Invictus, from the eyes of a South African UK resident.

Last night, we watched Invictus (here’s the trailer).I am South African born. I moved to the UK in my very  late twenties which meant I was living in Johannesburg when Nelson Mandela was released from prison; later, I was fortunate enough to sit behind the posts through which Joel Stransky scored a drop goal in extra time to win the Rugby World Cup match of 1995. But more importantly, I lived through the Apartheid years, slap bang in the middle of them.

I won’t forget the first time I took my English wife to visit South Africa. We visited the Apartheid Musem together, both for the first time. The staggering truth was that she knew more about the Apartheid years than I did. I walked out of there distraught, ashamed at the realisation that I had been blinkered, protected and brought up never to question the rights and wrongs of my upbringing. That’s hard and wrong.

Watching the movie last night brought those emotions flooding back. I remember the World Cup final in 1995 when it was the first time in 24 years that I felt proud of being South African, first time I felt proud of a flag, an anthem and an identity. The movie is so authentic, I remember the sheer wonder of walking home after the match: both white and black South Africans were united (for the first time in my memory) – dancing together in the streets.

Mandela was a truly sensitive and inspired man when he fought  for the preservation of the apartheid icon of the green and gold Springboks.  Make no mistake, our country was on the brink of a bloody civil war and he led his people (both white and black) out of that turmoil using every tool he could.

Now for the true test: Can the white people, rugby, non-football fans of South Africa, rally to unite the people of South Africa at the Football world cup later this year? I do believe so. I do so desperately hope. At the very least, the country owes it to Madiba.

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