gwijo squad flag wanderers stadium

Virtual events saved us | Newsletter #2

I must confess, this is a newsletter that I had promised the Gwijo Squad committee that I would write some time ago. A letter that I started numerous times, felt overwhelmed, deleted, and walked away numerous times. At the risk of redundancy, 2020 is a year that we will be referencing as an epoch change.
It is my inclination to search for the positives in any situation, in this case, I think we can all be forgiven for being in our feelings a little bit in light of the devastation that our families, local communities, country and the international community have suffered.

Farewell family

As individuals within the Gwijo Squad community, we have all individually experienced loss of friends and family, but as a collective with a purpose, COVID-19 had dealt us a few telling blows.
The loss of two giants of South African rugby, Kaunda Ntunja and Monde Tabata, has made the country’s game, the black rugby community, and indeed the Gwijo Squad immeasurably poorer.

kuanda ntunja monde tabata

In their own unique way these men used their platforms to advance the development and inclusivity of South African rugby, they advanced the rise to prominence of black rugby, and played direct roles in opening doors for and amplifying the Gwijo Squad as they believed in the importance of the movement to bring igwijo into the mainstream of the South African game.
Many within the squad had personal relationships with these gentlemen and our hearts will bear the scars of 2020’s wounds forever.

What we got up to in 2020

Our year got off as planned with a football match with the Barmy Army, who were in South Africa to support the English cricket team who were playing the Proteas.
The football match churned some attention from the media and we had quite a few of our members either take to the field or cheer on the team from the stands at Pirates Club. The visitors were a bit better than the Squad and the victory was celebrated with a few cold ones at the pub after the official floating trophy was handed over.
Our presence was felt at the Wanderers Stadium, in support of the Proteas, during the Test match and of course, the One Day International (the ever-popular Pink Day) against England.
We worked with Standard Bank on the ODI and assisted with one of their initiatives with youngsters and the development of cricket.
Alas, this was to be our final in-person gathering as the Squad in the year of 2020.

gwijo squad barmy army football match

It has been an (almost) entire year of not being able to gather to do what it is that we, as a group, love to do.
A special word of gratitude must go to Nondwe Maqubela, whose online quiz nights have carried us through the darkest times of our lockdown.
We managed to host three live-streamed quizzes with special guests such as Temba Bavuma, Dumisani Chauke, Joel Stransky, Karla Pretorius, Babalwa Latsha, Monde Zondeki, and Gcobani Bobo – just to name a few.
The trivia ranged from general knowledge, picture rounds, a special round of boys and girls schools trivia as well as a jam-packed music round.
You never know, we may host a few more in 2021 for all our members and friends.

It has been a year of virtual interaction and igwijo has been no different with us being involved in a number of exciting initiatives over the year that we contributed virtually to.

At the beginning stages of lockdown, we did a special collaboration with Engen together with Hlubi The Twin. The message we drove was for everyone to wash their hands and adhere to the social distancing instructions from our government.

Partnering with a long-time friend of the Gwijo Squad, Mandisi Dyantyis, in an effort to keep the conversation of gender-based violence going, and highlighted the struggles that women go through in South Africa. The reception of the project from the public and the mainstream media was absolutely amazing which signalled that the initiative had served its intended purpose.

One of the most entertaining virtual collaboration that we did, was with Klipdrift and is available on YouTube, titled “Unklipped: Gwijo Squad”, which I recommend, and the follow-up titled “Lockdown Chillas – The Gwijo Squad”, with about 400,000 combined views and counting.

Later in the year, in an effort to contribute to keeping the conversation around gender-based violence going, we decided to continue on the same vein and facilitate a conversation amongst some of our members to discuss some thorny issues and questions to advance the sophistication and understanding around the GBV conversation.
We had two teams which consisted of members and also friends of the Gwijo Squad, to unpack the conversations. You can watch both ‘In discussion with’ on our ever-growing YouTube channel.
Check it out and let us know what you think.

Chasing the Sun

The Chasing The Sun documentary was a welcome reminder of our journey with the Springboks under Siya Kolisi’s tenure and a year since one of our finest hours in the gathering for the Rugby World Cup Final at the Sandton Convention Centre.
It highlighted the reality that, amongst all that we are doing, what we all really want to do is to be able to sing together.
Just prior to the release of the documentary, we had taken the opportunity to embark on a special project that we have intended on doing for some time, and that was to get into a recording studio and make some of our favourite gwijo available to digital music platforms.
We are pleased to say that that process is also in its final stages and further details on the availability of the recordings will follow very shortly.

Upcoming events in 2021 and beyond

But what of the physical presence of Gwijo Squad at upcoming events?
Well, asilelanga.
After lengthy deliberation and attempts to get Gwijo Squad into the stadium for the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour, we were put in a position where we had a very difficult decision to make.
Essentially, we were pushing to be able to block buy tickets but there was no guarantee that the tickets that we booked would be together in a block to allow us to be together as Gwijo Squad. It was decided that our being able to sing together was more important than being inside the stadium and it was thus more worthwhile for us to organise ourselves a viewing venue and create a similar experience as we did for some of the 2019 Rugby World Cup matches including the final.
We will keep the Gwijo Squad community abreast of developments especially as the B&I Lions Tour approaches.

A little further in the horizon, there are two major events that we have identified as Gwijo Squad targets – namely the  2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town and 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
The committee has been hard at work putting the costings and logistics together for these 2 events to allow for us to break the costs up into monthly payments as we have done for all of our previous stadium trips.
We will be looking to launch these two initiatives in March 2021 for our members to start saving towards a really big year in 2023.

gwijo squad members

From the Gwijo Squad committee, 2021 has dragged us all over the tumult of a pandemic that has not only taken lives but thrown livelihoods into disarray.
In spite of all this, and however difficult our own circumstances currently are, we can be grateful for still being here and having a future that promises better days.
The final verse of hymn 126 of in the Xhosa Methodist hymnal starts: “Vuyani! Vuyani! Vuyani! Mabandla asesemhlabeni. Bongani! Bongani! Bongani! Nje ngabasebungcwaliseni.
The lyrics, that remind those of us who are still on earth to be grateful for the blessing of life, has never been more apt and poignant.
We look forward to singing and celebrating together again in the future until then, wear your masks, wash your hands, keep your distance, and stay safe.


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