Archbishop Desmond Tutu, standing behind the victorious Springbok team led by its first black captain, Siya Kolisi, must have felt an immense sense of pride on Monday.
To his right stood a statue of his late, great friend, Nelson Mandela, and before him a sea of adoring fans from every conceivable racial demographic, all awash with green and gold.
Before the world champions stepped on to the podium at Cape Town’s Grand Parade, Tutu met the players and their families at the city hall, where he chatted with them, blessed them and wished them well.
“What this group of youngsters has achieved speaks, beyond rugby, to the possibility of what we can be,” said Tutu. “No matter where we come from, if we reach for the stars we can actually touch them.”
He was also greeted by scrumhalf Faf de Klerk – fully dressed this time.
“Dwarfed by most of the squad, Tutu appeared particularly impressed by Trevor Nyakane and Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira’s size, while Faf de Klerk took the opportunity to show him the famously patriotic underwear he revealed to Prince Harry after winning the cup eight days ago,” the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said in a statement.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was thrilled to meet the Rugby World Cup winning Springboks today. He couldn't believe how big they are! He congratulated them, not only for their victory but for bringing South Africans together. Read @TutuLegacy statement here: https://t.co/HNC9ucON3K pic.twitter.com/z7HJaxUG0V
— TutuLegacy (@TutuLegacy) November 11, 2019
Tutu’s vision for the country united under democracy must feel palpable on an occasion like this, and his foundation said as a country, the poignancy of the celebrations must not be taken for granted.
“The wave of patriotism and goodwill sweeping the country with the Rugby World Cup winning Springboks revisits the promise of the united, nonracial society Nelson Mandela and his colleagues embodied a generation ago,” the foundation said.
“It creates the opportunity for all South Africans to reflect how far we have journeyed since 1994, and how far we still must travel. We have had similar moments of high symbolism in the past, that on reflection we have failed to harness for sustainable effect.”
The foundation encouraged South Africans not rest on their laurels, but to use the momentum to continue seeking greatness and justice for all.
“We cannot afford to sit back and bask in our glory now. We must use the momentum to deepen our commitment to building a nation in which all citizens are of equal worth and have equal opportunities to shine.”