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One team and one nation

· Mandela and the reconciling sport ·

 

South Africa, 1995. The country is at a crucial moment in history. The shadow of apartheid, with its burden of hate and vengeance, still darkens personal relationships.  Neslon Mandela, the first black president of the nation and a charismatic leader for “his” people, understands that until a full reconciliation is reached, there can  be no real peace. He repeats again and again that forgiveness frees the soul, eradicates fear, and that is why it is the most powerful weapon.  But he also  knows that it isn't easy to convince people who have suffered so much of this. Nevertheless, he does not give up.

He needs something to unite the people and  he knows it should be something that appeals to national pride. To this end, there is nothing like sports. He had experimented, on a small scale, in the prison of Robben Island. But now he needs something much grander.  The opportunity comes now, this year, with the world championship in ruby, whose finals are to take place in South Africa. And he does not let the moment pass by. This  is the setting of the controversial World Cup  in Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, a win not only for the match but also for the story of South Africa. Finally, a people divided – the majority black, poor and marginalized, and the minority white, rich and powerful – finally, they will share something.

by Gaetano Vallini

PRINTED EDITION

 

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St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 18, 2019

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