Government defends superfans Mama Joy and Botha's presence at Rugby World Cup

Government defends superfans Mama Joy and Botha's presence at Rugby World Cup

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture has highlighted the role of South Africa's Monumental Flag Raisers Mama Joy and Botha Msila at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Mama Joy Chauke and Botha Msila are recognised in the world of sport as the epitome of promoting a winning, active, and inspiring nation. This is one of the primary objectives of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

However, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture is noting with concern the negative reactions and comments by some South Africans concerning the presence of Mama Joy and Botha at the 2023 Rugby World Cup to support the Springboks and raise the South African flag. It is concerning that when the World recognizes their presence, thus celebrating the contribution of South African supporters at the World Cup, two of South Africa's superfans are receiving criticism and insults from within the country.

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Since the start of the Rugby World Cup in France, the country has observed with appreciation and excitement the positive, inspiring, and appreciative reactions from various media platforms, global citizenry, foreign governments, political leadership, civil society actors and sport supporters around the world. The Department has observed how Mama Joy is impacting the lives of people across the borders of South Africa to an extent that some are providing support to sustain her stay in Paris to increase her visibility in all games played in the Rugby World Cup.

In 2020, the country adopted a Framework Document on South Africa's National Interest and its advancement in a Global Environment. The document defined South Africa's national interest within the context of addressing the legacies of the colonial rule and apartheid policies. Mama Joy and Botha's presence at the Rugby World Cup is playing a major role in demonstrating how South Africa is using sport to heal from the divisions of the past.

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The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, as part of its international relations work and responsibility, is committed to creating global platforms for South Africans to promote people-to-people cooperation, collaboration, and partnership. It is within this context that the Department is supporting South Africans to identify global platforms to pursue their talents, dreams and inspiration in sport, arts, and culture in strategic global platforms.

Mama Joy has become the face of the Braai Army in France. She is raising the agency and voice of women in a male dominant environment. It cannot be correct for South Africans that are refusing change to use the Rugby World Cup to push their underlying racism and patriarchal tendencies to bully and insult a woman who has built a profile as a superfan across all sporting codes from bottom-up.

The Department has supported many South Africans to participate in arts, music and cultural events hosted in various international platforms. This kind of support did not start now with Mama Joy and Botha. It should also be noted that in international relations, representation and participation is critical in positioning the country to protect its national interests and influence global agendas.

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