South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has penned an impassioned call for national unity in the wake of the country’s Rugby World Cup victory.
Fans celebrated after the Springboks just edged New Zealand in Saturday night’s final in Paris to win the cup for an unprecedented fourth time.
The win “lifted the nation’s spirits, confirming the enduring power of sport to unite and build a nation”, Mr Ramaphosa said.
But it is so much more than that, according to the president.
The Springboks have a contentious history in South Africa as a symbol white privilege in the apartheid era. But Mr Ramaphosa sees its transformation into a successful multiracial team as part of the change in the country since the start of the democratic era in 1994.
“If the story of the transformation… is anything to go by, our country will continue to reap the benefits of change if we remain united and if we stay the course,” he said.
The country is facing multiple economic problems, including high unemployment, high rates of poverty and frequent power blackouts, and the rugby success has been seen as a welcome break from that.
But the president wants it to be more than that.
“The patriotism we display in sports stadiums should be reflected in our approach to overcoming our challenges.”The Springboks’ win has united us in celebration. It is our hope that it must also serve to inspire the younger generation to derive important life lessons about perseverance, teamwork, discipline and leadership.”