Sports History
31 October 2011
Dr Dean Allen (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa)
The Race for Supremacy: The Politics of ‘White’ Sport in South Africa, 1880-1910

When in 2010 South Africa became the first African nation to host the Fifa world cup finals any fears of racism and violence were largely unfounded.  However, concerns of blacks against whites (and vice-a-versa) were not the main concerns over a century ago.  Around the time of the Anglo-Boer wars the presumed ‘superiority’ of the British against the native Africans reflected a battle between two white groups: the colonial British and the Africans.  Dean Allen looks at the role sport played in the political arena of colonial control.  In the late 1880s Britain was pursuing a belief that not only they were superior but that it was their responsibility to bring ‘evolved’ British culture to colonial countries.  Thus the transference of cricket, rugby and to a lesser extent football, to South Africa brought with it racial politics and an ideology of colonisation, enlightenment and perceived progress-making.  Allen’s paper looks at what these political and ideological goals meant for the early establishment of sports in South Africa and how it developed over time with this racial ideology at its heart. 

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