Paul Nash, the world's fastest white man, won the 100-meter dash in a meeting of South African champions at Potchefstroom in the western Transvaal a few weeks ago. Some 7,000 whites and two Bantu watched him overtake a good field—all white—to win easily by a couple of yards in 10.2 seconds. A month before, the victory would have insured his selection on the South African Olympic team. As it was it meant only that he was still the best sprinter, black or white, in Africa.
A week later, at the Libanon Gold Mine Stadium, which is 30 miles from Johannesburg and halfway between that city and Potchefstroom, Joseph Leserwane, a tall, slender Bantu who works as a mine clerk and wears a rather sparse Vandyke beard, won the South African nonwhite 100-meter championship in 10.3 seconds, helped along by a very brisk wind.
The crowd watching Leserwane was multiracial and about evenly divided between black and white. The whites sat in a small grandstand at the finish lines, and the blacks crowded against the wire fences on either side of the stands, perched on the sloped green turf which makes a shallow bowl of the stadium. All of the officials at Potchefstroom and Libanon were white.
Aside from speed afoot, Nash and Leserwane share one other thing: both are bitterly disappointed by the recent action of the International Olympic Committee which denied them a chance to compete in Mexico City. Said Leserwane, very softly, after his victory, "I was the sahddest mahn in Ahfrica when I heard the news. All of the strength left my legs and the heart went out of me. But it is not so bahd for me as for some of the others. I am a young mahn of 21 years, and I will still be in my prime in 1972, if we are admitted then. I have done 46.9 in the 400 meters, and I am sure to do much better, so I will keep trying and hoping. But I am very sorry for a mahn like Humphrey Khosi. He has no more chahnce."
June 2, 1968
Nash was neither as articulate nor as friendly as Leserwane. In recent months he has four times tied the world record of 10 seconds flat in the 100 meters (three times with the assistance of a following wind), but a pulled muscle hampered his training before this meeting.
"I don't have to apologize for a 10.2," he said. "I lost my edge when my training went off after the injury."
"What was your reaction to the rejection of South Africa by the IOC?" he was asked.
"No political questions," he said angrily.
"Had you looked forward to competing with the American sprinters in Mexico City?"
"I don't look forward to competing with anyone," he said. "A competitor is just a competitor to me. I expect to beat them all, but if one beats me on a certain day he's the better man on that day and that's that." He slipped a sweater over a T shirt with "UCLA Bruins" on the front, a souvenir of a trip to the U.S.
"Were you disappointed at being barred from competing in the Olympics?"
"No political questions," he said bluntly and turned abruptly and walked away.
Brian Davis, who won the 400 meters in 46.9 in something of an upset, was more philosophical about the IOC action than Nash. After his victory, Davis peeled off his sweaty uniform shirt in the infield, earning a severe reprimand from an official who objected to his baring his chest before the crowd. He put on a red sweat suit with "Lamar Tech" in white letters across the back and sat down on the grass.
"We were all disappointed," he said, cheerfully enough. "Paul more than anyone else, I guess. He's really a very pleasant chap, you know, but he's been bugged so much about this. It's not so bad for me. I competed for South Africa in the Rome Olympics in 1960, got a four-year scholarship to Lamar Tech in Beaumont, Texas out of it and thoroughly enjoyed myself there. I've had my fling. I guess I really feel most sorry for the blacks. They were finally going to get their opportunity in sports, and it created an enormous interest among them. John Short, one of the white men who sometimes coaches the nonwhites, tells me that participation doubled and tripled after the announcement at Grenoble that South Africa had been readmitted. And the white athletes were happy for them. Sportsmen are not concerned with color. If it had turned out on merit that the team was all black, that would have been all right. But it's all political now, isn't it? This is what all of Africa wanted before, and now they have turned it down. It must be heartbreaking for a man like Humphrey Khosi. He's 29 now, I think, and he has nothing to look forward to."
Davis is the visitors' manager for the South African Foundation, a public-relations organization dedicated to improving the South African image abroad. He shepherds visiting brass through South Africa, arranging speeches and public appearances for them.
"Khosi was one of the very few blacks who had recorded an Olympic qualifying time," he said. "But we would have taken some of them, anyway. Even if no one in a country has made the qualifying time in an event, you are still allowed to take one competitor in that event, and we would have taken some blacks. I myself trained hard and bulled ahead for this Olympics, but I have been there before. I'm not saying the Olympics is old hat to me. It's not: But my shock at missing this one can't compare with Khosi's."
Khosi is South Africa's best black track athlete. He has done 1:47.9 for the 800 meters, and he was an almost certain choice to represent the Springboks at Mexico City. At Libanon Gold Mine he ran 800 meters in 1:50.2, a respectable time considering the wind and the cold.
"You must understand," a white official said after Khosi's run, "the Africans cannot perform well on a chilly day, because of their black skin. They are black because their skin must absorb heat so that they do their best in warm weather. They are not accustomed to warming up as long as white athletes, either. So Khosi. under the circumstances, has done very well."
Khosi is a welfare officer at Harmony Mine, about 100 miles from the Libanon Gold Mine. He works with other black athletes and does not go into the mines himself. He is a slight, finely trained man who does not look his 29 years. His quick smile is flawed by a gap in his front teeth.
"I was terribly disappointed by being put out of the Olympics," he said after his race. His voice, like Leserwane's, is very soft, almost apologetic. "We had worked hard after Grenoble and made progress. I missed Tokyo when we were banned, and now I will miss Mexico City, and I will be too old for 1972. I will retire before then."
Khosi has been in charge of athletics at the Harmony Mine since 1965 and earns about $100 a month, well above the usual mine pay for blacks. He brought a 40-man team with him to this meet by bus, under the supervision of a white official. The athletes among the blacks come, for the most part, from the 600,000 mine workers who are employed along the Gold Reef, which extends through Johannesburg and for miles in each direction beyond it. The square, mesalike hills of mine diggings dot the countryside all along the road from Johannesburg to Potchefstroom.
The president of the nonwhite athletic association in South Africa is a bluff, genial white man named Bill Stenhouse, who is the compound manager for the Libanon Gold Mine. The mine workers sign contracts for from a year to 18 months, and they earn an average of 30 rand ($42) a month for working below. During the life of the contract they are restricted to the mine property and live in the compounds, 18 or 20 to a room, sleeping on bunks like shelves along the walls, each with a small locker for his persona] belongings. Part of the 30 rand goes to the worker's family in his home kraal. Part is saved. Part goes to buy kaffir beer when he is off shift. The men work eight-hour shifts, but the mine shafts go down as deep as 10,000 feet and a worker on the shift starting at 8 a.m. may have to leave his bunk at 4 a.m. and wait for two or three hours before he gets down to his working level, and he must spend the same time to get back to the surface. Their food is mealie meal and meat, scientifically worked out so that the mine workers get the proper proportion of vitamins and minerals. Even the kaffir beer is, in effect, a health food: it is made from maize, the kaffir corn, and, although it is intoxicating, it is healthy, too.
Stenhouse, watching a western Transvaal runner coast home in a 400-meter trial heat, nodded his head approvingly.
"I noticed that lad a couple of years ago," he said. "Fine prospect, I think. I brought him up out of the mines and gave him a surface job, and he has improved tremendously. I think in time he will be a champion."
Most of the mine athletes—in track and field, cycling, boxing or whatever—are resurrected from the mines so that they have adequate time for training. And the training facilities are magnificent. The stadium at Libanon is actually better than the township stadium at Potchefstroom, where the white meeting was held. The tracks are about the same—both red clay and sand, both very fast, both nine-lanes wide. Around the outside of the track at Libanon is a banked cement cycling track. At the meet for the South African nonwhite championships, cycling races on the cement track went on at the same time as the foot races, and a white public-address announcer devoted most of his time to the cycling. The black spectators listened to his Harry Wismer breathless-and-excited commentary with vast relish and cheered louder for the cyclists than they did for the runners. Most blacks are cyclists from the time they can ride, and cycling is a big sport for them.
"The mines provide the bicycles," Stenhouse explained. "They cost about 80 rand apiece, more than a Bantu can afford. They are the best racing cycles we can find."
At the noon break at Libanon the white officials and coaches were served a curry lunch and drinks in a large, bright room in one of the mine-company buildings. They were universally friendly, jovial and uncomprehending of the IOC. Matt Maré is the president of the South African Amateur Athletic Union, a big man in his late 50s, with a small gray mustache and the look of an English empire builder who has just returned from India. Like most of his white compatriots, he was shocked at the action of the IOC.
"I think our basic reaction is to prove damn well that we have world-class athletes," he said. "You know, the blacks in South Africa have turned against the blacks in the rest of Africa because of their boycott. Now they feel the only friends they have left are the South African whites. And they may be right."
He demonstrated his friendship for the Bantu when the meeting began again at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The white African sun failed to kill the chill in the air, and the brisk wind made the athletes huddle together for warmth. Maré spoke for about 10 minutes into a microphone on the infield. When he had finished, a Bantu interpreter, struggling to remember all that Maré had said, translated his speech for the Bantu in about six minutes. There was very little applause.
"I have come here, together with the other white officials, because I want to be here," Maré said. "As you can see, we have a keen interest in nonwhite athletics, and we want to help you and see that you do well. You were told two years ago that when you grew up and became mature enough to handle your own affairs in sports, then we would turn them over to you. I think that that time has arrived, and I'm sure I am right. Good luck to all of you."
When he had finished, a white starter lined up the entrants in a heat of the 110-meter high hurdles and the white officials climbed the steps of the judging stand to judge the finish. The hurdlers, awkward and obviously not well coached, knocked down most of the hurdles in this heat and later it was run over again.
To one side of the little group of officials on the infield near the microphone was a small black man in a somewhat dilapidated overcoat, his right hand encased in a grimy white bandage. He was Eddie Sono, vice-president (under Stenhouse) of the nonwhite athletic organization and a former black sprint champion. He is a schoolteacher in a Bantu school and the top black sports official affiliated with the white sports structure. He listened to Maré's speech impassively.
When it was over, he turned to offer his left hand in greeting to a writer and listened carefully to his question. No one interfered with the interview or eavesdropped.
"I don't understand the other African nations," Sono said. "South Africa did what they wanted them to do. The other people were not telling the truth. They said in 1964 that they would not admit us because we, the nonwhites, were not on the team. Now we are on, and still we are not admitted. We South African blacks are bitter toward the other African nations. We have made great progress, and they stopped it. We feel they should have said, 'Thank you. You have done what we asked.' But instead of that they said, 'No, you still can't compete.' Who can tell what they want? But we will work on and hope for the best."
Khosi, huddled in his warmup suit, sat on a small stool nearby, trying to keep warm.
"I don't understand these people," he said in his almost inaudible voice. "They said they were fighting for us in international competition. Now we have made this step forward, and, instead of supporting us and saying good, they boycott. They should say, 'This is progress. Now let us wait and see how it works out.' They have put us right back where we started. You cannot do all at once. You must take a step at a time, and they have not let us take the first step."
Although the first step taken by the South African Olympic Committee, under the guidance of Frank Braun, the president and the most influential single man in South Africa on sports, is a ministep by most standards, it was a giant step in short—in the context of the South African racial structure. To realize this, it might be well to note some of the things that happened in South Africa during the week between the meeting at Potchefstroom for whites and the meeting at the Libanon Gold Mine Stadium for blacks:
•A 24-year-old white railway clerk named John O'Brien and a 25-year-old African, Nellie Tlaitlai, were found guilty in Johannesburg's magistrate court of contravening the immorality act. Each was sentenced to six months' imprisonment. The immorality act forbids any white having sexual relationship with any black. If a foreign visitor becomes too friendly with an African of the opposite sex, he is summarily ejected.
•The South African government moved to deny the colored population their minimal representation in the National Assembly—four seats for white men representing the colored. The bill has no effect on the blacks (colored, as distinguished from blacks, are half-castes) since the blacks have no representation or vote of any kind anyway. Further, no white speaker can address an audience that is predominantly nonwhite, and vice versa.
•Three award-winning movies were banned in South Africa during the week—Bonnie and Clyde, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
•An 18-year-old girl, Louise Schloms, was fined 300 rand (or 150 days in prison) for selling a copy of a banned record called Folk on Trek to a police sergeant, who had come into the shop to trap her. The record contained a mention of the Pill, with a double meaning.
•The government began to implement a new policy of moving 4 million of the 6 million blacks in the major cities back to their homelands if they were not "economically active." The black homelands make up 13% of South Africa, and the blacks not "economically active," i.e., the blacks who do not have jobs in the urban area, would have small chance surviving. The law would arbitrarily separate a Bantu man who is jobless from his wife if she had a job as a domestic in Johannesburg.
•Finally, the Minister of Labor threatened to deregister the Trade Union Council of South Africa, a combination of trade unions recognized by the government, if it insisted on continuing its affiliation with a few black trade unions. Deregistration would, of course, destroy the unions.
So, in this atmosphere of escalating separation of the races, coupled with complete subjugation of the blacks, the move by the South African Olympic Committee to permit a multiracial team to live together, travel together and represent their country in Mexico City was ostensibly radical.
If one man in South Africa can be said to be most responsible for the tiny crack in the granite wall of apartheid. he is Frank Braun, president of the South African Olympic and National Games Association. Braun is an ebullient, energetic man in his 50s who has been headmaster of the white Leicester Road School in suburban Johannesburg for 30 years, head of the South African Amateur Boxing Association for nearly as long and the president of the Olympic group for years.
His office at the Leicester Road School is big and bright and airy. Along one wall is a long bookcase, stuffed with books on Africa and with novels for teenagers on the order of the Rover Boys or Jack Armstrong. On the top of the bookcase is a rank of silver trophies for achievement in sports by the intraschool teams. Athletics is a major part of the curriculum for the 550 young boys and girls who attend the school.
"The action by the executive committee in Lausanne came as a complete shock to me," Braun said one morning in his office at the Leicester Road School. "When Avery Brundage came down here to visit us before going to Lausanne he said that he would resign rather than okay an unfair judgment. This judgment was not only unfair, it was illegal."
He rummaged in a manila folder for a document. "Here," he said, "read this. This is an opinion by a firm of American attorneys employed by Mr. Brundage. He brought this to me. We had had an independent opinion from attorneys here, and the two opinions agree. Read it."
The opinion of the attorneys was summarized in the first paragraph of the letter.
"Dear Mr. Brundage:
"You have asked our opinion with respect to the question whether the action of the International Olympic Committee officially inviting the South African Olympic Committee to send a team to the Olympic Games to be held in Mexico City in October, 1968 can be rescinded. Our opinion that such a rescission would be invalid without an amendment to the rules and regulations of the Olympic Games is based on interpretation of the clear language of those rules. It is our further opinion that a revocation at this late date of the promise that the South African team will be permitted to participate in the 1968 Games would be a clear violation of accepted contract law."
The body of the letter cites precedents for the legal opinion. In the conclusion, the document states, "...any motion to rescind that invitation would be clearly out of order.... Even if such a vote were taken, it would have no effect on the enforceability of the contract already created."
"You see, then, that we could, I suppose, take legal action to enforce our acceptance at Mexico City," Braun said. "Possibly we could secure an injunction or sue for damages to repay us for the time and money we have already spent in making preparations to compete. But, of course, we will not. We will go ahead with our program. We will send a 50-man multiracial team to Australia early in January, and they will compete against the Australian and the New Zealand Olympic teams. We still have to prove to the world that we will keep our word. Incidentally, I have heard that the black African nations plan to vote against New Zealand as the site for the Empire Games if they send a team to compete with us in Australia."
He stood up and walked to the bookcase and examined the trophies. They had just been polished and some of them replaced face to the wall, and he turned them around.
"I suppose I should have had an inkling of what would happen," he said. "When Mr. Brundage was here I gave him a provisional list of athletes who would compete in Mexico City. The team would have had about 70 whites and 10 or 12 blacks. We were prepared to bend over backward to include blacks on the team. Half of the boxing team would have blacks, and we would have had two black cyclists and probably five black trackmen, although only one had reached Olympic standards. I think more would have, because the blacks got down to serious training after Grenoble, when we were invited. What it boils down to is that we would have had probably 12 black athletes from three sports and about 70 whites from 17 sports."
He sat down again and called to a Bantu servant in the hall.
"Would you like tea?" he asked and then told the Bantu to prepare it.
"Now, Brundage knew all this," he said. "We had everything required of us. They were to be picked by a multiracial committee, six nonwhites, six whites. The recommendations, sport by sport, were to be made by multiracial committees in the sports. They would travel together, have their accommodations together, wear the same uniform. We had planned that a nonwhite would carry the South African flag in the opening ceremonies and a white at the close of the Games. Still, Mr. Brundage hinted to me when he was here that it might be the diplomatic thing to withdraw, in order to avoid any possible violence or injury to athletes."
"You know what I told him? I said, 'Mr. Brundage, I would rather be shot in Mexico City than lynched in Johannesburg.' I shouldn't have been able to show my face in South Africa had I agreed to withdraw from the Games."
A bell rang and Braun glanced at his watch.
"You'll have to pardon this interruption," he said. He held up a small stack of cards. "These are the cards of people who have done something wrong and had their privileges taken away. Before they can be restored they have to do a piece of excellent work. Any student in the school who has done excellent work brings it in to me during this half hour so that I can inspect it. Perhaps one of these will be among them." He shuffled the cards quickly and counted them. "Only 11 out of 550," he said smiling. "That's not too bad."
He reached in a desk drawer and brought out a bowl of hard candies, which he placed on the desk. A few small girls had come in the office and were queued up, waiting for him to notice them. He examined their notebooks, one by one, saying, "Fine work. Beautiful. Really excellent." He had a small rubber stamp with which he stamped each page "Excellent," then the girl—or boy, later—walked behind his desk and took a hard candy from the bowl and left. But none retrieved a card.
When he had finished he stood up and said, "Would you like to see the school? We are rather proud of it."
The swimming pool is named for Ann Fairlie, a South African swimming champion who attended Leicester Road School. It is a 25-meter pool and a handsome one. Below the date palms on the front lawn of the school is a soccer field of red dirt, crowded with youngsters wearing blazers with the school coat of arms on the breast pocket. "We thought of putting down turf," Braun said, "but the lads must have dirt to play marbles, mustn't they?" He stood looking out over the field.
"You know, Brundage and I were at Kruger National Park when he suggested that I withdraw South Africa. I have been there 56 times. Each year I lake the graduating class for a week on a bus. It's a study tour, and they work hard and keep a diary and have to do a book on it when they get back. One mother asked her little girl about the trip and the child said, 'It's work, work, work, all the time, and then we come back to camp and have to write up the diary. While we are doing that, Mr. Braun sits in the shade of a tree and waves a Scotch and soda and says, "This is the life!" ' "
He laughed heartily, and then his face turned solemn.
"This is the life." he said, "only 550 youngsters to worry about. Only 11 problems at the moment.
"Well," he said. "The action at Lausanne was purely political, wasn't it? We have had trouble with the Russians before. I remember before the 1964 Olympics, when I was presenting my case at a meeting. I talked for about 45 minutes. I had an African sportsman with me. When I finished, Mr. Andrianov, the Russian delegate, said, "Why don't you let the black man speak? Are you afraid he will tell us the truth?' So the African spoke for 30 minutes and backed up what I had said and was applauded when he sat down. The next time I saw Andrianov, we had been banned. He rushed "Up to me, smiling, and said, 'Mr. Braun! Where is your tame black man? Couldn't you catch him?' I said, 'No, he got away. And there wasn't time to train another one since we have to cut off" their tails and teach them to speak, you know.'
"Do you realize that of the 33 African nations which boycotted, only 22 had any Olympic affiliation? The other 10 or 11 were boycotting something they could not compete in. And the Russians did not come to the meeting with clean hands. We had a communication from the Ukraine. Russia is a multiracial nation, but they had only three Ukrainians in Tokyo. These people are complaining. How can Russia object to us? The worst thing about what the IOC has done is what it means in the future. How about Egypt? Suppose someone complains because there are no Jews on the Egyptian team?
"Andrianov objected once that there were no African yachtsmen on our Olympic team. I asked him if there were any Russian street sweepers sailing Russia's Olympic yachts. 'We are not talking about Russia,' he said. "We are discussing South Africa.' Well, we have no African swimmers, either. Some sports the African is not suited for. In swimming the water closes their pores so that they cannot get rid of carbon dioxide and they tire quickly. But they are great boxers and cyclers and runners.
"We have had disaffected black sportsmen here. After we were accepted at Grenoble, I set up a meeting with them to try to sort out our differences. We wanted all blacks to have a chance, but some of their organizations had no affiliation with the Olympic organization and so were not eligible."
One of these organizations was the South African Non-Racial Open Committee, headed at one time by Dennis Brutus. At an earlier meeting, according to Braun, Brutus had been under personal restrictions because of what the South African government called Communist activity. One of the restrictions was that he could not address a gathering of more than six persons.
"The meeting was set for the Olympic office," Braun said. "The head of the SAN-ROC delegation at the time was a man named John Harris, who had succeeded Brutus. When I arrived I found that Brutus was there. It was illegal for him to speak to a meeting this large, and I told him so. I said, 'Dennis, you know that you cannot speak to this meeting. Will you please leave?' Harris said that Brutus was there only to introduce us all, since he knew everyone. But I could have done the same thing. I knew everyone there. But before anything could take place, the special forces came in and arrested Brutus and took him away for breaking the law. I have been accused of having tipped them off, but that would have served no purpose. I think myself that Harris tipped off the special forces simply to create a disturbance and a martyr. I certainly did not."
Brutus was subsequently released on bail, escaped to Rhodesia and later returned to South Africa.
"He came back on his own," Braun said. "I don't quite know why. But he was picked up at the border and brought in to be booked since he had left the country illegally and had jumped bail. Two police officers brought him to the station in a car and, when they had parked and one of them had gone to the boot to get Brutus' bag, he suddenly made a break for it. If he had submitted to being quietly booked he probably would have been banned from South Africa, and nothing would have happened to him. But when he ran, another police officer saw him and fired. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit him in the stomach. Eventually, he was given 18 months in prison and then exiled."
Upon his release from Robben Island, the black prison camp, Brutus was given an exit permit on condition that he never return to South Africa. He now lives in London, where he is once again the head of SAN-ROC and of other organizations concerned with racial freedom. He was in Lausanne when the Olympic Executive Committee met, with Reginald Hlongwane, who is the secretary of SAN-ROC. Hlongwane also lives in London, where he works as an accountant.
Hlongwane is a big man. a Zulu. He was a middle-heavyweight weight lifter in South Africa and worked out in one of the few multiracial gymnasiums in Johannesburg. The gymnasium was a small place at the home of Chris de Broglio, a white man who was once a weight-lifting champion and who worked for a French airline in Johannesburg before he, too, was invited to leave the country.
In London last month Hlongwane said, "We were not Communists." De Broglio said, "Oh, we were Communists by their definition. Anyone who does anything to promote multiracial sports is doing something to break down apartheid, and that is Communistic. But we had no Communist affiliations."
Hlongwane was raised in Alexander, a small Bantu township nine miles from the center of Johannesburg. He went through high school and attended college, but all the courses were taught in Zulu. "It is difficult to make use of accounting courses taught in Zulu," he said. "But that is what they insist. So that a man will remain with his tribe, all courses are taught in the tribal languages. We Africans could not communicate with each other, since there are 18 tribal dialects in South Africa."
De Broglio got Hlongwane a job as an accountant with the French airline and helped him with his weight training. Though Hlongwane worked in Johannesburg he had to reside outside the city. All the black labor force in Johannesburg, with the exception of domestics living on the premises of their employers, must live outside in designated black areas.
"All nonwhites must carry a book of passes with them," Hlongwane said. "You must have a pass to work in Johannesburg, a pass to travel back and forth, a pass to be on the street. It was one mile from where I lived to my bus stop, and I would be stopped 18 to 20 times by police to show my passes in that walk. In Johannesburg, on the walk to work, I just held up my book of passes open because I was stopped so often I could not count the times."
As for De Broglio, although he was harried by the special police, who visited the airlines office and asked that he be fired, he ran into no difficulty with the law for operating his multiracial gymnasium. "But finally the pressure grew too much," De Broglio explained, "and I left and came to England."
De Broglio, being white, could resist the police pressure for a time, but Hlongwane could not. He was forced to resign from the airline, and then the special police came for him under a law that allowed any magistrate to sign a warrant for arrest and 90-day detention without a trial of any kind. At the end of 90 days the prisoner could be released and rearrested for another 90 days, and so on.
"I was at my house when they came," Hlongwane said. "There were five of them. I asked if I could go next door and tell my parents what was happening. I was acting very relaxed and it was just across the way, so they let me go. I told my mother, and she began to scream and all, and then I remembered a small window in the back of the house. I crawled through that and ran away."
With no papers and no passport, Hlongwane had a long and dangerous 15-month trip to England. "I had no money, but when I got across the border I cabled Chris, who was living in London by then, and he sent me ¬£24. I worked in Zambia for months and finally saved the money to get to England. I can never go back to South Africa again, and I have to write to my parents through a third party.
"Dennis Brutus was nearly killed for being the leader of SAN-ROC," Hlongwane added. "The time he was arrested when meeting Frank Braun, the special police came from the office next to Mr. Braun's. When he jumped bail to leave the country he went to Salisbury and got an English-Rhodesian passport. Later he was picked up at the Portuguese East African border by the Portuguese police. He was questioned by them for 48 hours and then he was put in a van and carried back to South Africa, where he was turned over to the South African police.
"He was afraid. No one knew he was back in South Africa but the police. He was afraid of what they might do to him, and no one would know. So he tried to get away at the station when they parked the car. He jumped on a bus, but the bus driver pushed him off right on top of one of the policemen. When he got up, the policeman shot him in the stomach. That bullet did not ricochet."
Brutus was succeeded as head of SAN-ROC by John Harris, the man Frank Braun says was the one who may have tipped off the special police. "I know I have been accused of setting up a trap for Brutus," Braun said in South Africa, "but I did not even know he would be there until I arrived. I warned him to leave. Of course, you know that Harris himself was executed not long after. He left a suitcase with a bomb in it in the care of an old lady in the main railroad station. It exploded and killed the old woman and scalped a little girl with her. Harris admitted the whole thing. He said he did it to bring attention to the condition of the blacks in South Africa. He was an out-and-out Communist. When I heard about the explosion I told my wife that I thought John Harris was involved. I did not call the police, but I was not surprised when he was arrested and convicted."
It is hard to believe that Braun, who is wholly involved with sport and not at all with politics, would connive at trapping Brutus or anyone else. And he has done almost all he can to make South Africa acceptable to the Olympic movement, even when it meant going against the grain of the government policy. Still, it was no great rebellion, since the country at large was eager to compete in the Olympics and since there is no law in South Africa forbidding interracial competition between athletes at the amateur level. There is a law forbidding professional matches between black and white boxers but it does not affect amateurs, and there is no law of any kind concerning multiracial games with black and white in other sports.
Indeed, in March of this year, near Johannesburg, an all-white soccer team played a team of Indians, Africans and coloreds on a pitch near a main road on a Sunday afternoon. It was the first truly multiracial match in South Africa in some years, and it was not disturbed by the police. Before rain halted play after 70 minutes the nonwhite team had built a 4-0 lead, and there had been no fouls, no arguments, no friction. The white side played a man short, with 10.
The Natal Supreme Court gave tacit approval to multiracial sport in a 1962 decision. Players in a multiracial soccer game had been arrested for "occupying" the playing field, which was in an area zoned exclusively for Indian occupation under the Group Areas Act. It was determined that while the players concerned had played a game on the grounds they had not occupied a club-house or been present in any building on the ground. The case was dismissed.
So Braun could legally have called for multiracial trials, as long as he set the trials in a venue not under the Group Areas Act—that is, a stadium in an open area. There are such venues in South Africa, although they are rare. But Braun would have come under enormous pressure from the government had he tried this, and it is not inconceivable that he might have lost his cherished job as headmaster at Leicester Road School.
The attitude of the more than 3 million whites in South Africa who control the 15-odd million blacks and coloreds is not a liberal one. Not long ago John Schimmel, an industrialist who has made millions in prefabricated building, bought a colt at the annual auction in Johannesburg. He paid 25,500 rand, or more than $35,000, an alltime record price for a South African colt. After the auction he celebrated with a few drinks, a modest enough operation in Johannesburg, where a vodka and tonic costs the equivalent of only 30¢. After going over the fine points of his colt, Schimmel pondered the race problem in South Africa.
"You must realize," he said, "that biologically the blacks are an inferior race. What did they do with South Africa for a thousand bloody years? They have no creative ability, no drive. They are like children who must be led. I expect we should do more for them, but one-man one-vote would never work here. How many blacks do you have in America? One in nine, I should think. Here it is 3½ to 1 in favor of the blacks. They do not know the issues. They only want to eat, sleep and get enough to drink. If they were to govern, we would be living in trees and caves within five years. It would be impossible."
A friend at the bar nodded agreement.
"We educate them," he said. "Up to a level. We do not want a few highly educated blacks going back to the kraals and starting trouble. We would like to keep them at the same educational level—maybe fourth form [high school junior]—and move them up gradually. In a hundred years they may be ready to vote."
This attitude is ingrained in almost all white South Africans, and in the face of it the agreement to field a multiracial team even without multiracial trials was surprising. But it was only the flare of a match lit in a black wilderness, and it did little, really, to lighten the path of the black man in sports or elsewhere.
"It was no help," Hlongwane said in London. "They would let us fly in the same plane, live in the same hotel, wear the same coat when we leave the country. We can do that anyway. The South African white man is often a liberal away from his country. But he is not so at home. Training with whites in South Africa I found that the Afrikaner felt he should not be working with me at all, and the Englishman accepted me with a subtle sense of superiority. Mostly, we are ignored. The white papers carry no stories of our athletics events. The government is a major obstacle, but the South African Olympic Committee is hiding behind the government. It is no better to put blacks on the team for show than it is to exclude them."
Article I of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Games says, "No discrimination is allowed against an• country or person on grounds of race, religion or political affiliation." By stretching a point, you can ignore the political structure of a nation. But the blatant discrimination in South Africa against the black athlete, who has few playing fields outside the gold mines, where he is an indentured laborer, and who has no real freedom, cannot be ignored. The flare of the match in the black wilderness is a long way from the ever burning torch of the Olympic Games.