Basil D’Oliveira died Saturday aged 80 or 83 . D’Oliveira became the catalyst for the eventual end of Apartheid in South Africa, though he just wanted to play cricket.
When South Africa refused to accept D’Oliveira (of Indian & Portuguese descent) as part of the English Cricket touring team to South Africa in 1968, the resultant cricket boycott mushroomed into a worldwide sports boycott.
So whilst the world continued to do business with Apartheid South Africa (an economic boycott didn’t happen until the 1980’s), cricket set in motion a sports boycott that isolated, and eventually destroyed the heinous system of apartheid – with enormous effects on racism all over the world as well.
D”Oliveira’s own dignified character and cricket skills also galvanized the Britsh people in his support. Even as the British and other “Western govts” refused to take a stand against apartheid.
India spoke out against apartheid at the UN in 1948 but Wikipedia says even in 1973 “a number of nations have neither signed nor ratified the UN’s ICSPCA, including Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.“ The ICSPCA declared apartheid to be a “crime against humanity.”
In 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison and Apartheid finally fell in 1994. Jacques Kallis’ and Hashim Amla’s accomplishments are a direct result of the free South Africa Basil D’Oliveira helped bring about.
As a cricketer D’Oliveira was good enough to possibly be one of the world’s greatest all rounders ever, but because of apartheid he made his Test debut aged 34 or 38 ( he altered his date of birth to avoid being pinned as “too old”.) -for England instead of South Africa.
Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola said,
“The circumstances surrounding him being prevented from touring the country of his birth with England in 1968 led directly to the intensification of opposition to apartheid around the world and contributed materially to the sports boycott that turned out to be an Achilles’ heel of the apartheid government,”
The Washington Post story on Basil D’Oliveira