WENTWORTH: The Beautiful Game and the Making of Place
UKZN Press has published a book entitled Wentworth: The Beautiful Game and the Making of Place by sociologist and columnist Professor Ashwin Desai.
The book centres on Wentworth, a “Coloured” township in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, and the residents’ beloved Leeds United Football Club.
Desai, who lectured at the former University of Durban-Westville, said in an interview with The Mercury newspaper, ‘This book is about pioneering attempts to build the beautiful game in Wentworth. But as you turn the pages, it becomes more than that. There are stories in this book about housing battles, gangs, sexuality, and the looming presence of the petrochemical companies that at once provide jobs and make the area the most polluted in Durban.’
He added, ‘This is a tale that broadens into a whole cast of other players, supporters and teams. In the process, they also speak of Wentworth, a place they sought to make as their world, as much as they were made by it.
‘The journey of this book begins in the second half of the 1960s, just as apartheid’s planners took a knife to Durban’s geography, slicing places into racial group areas.’
Desai, who currently lectures at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), said, ‘In this quest, I allowed myself to drift into stories beyond the immediate team sheet, to talk to people who hung out on street corners, who peeped through slightly parted curtains of two-bedroom flats as I knocked on the neighbour’s door, and those who marched behind placards.’
Ms Adele Branch, Marketing Officer at UKZN Press said that it is important to publish books which tell the stories of local communities. ‘As a university press embedded in the local, national and global communities it serves, UKZN Press is committed to telling the stories of those communities. Local histories such as Wentworth play a vital role in making heard the unheard, visible the invisible and bringing these stories into the mainstream. They give texture to the broader strokes provided by more general histories,’ said Branch.
Dr Trevor Ngwane,President of the South African Sociological Associationand senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at UJ, writes in his foreword, ‘At the heart of the story is how the exploited and oppressed makea life and create hope and joy despite the ineffaceable evil of harshregimes, whose machinations were designed to engender pain, sufferingand despair. In the face of apartheid, in and through their beloved LeedsUnited, the Wentonians created a space where there was more hopethan despair, more joy than sorrow, more sharing than isolation, moresolidarity than individualism, more trust than mistrust.’
UKZN alumnus and Dean of the Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism at Thompson Rivers University in Canada, Professor Douglas Booth, said that Wentworth is a ‘heartbreak and a home, a tale of hopelessness and hope…. Desai juxtaposes space and place to tell the story of Wentworth, a former apartheid “dormitory” for Coloureds.
‘The space is polluted by petrochemical refineries and pathologised by violent gangs, drugs, overcrowding, internal conflicts, and a dearth of opportunity; the place is a community of skilled artisans, small business operators, religious faithful, musicians, writers and, above all, soccer devotees, bound by friendship, neighbourliness, generosity and philanthropy. Desai brings the complexities, nuances and paradoxes of Wentworth to life.’
Wentworth: The Beautiful Game and the Making of Place can be ordered from online stores such as Loot, Exclusive Books Online and – after the national lockdown – from Takealot. Once bookstores re-open, copies will be in stock.
UKZN staff qualify for a 20% discount and orders can be placed with Edwin Ramthew firstname.lastname@example.org or Adele Branch email@example.com - copies will be delivered, or can be collected from the University Press’ offices, once UKZN re-opens.
The recommended retail price is R340.
Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
Image: Courtesy of UKZN Press