More often than not, we assume we know certain people because they are famous and global superstars.
It is even worse when your name is Siya Kolisi, because people will even write books about you without even consulting you, because they think they know you better.
However, the truth is, we can only know people when they come out and tell us who they are.
Siya has finally plucked up the courage to tell the world who the man behind the global sports superstar is.
In Rise, Siya not only recounts his professional career as a rugby star but takes the reader back to his upbringing in his home township of Zwide in the Eastern Cape.
This is where he had to breathe and co-exits with poverty each and every day with his beloved grandmother before the limelight and global status.
Now, I need to admit that this book has certainly lived up to my expectation, because Siya did what I had expected him to do in this book: talk about all the behind the curtains stuff of his life away from rugby.
I was fortunate to have followed Siya’s career from his professional rugby debut for the Western Province to him lifting that Webb Ellis Cup in Yokohama. And as such, I was not expecting to re-read all those on-the-field moments.
Perusing through the pages of this first-person narration and well-written memoir, I was introduced to Siya- a man who is deeply Christian, who loves and has a relationship with Jesus Christ.
A man who has unconditional love for his wife and kids.
A man who wants to change the lives of poor people in this country, through his fame and foundation to further that goal.
A man who wants to fight for those who society continues to overlook and abuse on a daily basis, women, and children.
A man who believes that the solution to fighting the scourge of gender-based violence rests with men teaching their sons how to behave and treat women well and as their equals- as it should.
Above all, I got to know a man who has his own flaws (watching porn and abusing alcohol), but managed to overcome all those demons to become a better man the world celebrates as a hero.
This is the Siya that Rise successfully introduces to us.
Inside the pages of this book, people of different races, gender, backgrounds will be inspired by the man that is Siya- as much as they have been inspired by Siya- the Bok skipper.
There are also leadership lessons for those who aspire to become influential and courageous leaders like him.
I think the only disappointment for me was how Siya shied away from an in-depth discussion about his relationship with his wife.
A relationship that has seen so many South Africans poke their noses in, because of its racial make-up.
One hopes that because Siya’s story- particularly his professional career is not over, he will share a bit more once he hangs up his boots.
He must lay all his playing cards on the table in a full biography, where he will thoroughly discuss the difficulties of interracial marriages in a country with a sensitive history like ours.
I would like him to unpack dubious incidents that take place in the Springbok dressing room because that is another subject he shied away from.
Besides that, Rise is an inspiring peek into Siya Kolisi’s life through many challenging experiences.
From humble beginnings to being the most recognized and celebrated sports star in the world.
This is an inspiring read by one of our own icons on the African continent.