The race relations issues currently unfolding in the United States of America around the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement have led me to interrogate what South Africans deem as acceptable and appropriate reaction to racism here at home. Whether we acknowledge it or not, everybody has vested interests in these events and conversations, and therefore both individuals and groups ought to contribute towards ending racism, both systemic and social. What are we doing in our backyards to promote an inclusive society?
Proteas fast bowler (24 years) Lungi Ngidi’s desire to have the SA Cricket Team support the BLM movement was courageous and unexpected when the local sporting fraternity was utterly silent on the matter. Considering the history of SA sports, merely ignoring this bold proposal would be to ignore the voices of many marginalised groups that are not only vibrant spectators but also proud cricketing professionals.
Lungi Ngidi did not say other lives don’t matter. What motivated his stance was influenced by what is happening around the world, in my view. Prominent sports personalities and franchises around the globe, such as Lewis Hamilton and the English Premier League, have also taken the stand. Why is South African Cricket so hesitant to follow suit, especially with a young black talented South African calling for solidarity?
This situation and decision may be critical for us as a country, mainly because of our history. We also need to acknowledge that Lungi Ngidi is a role model, so his actions are vital in supporting an inclusive society. This situation forces us all to take a stand and say, yes, black lives matter.
To sight a specifically local incident that demands for us to adopt this necessary stand, a black man was recently forced out of his shack while naked due to an eviction order by the government. In my opinion, how and why he was undressed is irrelevant. He was in his home, and his human dignity was undermined. Unfortunately, this is how black people and particularly poor black people are commonly treated in this country. Such incidents at home only emphasize the significance of the BLM mission and demand for us to be firm and uncompromising in our support. We need to start normalising, telling the uncomfortable truth about our own experiences as individuals and a country.
I do not grasp the ex-cricket players’ problems with Lungi Ngidi’s point. Considering their senior positions, opinions, or role in the matter may quickly amount to the silencing of an individual in an industry, all senior and retired players greatly influence. This call has instantly triggered a meaningful debate.
In South Africa, we require passionate, bold, and willing people to convey the uncomfortable truth. We require YOUNG people to rise to these present realities. Their contribution is most needed because this is what they are typically experiencing, and it is critical for their future. Let us not restrict people because what they are stating is not what you treasure to apprehend, allow them to be. We need to acknowledge everyone’s views, black or white.
Michael Holding former Jamaican cricket player recently communicated a valuable observation about this reality and pointed out what demanded redress. In his view, there is a need to enlighten people about our history as a global village. This history includes the positives and the negatives about our past as a global community. We will need an honest encounter of all races. As it mounts, there is only one view currently presented to the broader society, and this needs to change. He further suggests that enlightening the community will mark a crucial step to be taken, which can reduce these kinds of events.
Lastly, some truths are uncomfortable, so let it be, and they need to be shared.