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Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (English Edition)
 
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Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

John Carlin
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Chapter XIV
SILVERMINE

On May 25, 1995, the Springboks would meet the reigning world champions, Australia, in the first match of the World Cup in Cape Town. The day before, the team was gathered at Silvermine, an old military base inside a mountainous nature preserve on the Cape Peninsula, where they had established a temporary training camp. On the eastern half of the peninsula's narrow waist, Silvermine was one of the most beautiful spots in South Africa. Looking north, you saw the totemic monolith of Table Mountain. Looking south, you saw the rocky extremity where the Indian and Atlantic oceans met. All around were cliffs, forests, valleys, and sea.

The team had just finished an afternoon training session when they looked up and saw a big military helicopter throbbing down from the sky. Morné du Plessis, who had been tipped off about the visit, had put on a suit and tie. As they gawked up at the flying machine descending toward the field, he announced that this was Mandela on his way to see them. They continued to stare as Mandela himself stepped out from under the rotor blades in a bright red and orange shirt, worn loose below the waist, in what had become his trademark presidential style.

As Mandela strode smiling toward them, the players crowded forward, jostling each other like photographers at a press conference, craning their necks to get the best view.

Mandela made some light remarks, raising some laughs, and then Du Plessis called for quiet so that the president could address the team. Somewhat to their surprise, Mandela started by taking up the same lofty themes he generally did when addressing white people. (His audience was all white that day, as Chester Williams was away nursing an injury.) He reminded them that the ANC had promised that the new government would keep the commander of the army, the national commissioner of police, the Reserve Bank governor, and the minister of finance. He then pointed out that, a year after the elections, his government had remained true to its word. As Afrikaners, they had nothing to fear from the ANC. Nor, Mandela added, breaking into a grin, from their opponents the next day.

"You are playing the World Cup champions, Australia. The team who wins this match will go right through to the end," he predicted, before returning to a solemn tone. "You now have the opportunity of serving South Africa and uniting our people. From the point of view of merit, you are equal to anything in the world. But we are playing at home and you have got an edge. Just remember, all of us, black and white, are behind you."

The players cheered and applauded, then Mandela took turns to chat with them one by one. "He asked me why I had dressed so formally to see him," Du Plessis remembered. "But what was amazing was the chemistry. The players were drawn to him immediately." Kobus Wiese admitted, "I can't remember why we laughed, but I remember we were laughing with Mandela the whole time he was there."

Hennie le Roux, the chunky center three quarter, decided out of the blue to offer Mandela a token of his gratitude for taking the trouble to come and visit them. When the president got to him, he handed him his green Springbok cap and said, "Please take it, Mr. President, it is for you." Le Roux paused and added, "Thanks a lot for being here. It means a lot to the team."


Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in "Invictus"

Mandela took it, smiled, and said, "Thank you very much. I shall wear it!" He put the cap on right then and there.

François Pienaar put the seal on the mountaintop ceremony with a brief message of farewell to Mandela. Referring to the next day's game, he declared, "There's one guy that now we understand we have to play for, and that's the president."

The Silvermine encounter redefined the Springboks' feelings for their president and their country. Describing the scene as Mandela boarded his helicopter and flew off, Du Plessis was almost lost for words. "I looked at the players as they looked up at the helicopter and they were like young boys waving, so full of this… excitement. These guys had all seen a million helicopters before but Mandela… well, he had won their hearts."

And he did them some good as a rugby team too. Pienaar had been worried about the tension among his teammates on the day before play began. He would usually try to find a way to break it, with a song maybe or a film, but this time Mandela had done his job for him. A year earlier, Mandela had put Pienaar at his ease in the presidential office. Now he had done the same for the team as a whole. "He relaxed the guys. His interaction with the team was jovial, always smiling, always cracking little jokes. And he always has time for everyone. He'd stop and chat, and put the players at ease. That was very special before the opening match."

Mandela may have lowered the Springboks' stress, but he couldn't banish it entirely. Few people actually died on a rugby field, but no sport—in terms of pain endured and brutality of collision—was closer to war. Rugby players took and gave hits as hard as American football players without any helmets, shoulder pads, or other protective gear.

And rugby demanded far more stamina than did American football. Each rugby match was played in two forty-minute halves with only a ten-minute break between them and no timeouts except for injury. But physical fear weighed less heavily on the players than the burden of national expectation. In less than twenty-four hours they would face Australia's Wallabies, one of the five teams with a serious chance of winning the World Cup, along with France, England, New Zealand, and South Africa. Mandela might have made them feel special, but what still remained to be seen was whether the Springboks could channel that pressure in their favor during the game itself, or be crushed under its weight.

It also remained to be seen how much support black South Africans would really give the Springboks, how effective Mandela had been in his efforts to persuade his people that the old green-and-gold jersey was now theirs too.

The Presidential Protection Unit provided as good a barometer of the national mood as any. They were one group of South Africans who went to bed on the night before the game against Australia feeling as tense as the Springboks themselves. But for different reasons. "For that first game against Australia the security challenge was huge and the security arrangements enormous," said Linga Moonsamy, the former ANC guerrilla and a member of the PPU since Mandela's inauguration.

"We spent weeks planning for that day. We went up and down examining every high-rise around the stadium. We placed snipers on rooftops at strategic points, we placed people at the points of weakness inside the stadium."

The PPU was united in its sense of mission but split down the middle between blacks and whites, between former members of Umkhonto we Sizwe, like Moonsamy, and former members of the security police. "The Umkhonto guys and the police guys: people who'd been each other's mortal enemies, literally—we had wanted to kill each other for years," Moonsamy said, "though they succeeded, it should be said, more than we did."

The split extended to rugby. Being in Mandela's presence day in, day out for a year had smoothed Moonsamy's sharper edges. But he was still some way from actively supporting the Springboks or, for that matter, understanding what the game was about.

"There had been plenty of rumors that the white far right would use the competition to stage a terrorist act against the new democracy, against Mandela himself," Moonsamy recalled. "Our white colleagues were as aware of that possibility as us, and they were prepared, like us, but the big difference was that they were, if anything, even more nervous about the outcome of the game itself. We looked at them, smiled, and shook our heads. We just didn't get it."

At the event, the PPU's preparedness paid off. The South Africa – Australia game went without a hitch. Mandela was helicoptered from the presidential residence in Cape Town to a tall building near the stadium. From the building he traveled in a silver armored BMW to the stadium, with Moonsamy, who was number one bodyguard on the day, sitting in the passenger seat before him. Amid all the excitement, Mandela had not forgotten Hennie le Roux's cap. He wore it at the tournament's opening ceremony, where the sixteen teams taking part in the tournament went on parade there at Newlands Stadium alongside 1,500 dancers (or 1,501, Mandela himself joining and performing a lively jig), before the inaugural game itself. And he wore it when he went out onto the pitch to shake the hands of the two teams, to a warm cheer from the overwhelmingly white 50,000-strong crowd, among whom new South African flags abounded. He kept wearing it when the Springboks sang the twin national anthems, into which they now invested equal emotion, if in the case of "Die Stem" they still showed more familiarity with the words.

The game itself was a triumph for the Springboks. All the pressure had worked in their favor, in the end, and they beat Australia, whom none had beaten for fourteen months, more comfortably than the score—27 points to 18—suggested. Joel Stransky was the man of the match, scoring 22 of the Springbok points, 17 of them from kicks, one a try over the line. As the game neared the end a hastily painted banner emerged from the crowd that read, "Forget the Rhino. Save the Wallaby!" The Australians, themselves ferocious competitors in every sport they played, were gracious in defeat. "There's no doubt that the better team won," Bob Dwyer, Australia's coach, said. "Any other result...

From Publishers Weekly

Carlin offers the final dramatic chapters of how then president Nelson Mandela and his wily strategy of using a sporting event—the Sprinkboks rugby team in the 1995 World Cup—to mend South Africa. Carlin, a senior international writer for El País, quotes Mandela: Sports has the power to change the world.... It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers. After giving an informed capsule history of apartheid's bitter legacy and Mandela's noble stature as a leader, the scene is set for the influential rugby match between the solid New Zealand team and the scrappy South African squad in the finals of the World Cup, with 43 million blacks and whites awaiting the outcome. All of the cast in Afrikaner lore are here—Botha, DeKlerk, Bernard, Viljeon—as they match wits with Mandela. Carlin concludes this excellent book of redemption and forgiveness with chapters that depict how a divided country can be elevated beyond hate and malice to pride and healing. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Très bien 4 juin 2013
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Dans le prolongement de Invictus de Clint Eastwood, je voulais lire ce lire que je n'ai pas trouvé en français mais en anglais. un très beau livre
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Comment apprécier Mandela ? 25 mai 2010
Format:Broché
A lire absolument. En anglais, un peu difficile. Il est opportun de voir le film pour une meilleure compréhension du contexte ou bien connaître la vie en Afrique du Sud à cette époque. Il n'est pas nécessaire d'avoir des connaissances en sport. Ce livre montre que "même lorsque l'on croit que tout est fini, la vie et l'espoir renaissent !". John Carlin est un excellent journaliste. Il trace un portrait très près de la réalité.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Entre Rugby et Amitié 29 mars 2014
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Histoire Merveilleuse de l'amitié entre l'illustre Nelson Mandela et le jeune Springbok blond Afrikaner François Pienaar ,issu de l'apartheid.Amitié qui dura jusqu'à la mort de l'illustre Mandela en 2013! François Pienaar demanda même que Mandela Soit le parrain de ses 2 jeunes fils en 1994! Mandela accepta! Magnifique ! Melle Brigitte Barrus
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Très bon vendeur 10 novembre 2011
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Très bonne transaction, très bon vendeur, bonne affaire, rapide, efficace, rien à redire, enfin bref merci ! Donc à recommander sans problème !
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Amazon.com: 4.8 étoiles sur 5  96 commentaires
87 internautes sur 91 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A book about rugby? Don't be fooled. This is so much more... 3 septembre 2008
Par Jesse Kornbluth - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
If you read nothing else this year, get your hands on "Playing the Enemy" and read pages 201 to 253.

It won't take long.

By the time Nelson Mandela walks into that stadium, your heart will be pounding. By the time he walks into the Springboks locker, you'll be in tears. And you'll cry pretty much straight through to the end.

All because, on June 24, 1995, the South African Rugby team beat New Zealand to win the Rugby World Cup.

If you're like most Americans, you know that Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison --- 18 of them in a tiny cell on Robben Island --- and emerged without hatred to spearhead a peaceful transfer of power in South Africa. But you probably know nothing about the 1995 Rugby World Cup match. John Carlin's brilliant book corrects that, and, along the way, presents a concise biography of a remarkable man.

In these pages, Nelson Mandela is a brilliant politician with a genius for disarming his enemies. To Mandela, everyone is human, everyone can be reached. The only question is how. In prison, he would introduce his lawyer to his "guard of honor" --- and his jailers would find themselves shaking hands with an attorney they loathed. And he used his dead time in prison to teach himself Afrikaans, read the Afrikaans newspapers and familiarize himself with Afrikaner history.

Rugby is the favorite sport of Afrikaners, the dominant white tribe in South Africa --- "apartheid's master race." All but one of the 15 players on the Springbok team were white. In a stadium that held 62,000, 95% of the crowd would be white. No wonder that blacks saw the Boks as a symbol of oppression.

"Don't address their brains," Mandela believed. "Address their hearts." One direct way to do that was through sports. People love their teams; the connection is purely emotional. If the Springboks could come to engage both blacks and whites, that might end the sense among blacks that sports in South Africa was "apartheid in tracksuits" --- and might make whites more accepting of blacks as equals.

Mandela did not just lay out a goal. He met and charmed the white lords of rugby, then lobbied for the World Cup to be played in South Africa. He invited François Pienaar, the Springboks captain, to visit him and encouraged him to see his sport as "nation building". Soon the team was learning how to sing "Nkosi Sikele", the black national anthem. And, because a storybook fantasy was becoming reality, the Springboks advanced steadily to the World Cup finals.

The pages that are your homework begin on the morning of the championship game. One of Mandela's bodyguards got an idea: Mandela should enter the stadium wearing a green-and-gold Springbok jersey. Mandela improved on the idea --- his jersey, he said, should have Pienaar's number on it.

Across town, the players had been staying at a hotel. To calm their nerves, they went out for an early morning jog. As they left, Pienaar recalled, "Four little black kids selling newspapers recognized us and chased after us and started calling out our names --- they knew almost everyone on that team --- and the hairs on my neck stood on end... It was the moment when I saw, more clearly than ever before, that this was far bigger than anything we could ever have imagined."

Five minutes before kickoff, Nelson Mandela walked onto the field to greet the players. To the Springbok jersey, he had added a Springbok hat. "When they caught sight of him," Carlin writes, "the crowd seemed to go dead still." And then the chant --- from the almost all-white crowd --- began: "Nel-son! Nel-son! Nel-son!"

I'm going to leave it there, so as not to spoil the magic of the next pages for you. Just know that what happened in that stadium that afternoon was a crazy quilt of glory: atonement, forgiveness, liberation and celebration. It's the kind of event that happens when people who have known only hatred and fear drop the burden of history and move past their differences. Winning a game? That day South Africa climbed a mountain.

It is a measure of the quality of this story that Morgan Freeman is producing a film based on the book --- and playing Nelson Mandela. Matt Damon will be Pienaar, the South African rugby captain. And Clint Eastwood is slated to direct.

I guarantee you: Audiences will cheer. And weep. And these will be tears of joy, because --- for once --- a national leader had perfect pitch, and all of his countrymen knew it, and they all got it right.

In other countries, even in our own, skeptics doubt that this kind of brotherhood can be engineered. It can be. It was.
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Simply stated-"A Must Read!!!" 9 janvier 2010
Par L. Lawlor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
A powerfully moving account of the impact of perhaps one of the most incredibly haumane and politically gifted individuals of all time, Nelson Mandella. (In reading this one cannot help but think of Ghandi.) The story of the transformation of South Africa, as put forth by this gifted author, John Carlin, is mesmerizing. Hard to put down. We are introduced to an array of individuals, on both sides of the predgeudicial conflict. The descriptions of the personalities involved are vivid and individualized in a most comprehensive manner. You develop a true feel for the ingrained vitriol of each. To witness the transcendant changes that these people went through is at once exceptionally emotional, and at the same time heart rendering. Well written. You are there involved in the excitement of the moment. The significance of a single sporting event, the world cup rugby competition in 1995, held in South Africa, and its impact on bringing the two cultures together, is absolutely fascinating. A most enjoyable adventure to read this book. Of course I am definitely looking forward to seeing the movie, but doubt that it could be as good as this book. Hope a lot of people read it.
18 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Inspirational and a Reminder How Great Leaders can Change the World 4 décembre 2009
Par John G. Jazwiec - Publié sur Amazon.com
I read this book over a year ago. I was pleasantly surprised to see it made into a movie. The book was well rated by the NY Times but it was hardly a best seller. I spent my time reading this book, marveling at Mandela from lawyer, to a prisoner who charmed his captors, negotiated with the government in secret, always without malice and never lost his dignity through it all. That was inspiring, but more so was how he brought together his country using the a World Cup Rugby Match. You are not human if you dont find yourself crying at what he accomplished. Mandela never had a lust for power, he ran the country and then retired. He never used his incarcertion to get back against people. Having Morgan Freeman playing him (the voice of God) is a particularly strong metaphor and remind us that leaders like Mandela come once in a generation.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Inspirational! 2 juillet 2010
Par aquarius - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
As a simple story about an underdog national rugby team beating all odds to win a championship, this would be a very good story. What makes this story great, is that team has been chosen (by newly elected South African president Nelson Mandela) as a way to unite a South Africa torn by divisions caused by decades of government enforced segregation of blacks and pave the way for reconciliation between bitter enemies. Can the Springboks, a symbol of the old segregated government, truly make their motto "One Team, One Country" come true?

If you have watched "Invictus" be assured that this book has much more of the background to the people and events portrayed by the movie. The added detail gives one a sharper understanding of many of the principle characters in the movie and the true scope of Mandela's brilliance.

Highly recommended!
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Forgivness in overtime. 9 novembre 2009
Par Sara Shwartz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Awe inspiring. Carlin gives enough back history of South Africa and the poltical tension that preceeded the 1995 World Cup Rugby game to make you want to stand up and cheer at the end of the book.
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