Cream of the Crop

The dictate that only boys from Orlando, or the children of Orlando residents, could play for Pirates, deepened the players' sense of self-worth and pride in the knowledge that they were Orlando's "pick".

"Buthelezi [Lucas 'Ace', inside right for Pirates in the 1950s] states that they 'enjoyed being together'... 'We used to play cards and go to the bioscope together,' he says. He goes on to say that they called them 'kalkoens' or 'takkies' because they were from the township and spoke Zulu a lot. 'They (referring to the Sophiatown teams) spoke Afrikaans a lot. We weren't all Zulu, but we grew up together and chose to speak Zulu. We were mostly Sothos and Zulus.'

"Kick Off magazine editor Richard Maguire writes that Buthelezi's comment 'attests, on one hand to the close bond between the Pirates players, based on shared experiences to some extent but also on a common cultural and linguistic heritage that was typical of the earlier Orlando residents. On the other hand, it suggests that the team was seen as apart - even protected - from the burgeoning 'tsotsi' youth culture.

"'A final crucial factor in building this bond was the policy - written in the constitution of the club - that only boys from Orlando, or the children of Orlando residents, could play for Pirates. It added to the unity in the team and deepened the players' sense of self-worth by inculcating a pride in the knowledge that they were Orlando's 'pick'. This policy grew in part from their own experiences in forming the team and partly from Bethuel Mokgosinyana's desire to build something 'for the children of Orlando; and for the parents of Orlando'."

- The People's Club: A History of Orlando Pirates, by Richard Maguire (editor of Kick Off magazine), published by the University of the Witwatersrand Press, 1991


back to the Bethuel Mokgosinyana memorial page

"Without Bethuel Mokgosinyana, there would be no Buccaneers."
Bethuel Mokgosinyana
Pirates fans, 1970s
Bailey's History Archives


Tradition as historical source

In this lesson plan, learners are asked to think about how the oral traditions that people create around their favourite sports teams can be a historical source. We use Bethuel Mokgosinyana and the story of the origins of Orlando Pirates as our example.

Lesson plan
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Archive Photo Gallery
A selection of images of Orlando Pirates players and their huge fan base
Artwork Photo Gallery
See Sam Nhlengethwa’s memorial outside the Mokgosinyana family home in Orlando, Soweto.
Audio Documentary
The formation of Orlando Pirates in the late 1930s was the defining moment in the growth of mass support for soccer in SA. This documentary explains why.
Orlando Pirates and the Struggle
Donald Dliwayo, a former chairman of Orlando Pirates, reminisces about the team’s contribution to the liberation struggle.