TAKE THE KNEE, PROTEAS

In the summer of 1981, I ‘ambushed’ the great West Indian cricketer, Viv Richards, in the parking lot of Lords cricket ground, where his county side, Somerset, were playing the home side, Middlesex.

All I wanted was for him to say seven precious words: ‘I’ll never play in apartheid South Africa.’

And in his deep, gravelly Barry White voice, this is exactly what he said.

I still regard this fleeting ‘interview’ as one of the great moments of my journalism career – and although West Indies cricket has been on the skids for many years, I still regard them as one of my favourite teams.

More than that, they will have my added respect when they ‘take the knee’ in their matches against the Proteas, which starts in a few days.

Black lives matter everywhere – in South Africa, Africa, in the Caribbean, and all over the world.

But to me, it matters most here – especially in every township in South Africa.

Townships are throwbacks to the apartheid era. They remind us what our people went through … of being dumped. And yet, after almost three decades, they are still here – mocking us every day. Surely, the majority of South Africans deserve much better than what they ended up getting after the defeat of apartheid?

Why are we still experiencing the broken promises of a range of post-apartheid administrations and their lackeys?

We are still asking time after time after time why those who now run sport should be reminded about the long, and bitter, and often tragic struggle so many of us went through for a non-racial society.

Did all the sacrifices of so many mean nothing?

My appeal to those who will represent the Proteas against the West Indies is: ‘Take the knee … insist on taking the knee’.

If the Smiths and the Bouchers – and those bitter ex-players try to tell you otherwise, tell them, with all the passion you can muster to ‘fuck-off’. Tell them your responsibility is to the broader South African society.

They can’t drop you.

They can’t sack you.

If they try, they will face the wrath of the vast majority of South Africans. Those South Africans who don’t support you, and those who start shouting about ‘all lives matter’ aren’t worth two thoughts.

There, I’ve had my say.

Good luck, guys – and best wishes….