Sports in African History, Politics, and Identity Formation explores how sports can render a key to unlocking complex social, political, economic, and gendered relations across Africa and the Diaspora.

Sports hold significant value and have an intricate relationship with many components of African societies throughout history. For many Africans, sports are a way of life, a site of cultural heroes, a way out of poverty and social mobility, and a site for leisurely play. This book focuses on the many ways in which sports uniquely reflect changing cultural trends at diverse levels of African societies. The contributors detail various sports, such as football, cricket, ping pong, and rugby, across the continent to show how sports lay at the heart of the discourse of nationalism, self-fashioning, gender and masculinity, leisure and play, challenges of underdevelopment, and ideas of progress.

Bringing together the newest and most innovative scholarship on African sports, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of contemporary Africa, African history, culture and society, and sports history and politics.

chapter |13 pages


chapter 1|14 pages

“I was really disgusted at seeing healthy young boys playing Ping-pong”

Ping-pong and masculinity in post-World War II Nigeria

chapter 2|15 pages

Pas de deux as I tell you

Physical education, dance, and the remaking of discipline in World War II Brazzaville

chapter 3|16 pages

Cameroonian cricket

The interface between local and dominant colonial ideologies

chapter 5|16 pages

“The best of the best”

The politicization of sports under Ghana’s Supreme Military Council

chapter 6|17 pages

“We have material second to none”

Colored sportsmen and masculine competition in the South African press, 1936–1960

chapter 7|18 pages

Playing away from home

The nature of soccer integration in South Africa, 1978–1984

chapter 9|15 pages

“Visionary courtyard players”

The Robben Island Rugby Board and the transition to postapartheid South Africa, ca. 1972–1992

chapter 10|15 pages

The birth of the Springboks

How early international rugby matches unified white cultural identity in South Africa

chapter 11|14 pages

A tale of two sports fields

Contested spaces, histories, and identities at play in rural South Africa

chapter 12|15 pages

The bulldog, the pharaoh, and the football

British imperialism and Egypt’s national sport and identity, 1882–1934

chapter 14|14 pages

Commercialization of football in Africa

Prospects, challenges, and experiences

chapter 15|17 pages

Islam and the foreign Other

Representing the alterity of Hakeem Olajuwon

chapter 16|13 pages

Afro-Orientalism in the global village

Media imaginations of South Africa and Africa in the coverage of the 2010 World Cup