I fought apartheid from the couch: a poem for hansie cronje








yes, we did it

through those dark, bellowing times

we fought

we won


it is done

but still –  i can’t help it –

i’m not sure i really, truly got it

did we miss something, hansie?

was the effort enough?

i was with you

as you fought it

as you ran, and jumped it

outside, the wind blew, the sun moved

from the couch

i saw it all

your victory


yes, we did it

we are through

those dark, bellowing times:

your victory


and I will admit

there were moments

there were times

i thought it would slip

i worried the momentum would dip

and we would sink

back into ourselves

into those brutal blue winter afternoons

the echoing screams of mothers

with genitals pulled

children shocked

fathers clipped, and smacked and punched

but I fought it hansie

from that couch i fought it

i thought it

i hoped it

would all go away

and it did

and now the victory…

the knowledge i did all

within my range

from the fridge to the couch

and back again

i gave all i

and my people


i gave

the hope

that change would take us


by the arm

to the green field

where the red ball rolls

and mothers tut over packed lunches

and the camera sucks the peace up

and shoots it out

to the houses

the couches

the kitchens of the families so loaded, so blunted

with the land fat

that the victory is untouchable, unknowable

like the past

like the people

like the lady who made the bed

and swept the floor

and sent us out into the world



  1. These words haunt me in so many ways. But I think there’s some salvation in telling the truth – perhaps it is there’s less loathing in that. I look at how fashionable it has become to invent politically correct credentials. Like a man I know through a friend who gives a public talk about a tale of two cities. He does this in cities in the US and talks about how he is an apartheid era film maker from South Africa. He talks about the pain of necklacing, and then the beauty of ‘black’ voices and how the basses and lilting tones could heal the world. Jesus. It makes me want to vomit. That boy ran away a boy and never became a man. Instead he is exploiting other people’s pain to craft a career for himself. What a fraud. Jesus Mr Miller. I salute you for your truth. I wish I was half as brave. Which is a comment that might make you nauseous. But ja. There it has been said.

  2. Great peom. Hansie was one of the best all-round cricketers the modern era has ever produced. Makes me proud to be a South Afrikan and a Afrikaner as well. Thank you very much.

  3. Truly a phenomenon and more crucially so, becos he proved he is human and as we, too, are human, we should remember him better. A well written, emotive poem. Thanks!

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