The story of Nelson Mandela and the ‘Rainbow Nation’ embodies the idea of ‘Rainbowism’ and the imagined birth of a reconciled, united South Africa. The imagery of ‘racial’ harmony, reconciliation and social cohesion that is projected whenever the 1995 rugby World Cup moment is presented to the nation, is an example of the psychological concept of ‘con rmation bias’. The repetition of this
message through television advertising and other forms of media reinforce the message that all is well, and the nation comes into being through the Springbok. This essay argues that the manufactured
media productions that centre on the elite streams of sport, speci cally the Springbok, are ows of narrative that are against the narratives of struggle in sport and the lived experience of daily life in South Africa. Through Nelson Mandela’s embracing of the Springbok and the structures that supported the system, he was con rming the biases that already were resistant to change, that change was not necessary. The acceptance of the Springbok on the terms of the Springbok further cemented the language of race and racism, as inclusion into the Springbok family became reliant on a conduit into the system that was rmly embedded within the systems of apartheid privilege. Through the careful management of the Springbok image and brand, the focus of South African society was kept on the
eld of play and on the glorious aspects of Springbok history, while the historical legacies of ant- apartheid structures were downplayed and the distasteful aspects of Springbok history became simultaneously decontextualized. This essay will brie y examine the space that lies beyond the framework of that which is presented by the custodians of the elite South African sporting image.