AmaXhosa Maradona: Ubuntu and Complicity in Making and Breaking of a South African Footballer

19. May 2022 - 12:30

In the language isiXhosa, amaXhosa means ‘people of Xhosa ethnicity’. When I asked Emmanuel, why amaXhosa (the plural), and not uXhosa (the singular), as we were referring to just one Maradona of Xhosa ethnicity, he explained: “No, Thami, he is Maradona of and from the Xhosa people: amaXhosa Maradona!” Emmanuel’s claims to Maradona’s belonging to a collective is somewhat akin to translating the philosophy of African humanism, ubuntu, in soccer terms: a soccer player is a soccer player through his soccer team. The backdrop to this conversation was Maradona’s death. Attending to the events precipitating Maradona being stabbed by a teammate, the meanings and conversations attached his untimely passing, and the social and economic history that shapes and haunts young men, I interrogate what soccer does in the context. Through the story of amaXhosa Maradona, paper reflects on how ideals of community, development, and ubuntu are complicit in making and breaking of dreams (in this case, dreams of becoming a professional footballer).  


Header by Jannik Skorna on Unsplash

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