Francois Cleophas

Francois Cleophas

Discovering sub-alteran identities in South African physical culturalist life stories


Race is a social construction predicated upon the recognition of differences and signifying the simultaneous distinguishing and positioning of groups. The historiography of physical culture in South Africa reflects this social construction and shows a clear White tenor. This paper explores the way marginalised groups internalised values set out by mainstream physical culture by using a case study. This case study employed the discovery narrative format. In discovery stories, the teller presents a diverse and multi-faceted self, describing a life full of people, places and experiences, using sport as a conduit to facilitate these experiences. Signs of exclusive athletic identity and a glorified self are notably absent. Performance outcomes are not the focus in the discovery plot, but simply one aspect of life among many. The winning and defeating of events are not important factors but the total experience of participation is. Retirement is typically narrated in positive terms, as an ongoing discovery and new experiences. When using the discovery plot therefore, it is more apt to use the phrase: life story rather than biography. This study used source material relating to the main actress, Mona Cleophas (neé Small), as a window to understanding social phenomena as it unfolds in broader historical contexts, locally and internationally. It was the purpose of this work to determine her family background, early life and education at home and in formal schooling, her qualities as a school teacher and physical culturalist, the motivating forces in her life and her contributions toward the growth and development of people in society.

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