Inspiring music has often been used to prepare soldiers for battle. The skirl of bagpipes helped the Scots to believe that they were giants among men in order to repel invasions of their beloved land when, in fact, they were mostly wee laddies drunk on single malts and dressed in tartan skirts. On many memorable occasion in South Africa’s bloodstained history, women would sing their Zulu warriors into conflicts against men unfairly armed with muskets and other firepower. The backing singers gave them the blood-boiling belief that they could swarm down that koppie and see off the strangely-armoured would-be settlers with just spears in their hands and fire in their hearts.
Much the same with today’s international sporting teams and their pre-match anthems. This is why the strategy of France’s rugby warlords to put the Springboks on the back foot even before the match began in Toulouse on Friday night worked such a treat. Napoleon would have been mega-chuffed with the French brains trust who thought of going down to Toulouse’s railway station and hiring a rasta busker to come along to the rugby stadium and totally mangle Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
This had the desired effect of bringing South Africa’s finest rugger players to their knees – in disbelief and utter mirth – before a ball was kicked in anger. Take a deep breath and a groot sluk of your brandy-and-Coke and be reminded of the trauma Commandant John Smit and his troops were forced to endure before the match had even begun…
Wattievok was that, you ask? That, my fellow countrymen, was the equivalent of sending the All Blacks into rugby conflict with a haka performed by a bunch of disjointed midgets dressed in suspenders and stockings and high on ecstasy. Or serenading the Scottish bravehearts into a Highlands rort against the Romans or Sassenachs with my niece on the pennywhistle. Or trying to fuel the Zulus’ lust for colonial blood with some pimply teenager from Pop Idols warbling De la Rey. You get my point. And I hope it’s as sharp as the dagger I would like to drive into the ribs of the malicious monsieur who masterminded that travesty of the South African anthem.
The rasta busker, one Ras Dumisani (originally from Durban but now banned from ever reentering South Africa) was so diabolically discordant and epically out of tune that nearly all of the Springboks almost broke down while he was croaking out the bit about “uit die blou van onse hemel” etc. It reminded me of Peter Sellers blowing into that trumpet on the film set in the opening scenes of The Party. Hilarious. Except he got repeatedly shot.
Did you check Bryan Habana in the vid? He thought he had gone to sleep and woken up in a Monty Python sketch. Only hooker Bismarck du Plessis, an oke who has gone on record as never having laughed at anything in his entire life, kept his eyes closed, clutched his chest and wailed into the night. Come to think of it, he might have been experiencing the onset of a heart attack.
No, this just wasn’t cricket. Or even rugby. When are France next coming over here to play against us? I’m putting my name down to be allowed to sing La Mayonnaise to them before the game. And everybody who heard me throw out Bonnie Tyler’s Lost In France at the Bush Tavern’s karaoke night last week knows that I’m totally the right man to do the job.