South Africa addicted to drama over the race of their rugby squad: Kaya Malotana

The complete South African Rugby World Cup 2015 squad. Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images

“Kaya! You can’t score in your own goal. As a keeper you are supposed to pick the ball up!” The voice belonged to my uncle, shouting during a game of street soccer in Zwartwater, Lady Frere, Transkei.

In the 1980s I grew up herding cattle and sheep from the tender age of four and, when I was not doing that, I was watching my uncles play rugby. I came to understand that a dotted rugby ball in the in-goal area by the defending team meant a 22m drop goal restart before I knew what an own goal in soccer was.

The Transkei homeland, like Ciskei, was a product of apartheid where blacks were segregated and forced to live at that time. There they could own land, businesses and even teach themselves through Bantu Education, an education system which was deliberately inferior to white education.

“There will never be a black player to play 1st XV in this school.” This was the conclusion, among the black kids, after discussions about which teams we were going to try out for at Queen’s College Boys’ High School in 1992.

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