Kevin Pietersen might get a call from Asih, the horse that will be ridden by Alex Peternell for South Africa at the Olympic Games. It seems the poor beast could be suffering from the affliction of Multiple Confused Nationality, a plague that once swept across white South Africans as they eloped to England, packed for Perth or vanished to Vancouver. Confused Nationality, or Muconity to give it a shorter name, has now crossed the colour bar and has infected parts of the Western Cape, causing residents there to love Richie McCaw almost as much as referees do.
Asih was born in Germany on May 27, 1995, just before Francois Pienaar and the Springboks held off the might of the incontinent All Blacks and won the Rugby World Cup. “This is not for the 60 000 (in the stadium),” Pienaar famously said, “but for 43 million South Africans.” And one horse. Asih is a Bayerisches Warmblut – a Bavarian Warmblood – a horse, my translated Wikipedia page says, has been engineered: “Through a systematic breeding policy, especially in the aftermath of the World War II, the Bavarian Warmblood is always a ready and robust performance sport horses … After the 2nd World War and the transformation of the breeding objective to focus on sport horse was the old type of hot blood lost.” So, there you have it. It’s a sport horse with lost hot blood.
Asih was the foal of proud parents Daimler B, his daddy who was apparently named by a rap fan or had a brother called Daimler A, and his mum, called Aqui. His mum’s dad was Rio Negro, if I’ve read his horsey details properly. His colour is bay, which, Wikipedia tells this colour-blind writer, means he has a “reddish brown body colour with a black mane, tail, ear edges, and lower legs. Bay is one of the most common coat colours in many horse breeds.” Oh, so he’s a common horse. But he’s brown, which will please those who worry about such things. He has also not been castrated, for those who worry about such things, which includes myself and most of the guys down at the pub.
Two men wearing bay (well, camouflage) came to say hello to myself and Gary Lemke, one of the Team South Africa journalists who once worked at Independent Newspapers, as we were sitting with most of the guys down at the pub outside the Main Press Centre at the Olympic Park on Tuesday. The two, Patrick Henning and Andrew Gibb, from Mpumalanga, and Joburg respectively, had seen Lemke’s South African kit and popped over for a chat.
They had left South Africa for Britain because it offered them another direction, not because of dissatisfaction. They still loved the place and visited. Gibb, who had gone to Jeppe Boys, the alma mater of Jake White and a good few Olympians, had made the South Africa rowing team as a 17-year-old and played provincial hockey. Gibb had tickets to the opening ceremony rehearsal last night and was buzzing at the thought of it. There was a slice of English in the accent, but the vowels were still being given a beating in that good old South African way. It was strange to hear from men in another uniform, but it was a uniform and not their souls. They remained South African.
We’re not all that tolerant of South Africans who we think are not really South African, not even those who once were and sometimes still are. Well, except for Charlize and Charlene, because they managed to win us an Oscar and marry an Albert, showing that blondes from Benoni have a way of attracting bald men who can be unusually stiff.
The fact that Asih is not a Saffa has caused a rumpus, as has the fact that Peternell has based himself in London for the past 11 years. Xenophobia is alive and well. Soon, they’ll be burning down corner spaza stables and making weapons out of broken bottles of Moet. It must be stopped now. Until the end of the Olympics, my friends, let us embrace Asih. Let us cheer on Peternell. Heck, he may win a medal. Then the land will laud him and Asih as their own.