Tribalism and 'bitterness' mar Springboks' Rugby World Cup victory
As the world celebrated the Springboks' Rugby World Cup win in Japan on Saturday, comments about tribalism quickly dominated Twitter, marring the team's' triumph.
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Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and winger Makazole Mapimpi are Xhosas, a fact that was used by some tweeps to pronounce the tribe superior to others.
An open letter “from the Xhosa people to the nation” was also widely shared on social media.
In part, the letter reads: “We as the Xhosa people would like to state that we're tired of carrying this country on our backs. Year by year we work tirelessly for this country, while the rest of the nation relaxes. We'd also like to state that this World Cup is the last thing Xhosa people are doing for this country.”
While some openly embraced the perceived tribalism, others denounced it, saying it was divisive.
The captain of the team is Xhosa. The first try scored by the Springboks in a final was scored by Mapimpi, who is Xhosa. The pass came from Am, who is Xhosa. Do you denounce tribalism with such vigour when negative things are said about Xhosa people?— Wavy dude (@Wavey69203998) November 3, 2019
Listen I know tribalism nwe nwe nwe - but AMAXHOSA - you guys are the club we all secretly wish we belonged too.— NINA HASTIE (@THATninahastie) November 2, 2019
With your sweet melodic language, your thinkers, your rugby, your legs, even your arrogance, the whole shabang.
I say this with humility, but there’s truly something great and unique about Xhosa people.— Khanya Mkangisa (@KhanyaMkangisa) November 2, 2019
It’s possible to celebrate one’s tribe without being tribalistic. To celebrate ones tribe does not equal tribalism. We are a diverse nation with many cultures that make us who we are as a people.— Khaya Dlanga (@khayadlanga) November 3, 2019
I hate tribalism with my whole heart, today it just peaked on another level 😖— Zenande Mfenyana (@Zenande_Mcfen) November 2, 2019
Meanwhile, musician and poet Ntsiki Mazwai started a Twitter storm with a video in which she claimed that SA's rugby team did not represent her or the true demographics of the country.
“I will not pretend as if I don't know black boys who have been excluded from the selection processes ... and little tricks that Afrikaans men have played to keep black boys out of the sport.”
Ntsiki also lamented the exclusion of Xhosa men from the sport. “I will not play along with you and act a fool, and act like I don't know that in Xhosa there's a huge rugby culture.”
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also expressed concern about the team's demographics.
“Until when will you live a lie?" he asked.
It is actually tragic that you get excited to have minority black representation when blacks are a majority in this country; in AFRICA! Mxm... till when will you live a lie?— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) November 2, 2019
Their comments divided social media, with some labelling them "bitter".