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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 2. 1969.

Grandmother's skin check on success

Grandmother's skin check on success

"South Africa is the only country in the world where, if a man ran a fast 100 metres, the authorities would check on the colour of his grandmother's skin," said Mr. Dennis Brutus, a South African coloured sportsman and poet, who is on a lecture tour of New Zealand.

Approximately one half hour before he spoke, the New Zealand Rugby Football Union had announced that the All Blacks would be playing in Rhodesia, as well as in South Africa.

The NZRFU had earlier refused to meet Mr. Brutus.

He referred to the "specious arguments" by New Zealand rugby administrators that the All Blacks would be an example to South Africa. After 50 years of rugby between the two countries, the improvement in South African attitudes had been absolutely nil, he said.

The position had, in fact, deteriorated. "What has ever made South Africa change her policies?" asked Mr. Brutus. Force was the only method of influencing the South African government.

The Olympic Games, and rugby were examples of this. South Africa had reacted under pressure, but then only to produce "a couple of Uncle Toms" for inclusion in representative teams.

In connection with this, United Nations resolutions weighed less with the African states than practical expressions of concern or unconcern by New Zealand-such as sending, or not sending, a rugby team.

Mr. Brutus expressed his "grave concern" at the reported comments of Sir Richard Wild, Chief Justice of New Zealand, who had recently been touring South Africa. Sir Richard had noted that he was greatly impressed by the legal system of apartheid.

New Zealanders visiting South Africa give apartheid respectability, Mr. Brutus said.

The All Blacks would be a very significant part of this process. "They (the South Africans) want to trample you in the mud," Mr. Brutus said, and by this association they would benefit.

"This is why the ConsulGeneral is here. It will strengthen them in their position of apartheid."

Mr. Brutus said that he was doubtful as to the reality behind the assurances of welcome for Maori supporters of the touring All Black team. "The shade of Maoriness you might have in you might matter when you apply for a visa."

Asked about the South African "mini-Olympics" that are reported to be taking place later this year in South Africa, Mr. Brutus said that the Shell Oil Co. had donated N.Z.$290,000 to support this all-white games.

"Nothing like it will have been seen since Hitler's race festival," he said. Australia, France and the U.S.A. will not be taking part, but the New Zealand authorities would be passing the South African invitations on to individual athletes.

To make matters worse, Mr. Brutus said, the games will take part in a stadium into which blacks are not allowed.

Dennis Brutus