Mark Boucher’s acknowledgment that he was one of several racist pricks in the Proteas’ side of the 1990s has been described as a ‘great leap forward for South African cricket’.
I disagree – totally.
My feelings when I read the story were ‘Hmmm, this guy is a clever so-and-so. Or, maybe, he has a good advisor….’
What Boucher has done quite cleverly is to say (and I’m putting quotes into his mouth here), ‘Yes, I said things I shouldn’t have said, but I wasn’t the only one, and I didn’t come up with the original racist comment’.
His little sideways feint, that he was also called a racist name – ‘white naai’ – does not impress me. And here’s why….
Firstly, let’s be honest: a disgusting but harmless insult to a young white player who went to the then posh Selborne College in East London, whose 2021 fees are R38,500 for the year, was not going to do him any harm.
Look at it this way: if I were a white member in the team, and a black player called me a ‘naai’, I’d think to myself, ‘Sticks and stones.’
I’m not going to be hurt at all.
I’ve been around the townships, and I know a fair number of swearwords, some of them quite disgusting. And the thought that strikes me here is that if Boucher was a ‘naai’, what were the black, and heavily outnumbered and probably overawed, players in touring team called (in addition, that is, to Paul Adams who was referred to as ‘brown shit’.
And, speaking as a parent, here’s a question I would not have thought very long about: would I have spent good money to send my son to a posh school like Selborne College and then to hear that he found ‘brown shit’ songs to Boney M tunes funny?
I would not have thought twice about sending my boy to John Bisseker Secondary School instead. At least his politics would have been fine.
Far too many white parents send their children to top private schools, with the expectation that nothing has changed – or needs to change – from the time they attended the same schools.
Boucher has admitted racist behaviour during his time as a young Protea. Should everything be fine now? Thank you very much, but I do not believe he is fit for purpose to be the coach of the national side.
What South Africa needs is a massive overhaul in expertise and thinking at the head of the game.
Boucher – and, no doubt, others – will plead naivety (young men who did not know better at that time, and stories like this). But 20-plus years have passed since his days of naivety. Why didn’t he come forward to confess when the first, black players, came to the hearings with their stories?
I believe that Boucher and others, and white South Africans generally, should be given time to think about their roles in the past and their possible contributions to the future – as many have done, and are doing….