Anne is a doctorate student and a Junior Researcher at the University of Free State- South Africa and affiliated to the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice. Her research interests cut across the areas of democracy, radical democracy, agonistic reconciliation, war dynamics and conflict resolution within Africa. She has worked in a number of conflict-ridden countries within the continent jointly working with governments, inter-agencies and communities in positively transforming conflict.
Sports and Democracy: Perspectives from Africa
Is there a direct correlation between sports and democracy in any given context? This may not be the central question for this article, but a significant provocation that leads to the querying of the interplay of sports and democracy within the African continent. The Gambia just concluded in 2016-2017 a histrionic election period that threatened to hold hostage the ability of a people and a region to live in a free, fair and democratic environ after the successful casting of pebbles by the citizenry. This election cycle profoundly ridiculed the meaning of both a democratic and political life of ordinary citizens, who had just witnessed the emerging and declaration of the competitive winner as president of the republic. The embrace for democracy in Africa and people’s participation in it seems to plausibly borrow certain practices and rubrics from the sports realm that are most important in enabling ordinary citizen including the subaltern to engage and own democracy. This claim is explored and further motivated by initially creating an understanding that democracy within the continent could be likened to a sport. Thus, the element of space or grounds in sports, spectatorship, facing the contender can best explain aspects of nationalism, transformation, parliamentary agonism and debate that mould democracy and political life. To succinctly piece this body of work experiences from Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda come to fore.