"No normal sport in an abnormal society." I think I've heard these words from the day I was born. They are strongly associated with my grandfather former Sacos leader Hassan Howa.
I was too young to ever have discussed these words with my Oupa before he died but over the years I have developed my own sense of what it means, the essence of which is that if the playing field is not level then how can the competition be fair.
These words were again brought to mind following Siya Kolisi's recent comments about rugby quotas. Part of what Kolisi said was: " Imagine if I didn’t go to the English school – I wouldn’t have eaten properly. I wouldn’t have grown properly. I wouldn’t have the preparation like the other boys did because when I went to the English school, I had to compete against boys who had been eating six meals a day, each and every single day of their lives. And it’s tough."
H ow far have we actually come from when Sacos was fighting for non-racial sport and geez, how far we still have to go.
Because South Africa is still an abnormal society, the evidence is everywhere. From the shocking statistics saying that 6 million children live below the poverty line with many of them suffering from chronic malnutrition to the 57 people killed in South Africa every day to the subtle and overt racism to the fact that we still have pit toilets at our schools, to 1612 people killed on our road this festive season and on and on.
Admittedly we've never had normal so do we even know what a normal South Africa would look like? Perhaps the Millenium Development Goals and Vision 2030 was a glimpse of what this could be but how far off track are we. Are these goals even still in sight?
Because until every child is born to a healthy, well-fed mother, grows up in a loving and safe home with enough food, water, and warmth, has opportunities to study and play and develop their talents and passion, there can be no normal society and consequently no normal sport.