The rousing singing of the Gwijo Squad fast becoming synonymous with SA rugby

Gwijo Squad members sing during a Springbok squad announcement in Johannesburg in August 2019.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Captain Siya Kolisi may not have been able to hear them when he ran onto the field with his teammates in Tokyo on Saturday‚ but the rousing singing of the Gwijo Squad back in SA was no doubt reverberating in his heart.

The group‚ who sing traditional Xhosa amaGwijo songs‚ are fast becoming synonymous with SA rugby.

Founded by Johannesburg financial advisor Mzwandile Riba‚ the size of the group varies between 200 and 2‚500‚ depending on the match.

It started off as a small group of friends going to enjoy the rugby together in 2017.

Riba said Gwijo was a word that described the folk singing used to bring groups of people together.

“They are songs of encouragement‚” Riba said.

“We started singing in 2017‚ coincidentally it was the first test match which saw Kolisi as captain [of the Stormers team]. After that we organised to meet again at the next match.

“We are a big group and we all contribute to busses to take us to matches. Those who can afford a bit more help pay for those who can’t.

“We now use the extra money we have to subsidise people from the surrounding communities so they can enjoy live matches too.”

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