February 27, 2010

Play it again, Sam

Filed under: Uncategorized — newritings @ 10:17 am

SAM the Man

I was very surprised, pleasantly I might add, when I heard that our former  International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Sam Ramsamy calling for ” more action from South African sports administrators to fully integrate sport in the republic”.Ramsamy, a member of the IOC’s executive board, told Reuters : “My dream wasn’t only to see the soccer World Cup in South Africa. We also had the dream of staging the Olympic Games in South Africa,” Ramsamy said.

Ramsamy said although South African blacks had striven to reconcile with the minority white population: “I don’t know whether all whites have understood and accepted this magnanimity of forgiveness and acceptance. “We are trying to normalise the situation but I’m not sure all South African whites understand that. That is a concern of mine. Moves are being made to ensure equal opportunities for all but it’s coming very, very slowly.

“The white South African population is less than 20% of the whole South African population and we are doing very well. But can you imagine how well we would do if we provided the same opportunities for the other 80% of the population?

“We would have a tremendous super team which very few countries in the world could beat.”

I always believed that True Non Racial  Sport was compromised at the negotiations around CODESA (etc) to entice the largely white public, to buy-in to the New SA. So well done, comrade Sam, for coming around to what we still need to do.

Mr Ramsamy received the  Order of Ikhamanga in Silver from the presidency for what they say are the “EXCELLENT CONTRIBUTION TO THE BUILDING OF NON-RACIAL SPORT DURING APARTHEID AND CONTRIBUTING TO SPORTING DEVELOPMENT IN A DEMOCRATIC SOUTH AFRICA”. This profile is taken from the government website.

Profile of Sam Ramsamy, was born on 27 January 1938 in a township called Magazine Barracks, a location for Indian municipal workers in the coastal city of Durban. His father  a trade unionist contributed to the political environment at home, and later he became a Physical Education teacher at a primary school. The presidency website points out that :” He was the founder member of the South African Council on Sport, established in 1973. In 1976, he became chairperson of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (Sanroc) and shortly after joined the organisation. By 1978, Ramsamy had become the executive
chairperson of Sanroc. The two sports organisations were united in their purpose of pursuing an international sports ban onSouth Africa’s athletes and by so doing, fostered greater global support for the resistance against apartheid.

Following the Soweto uprisings in 1976, Ramsamy petitioned countries to formalise a boycott of South African sports, which culminated
in the Gleneagles Agreement of 1977. Ramsamy, who up to this point was still employed as a teacher at a school in London,
left his employment in 1978 and became a consultant to the United Nations (UN).”

His core responsibility at the UN was to ensure the drafting of an international convention against apartheid sport that would make
for punitive measures to be placed against those countries who continued to engage South Africa in sporting activities. The convention
was finally drawn up and signed by various countries in 1985.

In 1980, the UN Special Committee against Apartheid initiated the Register of Sports Contacts with South Africa, which was designed
to report sports bodies that maintained ties with South Africa so as to face possible action. Ramsamy was an important informant and
provided information to those overseeing the register.

He took over running, managing and providing impetus to the sports boycott from the late 1970s onward. The sports boycott was
important in spreading awareness of the evils of apartheid to the rest of the world.

Ramsamy’s contribution to sport did not end with apartheid. During the transition to democracy, he encouraged international support
for the black sports body, the National Olympic Committee of South Africa, and became its head in 1991. He led the first non-racial
South African team to the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992.

He has spent most of his adult life fighting for the eradication of the colour bar in sport and towards creating unity in the sporting arena
where selection for teams is based on merit and where athletes of all races are given an equal chance to participate.

For his excellence in and dedication to the struggle for freedom through his work on the sports boycott, and for his continued efforts
in equalising the playing fields across all sporting activities, Sam Ramsamy has contributed to the birth of a new South Africa.


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