The Colour conundrum: To be black or blue
RCYC ACADEMY REPORT – by Lindani Mchunu
Contrary to popular belief I don’t know that I am black when I am dreaming, I am not even sure whether I process my dreams in English or Zulu or a bit of both. In my dreams I am only aware of the fact that I am experiencing myself having a particular experience. Same is true when I was doing my crossings, when I was alone at night during my watch, or even during the day, nothing in my immediate surroundings supported the fact that I am black, in fact I wondered whether am I not a darker shade of blue. When I wake up in the morning I don’t immediately say, “Hello you beautiful black man, look at your wonderful black skin, how do you feel occupying this lovely colour you have. Hey Lindani just go out there today and have a lovely day in your black skin”. I just wake up and get on with the day. In a country where colour means so many things to so many people, I wish one day we can all meet a blue man or woman and have something new to talk about, something that we can all collectively identify with as different from us and wonder about, maybe this would make us realise how silly we all are about this colour obsession.
I have recently joined our club’s transformation committee, I have new questions to answer to myself. Being an academy manager and using all my energy to help kids is easy, it is my passion, and I see the direct results of our interventions. Just the other day we had an organisation present to some of our academy students an incredible opportunity to work for three months in the United States of America during their summer camp period. Basically, our kids will go and teach young American kids how to sail. That is real intervention. Taking someone, of any colour out of their comfort zone and exposing them to a new world, with new challenges and different cultures makes them grow whether they like it or not. Faced with the mammoth task of working towards securing our lease and transforming our club, how do you motivate yourself for such a task? One motivation would be no club no academy, but is that really true, maybe the academy could survive the club closing down. The other motivating factor would be my love for sailing, could I sail as much as I am without a club, probably not but I could always go and sail at another club. I am not good at doing a job I am not passionate about and I cannot motivate myself to go above and beyond the call of duty on any given task if I have no passion. I am well aware that an organisation like TNPA looks at us through the lens of commerce, do we make economic sense? Why should they keep us here if we don’t bring in any real tangible economic benefits to them? One could point at Robertson and Caine and say well that is a serious operation happening right here almost every day of the week. Yet is Robertson and Caine part of our DNA? The academy is a great initiative and, in my tenure, we have managed to get the government to have direct involvement through funding most if not all of our activities. John Levine once said to me, “Lindani this is virgin territory in terms of transformation, it’s a Greenfield ready to be cultivated, if you focus and roll up your sleeves you can achieve something quite special here”. I agree wholeheartedly.
Nelson Mandela also went against his comrades when the issue of the Springboks arose, whether the name should be changed and rugby taken away from the control of the Afrikaners. Instead he chose to embrace it and understand why the Afrikaner so loved this sport and in this manner he could learn more about the Afrikaans culture and way of life. Although it has been a long road for SA rugby we can all unanimously agree diversity in the sport has had its pitfalls and it has had its benefits. Here we are as a club, trying our best to give new meaning to an institution of 114 years old, teaching an old dog new tricks as it were. So where will my passion come from? I believe it will come from people, I cannot look at the institution and gain any inspiration, I can only look at the people who uphold its ethos and how they make me feel. I have met good people here, from the hard, I meet the old veterans like Eric who tells me stories of the past from time to time, I talk to Zulu who looks after his workshop as if it was a shed in his own house and chastises my academy kids for not returning tools on time. I speak with Zolani at the bar, who always looks at me with bewilderment, when I speak English and says, “Lindani are you sure you’re not white”? the various committee members who have taken time to support me in my work and at times in my personal life, a commodore who has looked at me as a son at times a GM who nurtures my talents and builds my shortcomings, the various members who have given a word of encouragement and took time to give input and advise. CP van der Merwe who always wants me to come sail with him on Freedom, I really Love CP for some odd reason he reminds me of my mother father sailing on his boat with his crew is quite fascinating for me. which brings me back to that question of colour and what it means to me, to be honest it means absolutely nothing to me, the only time I recognise that I am black is when someone reminds me of the fact or when I am discriminated because of the fact. People to me are, their actions or lack thereof, their words or silence and most importantly their passions. My passion that will enable me to embark on this new task ahead will be fuelled by my recognition of the people who are the very DNA of this club, people who have left their homes every day, got on a train or a taxi and said I am going to work and walked through the doors, the sailors who give up time from their families for the thrill of Wednesday night racing. In my mind our biggest hurdle is getting the people who possibly control our destiny to meet us. I have sat in enough government boardrooms to know we are as alien to them as they are as alien to us. I think more than anything else it is time we start telling our stories…