Abraham Mlombo

Abraham Mlombo


Settler Colonialism and White Man’s Sports in Southern Africa: Southern Rhodesia-South Africa, 1923-1953

Studies reflecting on the settler colonial experience in Southern Africa have provided insight into the structure of the colonial project particularly in the two settler colonial territories of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. They have done so through the dominant aspects of settler colonialism, either through the lens of metropole-colony or settler and indigenous relations. This paper discusses an important pillar upon which the settler colonial project was cemented and unfolded. Sports had become adefining feature of settler colonialism in the region reinforcing social norms and hierarchical social formation. Shared enthusiasm in both countries for the love of sports and in racialised form provided one of the few instances in which relations between Southern Rhodesia and South Africa were compatible. By examining sports between the two countries in the area of rugby and cricket, this paper explores its significance to the settler colonial project. The two sporting codes within the settler colonial culture displayed not only white male dominant privilege but also had characteristics of social norms, thus the sports arena became a marriage of political, social practices with the rules of the games. Given that Southern Rhodesia competed in the South African Currie Cup competitions as well as mirroring many South African examples concerning the organisation of its society, sports as a feature of settler colonialism in the country followed the South Africa tradition. Thus, settler colonialism in Southern Africa through the lens of sports had marked features, which this paper will draw out. By doing so this paper aims to expand understanding of settler colonialism both regionally and globally.

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