Johannesburg - 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.
Follow me on Twitter @Sbu_Mseleku