Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick have both honoured late Xhosa commentator Kaunda Ntunja, who passed away this week in 2020.
During his time as a SuperSport commentator, former SA Schools captain Ntunja brought Xhosa into mainstream broadcasting.
Ntunja was twice crowned as the SAB Sports Media Awards Commentator of the Year and famously introduced Siya Kolisi for his first official game as Springbok captain against England at Ellis Park in 2018.
However, his impact transcended the commentary booth and has resulted in it becoming the norm for the Xhosa-speaking Springboks to answer media conference questions in their home language.
“When he spoke, you felt that he knew you. He knew the Siya Kolisi that came from Zwide and the struggles me and my parents went through,” Kolisi said, on the eve of the first Test between the Springboks and British & Irish Lions.
“He never sounded like someone I met yesterday, and he did thorough research. And when you watched those clips after the game, it really pierced your heart.
“And to hear him commentate in isiXhosa made us proud to be Xhosa. For the longest time, we couldn’t speak isiXhosa. We were forced to speak broken English.
“But, today, I’m a proud Xhosa person because of what he and Makhaya Jack did for us. I miss him.”
𝐆𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧 ❤️ This week marked a year since the passing of Kaunda Ntunja. In this touching press conference, Mzwandile Stick & Siya Kolisi remember a man whose impact went further than just the commentary booth.#StrongerForever pic.twitter.com/D9wqdPXo2C
— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) July 23, 2021
A close friend of Ntunja, Bok skills coach Stick also paid tribute to the late Cheetahs and Border player.
“Kaunda and I were very close,” Stick said.
“We worked together commentating at SuperSport, and even when I was in Durban as a player, I played against him when he was at Jaguars Rugby Club. That’s when we became close. Everyone who knows Xhosa commentary will always relate rugby with Kaunda’s voice.
“He promoted the game to the people and debunked myths that rugby was the preserve of white people. He never accepted that and managed to introduce isiXhosa into rugby.
“He wanted people from townships to hear rugby in their own language.
“We remember his voice and his ‘Shampompo, Shampizi, iintwezi hlwahlwazayo’ sayings.
“He’s sorely missed. Hopefully, these men can make him proud on Saturday.”
Photo: Gallo Images