As veteran football journalist Thomas Kwenaite reflects on what makes South African football so unique, he thinks back through the history of its two greatest clubs, their greatest matches, and two iconic cars that are the perfect symbol for both.
“You know, I cannot think of more perfect cars for each club that represents those incredible eras in South African football as well,” Kwenaite says of Vodacom’s ground-breaking Sisonke Siya Winna campaign, which is offering one fan each from Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates to win an exclusive, customised Kentucky Rounder and Gusheshe in their club’s colours.
For Kwenaite, who has lived and breathed South African football for decades now, it’s a masterstroke from Vodacom that perfectly captures the spirit of the South African fan culture.
“The Gusheshe is a car that is aggressive and loud and in your face. Somehow, it has just always been associated with Orlando Pirates. People say that when you play Orlando Pirates, they are in your face and have that aggression and that township pantsula style,” says Kwenaite.
“Then you have the Kentucky Rounder, which is a much more suave car. In township culture, it’s the classy car, and Kaizer Chiefs were always said to be the glamour boys of South African football. Their players dress to the nines. In the late 70s, Chiefs were seen as the stylish hippies of Soweto, hence their slogan of love and peace.”
And then Kwenaite begins, in his trademark fashion with that wonderful slow and methodical way of talking, to roll back the colourful history of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, and why and how these two clubs from the same township not only defined Soweto culture, but shaped and continue to shape South African football.
“Soweto is the heartbeat of South Africa. When Soweto sneezes, the whole of South Africa catches a cold. And Soweto has produced some of the finest footballing talent ever seen. Orlando Pirates dominated in the early days of the Fifties and Sixties. From their ranks came Kaizer Motaung, who in my opinion is one of the best talents South African football has ever produced.
“But then Kaizer went to play in the United States and when he returned he founded Kaizer Chiefs. With that he took a lot of Orlando Pirates supporters with him. And there begins the huge rivalry between the two clubs that still exists to this day. The Soweto Derby is a fierce battle to see who the kings of Soweto are. In those early days, Orlando Pirates were always the bulls in the kraal, and then this young upstart called Kaizer Chiefs comes in and not only beats them, but in some instances humiliates them.”
Kwenaite remembers possibly the biggest such example. “In 1972, Kaizer Chiefs beat Orlando Pirates 7-3, and Kaizer Motaung was one of the scorers.”
But Orlando Pirates would have their turn as well.
“In 1990, Kaizer Chiefs had the better of Orlando Pirates going into their Soweto Derby. But Pirates took an early lead and were suddenly 3-0 up at halftime. You thought that maybe Chiefs could come back in the second half, and when they scored to make it 3-1 the Chiefs fans had hope. But then Pirates scored another two quick goals to win 5-1. I think that defeat still haunts Chiefs fans to this day.”
Much like the fans’ different opinions on the merits of the Gusheshe versus the Kentucky Rounder, Kwenaite says the Soweto Derby also splits the whole of South Africa.
“On that day, families are divided. You find a wife supporting Kaizer Chiefs and her husband is an Orlando Pirates fan. And if Pirates lose, the husband refuses to eat his wife’s supper that night.”
But Kwenaite says this intense rivalry is essential for the general health of South African football.
“Over the years, Chiefs and Pirates have not only become icons like the Gusheshe and Kentucky Rounder. They are the heartbeat of South African football, because if one of them is not doing well, South African football in general suffers. When these clubs do well, the whole domestic football scene becomes vibrant.”
And the pride of the respective fans of each of these clubs is certainly reflected in their appreciation of the iconic vehicles that is associated with each. Even Kwenaite appreciates just what Vodacom’s Sisonke Siya Winna campaign means to Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs fans.
“When I heard that Vodacom is offering these two cars to two supporters I smiled because I also owned a Gusheshe in 1997. Who wouldn’t like to own one of these cars? You would be mad not to be interested, and I’d tell fans to go out there and enter this competition and win one of these cars, because these are cars the players themselves aspired to own.
“Teboho Moloi used to own a Gusheshe. In fact, I remember he once parked it at a shopping mall and went shopping. When he came out it had been stolen. Then the thieves were somehow made aware that this Gusheshe belonged to Teboho, an Orlando Pirates icon. Well, they parked the car somewhere else and sent a message to the mall’s security to alert Teboho where it was. He got his car back that same day. That’s the power of this vehicle and its association with Orlando Pirates. I’m sure it was Pirates supporters themselves who made sure that car was returned to Teboho.
“And when it comes to the Kentucky Rounder, I’m not sure if Doctor Khumalo ever owned one. But he would be the perfect representation of it for me. Just reliable and solid, and somebody you could always count on. Exactly like the Rounder, which people just knew would never fail you.”
Iconic clubs and iconic cars.
This season, the two will come together in an iconic celebration of all that makes South African football, its fan culture and its success so beautifully unique in the beautiful game.
To stand a chance to win one of these incredible vehicles, fans from both teams simply need to follow @VodacomSoccer to get more details or click the link – https://now.vodacom.co.za/article/sisonke-siya-winner.
Kaizer Chiefs fans will get to double their entries when they connect and recharge with KC Mobile and for Bhakajuju fans, all they have to do to double their entries is to download the Orlando Pirates Official App.