‘Apartheid killed rugby culture of the Xhosa nation’ – Zakes Mda

Author Zakes Mda says rugby culture was stolen from the Xhosa nation by apartheid.
Image: Gallo Images / Tammy Booyzen

The Springbok win against England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup last Saturday continues to spark conversation on social media among some of the country’s most prominent voices.

The latest to share his thoughts is author Zakes Mda, who said on Thursday that rugby culture used to be an integral part of the Xhosa nation but was eroded by the apartheid era.

Mda said growing up in the Eastern Cape, soccer was a sport they only read about in magazines whereas rugby was prominent.

“When I grew up in the Eastern Cape, we were ignorant of soccer. It was something we read about in magazines like Zonk or Drum. Our culture was rugby. Our heroes were players like Eric Majola. Rugby was killed by the apartheid regime in the Eastern Cape.”

Further clarifying his point, Mda made reference to how Xhosa people refer to a rugby ball in reference to its oval shape as “umbhoxo”.

“Rugby in isiXhosa is umbhoxo, so named from the shape of the ball,” he said.

Prof Jonathan Jansen sparked fierce debate on Twitter after he asked why there were no Indians in the Springbok squad.

Responses ranged from Indian mothers saying the sport is too dangerous to others saying that “math and accounting is their game”.




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