This past weekend we once again saw the brilliant tenacity of South Africans in shining on the International Sports stage. This habit is commonly known as Madiba Magic and in a time when the great man has left us, the magic that he brought to South African sport is still in the fabric of our existence. Over the years that have passed since apartheid ended, sport in South Africa has unified the country in a way that Madiba envisioned. And it was often against the odds that these victories were secured, that was the belief that South Africans had thanks to our former president. We pick 5 moments that have most united us across different sports with the Madiba Magic.
Rugby – 1995 Rugby World Cup
So much has been said about this day. I was 9 years old at that stage and was attending a birthday party for a friend. We did not play any games as we all watched the games together. I will never forget the memory of Nelson Mandela walking onto the field in a Springbok jersey. South Africa would defeat New Zealand by 3 points, but the victory was more than just the Rugby World Cup, it was a victory of unity. It was that moment, in my opinion, that we truly became aware of our own capabilities.
Football – 1996 AFCON
Bafana Bafana had progressed to the final of the 1996 AFCON on the back of some incredible football. They thumped Cameroon 3-0 and beat Angola 1-0 in the group stages. Quarter Final success against Algeria was followed by a classy domination of Ghana in the Semi Final. They met the much favoured Tunisians in the final in a game that will be constantly remembered as Mark Williams match. Madiba again brought his undeniable charm to the game and was able to give Neil Tovey the trophy after another victory. South Africa were united again.
Cricket – The 438 Game
Much has been written about this game on this site before. It must however be said that this game was the true embodiment of Madiba Magic for me. You see South Africa had endured exceptional struggles in the field and faced the greatest target in the history of cricket. Of course it seemed impossible, but as Madiba often said, it always seems impossible until its done. The Proteas emerged victorious and the South Africa stopped to watch. It was classic.
General – The awarding of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa
The day South Africa were awarded the rights to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup was quite possibly the crowning moment of Mr Mandela’s work in South African sport. I remember watching with my late father and seeing a tear in his eye. We celebrated as if we had won the World Cup. 6 years later we hosted a damn fine edition of the World Cup and in true Madiba Magic style, the crowds were filled with a plethora of races, creeds and people from various backgrounds. We sat together, not different in race, but united as South Africans.
Olympics – Josiah Thugwane
There are a few options to select here. We could choose the Awesome Foursome that won swimming gold, we could choose the Oarsome Foursome that won rowing gold or we could even choose Penny Heyns or Chad le Clos. But really the ultimate definition of Madiba Magic was applied by 1996 Marathon winner, Josiah Thugwane. Having won four medals so far (2 gold for Heyns, a silver for Sepeng and a bronze for Kriel), many thought South Africa were completed with their medal haul. But Josiah Thugwane smashed that illusion on his way to becoming the first black South African to win a gold medal. Just five months before this Thugwane had been hijacked and shot, what may have seemed impossible for many, was done by Thugwane. Once again a country was united by sporting brilliance.
Golf – Charl Schwarzel 2011 Masters
The 2011 Masters were strange. Rory McIlroy seemed to be charging to a victory when the wheels came off. 8 different men led the championship on the final day and it seemed that Charl, after a fine start, had missed his opportunity. He of course declined that notion by hitting a birdie on each of the final four holes. His march to the green jacket took many by surprise, but truly embodied the spirit of Madiba Magic. He was South Africa’s third Masters winner and will not be the last.
There may have been countless others including many boxing titles, Olympic gold, numerous golf wins and the list goes on and on. What were your favourite Madiba Magic moments that you witnessed?