Douglas Mpondi is an Assistant Professor in the Africana Studies Department at the Metropolitan State University of Denver in Colorado where he teaches Continental Africa courses. He is an alumnus of the African Studies Program at Ohio University. His publications cover the intersection of politics, education, globalization, and citizenship in Zimbabwe. His research interests include African politics and globalization, immigration and citizenship, African political economy, African conflicts & conflicts resolution, democratic transitions and development in Africa. He is an avid follower of African soccer and the global impact of African athletes on the world stage.
Cricket, racial discrimination and integration in colonial and post-independence Zimbabwe.
Cricket, alongside tennis, rugby, swimming, hockey, and golf were elite sports in colonial Zimbabwe reserved for the minority white population. Even after independence in 1980, only a few blacks had access to these sports through the elite school system that was a preserve of the rich and affluent. Soccer is Zimbabwe's most popular and favorite sport and the only sport that was accessible to black Zimbabweans in the colonial period. Sports are part of the cultural expression of the Zimbabwean people and an embodiment of their identity. Sporting events cannot be comprehended without reference to relations of power in society: who attempts to control how a sport is to be organized and played, and by whom, how it is to be presented; how it is to be interpreted? Sports are vehicles of and embodiments of meaning, whose status and interpretation is continually open to negotiation and subject to conflict. This paper will discuss the politicization of cricket in Zimbabwe as an elite sport from the colonial period to the post-independence era. Attempts to integrate and introduce cricket in the black townships after independence in Zimbabwe became a political issue and a contestation between the government and the minority white population especially the inclusion of black players in the national team. This paper attempts to answer the following questions:
- How was cricket racially institutionalized and discriminated against blacks in colonial Zimbabwe?
- Who controlled how cricket was conducted in Zimbabwe?
- How were social identities played out in trying to introduce cricket to the black population after independence?
- Why did popular white cricket players resisted the integration of black players into the national team?
- Did cricket reflect the racial and political tensions in both colonial and post-independence Zimbabwe?