By NANZA PLATANA
Makana Municipality Committee member Ramie Xonxa’s office transformed into a space for an intimate ceremony which honoured the memory of late rugby player and anti-apartheid activist Thembinkosi Maguma. In attendance was Xonxa, Maguma’s daughter Simthandile Maguma and author Ashwell Adriaan.
During the ceremony, Xonxa presented a book about rugby titled ‘Line Breakers: The Rugby-playing Sons of Makana and Stuurman‘, written by Ashwell Adriaan, to Maguma’s daughter Simthandile Maguma. Xonxa expressed that giving Siyamthanda the book was a way to not only honour her father but also help in her healing process.
Xonxa also hopes that the book will give Simthandile and her family insight into the massive contribution her father and many rugby players of colour had in fighting for freedom and democracy in the country.
“Thembinkosi Maguma was an activist. The mere fact that Thembinkosi played non-racial
sport, he played for Winter Rose, which is the team that played believed in non-racial sport.”
Xonxa elaborated on non-racial sports, that is, rugby players wanted to play sports that were not determined by race or segregated racially. The aim of playing non-racial sports was to send a message to the apartheid government and other countries that players could not play normal sports in an abnormal society.
“Thembinkosi had an influence on the freedom and democracy we are experiencing today,” said Xonxa.
Xonxa stressed it was important to hand over the book to Simthandile because it is clothed in history, activism and the love of rugby. Most importantly, the book that will give the Maguma family a sense of pride as one of their own was a freedom fighter. Xonxa hopes the book is valued by the family as they continue to grieve and remember their father.
Co-author of Line Breakers: The Rugby-playing Sons of Makana and Stuurman, Ashwell Adriaan also gave insight into the history of rugby in Makhanda stating that the reason he and his co-author Ashwin Desai, found it important to publish such a book was so that places like Makhanda could have knowledge about the black athletes, who are unsung heroes in the apartheid regime.
“We produced this book, which is like a record for us in Grahamstown and a catalyst for whoever wants to write on Black people’s sports in general as it is not documented properly,” said Adriaan as he highlighted the importance of people of colour and their contribution to sports.
“I am grateful for all the information that I have learnt about my father and I am glad I got the chance to learn about the things he did and the role he played in fighting for our freedom,” said Simthandile.
Thembinkosi Maguma passed away and was buried in July 2022. His memory is honoured forever in the rugby community of Makhanda.