What Hashim Amla's fascinating story illuminates about South African society

South African batsman Hashim Amla has a fascinating story.

Amla's story illuminates a great deal about the country and the fault lines of our society.

Journalist Niren Tolsi has written about the rainbow beauty of Hashim Amla and shares his insights.

Read: Hashim Amla becomes eighth cricketer to score a century in 100th Test

The essayist says he has been intrigued by Amla's journey both on a personal and professional level.

Tolsi argues that the Muslim batsman disrupts the white establishment from which cricket has historically operated.

He explains that government's efforts to use sport to advance the "rainbow nation" rhetoric after apartheid had entrenched abnormal playing fields between black and white players.

Also read: Why it's okay for Hashim Amla to walk away from captaincy

Tolsi reflects on how Amla was initially framed in the media and how the cricketer was simultaneously made visible and invisible on the Proteas team.

Tolsi also examines Amla's identity, his performance on the field, and his time as Proteas captain - playing a sport historically intertwined with colonialism.

We're not the clichés that we've been taught we are. We're complex, and Hashim Amla is a very good example of that.

Niren Tolsi, Journalist, and co-editor of the long-form and literary journal the Con

For a long time, the dominant white sports bodies which remained in control were very weary of black sports kids and administrators. Initially, there was gate-keeping.

Niren Tolsi, Journalist, and co-editor of the long-form and literary journal the Con

Here is a brown bearded man, breaking into a team which was at one point based on a very Christian and Calvinists nationalism.

Niren Tolsi, Journalist, and co-editor of the long-form and literary journal the Con

Here was this Muslim man. A beard; brown. Very visibly someone who was not part of this establishment, but at the same time quite invisible to cricket writers and how they reported on him.

Niren Tolsi, Journalist, and co-editor of the long-form and literary journal the Con

The white media had a hard time trying to really understand who Hashim Amla was.

Niren Tolsi, Journalist, and co-editor of the long-form and literary journal the Con

Aside from Mfuneko Ngam, no other black South African cricketer has come from outside the elite school system.

Niren Tolsi, Journalist, and co-editor of the long-form and literary journal the Con

There is this idea that South African sport and cricket needs to exist in this space of masculinity, if not hypermasculinity. You have to overtly articulate certain things.

Niren Tolsi, Journalist, and co-editor of the long-form and literary journal the Con

Double standards do exist, especially for black players.

Niren Tolsi, Journalist, and co-editor of the long-form and literary journal the Con

Take a listen to Niren Tolsi's thoughtful reflections:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : What Hashim Amla's fascinating story illuminates about South African society


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