This paper explores the legacies of white South African cricketer Lance ‘Zulu’ Klusener. His childhood immersion in ‘Shakan culture’ on a Natal sugar plantation was said to imbue him with warrior prowess on the field. In Klusener’s newly democratic country even township veterans of the People’s War against apartheid, who associated cricket with racial tyranny, followed his World Cup exploits. So too did his rural Zulu fans in KwaZulu–Natal chiefdoms and farms. Klusener’s ‘Zulu’ persona represented not only deeper cultural histories, but also pervasive colonial markers. In the post-apartheid era, Klusener’s fame revealed a different minority at play. His sporting identity impressed the ‘rainbow nation’, especially the promoters of reconciliation selling the evocatively familiar with a new twist: the warrior inspiring unity, not with tribal spear, but with colonial bat. With international sanctions against South Africa lifted in 1994, they wanted to change negative perceptions of their racially exclusive sport. Klusener appealed to the historically oppressed at home and opened sources of global revenue formerly closed by a four-decade-old sport boycott. Indeed, his ‘warrior’ reputation was ripe for exploitation in a ‘neoliberal’ tourism-oriented economy called ‘Ethnicity Inc.’, the title of Comaroffs’ book on the ‘marketing [of] vernacular lifeways’ of ‘ethno-nations’.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of the History of Sport on 23/06/2015, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09523367.2015.1041106
- Zulu warrior
- rainbow nation