Playing the Enemy

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In the novel Playing the Enemy, John Carlin describes the 1995 Rugby World Cup and its important role in post-apartheid South Africa. While it may seem like John Carlin is only writing about South Africa’s victory in the 1995 Rugby World cup, he is also writing about the political victory in South Africa. Because of Nelson Mandela, Rugby no longer divided races in South Africa, but it united them. Throughout South African history the Springboks represented apartheid which led to many black Africans wanting to get rid of the Springboks. However, Nelson Mandela showed his support for the Springboks, thus pleasing the white majority while gaining the support of blacks. As the first black president of South Africa, many would expect him to bring power back to the blacks. However, I believed Mandela saw uniting the races as a far more important issue. I believe that Nelson Mandela’s plan of supporting the springboks in an effort to abolish racial tension was genius. Instead of temporarily fixing small problems in South Africa, he decided to tackle the issue of racism which was dividing the nation in half. I believe Nelson Mandela chose rugby to tackle racism because it was something most South African whites truly cared about. If rugby was taken away it would only have made whites mad, which would then make matters worse regarding racism. Nelson Mandela turned the springboks into the nation’s team. After their victory in 1995 the entire nation celebrated, not just the traditional white fans. I see Nelson Mandela’s effort with the springboks as the first success in uniting South Africa under democracy.
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