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Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (English Edition) par [Carlin, John]
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Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (English Edition) Format Kindle

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Longueur : 308 pages Word Wise: Activé Composition améliorée: Activé
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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 militarybase inside a mountainous nature preserve on the Cape Peninsula,where they had established a temporary training camp. On the easternhalf of the peninsula's narrow waist, Silvermine was one of the mostbeautiful spots in South Africa. Looking north, you saw the totemicmonolith of Table Mountain. Looking south, you saw the rockyextremity where the Indian and Atlantic oceans met. All around werecliffs, forests, valleys, and sea.

The team had just finished an afternoon training session when theylooked up and saw a big military helicopter throbbing down from thesky. Morné du Plessis, who had been tipped off about the visit, had puton a suit and tie. As they gawked up at the flying machine descendingtoward the field, he announced that this was Mandela on his way to seethem. They continued to stare as Mandela himself stepped out fromunder 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, craningtheir necks to get the best view.

Mandela made some light remarks, raising some laughs, and thenDu Plessis called for quiet so that the president could address the team.Somewhat to their surprise, Mandela started by taking up the samelofty themes he generally did when addressing white people. (His audiencewas all white that day, as Chester Williams was away nursing aninjury.) He reminded them that the ANC had promised that the newgovernment would keep the commander of the army, the nationalcommissioner of police, the Reserve Bank governor, and the ministerof finance. He then pointed out that, a year after the elections, his governmenthad remained true to its word. As Afrikaners, they had nothingto 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 teamwho wins this match will go right through to the end," he predicted,before returning to a solemn tone. "You now have the opportunity ofserving South Africa and uniting our people. From the point of view ofmerit, you are equal to anything in the world. But we are playing athome and you have got an edge. Just remember, all of us, black andwhite, are behind you."

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

Hennie le Roux, the chunky center three quarter, decided out of theblue 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 hisgreen Springbok cap and said, "Please take it, Mr. President, it is foryou." Le Roux paused and added, "Thanks a lot for being here. Itmeans a lot to the team."


Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in "Invictus"

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

François Pienaar put the seal on the mountaintop ceremony with abrief 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 playfor, and that's the president."

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

And he did them some good as a rugby team too. Pienaar had beenworried about the tension among his teammates on the day before playbegan. He would usually try to find a way to break it, with a song maybeor 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 hehad done the same for the team as a whole. "He relaxed the guys. Hisinteraction with the team was jovial, always smiling, always crackinglittle 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'tbanish it entirely. Few people actually died on a rugby field, but nosport—in terms of pain endured and brutality of collision—was closerto 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 aten-minute break between them and no timeouts except for injury. Butphysical fear weighed less heavily on the players than the burden ofnational expectation. In less than twenty-four hours they would faceAustralia's Wallabies, one of the five teams with a serious chance ofwinning the World Cup, along with France, England, New Zealand, andSouth Africa. Mandela might have made them feel special, but what stillremained to be seen was whether the Springboks could channel thatpressure in their favor during the game itself, or be crushed under its weight.

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

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

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

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

The split extended to rugby. Being in Mandela's presence day in, dayout for a year had smoothed Moonsamy's sharper edges. But he was stillsome 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 usethe competition to stage a terrorist act against the new democracy,against Mandela himself," Moonsamy recalled. "Our white colleagueswere 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 nervousabout 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 fromthe presidential residence in Cape Town to a tall building near the stadium.From the building he traveled in a silver armored BMW to thestadium, with Moonsamy, who was number one bodyguard on the day,sitting in the passenger seat before him. Amid all the excitement, Mandelahad not forgotten Hennie le Roux's cap. He wore it at the tournament'sopening ceremony, where the sixteen teams taking part in thetournament went on parade there at Newlands Stadium alongside 1,500dancers (or 1,501, Mandela himself joining and performing a lively jig),before the inaugural game itself. And he wore it when he went out ontothe pitch to shake the hands of the two teams, to a warm cheer fromthe overwhelmingly white 50,000-strong crowd, among whom newSouth African flags abounded. He kept wearing it when the Springbokssang the twin national anthems, into which they now invested equalemotion, if in the case of "Die Stem" they still showed more familiaritywith the words.

The game itself was a triumph for the Springboks. All the pressurehad worked in their favor, in the end, and they beat Australia, whomnone had beaten for fourteen months, more comfortably than thescore—27 points to 18—suggested. Joel Stransky was the man of thematch, scoring 22 of the Springbok points, 17 of them from kicks, onea try over the line. As the game neared the end a hastily painted banneremerged from the crowd that read, "Forget the Rhino. Save the Wallaby!"The Australians, themselves ferocious competitors in every sportthey played, were gracious in defeat. "There's no doubt that the betterteam won," Bob Dwyer, Australia's coach, said. "Any other result, if we had sneaked it, would have been unfair."

That night the Springbok players celebrated as rugby players do,drinking until four in the morning, being feted—carried high aloft—everywhere they went. Kitch Christie, the coach, did not spare themtheir daily run at nine the next morning, from the heart of the city outto the seashore, but the throbbing pain of it was eased by the passersbywho cheered them every step of the way.

A day later, their heads still rather the worse for wear, they foundthemselves on a ferry bound for Robben Island. It had been Morné duPlessis's idea. Du Plessis had begun to see just how enormous theimpact of this "One Team, One Country" business was, not only interms of the good it would do the country, but the good it would dothe team.


"Invictus" Movie Poster

"There was a cause-and-effect connection between the Mandelafactor and our performance in the field," Du Plessis said. "It was causeand effect on a thousand fronts. In players overcoming the pain barrier,in a superior desire to win, in luck going your way because you makeyour own luck, in all kinds of tiny details that together or separatelymark the difference between winning and losing. It all came perfectlytogether. Our willingness to be the nation's team and Mandela's desireto make the team the national team."

Robben Island was still being used as a prison and all the prisonersthere were either Black or Coloured. Part of the day's event involvedmeeting them, but first the players took turns viewing the cell whereMandela had spent eighteen of his twenty-seven years in captivity. Theplayers entered the cell one or two at a time; it couldn't hold any morethan that. Having just met Mandela, they knew that he was a tall manlike most of them, if not as broad. It required no great mental leap topicture the challenges, physical and psychological, of being confined ina box so small for so long. Pienaar, who had done a bit of reading onMandela's past, also knew that it was in this cell, or at any rate in thisprison, that much of the energy and planning behind the boycott ofthe Springbok international tours had come. Morné du Plessis had asimilar reflection, all the more powerful since he had been one of theSpringbok players affected by it. Steve Tshwete, now the minister ofsport, had told Du Plessis that, in these cells, they listened on the radioto the Springboks' games against the British Lions in 1980. The guardsyelled at the prisoners to stop their cheering, but they cheered on. "Andyou know," Du Plessis told me, "looking around those cells, seeingwhat we put them through, you know what? I would have cheered forthe Lions too."

After Mandela's cell the Springbok players went outside to the yardwhere Mandela had once been obliged to break stones. Waiting forthem was a group of prisoners.

"They were so happy to see us," Pienaar said. "Despite being confinedhere they were so obviously proud of our team. I spoke to themabout our sense that we were representing the whole country now,them included, and then they sang us a song. James Small—I'll neverforget this—stood in a corner, tears streaming out. James lived veryclose to the sword and I think he must have felt, 'I could have beenhere.' Yes, he felt his life could so easily have gone down another path.But," Pienaar added, recalling the bruising fights he would get into when he was younger, the time he thought he had killed a man,"… but mine too, eh? I could have ended up there too."

Small remembered the episode. "The prisoners not only sang for us,they gave us a huge cheer and I… I just burst into tears," he said, hiseyes reddening again at the recollection. "That was where the sensereally took hold in me that I belonged to the new South Africa, andwhere I really got a sense of the responsibility of my position as aSpringbok. There I was, hearing the applause for me, and at the sametime thinking about Mandela's cell and how he spent twenty-sevenyears in prison and came out with love and friendship. All that washedover me, that huge realization, and the tears just rolled down my face."

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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  • Format : Format Kindle
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  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 308 pages
  • Editeur : Atlantic Books; Édition : Main - (Now filmed as Invictus) (1 avril 2009)
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  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B002ROKQKG
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  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5 4 commentaires client
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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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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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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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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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5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Power of Love to Heal a Nation 28 juillet 2015
Par Karen Wingoof - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
*Playing the Enemy* is a wonderful book - moving, touching, filled to brimming with inspiration. This is the story of Nelson Mandela's rise to the presidency of South Africa, and the power of love (and rugby) to unite a nation. I laughed. I cried. By the time I finished this book, my heart was filled with hope for our world. This book was proof, to me, that nothing - absolutely nothing - is impossible to Love.

"Mandela’s weakness was his greatest strength. He succeeded because he chose to see good in people who ninety-nine people out of a hundred would have judged to have been beyond redemption...By appealing to and eliciting what was best in them, and in every single white South African watching the rugby game that day, he offered them the priceless gift of making them feel like better people, in some cases transforming them into heroes.

"His secret weapon was that he assumed not only that he would like the people he met; he assumed also that they would like him. That vast self-confidence of his coupled with that frank confidence he had in others made for a combination that was as irresistible as it was disarming." - from *Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation*

- Karen Molenaar Terrell, author of *Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist*
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Absolutely brilliant 11 février 2011
Par EJ - Publié sur Amazon.com
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I agree with the other reviewers here about this book; it is indeed a "must-read". This book is not really a story of rugby, as later portrayed in the Hollywood movie; it is a story of a country struggling with a massive and long-overdue change in the fabric of its society.

John Carlin tells the story of South Africa during the transition period after Nelson Mandela was freed from prison and apartheid ended. Whether you are an expert in this era or a neophyte, Carlin's writing and summary of this time is nothing short of superb. He is able to tell the tale of how South Africa managed an almost incomprehensibly huge change in its society without warfare, which is an incredible feat. Carlin had worked in South Africa and as such had background knowledge of the country as well as access to the many prominent figures that he interviewed for the book, including Mandela himself.

The role of rugby in this book is as the thread that ties together the characters from all walks of life who appear throughout the story. It doesn't much resemble the movie in that sense, which relied more heavily on showing the rugby team, games, etc., as the primary driver of the story. The book is far more powerful.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, should read this book. It is well-written, fast-paced, emotional, and tells a story that would have been unbelievable if it weren't true. As a side note, the poem "Invictus", for which the movie was titled, brilliantly captures the bravery of Mandela and all of South Africa shown in this book.

"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."

Excerpt from Invictus, by William Ernest Henley
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Intense stare into the heart of the man and the matter 17 décembre 2013
Par Shapshak - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
John Carlin is an intelligent, thoughtful, and insightful journalist; who worked as a foreign correspondent in South Africa. As the end of Apartheid beckoned, a revolution was occurring in the most unlikely of places: Robben Island, the Alcatraz-like prison island off Cape Town where the country's most dangerous prisoner, number 46664, was beginning to charm his captors.
People think Nelson Mandela emerged from jail an inspired man. It's the other way. He went into jail on a moral high that he never buckled from. He held his head up, refused special privileges unless they were shared by all the prisoners and refused to negotiate as a prisoner "who has no rights".
Through his Afrikaans warders he realised that to charm the devil (that were the ministers responsible for Apartheid) he needed to speak their language. So he taught himself Afrikaans, like part of his morning fitness routine that he continued until he physically couldn't anymore, including waking at 4am.
He realised that rugby was the lifeblood of this white tribe of Africa, the Afrikaaners.
And, just a year into the country's profound change over to democracy, after Mandela had been elected in a world-defining moment, Madiba enacted what was to be the greatest act of nation-building: embracing, endorsing, impersonating the Springboks. The national rugby team, long excluded from the global game because of sporting sanctions against Apartheid, become the surprise winners in their first return to the World Championship by beating the much-fancied, old foe, the All Blacks. Clad in black, the iconic New Zealand team had been supported by black South Africa through the dark days. Now, the leader of the country, the man whose image was never seen in the years flour-bombs rained down on New Zealand fields to stop South African tours, had become the very face of this formerly white, formerly representing everything oppressive about the Afrikaaners. It was a triumph of good timing, and simple humanity.
It was as profound a gesture as it was a marvel of human dignity. The president of the country got behind his other boys (the national soccer team is known as Bafana Bafana, meaning the boys) and by appearing before final in the matching number 6 jersey of captain Francois Pienaar, spurred the Springboks on to a famous victory that will live forever in the annals of sporting triumph, and, so deservedly, in the history of South Africa's inspiration leader, the recently passed away Nelson Mandela.
John Carlin is a gifted writer, who tells this intoxicating story as if you're sitting in the room listening to Mandela tell a young Pienaar that he had to win the game because the nation depended on it. You're on the front lines of this truly remarkable story of Mandela's almost divine power of forgiveness to heal his nation and unite his people.
It's a wonderful read, one of the closest to this truly, truly amazing man that Nelson Mandela was. It should be everyone's festive season read. A reminder of the greatness of one man, who united a nation, and brought them all into a new era of democracy, freedom and the Springboks beating the best in the world.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Book, Recommended 26 août 2013
Par Jason - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This was an immensely interesting book. I was coming of age when stories out of South Africa were in the news almost daily. I remember this being one of the first major news stories that I followed as a young adult (the power shift, that is) and I remember being quite mesmerized by it. I'm glad I was able to read an insider's take on the happenings, and wish I hadn't waited 20 years later to do so.

Interestingly, this is not a play-by-play of the rugby games. Outside of the final game, little details of the action on the pitch is described, and honestly, even the final game is not entirely descriptive. This book explores more of the juxtaposition of sports and political turmoil. Similar to the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team. If you are wanting a story about rugby, it's not going to be your first choice. However, it's an extremely interesting perspective when discussing Apartheid and interesting to see how it was used as a political tool to unify a country that was completely divided.

I'd highly recommend this book. It was a great way to explore the political shift in South Africa in the mid-90's without having to read a book that is written like a news article. The only thing I felt the book was lacking was a bit more background in some of the players on the team.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Did Mandela Have Any Flaws? 29 décembre 2010
Par Andrew Schonbek - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
The author raises this question toward the end of this very good book. It's a legitimate one to ask. Mandela takes on an almost supernatural aura as the action unfolds.

Playing the Enemy chronicles the birth of post apartheid South Africa and the unexpected role in this of an epic sports contest. It follows Mandela from the beginnings of his contacts with government officials while still in prison, through his triumphant release and election as President. But all this simply provides context for the narrative of a rugby match.

And what a match it was.

Mandela understood that before a new country of South Africa could come into being, what was required was the creation of a population of South Africans, something that had not existed in the era of the Afrikaners and numerous fragmented tribal groups. He seized on the sport of rugby as the unlikely vehicle to make this happen. Rugby had been the exclusive province of the Boer oppressors, and the name and colors of the national team were vilified among the black population. Mandela's amazing leadership turned this around, and the sight of black masses cheering for the Springboks conveyed a potent message of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Read this book to replenish your hope in human potential and possibilities.
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