Respect the Vision On Those That Have Gone Before Us

As I was coming to the end of my apprenticeship I thought to myself, ok what am I going to do now when I finish. The fashionable thing to do then for young people was to go on an overseas experience. So that’s what I decided – I had set my first goal and I was very proud.

I came to the conclusion very quickly that I was never ever become an exceptionally rugby union player and make the New Zealand national squad to become an All Black.

So the next best thing was to travel to South Africa on their 1976 tour. I had no idea at this stage what I was getting myself into. Back in 1960 and I was a very young boy, the All Blacks were about to embark on a tour to South Africa. The most controversy issue then was that, the South Africa authorities imposed the exclusion of Maori players from the team.

Growing up at this time I started to learn some new words – apartheid, racialism, coloured people, white people and a mix of others that I can’t write here.

And it was here thanks to our big black and white TV, I saw my hero Muhammad Ali speaking openly about racial justice. As I learnt and tried to understand all this apartheid stuff, it was then I found out that the NZ Rugby Union refused any other tour for 10 years until Maori player’s participation was accepted.

As a kid and teenager I always played rugby with my Maori mates, and you never thought any different. That’s what you just did back then. I quite often openly spoke to my Maori mates about this apartheid stuff, and how they felt. And in typically relax Maori style, they said so long as they don’t bring it here. Us brown boys don’t want any of that shit here.

So as the young 21-year-old, in May 1975 I packed my bags said goodbye to my parents and my friends and set off to the unknown. I landed in Brisbane Australia and spent a few weeks seeing a big part of Queensland looking at all the sights. I moved onto to Perth as this is where I was going to fly from to Johannesburg.

When I got there I realised that I had spent more money that I thought. So if I was going to survive this adventure I needed a bit more cash. This is when I got my first taste of working in the mines of Western Australia. I moved to Port Hedland as a Fitter & Turner, and worked in the mines maintenance department. After 4 months of working there I managed to save enough and I set of for South Africa.

It was during my flight to South Africa that I started to feel a bit nervous. I started having doubts whether this was the right thing to do or not. But I was so determined to see the all Blacks play the Springboks and it has been a dream of mine throughout my teenage years.

Up until now I have read so much about the apartheid regime but have never lived or experienced it. So I felt I was going into the unknown and quite honestly I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Johannesburg.

The moment of truth had come when our 747 touchdown at Johannesburg airport. As I stepped off the plane and made my way through to customs and security I saw this whole apartheid thing in front my own of this, and I thought “Oh My God” what have I done. I reckon if I was wearing a heart rate monitor it properly be maxed out. I don’t mind admitting it but I was bit scared.

Luckily for me I had a place already organised and booked before I left Perth Australia. It was little apartment building right in the city of Johannesburg called Fontana Inn. I was completely overwhelmed by the attention that I was getting from the black South Africans. I found them so polite and friendly that they could not do enough for you.

I met up with few other travellers and it was here that we decided to buy a van and tour the whole of South Africa. During my three months of travelling around South Africa I started to get mixed feelings and emotions whether I can stay long enough to fulfil my goal and watch the Springboks play the All Blacks.

I was starting to fully understand the true meaning to apartheid. Well maybe I thought I did, but it was much bigger than me, and I don’t think I’ll understand why they have this rule. The thing that probably upset me the most was the segregation of what the blacks and the whites could use. There were many times I could have quite easily jumped on a plane back to New Zealand.

It was then I had to make a decision whether I stay and get myself set up so I could follow the tour or I get out. Well it didn’t take me long. As I was having a cup of coffee I picked up the English paper and as I always do I go straight to the sport section first.

What I read just blew me away. The headline said five Maori players and one Samoan player selected for the All Blacks tour to South Africa. Then a little bit further down it said that those players have been offered “white honorary status” while in South Africa.

I thought to myself then -- what a load of crap.

When I read that, I guess that was the straw that broke the camel’s back in my decision making whether I stay in South Africa or not. It was also around this time that the Soweto riots were happening against the South African apartheid administration. What I saw on TV would have to be the most brutal and violent riots I have ever seen. Plus it was too close to where I was staying.

The next day I went and brought a one-way ticket to England. Not really knowing what I was going to do, so I set off to a brand new destination. As I was sitting in my seat I began reflecting the last three months I had in this wonderful country of South Africa. While I was staring at the window looking into space I began to feel angry and disappointed that I will never get to achieve my goal.

I was starting to beat myself up. I knew that if I had stayed I could have understood why the white regime were doing this, and maybe, just maybe, make them come to their senses. Lots of ideas and thoughts kept flooding through me, but this just made me angrier. I had to keep telling myself that this has been going on for a long time, and I felt helpless that I couldn’t do anything.

What I believed South Africa is needed at this time was a Muhammad Ali. But what I didn’t know was that they did have a Muhammad Ali. Unfortunately he was in jail. His name… Nelson Mandela. I never got to hear about this man while I was there, but like a lot of other people I got to hear and see him on TV speaking out against the apartheid regime, with his never give up attitude that he process.

After I had completed one of our meals on the flight I kept the napkin and I decided to write out my life goals. I folded the napkin in a size that would fit into my pocket. I then proceeded to write out 10 important goals that I would like to do in my lifetime. As I was writing these goals I had this weird sensation that it wasn’t me. Now I know it sounds a bit bazaar but it was true.

As I was writing I looked at my hand and saying to myself, is that actually my hand writing? I found that as I wrote out my 10 important goals, they came to me very effortlessly. Sitting back and looking at those goals that I had written I felt very pleased with myself. For the first time in my life I felt as though I had some purpose and direction, and at the same time very excited.

This was probably the best remedy that I could have wished for given my experience in South Africa. Although I was annoyed for not completing my goal, it just made me realise that there are some things in life that you cannot control. I learnt a very valuable lesson while I was in South Africa. Don’t try to control the outside world... You can’t. It’s bigger than Ben-Hur, so don’t even think of going there. But you can control your inner world and that’s the one between your ears.

With this thought fixed into my subconscious mind, I drifted off to sleep feeling quite content and excited about my next chapter in life.

The next thing I knew I was arriving at London Heathrow airport. Wow, what a contrast from when I arrived in Johannesburg. It was here that I met up again with the friends I had made in South Africa. And it was interesting to hear from them that they shared similar views to what I had about the apartheid regime in South Africa.

I managed to get some part-time work in London. And every opportunity that I could get I went sightseeing. I was completely awestruck with the history here in the UK. I was fascinated with the castles, the old buildings, and of course Buckingham Palace. It made me realise just how young New Zealand is.

After six months in the UK I decided to wing my way back to New Zealand. My funds were getting a little bit low at this stage. I flew into Australia and I managed to pick up some work in my trade at a small mining town 400 km north of Perth.

It was here that I decided to learn a little bit more about this man Nelson Mandela who I never got to see while I was in South Africa. The more I learnt about Nelson Mandela the more I found that he had similar traits as Muhammad Ali. They both stood up to what they believe in. Later on is I saw Nelson Mandela on TV, he liked Mohammed Ali was at times quite humorous.

But the more I study these guys, I found that there is something bigger that goes on that most of us don’t even see, and I’m not talking about money. It’s their minds at work and how they manifested the results that they wanted to happen.

Let me share you a comparison of these two famous men

Nelson Mandela fought hard to end the apartheid regime, for his efforts he was arrested and sent to jail for 27 years. He never stopped believing that he would end this rule of what supremacy.

Muhamad Ali rose to fame world heavy weight boxing champ, entertain a lot of people around the world and was paid well. He was arrested and found guilty on draft evasions refusing to fight in Vietnam. He was stripped of this title and did not fight again for nearly 4 years.

Both men had their convictions overturned. Ali went on to regain his title of the world heavy weight boxing champ of the world. Nelson Mandela went on to become the president of South Africa and end the apartheid regime.

One man was a sportsman the other a politician.

Both of these men clearly illustrated the power of the mine.

The lesson I learnt here and I want to share it with you. What are you looking at? Let me give you an example. As you have already guessed I loved my sports and right now I’m right into mountain biking. When you ride a mountain bike along those narrow tracks, you want to be looking at least 10 feet in front of you, not just in front of your front wheel, and focus on where you want to be.

It’s the same in life, look forward not backwards. You wouldn’t drive your car forward while looking into the rear view mirror would you? After my 23rd birthday I decided that if I wanted to achieve my first goal, it was time to head back to New Zealand.

Goal number one… meet and married the women of my dreams and that’s where our adventure really began -- to be continued.

Go here and grab your free book on How I Stopped the Rock





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About the Author: Robbie Stephenson

Member Since: 07/22/2013

I'm a Distributor For:: Kyani

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