Some sym­bols are worth dy­ing for

CityPress - - Sport - S’Bu­siso Mse­leku sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Sbu_Mse­leku

There is an in­ter­est­ing and im­por­tant cam­paign cur­rently run­ning on news chan­nel eNCA. It is aimed at mak­ing South Africans un­der­stand – and I guess love – their coun­try more. In it, South Africans from dif­fer­ent walks of life are asked per­ti­nent ques­tions about the coun­try. One of the ques­tions is: What is the South African na­tional flower? A num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als shown in the video clips get it wrong, some don’t even know that there is such a thing.

The protea is one of the most im­por­tant na­tional sym­bols that I think ev­ery South African should be well versed in. It is a disgrace when peo­ple know lit­tle about their coun­try.

I am usu­ally fas­ci­nated when watch­ing Amer­i­can movies that have class­room scenes. You will find the Amer­i­can flag dis­played promi­nently at the front of ev­ery class­room.

I won­der what per­cent­age of South Africans know that the cur­rent Y-shaped na­tional flag was de­signed by Fred­er­ick Gor­don Brownell, let alone who the heck he is. While some might tell you with their eyes closed, and with­out tak­ing a glance at it, how many colours – red, blue, green, black and yel­low – are on the flag, many would strug­gle to say in what or­der they are or what they mean.

It is high time we start drilling into our kids the mean­ing and im­por­tance of our na­tional sym­bols along­side the na­tional an­them. We come from a past where peo­ple fought for the free­dom of this coun­try from the ab­hor­rent apartheid sys­tem. Many peo­ple died and many more were pre­pared to die for us to gain our free­dom.

Read for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela’s state­ment from the dock dur­ing the Rivo­nia Trial and you will un­der­stand where I’m com­ing from: “I have cher­ished the ideal of a demo­cratic and free so­ci­ety in which all per­sons will live to­gether in har­mony and with equal op­por­tu­ni­ties. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see re­alised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am pre­pared to die.”

I have no­ticed some na­tional team play­ers – in a num­ber of sports – be­ing in­dif­fer­ent to the na­tional an­them. Some just mum­ble and you can see they do not know the words, while oth­ers just keep quiet. For a long time, it was the Spring­boks, with that spirit in­stilled by Madiba be­fore the 1995 Rugby World Cup, who would sing the an­them with proper gusto. Other na­tional teams have slowly stepped up to the plate.

Be­low the na­tional sym­bols in im­por­tance are the badges of var­i­ous sport­ing clubs, but I will limit my­self to foot­ball.

A num­ber of clubs such as Or­lando Pi­rates, Kaizer Chiefs, Moroka Swal­lows, AmaZulu, African Wan­der­ers, Bush Bucks, Pre­to­ria Bantu Cal­lies and Bloem­fontein Celtic, to men­tion just a few, are so steeped in tra­di­tion that their badges are al­most as im­por­tant as na­tional sym­bols.

It is our duty as a na­tion to instil in our chil­dren the im­por­tance of such sym­bols. In do­ing so, by the time a player dons the na­tional team jer­sey – whether it be at Un­der-17, Un­der-20, Un­der-23 or Bafana Bafana level – they know ex­actly what it means.

When you wear a Bafana jer­sey, you are no longer rep­re­sent­ing your club, but the en­tire na­tion.

Even with clubs such as Pi­rates and Chiefs, there are so many great men – ad­min­is­tra­tors and play­ers – who laid their lives down to get these in­sti­tu­tions to where they are.

It is imperative for club own­ers to give play­ers a proper in­duc­tion so that they know ex­actly what they are get­ting them­selves into by don­ning these jer­seys.

Given the per­for­mances and at­ti­tude of a num­ber of cur­rent play­ers, it is ob­vi­ous they do not fathom what the op­por­tu­nity means and don’t re­alise that there are many young­sters who would kill for it.

City Press would like to pass con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of for­mer Chiefs striker Michael “Biz­zah” Dlamini and for­mer Pi­rates and Swal­lows marks­man Jef­frey “Tor­nado” Nt­si­bande, who passed away this week.

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