in South Africa where relationships on the ground are generally fine.
    It is only those whose motives are to create a rift between the race groups and those who unthinkingly adopt the mantras of the international far left, who would fall for or promote this seductive claptrap.

  6. Not surprising! Just another unappreciative , fortunate being. I do believe that with his exposed ‘secret’ leanings. a dozen or so fellow Boks are not too willing to help him in future. BLM….BS!

  7. EE placement example was displayed in its full glory with Siya. At the moment he realized he was placed at the position because he needed to fulfill narrative of transformation, he decided he does not need to do rugby anymore, but just make political statements. If I was watching rugby cup (and, it was first one I have not watched in my life), I would be very disappointed that skipper has not played single whole game. What turned me off the rugby is narrative that was preceding the cup: “Siya would be first black captain to raise the cup”. For me, it was already decided, SA will win it, and not because they will be the best, but because they have captain of approved skin shade.

  8. I am sorry but this completely miss the mark. I hear and feel very little of what you write here in the actual video by Siya. Not only is it tone deaf, but this seems to be projecting your political agenda onto his words – that seem far less ideological and way more sincere. It comes across as cheap and crude how you try and twist his township experience to fit your ideological narrative – some really cheap attempts here at pointscoring. I don’t get how this helps the liberal cause in RSA or even how this is some liberal moral story – its read condescending mostly and plays exactly into the increasingly valid stereotype of RSA’s classic liberal crowd.

    I find this faux intellectualism and political psychology is exactly what puts me off our classic liberals these days – especially the youngsters that seem to be a mirror of the left radicals. I mean this article is text book stuff trying to twist and parse every word of Siya into some BLM bogeyman and missing most of the context and perspective.

    • You the very same Helgard Muller that played wing for the Free State a good few years back that I had so much respect for on the field?

    • Dear Mr Muller. I thank you for your response sir. 🙌

      Sometimes it’s hard to think of the correct words or terminology to answer to articles like these, but I feel you’ve hit the nail on the head here. It saddens me to see that people still stand behind such articles an actually give it support although I myself feel it’s very one sided & tame to say the least.

      Firstly!!!

      Siya Kolisi: Against All Odds

      Message from Siya Kolisi: “To clear any confusion, the book published about me with my name on the cover, wasn’t written by me or produced with my approval or even knowledge.” #SettingTheRecordStraight

      This tweet was sent by Siya on the 28 August 2019. Google it, search it or what ever.

      The rest is history. Just by this tweet I’ve lost total intrest in this article, since most of it the author simply read from the an unreliable book an interpreted into his own words. Classic. Can’t believe how he’s taken some stories of Siya out of context. Such articles sadden me cause they gain momentum, give false information an paint an ugly pictures. Journalists / authors are cruel in this aspect I feel, but anything for those likes of Facebook or where ever.

      If people still carry such mentalities, this country will never grow.

  9. Very good analysis by Gabriel Crouse, I didn’t note inaccuracies but observations that the far left and Media 24 choose to ignore.

  10. Great article Gabriel! It really upsets me that Siya Kolisa (& it’s not only him of course) has sunk to this level. He claims to be anti-racism but is actually stoking the fires of racial division & hatred by completely undermining his journey to the place of excellence he occupies. I wonder if he even knows what the BLM movement really stands for or is he a closet Marxist?? Shameful.

  11. BLM – A racist, Marxist, left wing Communist movement created by global elites to overthrow the right. It does not represent black people.
    The same global elites that stood on and controlled the right have moved to the left because it financially benefits them.
    Kolisi and those other BLM supporters are more ignorant than we realised.

  12. Excellent excellent writing Gabriel. (I feel Helgard Muller’s post not worthy of comment.) The BLM and destructive leftist culture is born from a deep inferiority complex. I will not express myself here regarding my view on the merits of this. Suffice to say that playing the victim is so much easier and more convenient than owning up and accepting responsibility. Ego will never accept the truth.

  13. Reading this, my stomach churned in anger. Crouse is obtuse and certainly has no desire to see or treat SIya as an equal and a human with agency and able to tell his story. So instead of trying to understand Siya’s personal story he tries to retell it and shame Siya. Clearly Siya did not pay enough homeage and reverence to his absentee father who he saw occassionally.

    Siya, chooses to tell his story in a way that exposes racism in sport but also his own emotional experiences as a black child growing up in South Africa. Fully aware of his success one cannot forget how difficult it was to get there and how unique his experience of success is. A few people helped a long the way. This was not the norm it was the exception.

    The reality is that there are many who Siya has left behind that never had his opportunities and never will because of where they are born and who they are. This article is hugely offensive for its attempt to usurp and retell a person story too suit the authors own political beliefs and agenda. The underlying message to Siya is that your lived reality is not valid because it does not fit the Crouse’s world view of we all equal some more than others so deal. This obsession with whitewashing that racism is a reality and race still matters harms genuine attempts for dialogue and a real chance to change. BLM and talking about how race affects us does not foster and encourage racism it helps us confront the issue. There is a lot I learned from Siya’s sharing of his experiences. Why would the springboks run training sessions in Afrikaans? The only purpose could be to exclude those who dont speak the language but Crouse has nothing to really to re-buttle the real experiences of Siya’s experiences so he prefers just writing an alternative story.

  14. Life matters, human life matters, why this distinction into black lives matter? What purpose is the distinction serving? Whose agenda is it serving? It is certainly not an agenda which recognises that we are all part of a whole, which whole, it is in the best interest of all of us, to nurture every bit of.

  15. I personally think this whole Kolisi and friends saga is getting far too much media coverage. Everybody has the right to an opion and to make an ah of himself. Its the classical example of a crumb that became a loaf. Rather counting their blessings and for having had the opportinities, its still not good enough. By doing this they try to disguise their true capabilities and shortcomings. He is the Springbok captain who who a world cup. Thats all. A great outstanding captain he will never be. You can buy ground, you cannot buy background.

  16. Supporters of BLM are hilariously myophic and rationalising in South Africa. What are the core causes of BLM as a movement? The notion that minorities are being mistreated by the police, most of which consist of the majority demographic. What is our majority demographic? Black people. What is the majority demographic in the police force? Blacks. If you could put 2 and 2 together, you would notice that there is more merit for a White(or insert any other minority group…) Lives Matter movement in South Africa than for BLM. That is without even considering the fact that Blacks as a demographic own all the political power in South Africa, and that anyone who has the benefit of Greys College is remarkably privileged. Just like those who bark on about Rhodes Must Fall while having the benefit of an ahem Rhodes Scholarship at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, you aren’t speaking truth to power. You’re just exhibiting the symptoms of someone whose brain has been removed by the droppings of some bildungsphilister.

  17. Well done to Helgard Muller for restoring rational thought to a deeply flawed and clearly agenda driven analysis. I took the trouble to listen to the maligned speech. Having done so, I am at a loss to understand what the author was hearing. I initially almost fell for the relief-filled explosion of anti-BLM sentiment until I took the trouble to listen to Siya’s chat, which was neither a pre-prepared speech, nor exhibited any of the malicious sentiment attributed. Add to this the fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of the BLM intent (remember the #all men are trash movement), and the outpouring of vindictive rhetoric against the idea, (clearly in the most part without having bothered even to verify the facts) and we have succeeded only in proving the very theory we set out to disprove! I see this as an effort to shoe-horn a pre-existing worldview into the first Youtube video the author could find… Our attempts to restore traditional Nationalism cannot hide behind such a thin veil of misrepresented words. Wrong man, wrong speech! Try Ozzy Man Reviews next time…

  18. Hard work matter… PERIOD… that’s how you get somewhere… the rest are just to detract that those that works hardest succeeds (irrespective of the color of your skin)

  19. Outstanding piece. Puts Kolisi’s personality into perspective.
    Having now finally won the World Cup with the ‘first’ black captain ever, ‘they’ can now finally remove the Springbok emblem and carry on playing as Proteas. The Springboks and their history will be remembered as a special breed of rugby players, having delivered exceptional results for its supporters.
    Have a nice life Siya.

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