Two-time Irish Sports Writer of the Year Roy Curtis joined Joe Molloy on the Paper Review to discuss Siya Kolisi.
South African Rugby captain Siya Kolisi's autobiography will be released in Ireland on Monday.
Kolisi winning the World Cup as a black captain was earmarked as a monumental moment not only in rugby history but in the history of his country. But for Kolisi, it was a miracle he made it there at all. It was a miracle that he made it out of the township he grew up in.
Born to teenage parents in abject poverty, Kolisi's book details how he slept on the floor with rats running over him, felt hunger that made his stomach twist and watched extreme violence against men, women and children as if it was normal.
Roy Curtis has first-hand experience of visiting a town such as the one that Kolisi grew up in.
"I worked at the 1995 Rugby World Cup and we were brought into a township outside of Johannesburg," he said.
"It was an extraordinary eye-opener. We think we know poverty, we think we know hopelessness. These people are just in this web of despair.
"The miracle of Kolisi is where he ends up. Most in that environment simply have no chance. There is no education to talk about. There is no passport away, it's a lottery win if you get a chance to get out."
Kolisi describes how nobody was safe when he grew up. The abject poverty drove people to alcohol and to violence because there were no job opportunities or educational opportunities to build a real community. Curtis experienced directly the threat of simply existing in this type of area.
"Myself and Ciaran Rooney, then of the Independent, had gone in and we came back and we were instructed coming back through Johannesburg not to stop at any of the traffic lights, to stay in the middle lane because there might be people coming out of the shadows.
"We actually went to a bar when we got back into Johannesburg, we were walking in and they asked us if we'd any guns could we hand them in, because this was the culture. There was a culture of violence, there was a culture where people lived in terror.
"And another section of society was living in abject poverty. There was fear and there was loathing and mutual distrust.
"For Kolisi to have advanced so far, you can say it's an emblem of South Africa but beneath that there is so much wrong."
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