Politicians are not happy people. They look at the world they live in, and they are not impressed. That is why they go out and make a concerted effort to change things. They are so pissed off about the world they live in, that they literally go and find other people who share in their views and organise them to start political parties, trade unions, associations, committees and NGO’s. By design, politicians are seriously not happy people.
So for me, the sight of a happy politician is something that always looks decidedly wrong.
But then there is the odd occasion, where a moment is so triumphant that it is epoch-making. Ten Olympic medals for the first time since 1920, is big enough to be that moment. And what I loved most about those medals is not that they were a reasonable excuse for a politicians to be happy. But indeed that those medals are soooooo reflective of our daily struggles as South Africans.
Think about it.
On the one hand you have Wayde van Niekerk who went on to break a world record, running in the eighth lane while living a dream his own mother was denied because of the colour of her skin. On the other hand you have Lawrence Brittain in the rowing team winning a medal, after battling cancer to earn a place in the Olympic team.
Who can forget Luvo Manyonga? At some point many people would have given up on him, but he Luvo slayed the demons of addiction and went on get as close as one centimeter from a gold medal. And off course, Caster Semenya. Hmm, Caster. The golden girl brushed off a psychological war waged against her, like it was nothing. And she did it cobra style.
But you see, all these stories though heart-warming, they are for us. The men and women in the streets, not the politicians. Because what politicians should be grappling with is the question: “how South African was the team we sent to Rio?” Because in all fairness, it looked nothing like what it should have.
For example, we didn’t have a hockey or a netball team, because while we talk about transformation, no one actually takes it seriously. We have had a national basketball league for three seasons, but we didn’t have a basketball team at the Olympics. Discount the fact that we didn’t have a gold medal in swimming. We went into this event still relying on Cameron van der Burgh not a single credible protect in sight for him to hand over the baton to.
For South Africa, a country respected for producing world champions to go to the Olympics without a Boxer is simply a shame. We didn’t have a single 800m or 15000m male runner? Mbulaeni Mulaudzi must be turning in his grave.
And the tracksuits? Well the least said the better.
I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade. But South Africa has a rich and amazing history when it comes to these events, and sporting codes. A history so deep rooted in our character that sending a team to the Olympics without them, simply makes the team look un-South Africa.
All I am saying is, we can celebrate the medals. In fact, with Jesus in our midst, we need to celebrate them like they are our last. But if we get lost in the euphoria of the 10 medals we might lose sight of the fact that we have problems in our sports. And some of us really need to get pissed off enough to do something about it. Because the people who should be doing something about it, are just too happy.
the tempest prognosticator
Themba A. Dikgale