Dennis Brutus turned down his induction into the Sports Hall of Fame Wednesday night, at a Johannesburg ceremony with 1000 in attendance. He says is convinced he does not belong in an institution alongside players/administrators stained by apartheid, until they express regret for supporting racism in sport and for the indignity and hurt caused to fellow South African men and women. (Brutus says he was favourably impressed by the support he received for his withdrawal at the ceremony.)
Here is Brutus’ statement to the SA Sports Hall of Fame, in Emperor’s Palace, Johannesburg, 5 December 2007
“Being inducted to a sports hall of fame is an honour under most circumstances. In my case, the honour is for helping rid South African sport of racism, making it open to all.
“So I cannot be party to an event where unapologetic racists are also honoured, or to join a Hall of Fame alongside those who flourished under racist sport. There inclusion is a deception because of their unfair advantage, as so many talented black athletes were excluded from sport opportunities.
“Moverover, this Hall ignores the fact that some sportspersons and administrators defended, supported and legitimised apartheid. There are, indeed, some famous South Africans who still belong in a Sports Hall of Infamy.”
“They still think they are sports heroes, without understanding – and making amends for – the context in which they became so heroic, namely a crime against humanity.
“One example is Ali Bacher, whose very claim to fame, according to the Hall’s own tribute in the book provided by Vodacom and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, is his violation of anti-apartheid sports sanctions supported by the United Nations and the civilised world. The unapologetic approach to apartheid can be seen in the Hall tribute to Bacher, which dares paint him as a victim: ‘Ironically, the same government policy which kept Basil D’Olivieira out of the national team and the country also kept Bacher and many of his contemporaries out of international cricket. Bacher’s greatest legacy is that of a cricket administrator par excellence. It began when he organised international rebel tours in the early 1980s.’
“So, case closed. It is incompatible to have those who championed racist sport alongside its genuine victims. It’s time – indeed long past time – for sports truth, apologies and reconciliation.”
Dennis Brutus President of the SA Non-Racial Olympic Committee Honorary Professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society
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