Pretoria hosts 'rainbow nation' celebration for Boks

'A proud moment for all of us'

02 November 2023 - 14:23
By Shonisani Tshikalange
Hundreds of South Africans, young and old, celebrated the 2023 rugby world champions in Pretoria on Thursday.
Image: Antonio Muchave Hundreds of South Africans, young and old, celebrated the 2023 rugby world champions in Pretoria on Thursday.

Joyous South Africans, young and old, of all races, skipped work, school and even left their hospital beds on Thursday as they came together in Pretoria to celebrate the Springboks as rugby world champions.

Melanie Harding, a physiotherapist at Muelmed rehab, escorted patients who had watched the 2023 Rugby World Cup final from their beds to join the celebrations in the streets of the city. She said it was a proud moment for South Africa and the patients were eager to join in.

“They are all in hospital at the moment doing their rehabilitation. The whole team took a group of patients to come to see this. They have all been watching the World Cup games in their hospital beds and now they get to celebrate. This is such a proud moment for all of us,” she said.

One of the patients, Graham Paull, said it was momentous watching the whole country come together.

“It's amazing that the therapists have brought us to be here and experience it all. For the Boks to bring it home for the fourth time is amazing,” he said.   

Another patient, Matahidis Sithole, said of the players: “They have made us proud and counted among nations.”

Rochelle Ferreira, an educator at Arcadia Primary School, and her colleagues brought about 150 of their grade R and RR pupils.

“We wanted to see the Springboks come home, so we took all the children to Loftus. We walked in groups to Loftus to see them and it was great. We walked for roughly 10 minutes and the little ones felt very excited, they couldn't wait to see the Springboks. This will have a good influence on them,” adding they had called out to captain Siya Kolisi.

'I got a pass to bunk mock exam for the Bokke!'

A 17-year-old matric pupil stood topless in front of Loftus Park with a brown cardboard box on which was written: “We are bunking matric exam to be on your kant [side].”

“I am feeling good and excited, I love to support our country bringing the nation together,” he said. “I am excited for the country to support the Bokke and have a jol.”

He said his school had organised a preparatory test ahead of the physics examination due to be written by matriculants on Friday next week, but he had obtained permission to sit it out on Thursday.

“I organised with the principal, and she did say I can write next week — but no-one else in the class knows, and my tutor doesn't know.”

He said the final match was hard to watch.

“It was a tough match, the third one in a row won by one point, It was rough, it was a tense game ... ” he said.

Margaret Maake, 21, watched from her wheelchair and clung to her South African flag as she excitedly waited for the Boks tour bus to pass.

She said she felt moved to join the Bok “gees” [vibe].

“I moved to Pretoria in 2020. In 2019, I didn't celebrate but the sports culture in Pretoria just got me in the mood. Here I am now,” said Maake.

Maake said her nerves got the better of her before the final match.

“My heart couldn't take watching the finals, I didn't want to die. I checked online (when they won) and I screamed while in bed.”

Her friend, Khensani Nkuna, 20, said they bunked school for the day. I feel ecstatic, and I am proud, I was supposed to be attending school but I am here.”

The inspiration provided by the Springboks was life-changing for Nkuna.

“I feel like a proud South African despite the chaos that is happening right now in South Africa. I still have hope, there is still hope in South Africa and we can still do what we are doing as a nation. I love how we have all been brought together, black, white, coloured, Indians, everyone. It's amazing, it motivates me not to move to other countries,” she said.

Nkuna said she went through many emotions during the final game.

“The game was hectic, I was going crazy, hundreds of emotions at once. I cried at the end because of how close it was, I am so proud and hope that we continue in the same spirit,” she said.