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Born out of a desperate need to once again scream black power from the disappointment that of the 1994 liberation project, the BlackHouse Kollective initiative calls upon all Black thinkers and prophets alike, to gather and recomplete the state of the Black Nation.

BLACKWASH SAYS: Fuck Soccer! We want liberation!

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(Ncebakazi Manzi & Pakama Ngceni)

Soccer is opium for the oppressed – a drug that keeps them just where their oppressors would like them to be. It is Generations, Scandal, Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful and Jika-Majika all in one. For 90 minutes or more, the black poor can forget about their condition and what they must do to change this situation. Even long after a game is over they will go over the details of a pass a player should have made or a goal that could have been scored – anything to keep them talking and not thinking that blacks have lost everything. For a little while they can forget that come Monday morning those who have jobs will have to have money for taxi fare to work, where they will be treated like shit by their white bosses, be paid shit and return to their shacks with no water or a place to shit. For as long as poor black people watch and talk about soccer and other sports (or go to church for that matter!), they have no time to think that their condition has been created by those with power over hundreds of years to keep them poor, hungry and working hard in calling centres, farms and mines that make other people rich.

Soccer also produces great soccer stars who are heroes to many black kids but these heroes have nothing to say about our problems as blacks even though they get a lot of attention from newspapers and radio stations. But things do not have to be as they are; it is still possible to play soccer (and any other sport for that matter) while resisting against oppression. At the1968 Olympics Games two black American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos won gold and bronze medals for the 200m race. When they went to receive their awards, they were shoeless and one of them had black beads around his neck which he said were “for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage” (Middle passage = Atlantic Slave Trade). Both wore black gloves which they raised in the Black Power fist while standing at the podium for the world to see. Like all people who dare to speak out against racism, they were punished for their bravery especially since this was during the Civil Rights Movement. But the two were committed to the liberation of blacks and even after the white world disapproved of their actions, Smith said, “If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.”

These two athletes were influenced by Black Consciousness and they refused to simply accept glory from whites without making their fight against oppression known. During the Vietnam War, the world’s greatest boxer, Mohammed Ali, refused to be inducted into the US army to fight against the Vietnamese and made it known that his reasons were political. He, together with other blacks who were against the war, like his friend Malcolm X, viewed America as an evil state that was using its powers to oppress all dark skinned people in the States and everywhere else. Ali simply said, “I aint got no quarrel with the Viet Cong. They never called me a nigger.” When asked to explain he said, “You want me to do what the white man says and go fight a war against some people I don’t know nothing about- get some freedom for some other people when my own people can’t get theirs? We’re over there so that the people of South Vietnam can be free. But I’m here in America and I’m being punished for upholding my beliefs.” But you can never say such things about the power of whiteness and get away with it. Mohammed was stripped of his boxing license and title as heavyweight champion of the world and sentenced to five years in prison and even though he appealed against the decision, it was clear that power would not tolerate such audacity from a nigger. We must ask ourselves why black sports champions in our country say nothing even though our government has clearly waged a war against black people and even shoots protesters who oppose this war.

At times it has been progressive leaders who have had a different attitude to sport. In Cuba, when Fidel Castro became president, participation in sport was socialised so that it was not only those who could afford sports equipment who could play, but everybody. So the best and not necessarily the rich could play nationally and even represent their country without worrying about buying a kit or travel costs. In South Africa, there are certain sports that young black people cannot even dream of playing because they just don’t have the money to. Castro changed this so that even the poorest could play and enjoy sports reserved for the rich. In Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara, cycled in cycling tournaments with the rest of the country’s participants; not because he needed a publicity stunt but because he believed that everyone should have a healthy body and a healthy mind if they are going to fight against white supremacy. As a conscious leader who questioned everything, Sankara also challenged young boys on their ability and freedom to play soccer on the streets while their girlfriends, once impregnated, were forced to leave school and look after their kids. Like Sankara, we must also ask ourselves questions about why young black women are even less likely to participate and excel in sports but are expected to excel at polishing stoeps all day, cooking and looking after children they didn’t make by themselves. In Haiti, President Aristide who was voted for by a large majority of the black poor opened his home to all poor children in his area so that they could swim in his pool and at the same time built facilities all around the country. How many of us can even imagine learning to swim kwaMsholozi in his presidential home or being allowed to play netball in Nelson Mandela’s house. Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela is trying to make sure that each young person is taught how to play a musical instrument, even the kind that only white people can play because they have money. There have been few leaders like this in history but they make see that things do not have to be as they are.

Sometimes it is not just individual sports players or presidents that can create different possibilities but the sports fans themselves. In Latin America, soccer fans who are conscious of the reasons behind the problems faced by the poor, sometimes attend games shouting slogans and carrying flags in support of the landless and poor. Imagine a Kaizer Chiefs vs Pirates game filled with young black people in the stadium wearing a T-Shirt saying, “Fuck the Rainbow Nation”! or refusing to sing Die Stem when the national anthem is sung.

All of these things are possible. Many people before us have used sport to create a different world and make their anger and unhappiness with the world we live in now known. We can still be entertained yet conscious of the things that continue to oppress black people. Another world is at the tips of our fingers, we just have to dream and raise our black fists and shout, ‘Black Power’ even as we display our talents and love for sports. Sports must not be the ‘opium of the oppressed’. It must give potency to the struggle for freedom because an unfit person is not fit for freedom. Viva Revolutionary Sports Viva!


BlackWash, a vibrant hub of Black consciousness nestled in the heart of Soweto, rallied together young minds from schools and universities, igniting a cultural revolution steeped in the principles of Black Consciousness philosophy. Yet, the profound insights and bold perspectives offered by BlackWash on the post-1994 political landscape often go unnoticed by those at the helm of youth political movements.

By resurrecting this archival treasure trove, our aim is to fuel a fire of inspiration within the hearts of Black youth, urging them to prioritize purposeful activism and unwavering dedication to Black radical ideals over the allure of political expediency and empty liberalism. We firmly believe that the revolutionary ideas birthed by BlackWash continue to wield immense influence in shaping the landscape of Black radical politics and cultivating a spirit of revolution in Occupied Azania.

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