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Vol 37 No 4

Published 16th February 1996

South Africa

Viva Bafana Bafana

South Africa's victories help heal old wounds and highlight Africa's soccer skills

It was a political as much as a sporting triumph when South Africa’s national team, Bafana Bafana (‘The boys, the boys’) stormed through to the African Cup of Nations final on 3 February to beat Tunisia 2-0. Following South Africa’s defeat of New Zealand’ s All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup and of England’ s cricket team in a one-day test series, its soccer victory confirmed its triumphant return to the international sports arena and Bafana’s multi-racial and multi-ideological supporters showed how sport is helping to knit the country together. A week later, President Nelson Mandela invoked the spirit of Bafana Bafana in the cause of the ‘new patriotism’. Rugby and soccer players speak mystically of the ‘Mandela effect’: wearing the national team shirt, the President cheered from the stands in both finals.

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