Mark M. Fredericks

Mark FredericksVideo Lab Technician, Walter Sisulu University


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.

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