Remarkable focus change, Mbeki

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

That comes from William Shakespeare.

The familiar quotation is brought to mind by the debate started by the president of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki. Surprise, surprise; he wants to know what the name Bafana Bafana means.

This is years after the parliament of the country he leads officially and unanimously adopted the name and set it down for posterity in Hansard, parliament's record.

One would have thought that was democracy at work. Seemingly we thought wrong.

When asked to write my views on the issue, the editor was surprised when I said I agree with Mbeki's sentiments.

If he believes the name changes will also change the performances, then well and good, go ahead.

But is the name, or the names of our other national teams, the problem? If your child does not live up to your expectations what do you do? Do you change that child's name to achieve your aspirations for them?

Don't bother to answer.

They also wanted to change the Springboks name not so long ago and will probably do so anyway, though the Boks have won two Rugby World Cups in 12 years.

Maybe the preza should also consider changing nicknames of former great players, such as Sister Monica (Lawrence Siyangaphi), Jazzy Queen (Harold Legodi) Maria Maria (Zacharia Lamola), because if his reasoning has to be followed they don't make sense since they are all males.

One would have thought there were more pressing issues for Mbeki to deal with than the Bafana name.

How about service delivery, Khutsong, pregnant schoolgirls giving birth on school lawns, floor crossing - and the main one, the succession debate.

If the shift of focus from these issues will galvanise support for him in Limpopo in December, then so be it.

That's what politicians do.

It will be the first time in the history of local football that people vote for a nickname. These arise spontaneously.

For anyone who claims to be an African to ask what Bafana Bafana means leaves much to be desired.

How about renaming our team Umshini wam?

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