'His words will inspire us'

Wilson Ngobese is a ubiquitous figure at the Kingsmead as the chief curator, and nothing goes unnoticed from his sight.

A day ahead of the second one-dayer between India and South Africa was no exception. Ngobese pinned his attention on the preparations of the pitch, but he ensured that more routine works like covering the ground and placing tyres on the tarpaulin had his participation.

It’s not just his dedication that sets him apart — he’s the first and still the only black curator in South Africa. He came to the cricket scene when apar­theid was at its ugly heights, and got a chance to come near a cricket field only because of white men’s need to have more people to maintain a ground.

“In fact, I loved football more those days. It gave us a relief from all the discrimination surrounding us. As a 16-year old my job in the ground was to water the outfield and clean the toilets, and after four years of menial jobs I got a chance to work on the pitch, and from that point I really tried to learn all about the job of a curator,” said Ngobese.

Ngobese said the words and deeds of Nelson Mandela inspired him to work on despite the numerous hazards. “Madiba was a great champion against all kind of discrimination. He dreamt and talked about a South Africa for all, and those days when everything went against us, his words were a source of great inspiration,” said Ngobese.

Did he have any personal encounter with the great leader? “Not really. I saw his speeches on TV and listened to him on radio, and read stories about him in papers.Yes, his life and words will always remain a great inspiration, a beacon for all of us who knew the pain of discrimination.”

India struggled in the first match at Johannesburg it was no different at Durban. Ngobese words underlined what awaits the Indians on this tour in the remaining matches as well. “Indians will have to learn to manage it. This is the Rainbow Nation. We need to show respect to all the colours.”

Perhaps, his words have a deeper connotation to them.

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